Prisoner of War Books

Pow Books

There are many more books recounting POW experiences, and more titles will be added to this list in due course.

If you know of any relevant books, please email the details to:

The Lamsdorf Series

Lamsdorf In Their Own Words

Experiences related by Prisoners of War at Stalag VIIIB (344) Lamsdorf and its Working Parties
(Hardback, paperback and ebook)

The Long March In Their Own Words

Experiences related by Prisoners of War at Stalag VIIIB (344) Lamsdorf of the Long March of 1945
(Hardback, paperback and ebook)


The illustrated Wartime Diary of Frank ‘Spike’ Hughes,
A Prisoner of War at Stalag VIIIB (344) Lamsdorf
(Hardback and ebook)

The Lamsdorf Clarion

The magazine published by prisoners of war at Stalag VIIIB (344) Lamsdorf during the Second World War.

From January 1943 until December 1945 the prisoners of war at Stalag VIIIB (344) Lamsdorf produced their own magazine, The Clarion. They provide a unique, fascinating and sometimes astonishing insight into life as a POW.

ISBN: 9789464853506
297 pages
Now available from bookmundo in hardback and paperback editions, and from Amazon (paperback only).
ISBN: 9789464853506
297 pages

Other books

​Captivity in British Uniforms: Stalag VIIIB (344) Lamsdorf

by Anna Wickiewicz

Dr Wickiewicz is the Director of Exhibitions and Education at the Polish Central Prisoner-of-War Museum at Łambinowice, which is on the site of the former Stalag VIIIB (344) Lamsdorf. This excellent book is the most authoritative source of information about this POW camp and is recommended reading for everyone. At present it is only available from the Museum.,14.html

Destined To Survive a Dieppe Veteran’s Story, by Jack A Poolton and Jayne Poolton-Turvey

Private Jack Poolton was among the Canadians landing at the disastrous raid on Dieppe. Fortunate to have survived, Jack was taken to a prisoner of war camp in Germany. In Destined to Survive: A Dieppe Veteran’s Story, Jack Poolton relates the story of his training, capture, and experiences in the POW camp. We follow Jack’s three escape attempts, and his subsequent punishment. And we share his elation when Jack and his fellow prisoners are liberated by American soldiers

Available from:

The War Behind the Wire: The Life, Death and Glory of British Prisoners of War, 1914-18 by John Lewis-Stempel

The last untold story of the First World War: the fortunes and fates of 170,000 British soldiers captured by the enemy. Available from Waterstones and probably elsewhere.

A Wartime Log: The Prisoner of War Diary of John Davies Jones

A Wartime Log by former RAF prisoner-of-war John Davies Jones. Written during his time as a POW at Stalag Luft VII Bankau after being shot down in September 1944, he spent the next eight months as a Prisoner Of War in Germany this compelling narrative, transcribed by his daughter,    recounts not only the camaraderie between the POWs but also highlights the cold of that bitter winter and the daily boredom of the camp. John’s character shines through the highs and the lows of an unforgettable time.

To buy this book click HERE

Soldier, Prisoner, Hunter, Gatherer: The incredible true story of Kiwi Horrie Woods, and his battle for survival during World War II

by Don Woods

The story is based on Horrie’s wartime diaries, where he meticulously detailed the good times and the bad times and the harsh, downright desperate times as he lost his mates in the New Zealand 19th Battalion on the foreign soils of Greece and Crete, in the POW work camps of Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf and on the infamous winter death march in 1945. As a boxer before the war, Horrie was one of life’s fighters, but little did he know he would be pitched into the greatest fight of his life; a fight that would last five long years. A chronological, historical account of an ordinary young man from Gisborne and the pivotal role he and his mates played in Hitler’s downfall, with special focus on how the Kiwi fighters delayed Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia. This operation was arguably the turning point in World War II.

To buy this book click HERE

St Valery Memories

Accounts my British soldiers from the Hebrides of Scotland who were prisoners of war in Germany 1940-1945
St Valery Memories includes information from soldiers from the Isle of Lewis, taken prisoners of war at St Valery-en-Caux 12th June 1940. The 44 page publication includes the men’s in-depth accounts, of their 5 years in captivity and information and camp pictures were contributed more recently by their families. Interviews and collated  content is by Magaidh Smith.

Research by Malcolm MacDonald Stornoway Historical Society includes lists of the island men serving in the Ross Mountain Battery, the Seaforth and Cameron Highlanders who were captured and held in the prison camps.
90 volunteer soldiers based at the Drill Hall in Stornoway, part of Ross Mountain Anti-Tank Battery left for France in September 1939. Others Lewis men were regular soldiers in the Seaforth Highlanders.

The book contains much first hand information, from camp life, work parties and camaraderie.

To buy this book click HERE

To Hell in a Handcart: Diaries of a POW

by John B Shanks and Jeni Kingston

Captured near Dieppe in August 1942, after crash-landing his Spitfire, John Shanks was sent to Lamsdorf POW camp where he kept an almost daily account of his life there. He was just 20 years old, but due to the deprivations of camp life felt 40 when he was liberated 2 1/2 years later. At the end of the war, as the Soviet Army was advancing, German authorities decided to evacuate the POW camps and march the internees westward. The March took a harrowing toll on the already undernourished and ill-equipped POWs. The winter was the worst for nearly 50 years, reaching temperatures as low as -25C. The conditions made marching treacherous, especially as the columns of 200-300 POWs often had to march up to 30kms a day across fields and through deep snow. Night-time billets were equally difficult and food often unobtainable. Many POWs died during this appalling time. The diaries are not only a compelling insight into the despair and struggle, but also the hope and camaraderie that comprised his wartime experience. They also are an interesting reflection on the disenchantment felt by so many after the war in Europe ended, and the suspicion that future conflicts were just around the corner.

To buy this book click HERE

Facing Fearful Odds: My father’s extraordinary experience of captivity, escape and resistance

by John Jay

On 22 May 1940 Alec Jay arrived in Calais with his Battalion, the Queen Victoria Rifles. After four days of intense fighting, he was taken prisoner of war along with those of his colleagues who were not killed. The Calais Garrison was not evacuated. His situation as a POW was exceptionally perilous as he was a Jew. Made to wear distinctive clothing, he was all too aware of the Nazis determination to eradicate his race. Undeterred he made five escape attempts as well as leading a successful protest strike, one of the few during the War. When he finally escaped, he teamed up with Czech partisans and fought alongside them during the closing stages of the War. John Jay, a distinguished journalist and financier, has reconstructed his Fathers war using the archive material from four countries and numerous other sources and POW accounts. The result is a fascinating and inspiring story.

To buy this book click HERE

800 Lives: For Us the War was Over

by Trevor Roberts

Trevor Roberts wrote about his time as a POW at Working Party E3, how he came to be there and the walk to freedom after release. Trevor chose not to put pen to paper until 50 years after the war when he published formally his first book, ‘800 Lives’.

“A very interesting first-hand account of what it meant to be a working prisoner-of-war of the Germans for five years during WWII. The book contains tragedy and humour. The author shows particularly well the many schemes – capers, he calls them – devised by the British to maintain morale, and, wherever possible, frustrate the German war effort. This is a fine tale of resilience in the face of great odds.”

The print version is  priced at £11.99 (plus £2.50 P&P), with part of the sale proceeds going to the Royal British Legion. The book can be ordered by email:

To buy the e-book versionbook click HERE 

Behind the Wire

by Tom Guttridge

When rifleman Tom Guttridge returned from war in the early summer of 1945, he brought home not only vivid memories of the battlefield and his five years in prisoner-of-war camps, but a unique collection of photographs obtained from his German captors by trading items from Red Cross parcels. The photos included battlefield scenes of Calais, where Tom was captured in May 1940 after fighting to hold up the German advance during the evacuation of Dunkirk, and pictures illustrating both the horrors and the lighter side of daily life in the three PoW camps where he spent most of the war – Stalag VIII B and the Delbruick Shaft in southern Poland and Stalag 383 in Bavaria, Germany. Together with his written memories, the pictures provide a rare visual insight into life in PoW camps, including daily chores, funerals and celebrations, camp entertainment and football matches between former professional players.

To buy this book click here: paperback

Guest of the Fuhrer

​by Les Shorrock

Lee Jackson has published his grandfather’s book about his experiences in the Second World War, and particularly about his time as a prisoner at Stalag VIIIB/3244 Lamsdorf. Les Shorrock was a young soldier in the Royal Artillery when he was captured at Dunkirk and he spent the rest of the war as a POW. The book is available as a paperback or as a Kindle book.

For the paperback click here: paperback

For the Kindle book click here: Kindle

The Diary of a Prisoner of War: Shot Down, Imprisoned, Mock Executed and Marched 600 miles

by Archbishop Jonathan Blake

Sergeant Peter Henry Blaskey, later named Blake, was a Lancaster bomber pilot and was shot down in 1942. He was interrogated and imprisoned in Camp 344, Stalag 8b, Lamsdorf. he remained a prisoner of war for over two years. He was then force marched over 600 miles across Europe by the Germans, during which he was mock executed as a punishment after searching for food. He endured sub zero temperatures and witnessed the deaths of hundreds of prisoners who starved or froze to death. He kept a diary for the first 10 months of his captivity that he carried with him on the long march and that is now published for the first time.

To order this book click here.

My Underground War

by Albert E. Clack

Albert John Clack has recently published My Underground War (available in Kindle and paperback) which he edited from a manuscript left by his late father Sapper Albert Edward Clack, who was a POW in Lamsdorf from 1940-1945. It is a gripping tale of capture, resistance and liberation, revealingfor the first time how Albert and a close-knit group of chums carried on the war through sabotage, and even got away with killing a couple of bullying Nazi guards. Having been captured before he could reach Dunkirk, he spent most of the war as a POW. He died in 1984 but left behind a 30,000 word manuscript of his POW experiences. The story is in two pats. The first is about his capture near Dunkirk in 1940 and his time in the prison camp. For most of this time he endured forced labour and occasional beatings in a coal mine. The second covers his escape from the ‘Death march’ when the Germans forced prisoners to trudge westwards through snow and ice in January 1945, and the Red Army helped him to get home. To see a poem he wrote after his capture, or to order this book, click here.

Yea Though I Walk . . .

by Len Lees

This is the true, unembellished account of Len Lees’ experiences during World War II as a member of the Royal Fusiliers City of London Regiment. He was taken prisoner of war at Battapaglia after the landing at Salerno in 1943 and spent the next 15 months in Stalag 344 (formerly VIIIb). After the stalag was evacuated in early 1945, he was marched across Germany in terrible conditions and was eventually liberated by General Patton’s Armoured Divisions. This is the story of those days.

To read this book on-line or to print it, click here.

Confronting Captivity

by Arieh J. Kochavi

How was it possible that almost all of the nearly 300,000 British and American troops who fell into German hands during World War II survived captivity in German POW camps and returned home almost as soon as the war ended? In Confronting Captivity, Arieh J. Kochavi offers a behind-the-scenes look at the living conditions in Nazi camps and traces the actions the British and American governments took – and didn’t take – to ensure the safety of their captured soldiers. Concern in London and Washington about the safety of these POWs was mitigated by the recognition that the Nazi leadership tended to adhere to the Geneva Convention when it came to British and U.S. prisoners. Following the invasion of Normandy, however, Allied apprehension over the safety of POWs turned into anxiety for their very lives. Yet Britain and the United States took the calculated risk of counting on a swift conclusion to the war as the Soviets approached Germany from the east. Ultimately, Kochavi argues, it was more likely that the lives of British and American POWs were spared because of their race rather than any actions their governments took on their behalf.

ISBN-10: 0807829404    ISBN-13: 978-0807829400

To order this book click here

Saddles and Service

by Winston Parker / Elaine Taylor Thomas

Winston Churchill Parker grew up on a southern Alberta farm during the horse and buggy days. When World War II was declared, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. On his 13th mission, his aircraft was shot down over Germany and he was captured. After three long, miserable years as a prisoner-of-war in Stalag VIIIB, his captors turned him and his comrades out on a horrific ‘death march’ in which many men died. Winston just barely survived to return to Alberta, determined to own a ranch of his own. He settled into a productive life defined by hard work, steeped in community service, enriched by close friendships and brightened by the beauty of nature. Saddles and Services is the remarkable story of this 93-year-old rancher, patriot and community leader.

ISBN: 978-0-9838170-0-0

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Despite Captivity

by John Borrie

John Borrie was captured in Greece in 1941 and imprisoned at Lamsdorf, and remained in German hands until his release in 1945. This is his record, as a dedicated doctor maintaining hospitals in the camps in which he worked, of everyday life in German prison camps. He recounts his fights to obtain essential medical equipment and supplies from the German authorities. He shows the humane instinct often put into practice by some German camp authorities, and depicts equally vividly the brutality of others. The book is a tribute to the courage, endurance and singular fortitude of men of the fighting forces in privation, fear, sickness and pain. It is a tribute also to the honour and devotion of the medical profession, showing how doctors and surgeons performed complex operations under impossible conditions, and how brilliant improvisation compensated for the lack of amenities. This is a riveting and unusual account of imprisoned life.

ISBN 0 723304394

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Almost a Lifetime

by John McMahon

Humour, adventure, romance, laughter, Almost A Lifetime is a compelling page turner. He gives a very detailed account of life inside Stalag VIIIB and the march from the camp in Jan/Feb 1945. This mesmerizing biographical tale is at once engulfing and captivating. An unknown woman makes all of the difference between survival and death as a young man’s spring time journey is engulfed in flames and becomes a terrible trek through a snowy  landscape in the frozen winter of 1945. A profound testimony to the resiliance of the human spirit, this book has found its way into the hearts of multitudes as thousands of letters to the author testify.

ISBN: 0-96844-540-3

To order this book, click on the Amazon link above, and enter the title into the Search Box then click GO.

Thanks for the Memories

by Leighton Bowen

In 1939, Leighton Bowen was a Territorial Trooper in the North Somerset Yeomanry, but by June 1941 he had been captured and spent the remainder of the war in Stalag VIIIB/344 Lamsdorf,  and various working parties. The bare essentials of the Geneva Convention were observed, but life was full of hardships, tempered by the sheer good humour and comradeship displayed between the prisoners. What makes this account compelling is the liberal use of first-hand reports from letters and, particularly, Leighton’s diaries. This is a well told story, with a wealth of detail about the mundanities, the injustices and the hardships, interspersed with the strong feeling of hope that he felt that carried him through. Highly recommended. A very good insight into what life was like in the camp and on the working parties.

Published August 2011 Menin House/Tommies Guides

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Captives of War: British Prisoners of War in Europe in the Second World War

by Clare Makepeace, Birkbeck, University of London, October 2017

This is a pioneering history of the experience of captivity of British prisoners of war (POWs) in Europe during the Second World War, focussing on how they coped and came to terms with wartime imprisonment. Clare Makepeace reveals the ways in which POWs psychologically responded to surrender, the camaraderie and individualism that dominated life in the camps, and how, in their imagination, they constantly breached the barbed wire perimeter to be with their loved ones at home. Through the diaries, letters and log books written by seventy-five POWs, along with psychiatric research and reports, she explores the mental strains that tore through POWs’ minds and the challenges that they faced upon homecoming. The book tells the story of wartime imprisonment through the love, fears, fantasies, loneliness, frustration and guilt that these men felt, shedding new light on what the experience of captivity meant for these men both during the war and after their liberation.

The first cultural history to be written on British prisoners of war in Europe in World War Two, drawing upon the insights of anthropology, psychology, sociology and literary studies

Explores the emotional and intimate worlds of POWs to improve our understanding of what these men went through
Shows how diaries, letters and logbooks composed in captivity did not simply record experiences but also interacted with, shaped and altered them.

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Confronting Captivity: Britain and the United States and Their POWs in Nazi Germany

by Arieh J. Kochavi

How was it possible that almost all of the nearly 300,000 British and American troops who fell into German hands during World War II survived captivity in German POW camps and returned home almost as soon as the war ended? In Confronting Captivity, Arieh J. Kochavi offers a behind-the-scenes look at the living conditions in Nazi camps and traces the actions the British and American governments took – and didn’t take – to ensure the safety of their captured soldiers. Concern in London and Washington about the safety of these POWs was mitigated by the recognition that the Nazi leadership tended to adhere to the Geneva Convention when it came to British and U.S. prisoners. Following the invasion of Normandy, however, Allied apprehension over the safety of POWs turned into anxiety for their very lives. Yet Britain and the United States took the calculated risk of counting on a swift conclusion to the war as the Soviets approached Germany from the east. Ultimately, Kochavi argues, it was more likely that the lives of British and American POWs were spared because of their race rather than any actions their governments took on their behalf.

ISBN-10: 0807829404    ISBN-13: 978-0807829400

To order this book click here

Do the Birds Still Sing in Hell?

by Horace ‘Jim’ Greasley

Horace ‘Jim’ Greasley was twenty years of age in the spring of 1939 when Adolf Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia and latterly Poland. There had been whispers and murmurs of discontent from certain quarters and the British government began to prepare for the inevitable war. After seven weeks training with the 2nd / 5th Battalion Leicester s, he found himself facing the might of the German army in a muddy field south of Cherbourg, in Northern France, with just thirty rounds of ammunition in his weapon pouch. Horace s war didn t last long. He was taken prisoner on 25th May 1940 and forced to endure a ten week march across France and Belgium en-route to Holland. Horace survived… barely… food was scarce, he took nourishment from dandelion leaves, small insects and occasionally a secret food package from a sympathetic villager, and drank rain water from ditches. Many of his fellow comrades were not so fortunate. Falling by the side of the road through sheer exhaustion and malnourishment meant a bullet through the back of the head and the corpse left to rot. After a three day train journey without food and water, Horace found himself incarcerated in a prison camp in Poland. It was there he embarked on an incredible love affair with a German girl interpreting for his captors. He experienced the sweet taste of freedom each time he escaped to see her, yet incredibly he made his way back into the camp each time, sometimes two, three times every week. Horace broke out of the camp then crept back in again under the cover of darkness after his natural urges were fulfilled. He brought food back to his fellow prisoners to supplement their meagre rations. He broke out of the camp over two hundred times and towards the end of the war even managed to bring radio parts back in. The BBC news would be delivered daily to over 3000 prisoners. This is an incredible tale of one man s adversity and defiance of the German nation. This is a story of a young man s outlawed obsession for the woman he loved, of man s most natural craving and a determination to help his fellow prisoners. This story is about good over evil, how love can blossom in the most impossible of situations. It is a story about desire and hope.

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Footprints on the Sands of Time

by Oliver Clutton-Brock

RAF Bomber Command Prisoners-of-War in Germany 1939-1945

This extensive book is divided into two parts. The first, which has eighteen chapters, deals with German PoW camps as they were opened, in chronological order and to which the Bomber Command PoWs were sent. Each chapter includes anecdotes and stories of the men in the camps – capture, escape, illness, and murder – and illustrates the awfulness of captivity even in German hands. Roughly one in every twenty captured airmen never returned home. The first part also covers subjects such as how the PoWs were repatriated during the war; how they returned at war’s end; the RAF traitors; the war crimes; and the vital importance of the Red Cross. The style is part reference, part gripping narrative, and the book will correct many historical inaccuracies, and includes previously unpublished photographs. The second part comprises an annotated list of ALL 10,994 RAF Bomber Command airmen who were taken prisoner, together with an extended introduction.The two parts together are the fruit of exhaustive research and provide an important contribution to our knowledge of the war and a unique reference work not only for the serious RAF historian but for the ex-PoWs themselves and their families and anyone with an interest in the RAF in general and captivity in particular.

ISBN: 1 904010 35 0

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Sojourn in Silesia

by Arthur Evans

This is not just another war book. Neither is Arthur Evans’ account of the five years he was incarcerated in Stalag VIIIB just one of those epic, gung-ho tales involving tunnels, wooden horses and Great Escapes. No, Sojourn in Silesia is a prisoner of war story with a difference. It’s a moving, yet vivid, account of a quieter sort of heroism – perhaps one that most former POWs will relate to – of the day to day struggle to survive despite nearly starving to death in sub-freezing conditions amid the cruel indifference of the German guards. How he and his colleagues, with one exception, escaped death in a pit explosion which killed almost two hundred miners; and of his connection with Wing Commander Douglas Bader’s plan to escape by ‘plane from Gleiwitz aerodrome. Not that it doesn’t have its lighter moments. The former Irish Guardsman’s wry, humourous anecdotes about the small, day-to-day events of camp life betray his talent for recognising the absurdity of the human condition. And there’s a real life Good Soldier Schweik, and a lovelorn chap who drives everyone in his hut senseless by playing the same romantic record over and over again. Thousands of British men were in Stalag VIIIB, and Evans’ heartwarming, poignant but realistic account will strike a chord with them in a way that Steve McQueen’s exploits with barbed-wire fences and motorcycles never could.

To order this book, click here.

Dunkirk: The Men they Left Behind

by Sean Longden

At 2am on the morning of the 3rd of June 1940, General Harold Alexander searched along the quayside, holding onto his megaphone and called “Is anyone there? Is anyone there?” before turning his boat back towards England. Tradition tells us that the dramatic events of the evacuation of Dunkirk, in which 300,000 BEF servicemen escaped the Nazis, was a victory gained from the jaws of defeat. For the first time, rather than telling the tale of the 300,000 who escaped, Sean Longden reveals the story of the 40,000 men sacrificed in the rearguard battles. On the beaches and sand dunes, besides the roads and amidst the ruins lay the corpses of hundreds who had not reached the boats. Elsewhere, hospitals full of the sick and wounded who had been left behind to receive treatment from the enemy’s doctors. And further afield – still fighting hard alongside their French allies – was the entire 51st Highland Division, whose war had not finished as the last boats slipped away. Also scattered across the countryside were hundreds of lost and lonely soldiers. These ‘evaders’ had also missed the boats and were now desperately trying to make their own way home, either by walking across France or rowing across the channel. The majority, however, were now prisoners of war who were forced to walk on the death marches all the way to the camps in Germany and Poland, where they were forgotten until 1945. Praise for Sean Longden ‘Forget The Great Escape. Forget The Colditz Story. This is the real thing.’ Les Allan, founder of the ‘National Ex-Prisoner of War Association.’ ‘A powerful indictment of the crimes perpetrated against men who had surrendered in good faith….Never again, after Mr Longden’s excellent work, shall we see the plight of POWs as anything other than unremittingly monstrous.’ Andrew Roberts, Daily Mail ‘Longden’s a master at building the big picture detail-by-detail, using veterans’ memories to good effect, creating an absorbing history of the period in question. He’s a historian to read, regardless of theme.’ Sue Baker, Publishing News

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POW – Australian prisoners of War in Hitler’s Reich

by Peter Monteath

Australians from every field of conflict in WW2 found themselves as prisoners in Hitler’s notorious Stalags, or prisoner of war camps. Whether captured merchant seamen, bomber crews or soldiers taken in North Africa or the disastrous Greek and Cretan campaigns, they were to see out the war in the heart of Hitler’s Europe, their fortunes intimately connected to the fortunes of the Reich.

Most were forced to labour in factories, down mines or on the land – often in conditions of enormous privation and hardship. All suffered from shortages, overcrowding and the mental strain of imprisonment. Some tried to escape, a few successfully, a few paying with their lives. The experiences of Australian POWs in Germany has long been overshadowed by the horrors of Japanese imprisonment, yet their stories of courage, stoicism, suffering and endurance deserve to be told.

Peter Monteath’s fascinating narrative history is exhaustively researched, and compelling in its detailed evocation.
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by Gordon Thomson Woodroofe

Gordon Thomson Woodroofe was the only New Zealand airman known to have escaped from a Nazi prison camp and make his way back to England during World War II.Born in Te Aroha and schooled in Matamata, Gordon Woodroofe left Auckland Teachers Training College in 1940 to train as a pilot in the RNZAF at Taieri and Wigram. On his sixth operational trip from England he ditched in the North Sea and was made a prisoner of war. “GeTaWay” tells the story of the ensuing three years to his arrival back in England via Sweden in September 1944.The RAF historian lists out of the 10,000 British airmen prisoners the 30 who “successfully escaped from set German prison camps”, the author is the only New Zealander named. From the start on a Luftwaffe aerodrome in Denmark he made many moves before his chance came – when he promptly lay down and went to sleep instead of escaping. His bicycle ride across Czechoslovakia and Austria provides many exciting moments. His planning and execution of a train ride to the Baltic and escape on a Swedish collier entailed much adventure.

Boldness be my Friend

by Richard Pape

To learn more about this book, follow both of these links (you’ll understand why we recommend that you read both when you have read the second one):

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The Last Escape – The Untold Story Of Allied POWs 1944-45

by John Nichol and Tony Rennell

As the second world war drew to a close, hundreds of thousands of British and American prisoners of war, held in camps in Nazi-occupied Europe, faced the prospect that they would never get home alive. In the depths of winter their guards harried them on marches out of their camps and away from the armies advancing into the heart of Hitler’s defeated Germany. Hundreds died from exhaustion, disease and starvation. “The Last Escape” is told through the testimony of those heroic men.

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The Long March to Freedom – DVD

ASA Film and Video

This remarkable film explores the stark story of an astonishing journey as told by its survivors, from their capture, the long years of captivity and the added horrors of the Long March itself.

For more information and to buy this DVD click here.

Silk and Barbed Wire

Various authors

A compilation, by The Royal Airforce’s ex POW Association ( Australian Division ), of the stories of twenty-two Allied airmen shot down in World War II over Europe, their survival in prisoner of war camps, their attempts to escape, and their final liberation.

This link will tell you more about thebook and how you can buy it:

Guests of Hitler’s Reich

by James Coulter

When, at the outbreak of the second world war, in response to an appeal from his bishop, Devonian churchman Geoffrey Kestell-Cornish volunteered to become an army chaplain, he was not to know that virtually his entire career as such would be spent as a prisoner of war behind the barbed wire of  Stalag VIIIB at Lamsdorf in Poland. In 1944 he was transferred to a POW working camp at Sosnowitch. In January 1945, with the Red Army making rapid advances into Poland, the inmates of E5-38 at Sosnowitch were forced to evacuate. Liberation this was not but the start of an epic journey of some 400 miles on foot from Poland throughout Czechoslovakia into Southern Germany. Written in pencil in a tattered school exercise book, Padre Geoffrey Kestell-Cornish’s day by day account of the long march is a poignant tale of dogged courage and endurance in the face of grinding adversity when the human spirit was often tested to its limits and beyond. Guests of Hitler’s Reich is published and distributed by James Coulter in paperback format: 210x148mm with 97 pages, 12 b/w photos, 3 line figures and a map at £8.25 from booksellers or by post within the UK at £9 from the publisher.

To order, contact James Coulter at or search for it on Amazon.

The Password is Courage

by John Castle

(‘John Castle’ was actually two former prisoners, Ronald Payne and John Garrod)

With many thanks to Stephen G. Esrati for the review.

Charles Coward was a British army regimental sergeant major who was taken prisoner by the Germans in 1940. By insisting that the Germans treat him in accordance with the Hague and Geneva conventions, he won favorable treatment as a senior non-commissioned officer and as a trusty. He constantly escaped, citing his rights under the convention for the right of escape and pointing out that the conventions limit punishment to a month of solitary confinement. He took it upon himself to assert the rights and privileges of his men to the Germans.

Held first at a Stalag VIIIb at Lamsdorf, he was, at last, assigned to Auschwitz. During his frequent walks into town under supervision of a German NCO, he managed to buy guns and explosives which were intended for the Polish resistance but which Coward decided to hand over to the Jews in Birkenau. (Coward’s account of these trips to town completely baffled the unbelieving German defense lawyers at a later war-crimes trial.) He also worked out a scheme whereby he would buy Jewish corpses from the Germans which he used to help an equal number of live Jews to escape. The currency for all this was coffee, cigarettes, and other things that he persuaded his British comrades to give up for a good cause. He complained through his chain of command about IG Farben’s  mistreatment of Jewish slave labourers and later testified at the war-crimes trial of the Farben criminals against Dr. Duerrfeld.

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The Long Way Home

by John McCallum

At the age of nineteen, Glasgow-born John McCallum signed up as a Supplementary Reservist in the Signal Corps. A little over a year later, he was in France, working frantically to set up communication lines as Europe once more hurtled towards war. Wounded and captured at Boulogne, he was sent to Stalag VIIIB, together with his brother, Jimmy, and friend Joe Harkin. Ingenious and resourceful, the three men set about planning their escape. With the help of Traudl, a local girl whom John had met while working in nearby Bad Karlsbrunn, they put their plan into action. In an astonishing coincidence, they passed through the town of Sagan, around which the seventy-six airmen of the Great Escape were being pursued and caught. However, unlike most of those other escapees, John, Jimmy and Joe eventually made it to freedom.#

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Now I can tell it in Sketches and Words: A Prisoner of War Remembers Stalag VIIIB

by Cyril Hamersma and Bernie Ross

In 1939 a young man, who’d lived a sheltered life, was called up to serve for his country. A minor health problem had prevented Hamersma from attaining the education he deserved; and anyway, his youth was spent in the years of The Depression. Nobody of his age had experienced the world. Traveling to ‘the Holy Land’ and Greece, seeing the sights we now regard as tourist spots, learning the ways of the world; it was exciting and stimulating. Hamersma sketched at every possible moment, as a photographer records every nuance of a scene.

As an orderly in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) Hamersma witnessed the ravages of war first-hand. Yet within months, he and many thousands of troops were captured by the Germans and shuttled, in death-defying conditions, to Stalag VIIIB. It was four years before he could return home. At the time, of course, nobody knew when the war would end, if ever. Sketching and painting on any scrap of paper helped him and provided interest to his fellow prisoners but no artwork survived when they were all released.

For forty years he remained quiet and humble about his traumatic experience as a POW, but in 1984 he was able to express himself through recreating the drawings and sketches that had been so cruelly lost when the prisoners were liberated and the camp dismantled. Unable to keep all these new sketches he took photos to make into a slide show and he made a tape recording to accompany the slides.

This book puts all the material together so that – as Hamersma said was his reason for uncovering the painful memories – it may help others.

ISBN 0 95444 659 3 This is a limited edition and all copies are now sold.

  • You might find a second hand copy by searching Amazon
    The publisher address for special requests is:
    PO BOX 4065
    CM7 9RJ
    This publication, like all Writing Life® books, is a self-funding, non-profitmaking venture.
    Softback, perfect bound. 150 pages. including approx. 80 exclusive colour images and 3 photos of Hamersma as a soldier.
    Contact Braintree District Museum – there might still be one for sale in their shop. This is their link:

RAAF POWs of Lamsdorf

edited by JE Holliday, J E and DA Radke

Stories of the RAAF POWs of Lamsdorf including chronicles of their 500 Mile Trek. Compiled for the Lamsdorf RAAF POWs Association, Queensland, 1992.Includes a roll call. Record of the experiences of 84 Australian Airmen who lived together in one barrack in Stalag 8B/344, Lamsdorf. These stories have been written by the men themselves.

It’s hard to find copies of this book, but you can search for it on Amazon. There are some second-hand copies around.

With Bomber Command

by J. C. Sedgley, tells the story of Warrant  Officer John Colin Sedgley  from his training to surviving the Lamsdorf  death march and visiting the Dutch resistance 40 years later. Available from the West Bromwich History Society

Six Wasted Years

by Len Williamson

Len was sent to Stalag VIIIB and worked at a sawmill, E119 Mankendorf (Mankovice). This is the story of his experiences during the war, from the time he joined up until his release.
Braunton, Devon: Merlin Books, 1988.  ISBN: 0-86303-432-2

  • It’s hard to find copies of this book, but you can search Amazon. There are some second-hand copies around.

Barbed Wire Diplomacy: Britain, Germany, and the Politics of Prisoners of War, 1939-1945

By Neville Wylie

Barbed Wire Diplomacy examines how the United Kingdom government went about protecting the interests, lives and well-being of its prisoners of war  in Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1945. The comparatively good treatment of British prisoners in Germany has largely been explained by historians in terms of rational self-interest, reciprocity, and influence of Nazi racism, which accorded Anglo-Saxon servicemen a higher status than other categories of POWs. By contrast, Neville Wylie offers a more nuanced picture ofAnglo-German relations and the politics of prisoners of war. Drawing on British, German, United States and Swiss sources, he argues that German benevolence towards British POWs stemmed from London’s success in working through neutral intermediaries, notably its protecting power (the United States and Switzerland) and the International Committee of the Red Cross, to promote German compliance with the 1929 Geneva Convention and building and sustaining a relationship with the German government that was capable of withstanding the corrosive effects of five years of warfare. Expanding our understanding of both the formulation and execution of POW policy in both capitals, the book sheds new light on the dynamics in inter-belligerent relations during the war. It suggests that while the Second World War should be rightly acknowledged as a conflict in which traditional constraints were routinely abandoned in the pursuit of political, strategic and ideological goals, in this important area of Anglo-German relations, customary international norms were both resilient and effective.

Oxford University Press 2010  ISBN: 0199547599

Search Amazon for this book.

Lest We Forget : Fifty Years On – Real True Life Stories

by Kenneth Rankin

Some of the experiences (and escape) of Lamsdorf POW Peter Dorley-Brown are included in this book.
To order this book click HERE.

Unshackled Spirit

by Colin Pateman

Unshackled Spirit was a unique ‘Spitfire’ fighter aircraft purchased by allied prisoners of war whilst imprisoned in Germany; the book explains how this remarkable achievement was possible using previously restricted and secret material. In addition, accounts are compiled from a collection of original YMCA personal wartime logs as issued to RAF prisoners of war in 1944. ‘Unshackled Spirit’ draws out the story of each aviator, how they became a prisoner of war and life in the various camps across occupied Europe. Extensive and amazingly detailed pieces of artwork are taken from the logs and illustrated in the book. The balance of fact and inspired drawings makes for an impressive collection from a number of incarcerated aviators. The hardship of POW’s and the extraordinary means adopted to escape are touched upon, but more importantly the aspect of how agencies helped by supplying all manner of equipment to the thousands of men behind barbed wire. The role of MI9 is revealed and how it participated in those agencies exploring the efforts taken to smuggle escape material into the prisoner of war camps without breeching the Geneva Convention and finally the extraordinary measures taken to secure intelligence during the process of prisoner repatriation.

To order this book click HERE

Barbed Wire in the Sunset by Edwin G Broomhead

One option to buy this book is HERE It is also available at the National Library of Australia.

The PO Valley Brea by Harry Rose-Inness

The true story of three POWs and their bid for freedom in Mussolini’s Italy.

Available HERE 

Without the Nasty Bits: A Soldier’s Story

by Alan Woods “One day I would like you to go to the places that I have been and to see the things that I have seen but without the nasty bits.” Eighty years after World War Two, encouraged by his father’s stories of survival and determination, a son travels to Poland to follow his father’s experiences as a soldier and a Prisoner of War. Without the Nasty Bits weaves Norman’s words with Alan’s journey in a story that brings the past to life.’ and available elsewhere.


The March East 1945

The March East The Final Days of Oflag IX A/H and A/Z

By Peter Green. Available from History Press, Amazon and elsewhere.

Prisoner of the Gestapo A Memoir of Survival and Captivity in Wartime Poland by Tom Firth

See more about this book at and you can also buy it here.

The Valley of the Shadow: In Durance Vile — Surviving the Railway of Death

A Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery was deployed to Singapore in September 1941.

This is his account of the experience of the fall to the Imperial Nippon Forces, subsequent escape, evasion, and capture, followed by years of appalling inhumane treatment and conditions.

A tale of a forgotten army.

Available from Amazon

“An Extraordinary Italian imprisonment, The Brutal Truth of Camp 21, 1942-3”,

Author Brian Lett.   Published by Pen & Sword.

Available from Amazon

Heroes of Lamsdorf: Lest We Forget

What was it like being an Allied POW in World War II? What was it like being captured and transported to a brutal environment controlled by a Nazi regime, hell-bent on world domination?

In this remarkable book, the families of the prisoners from one of the biggest POW camps in Europe, give an insight into the harsh conditions in Lamsdorf and in the forced labour work camps beyond.

The stories are unique, first-hand accounts from fathers, grandfathers and uncles who are no longer with us.

A labour of love and respect from family members determined to keep their loved ones memories alive.

Available from Amazon

Life in the Welsh Guards 1939-1946

Sydney Pritchard left home in Aberdare, Wales, in 1939 after enlisting with the Welsh Guards. In this book he recalls the heroic defence of Boulogne, the terrible Death Marches and the insecurity of life as a prisoner of war. He also tells his story of moving from camp to camp and recounts managing to hide German photographs, including one of Hitler, which he kept and is published here. Sydney was lucky to come back alive, and returned to Aberdare full of hatred and joy. He later made his home in Aberystwyth.

Available from Amazon

and from Abe Books

Survivor of the Long March: Five Years as a PoW 1940-1945

by Charles Waite. Available from Amazon 

His personal account of his five lost years: the terrible things he saw and suffered; his forced work in a stone quarry and on farms; his period in solitary confinement for sabotage; and his long journey home in one of the worst winters on record, across the frozen river Elbe, to Berlin and liberation. His story is also about friendship, of physical and mental resilience and of compassion for everyone who suffered. Part of that story includes the terrible Long March when 80,000 British POWs were forced to trek through a vicious winter westwards across Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany as the Soviets approached. 

No Honour No Glory” written by Spence Edge and Jim Henderson

No Honour No Glory

No Honour No Glory

The death of New Zealand Prisoners of  War as a result of their ship being torpedoed by a British submarine.

Out of print. Rare copies may be found with an internet search.

The Falls

Peter Smith’s story, told by his son Graeme.

‘Tradition tells us that the dramatic events of the evacuation of Dunkirk, in which 300,000 BEF servicemen escaped the Nazis, was a victory gained from the jaws of defeat. Rather than telling the tale of those who escaped, Peter Smith reveals a story of those sacrificed in the rear-guard battles

Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum in London has a large number of books by former POWs at Stalag VIIIB Lamsdorf in its library.

Books on Stalag VIIIB in the Library of the Imperial War Museum, London:

Search their site

ALDERSON, William Robert The long road back
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Dorrance Publishing, 1994. – 365p., 4p. of plates; ill., ports. ISBN: 0-8059-3495-2. IWM Acc. No: 95 / 372

ASLANIS, Anastasios The man of confidence: a Greek POW in World War II
Manhattan, Kansas: Sunflower University Press, 1995. – xxiv, 259p.; ill., facsims., frontis., map, plans, ports. ISBN: 0-89745-183-X (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: 96 / 506

BATTESON, Ralph St. Nazaire to Shepperton: a sailor’s journey
Bolsover, Derby: Highedge Historical Society, 1996. – 172p.; ill., facsim., frontis., plan, ports. ISBN: 0-9524249-2-4 (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: 96 / 1247

BORRIE, John Despite captivity: a doctor’s life as prisoner of war
London: Kimber, 1975. – 240p., 8p. of plates; ill., maps, ports. ISBN: 0-7183-0-134-X. IWM Acc. No: 79586

BROWN, Kingsley Bonds of wire: a memoir
Toronto: Collins, 1989. – 267p.; ill., frontis., figs., port. ISBN: 0-00-215972-4. IWM Acc. No: 96 / 1126

CAWSTON, Roy Before I forget: some recollections of a sharpshooter, 1939-1946
Epsom, Surrey: Chiavari Publishing, 1993. – iv, 151p.; ill., facsims., maps, ports. ISBN: 0-9520592-0-7. IWM Acc. No: 93 / 848
Contains plan of Stalag VIIIB Lamsdorf, detailed account of life at the main camp, diary of trek west (via Dresden) and map showing places on route.

COWARD, Roger V. Sailors in cages
London: Macdonald, 1967. – 237p. Location: Rare B.. IWM Acc. No: 99 / 1741

DOWNS, Edgar The wind beneath our wings
Canning Vale, Western Australia (PO Box 1376, Canning Vale, Western Australia 6155): Assert Publishing, 1995. – 97p.; ill., ports. ISBN: 0-9587564-0-6 (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: 96 / 2392

DUNNING, George Where bleed the many
London: Panther, 1956. – 224p. IWM Acc. No: 59116

EDWARDS, Denis The devil’s own luck: from Pegasus Bridge to the Baltic
Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Leo Cooper, 1999. – viii, 246p., 8p. of plates; ill., facsims., figs., maps, ports. ISBN: 0-85052-667-1. IWM Acc. No: 99 / 2143
Contains diary of trek and names on places on route taken by Bob Ambrose, p198-210.

ELWYN, John At the fifth attempt
London: Leo Cooper, 1987. – v, 216p., 4p. of plates; map, ports. ISBN: 0-85052-3613-. IWM Acc. No: 88 / 615

EVANS, Arthur Sojourn in Silesia, 1940-1945
Ashford: Ashford Writers, 1995. – 89p., 8p. of plates; ill., facsim., ports. ISBN: 0-9516785-3-1 (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: 95 / 1140

GARIOCH, Robert Two men and a blanket: memoirs of captivity
Edinburgh: Southside, 1975. – 183p.; fig. ISBN: 0-900025-19-0. IWM Acc. No: 80 / 608

GROGAN, John Patrick Dieppe and beyond for a dollar and a half a day
Ontario, Canada: Juniper Books, 1982. – 118p.; ill., facsims., ports. ISBN: 0-919137-05-9 (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: 83 / 2798

HARDING, William A cockney soldier: ‘duty before pleasure’: an autobiography 1918-46
Braunton, Devon: Merlin, 1989. – 223p., 12p. of plates; ill., facsims., frontis., plan, ports. ISBN: 0-86303-452-7 (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: 94 / 1672

HOLMES, William; HOLMES, John When the war is over: (the war memories of William Holmes)
N.p.: J Holmes and W Holmes, 2000. – 149p.; ill., facsims., ports. IWM Acc. No: 00 / 1914

JONES, Ewart C. Germans under my bed
London: Arthur Barker, 1957. – 222p.; ill. IWM Acc. No: 38410

LEVY, Harry The dark side of the sky: the story of a young Jewish airman in Nazi Germany
London: Leo Cooper, 1996. – x, 189p., 4p. of plates; ill., facsims., map, ports. ISBN: 0-85052-4989. IWM Acc. No: 96 / 2113

PAPE, Richard Sequel to boldness: the astonishing follow-on story to one of the greatest war books ever written
London: Odhams Press, 1959. – 256p., 16p. of plates; ill., facsims., frontis., map, ports. IWM Acc. No: 41620

PATTERSON, Hugh Geordie Hussar P.O.W.: opportunity sometimes knocked
Hexham (20 Abbey Court, Hexham, Northumberland NE46 1TN): H. Patterson, 2000. – 55p.; ill., facsims., ports. ISBN: 0-9538471-0-1 (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: 02 / 1339

POPIOLEK, Stefan Museum of Martyrology of prisoners of war in Lambinowice: [guide]
N.p.: The Museum of Martyrology, n.d. – [36]p.; ill., maps IWM Acc. No: K. 88 / 1486

RANDOLPH, Edgar An unexpected oddyssey: the Chronicle of a Field Ambulance private 1940-1945
Perth: Snap (printers), 1981. – iv, 72p.; ill., facsims., ports. ISBN: 0-9593856-0-6 (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: K. 92 / 961

ROFE, Cyril Against the wind
London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1956. – 319p.; frontis. IWM Acc. No: 83836

ROSMARIN, Ike Inside story
Cape Town: W.J. Flesch, 1990. – x, 124p.; ill., facsims., frontis., plans, ports. ISBN: 0-949989-49-5. IWM Acc. No: 91 / 1977

RYAN, Raymond; RYAN, Laurence; RYAN, M. Imelda POWs fraternal: diaries of S/Sgt. Raymond Ryan: poems of Pte Laurence (Bouff) Ryan: World War II
Perth: Hawthorn Press, 1990. – 163p.; ill., facsims., ports. ISBN: 0-646-01545-1 (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: 92 / 2470

SMITH, Jim Burtitt- One of the many on the move
Braunton, Devon: Merlin Books, 1992. – 94p.; ill., ports. ISBN: 0-86303-603-1 (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: 92 / 1391

STEDMAN, James Life of a British POW in Poland, 31 May 1940 to 30 April 1945
Braunton, Devon: Merlin Books, 1992. – 48p., 8p. of plates; ill., ports. ISBN: 0-86303-581-7 (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: K. 93 / 23

SUGGIT, Henry Vies Reluctant guest of the Reich
London: Janus, 1992. – 146p.; figs. ISBN: 1-85756-006-X (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: 92 / 2479

TAYLOR, Frank Barbed wire and footlights: seven stalags to freedom
Braunton, Devon: Merlin Books, 1988. – 124p.; map ISBN: 0-86303-377-6 (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: 88 / 896

THOMPSON, G.R. A Geordie goes to war
Lancaster: Scotforth Books, 2002. – xiv, 108p.; ill., facsims., frontis., plans, ports. ISBN: 1-904244-22-X (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: 03 / 816

The Clarion: W.W.II memoirs as a P.O.W.: Stalag VIIIB and 344 newsletter issues 16, with 1944 souvenir Christmas issue
San Antonio, Texas: Poppy Publishing, [1999?] – vii, 312p.; ill., facsims., figs., ports. IWM Acc. No: 99 / 2252

WILLIAMSON, Len Six wasted years
Braunton, Devon: Merlin Books, 1988. – 52p., 16p. of plates; ill., facsims., ports. ISBN: 0-86303-432-2 (pbk.). IWM Acc. No: K. 89 / 622

WILSON, Sam ‘Daunerin’
[Ayr: ‘Observer’ Printing, 1955?] – 140p. IWM Acc. No: 37936