Thank You For Stopping By
Hello. This is the story of a wartime bomber; Halifax JB869 DY-H, and of its crew uncovered through intensive research spanning almost a quarter of a century. It is also a story of courage, fortitude and endurance and of one man's will to survive against seemingly insurmountable odds.
Central to the book is the story of my father Joseph Harold Barratt, JB869's navigator, who was shot down over Germany in May 1943. He survived an attempted lynching on the ground to become a Prisoner of War, but his escape from his shattered aircraft was only the first of many episodes in his time as a prisoner and the cruelty and brutality that he endured along with his fellow prisoners would see him pushed to the very limits just to survive and return safely home again to his family.
The Story Behind The Greatest Escape
Like so many combat veterans, my father chose not to speak about many of his wartime experiences until quite late in his life and it was only after his death and the chance discovery of an archive of letters, logbooks and other material that the full story of his incredible series of escapes came to light. He was to be held at Stalag Luft VI (Heydekrug) and Luft IV (Gross Tychow), both would become bywords for brutality and cruelty, and as the war entered its final phase in the winter of 1944 my father would be an unwilling participant in the 'Long March', (also known as The Death March), as one of thousands of prisoners forced out of the camps by the Germans away from the advancing Russians and Allied forces.
Unprovisioned and with inadequate clothing they were force-marched across Germany in one of the coldest winters of the war years, temperatures were as low as -20 degrees. In many cases men who fell by the wayside were shot where they lay. Through extensive research, including face to face interviews and correspondence with a significant number of ex-aircrew, media appeals and online detective work the author has painstakingly pierced together the complete story of the crew of this aircraft, identifying and contacting relatives of each crew member and now presents the full story of JB869 for the first time.