Being taken prisoner by the Nazis was a nightmarish prospect for the airman’s. When a plane was shot down and crew members managed to parachute into hostile territory, fewer than two days would pass before someone was taken prisoner. A number of the prisoners would be taken to Stalag Luft III at Sagan, the camp that was the site of the Great Escape. Food rations at the camp were wretched, but the Red Cross parcels distributed by the Germans saved many lives. By 1945, with the defeat of the Third Reich imminent, the prisoners of Sagan were transferred to Fallingbostel. Then began the long march to the port of Lübeck, where the Nazis intended to be rid of the men by loading them onto ships to be sunk by submarines. The march ended the day after Hitler's death. The guards fled, abandoning the prisoners 32 kilometres from their final destination. The men tasted freedom at last.
Photo: prisoners of war, all members of the Royal Canadian Air Force, returning to London two weeks after the end of hostilities.