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Air Commodore Herbert Martin Massey, Senior British Officer at Stalag Luft III in 1943

Air Commodore Herbert Martin Massey, Senior British Officer at Stalag Luft III in 1943 /media/flashcomm?action=mediaview&context=normal&id=666

Air Commodore Herbert Martin Massey, who lived in Pilton following his retirement from the RAF, was the Senior British officer in the German Prisoner of War Camp Stalag Luft III. Stalag Luft III was a Luftwaffe-run camp during World War II. It was in the German province of Lower Silesia near the town of Sagan, now Zagan in Poland, and housed captured air force servicemen.

Herbert Martin Massey was born in January 1898 in Hilton in Derbyshire, where he is now commemorated with a blue plaque. He joined the Royal Flying Corp in 1916 and served in World War I as well as World War II. He retired from the RAF in June 1950 and died, in Barnstaple, in 1976. During his time in Barnstaple he lived at No 17 Pilton Street, now The Red House.

The following is taken from where you can find more information about his RAF career. " Wounded in WW1, he lost half of his leg but was amongst the small band of amputees who remained in the RAF and continued flying. In 1936 he was wounded again whilst taking part in operations with 6 Squadron in Palestine. However, he was able to make a safe landing and recovered successfully. He was flying aboard Stirling N3750, piloted by Flt Lt N E Winch, during the second of the 'Thousand Plan' raids when it was shot down near the Dutch coast, fortunately the whole crew was able to bale out and were taken prisoner. Sent to Stalag Luft III at Sagan, he became Senior British Officer in September 1941 and under his authority plans for a mass escape where instituted. Taking place in 1943, 'The Great Escape' resulted in over 70 RAF prisoners escaping although most were later recaptured and 50 of them were executed on Hitler's orders. However. Group Captain Massey was eventually repatriated to Britain through ill health."

The photograph, taken from the same website, is thought to show Air Commodore Massey in the camp.

Thanks to rafweb for this information.

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