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  1. Next up is another second world war pow group awarded to Ernest George Alfred Brown. Ernest was born on the 18th of February 1918 and enlisted as Gunner in the 72nd Field Regiment, Royal Artillery (Part of the 50th Division, 8th army) on the 2nd of April 1940. At the time of enlistment, he was working as a Dairyman. He was living in North Kensington, London. On the 1st of June 1942, he was wounded by shrapnel in the legs and captured when the Germans overran the regiment at Gazala. He was held in North Africa for two months before arriving at PG73 at Fossili di Capri in Northern Italy on the 2nd of August 1942. Ernest stayed at Fossili di Carpi until the Italian capitulation but unlike many from the camp was unable to make good his escape and was re-captured by the Germans and was put on a train to Stalag 344 at Lamsdorf, Poland on the 19th of September 1943. He arrived at Lamsdorf on the 9th of October 1943. After the POW camp was closed at Fossili di Carpi, the Germans turned it into a Concentration Camp. Ernest was held in the main camp at Lamsdorf until the 16th of January when he was sent to the work camp E535 at Sosnowitz where he worked at a coal mine. He worked at Sosnowitz until the 18th of January 1945 when the working camp was evacuated away from the advancing Russians. He was liberated a few months later and was interviewed regarding his time as a prisoner on the 14th of May 1945. The items i have are the 1939-45 star, Africa star (8th army bar missing) and War medal, along with Ernest's original POW ID tag from Lamsdorf. I have found the account of a New Zealand soldier who worked alongside Ernest in the coal mine and here is his story regarding working, the evacuation and the liberation of the men of work camp E535. "We travelled from Sosnoweic by tram to Miloweic Grube our camp was an old school. In this particular coalmine was mostly Poles with the German overseers, it was a mine that the Germans had taken from the Poles. Before the Germans took it over the Poles had flooded it. It was a smaller mine and not up to date like the Hohenzellern mine. The level I worked on in this mine was 900 feet below ground. They used many pit ponies and they were in a lovely condition and really well locked after, but just before we left the army commandeered them all and put in Ukraine ponies and they were in a shocking state. I looked through the stables and how well they looked after their horses. This particular mine was colder and wetter to work in. I worked in the main the maintenance section we didn’t have to work so hard some days but other had to do heavier work such as carrying big heavy pipes. Six men to carry 500 lb steel pipes up a grade of one and three feet and to carry them 400 yards. We had to carry 7 water pipes per shift. We were allowed 15 minutes in the middle of the shift for “fruh- stuk” (cup of tea of bite to eat). We did quite a lot of racketeering amongst the Poles in the way of tobacco we could buy a pound to a pound and a half for a chocolate, 7 kg of bread for a chocolate, a kg of bread was 2 ½ pounds. We could also buy 100 saccarhines for 10 cigarettes. The hardest part was to get these articles into the camp as we were searched. We could also buy 6 or 7 kgs of flour for a chocolate. For our Christmas dinner we brought a rabbit which cost us four chocolates. Chocolate was worth 100 marks before we left this camp. The guards at this camp were really a bad lot. I was in this camp for six months and in this time I received several letters and parcel. On January 17th was the last day I worked in the coalmine on the 18th we didn’t work. On the 19th January 1945 at roll call the German Officer informed us that we would be leaving the camp at 2:30 that afternoon. We had to leave the camp on the account of the Russian advance and before leaving our Doctor drafted the men he considered couldn’t stand up to the marching and left them behind in the camp hospital, along with other patients already there including medical orderlies to be picked up by the Russians when they reached the camp. The German Officers also informed us that we could take anything we could carry in the way of blankets, clothing, and food. We were marched out the gates and counted onto the roads and marched to the Grube close by where some of our boys had already marched out earlier in the afternoon. The next day we went on to Bucthen about 15 kms away where we stayed the night, that being the last night we spent behind barbwire. When we did this march it was winter and extremely cold, snow covered the ground the best part of the time. One of the hardest things we found at the beginning of the march was the contrast from working under the ground for so long with everything so black, then having to march in the snow for weeks on end. The glare from the snow, made our eyes ache. From now on at night we camped in farm out building, some of the boys brought sleighs to carry their packs on. In the early parts of the march they kept us going for four or five hours without a stop, but after getting over the river Oder, they gave us two days’ march and one day’s rest and our Doctor persuaded the Germans to give us ten minutes’ rest every hour, during the day while marching. The first part of the march we didn’t get anything hot to drink and even had a job to get cold water as everything was frozen. If we carried any water in our army bottles it would be frozen in a very short time. On our rest days we used to get dry rations that had to be cooked, dried meat, peas, beans, and dried potatoes and only a little of each. We used to borrow a copper from the civilians on whose property we were camped so we could cook vegetables, and often had a lot of trouble borrowing a copper. Rations later became very scarce. On the night of the 10th of March 1945 special Red Cross trucks were sent to us prisoners of war on the march the name of the place being “Luck”, it averaged about 4 parcel per man also included cigarette, from then on parcels came at different times. If it hadn’t been for the Red Cross I don’t think many of us would have made the grade. Although at different times we were able to scrounge mangels, turnips, and potatoes unknown to the guards. By this time we were getting road weary, our boots were worse for wear. In March we were issued with a letter card to write home but no-one ever received the same, also we were issued with pamphlets asking us to fight with the Germans against the Russians, and everyone treated it as a joke. Whilst at the last camp we had two radios which we brought from the civilians with chocolate and smuggled into our camp, needless to say we had it well hidden. The Germans got suspicious and had thorough searches for the same and in the end we had let them find one (it being the dud of the two). The other radio was kept well concealed and just two or three got the news and wrote it out fully and read it out to us in our huts every evening round 8 o’clock. Our Doctor when leaving the camp took charge of the radio as his medical equipment was being carried by horse drawn wagon and when camping on the march. He always received the privilege of staying at a boarding house as he was a Medical Officer. Most of the places we stopped had electricity on so he got the radio pugged into a light socket and wrote out the news in brief and read it out to us in different cow sheds or on the road to us unbeknown to the guards. We considered it as good as a meal to us to hear the news. On the march we saw hundreds if not thousands of evacuees on the road mostly elderly men, woman and children, everybody seemed to be in a terrible state simply fleeting from the Russians. When passing through Czechoslovakia the woman and children were very kind to us they threw us biscuits, buns and bread knowing it was forbidden to do so. The German guards became very nasty at them doing so and we were issued with orders that if we stepped out of our column we would be shot. A day or two latter one of our boys was shot while picking up a piece of bread. During Easter we stayed at a big factory at Swarzenfeldt this was beside an important railway line. The station a little further on was bombed at different occasions so much so that they had to shift us. While we were still there we had to go on different occasions and help to fill up bomb craters and renew railway lines that the Allied planes had bombed. Nurenburg wasn’t far away and we could see our planes bombing every day. We then moved away and in the next few days crossed the Blue Danube, the weather was becoming a little warmer by this time. As we were coming up to the bridge across the Danube the air raid sirens were going and we had to halt, it was some time before permission was given for us to cross. The bridge was a two-way railway bridge with a footpath only and we had to go across in single file, the name of the town we were coming to was called Regensbourg. The bridge was fairly high and had a swift flow river. As I was about the middle of the bridge, the first wave of American bombers came over luckily their job was to bomb the railway station a few miles away. We found out later that there was an ammunition train in the station, also an ammunition factory close by. The next wave of planes that came over was to bomb the bridge and they sure made a job of it, resulting in a lot our boys being killed or badly wounded. By the time I was off the bridge just a matter of a few chains, the bombing and the strafing was nerve wracking and we really thought we were all going to get cleaned up. We had been on the road since 5 o’clock that morning, the raid took place at 4:30pm. Some of the German guards were also killed and wounded, after everything was over the guards rounded us up and marched over to some trees until nightfall, they then marched us all night. The Germans idea was to get us away from the town for fear of us being bombed again that night. Marching us through back roads and forests, from then on we slept during the day and marched at night on account of the bombing of our own planes. While on the march we saw them making road blocks all the way along to try to stop the oncoming armies. Several of my mates couldn’t make the grade and fell out and were shot by the S.S. in the next day or two. It was very difficult from then on to get bread as all the bakeries were getting bombed. From then on any buildings that we stayed in we wrote P.O.W. on the roof, eventually we landed up in a river bed where the Germans more or less handed us over to the Red Cross as they were unable to take us any further or to feed us. We walked on average of 12 to 15 miles a day. Before going into camp everyone was checked off on a nominal roll. This camp was between the main river and a creek, no fences but we were still guarded, two later on a Sunday we were released. LIBERATION In the morning the S.S. troops started digging in all around us and we started to get concerned because if the Germans Started to fire on the Americans they would open fire and then fire right into the middle of us, but by midday they were well away. The houses in the villages close by all had white flags flying by then. Some of our boys were out watching for the first sight of the Americans tanks to come over a hill some distance away and to direct them to our camp. It was now 6 o’clock in the evening two tanks and two jeeps drove up to us, and we all cheered them but it soon died down and everyone seemed to be overcome with joy as it all seemed too good to be true. There was between 3000 and 4000 American, Russians, and Colonial troops in this camp. They told us that they had already that day released two similar camps. They took photos of us and wirelessed back to their artillery where we were situated, they moved off and left us. The first thing we did then was to unarm the guard and make prisoners of them. That same night we experienced a lot of shelling and for several nights after. Then next day the Yanks told us that everything around belonged to us and just help ourselves in the way of food which we did as these were the people who had kept us from it for so long. We took fowls, geese eggs young pigs, and had some royal meals, but “OH! WEREN’T WE SICK”. There was a biscuit factory close by which we did over and helped ourselves to sugar, biscuits, margarine, jam, condensed milk etc., in a big way. We also commandeered motorbikes, motorcars, pushbikes, hacks, and wheelbarrows to do our pilfering with. The name of the place we were camped in was” Landshut” Aerodrome which was situated in Bavaria, not a great distance from Munich. This all happened on the 29th April 1945, we lived on the fat of the land, and Red Cross parcels. A few days later we had heavy rain which held up the planes landing to take us away so while we were waiting our Doctor advised us to move into the villages boarding bordering the drome and to stay there till they could take us away. We could not stay in the riverbed camp any longer on account of so many fowl’s heads, feathers, and where chaps had been sick after eating so much rich food. We were all formed into groups of 28 men that many making a plane load. The day before leaving “Landshut” we were all deloused just a simple operation of pumping powder up our sleeves and down our necks and trousers. The Americans were very kind to us while we were there and assisted us in any way they could. On the morning of the 11th may the plane came in to take our lot away making a really wonderful sight we will never forget, we left in an American troop carrier and flew to Rhiems, it was a beautiful sunny morning, they didn’t fly very high and we had a good view of the country we passed over, it was really a good trip. When we arrived at Rhiems there were Army trucks waiting to take us to another drome about an hours drive away, I have since forgotten the name of it; we received a meal at the canteen and never will forget it, there were German P.O.W.s serving in the canteen. They had been captured some three or four months previously in France. We were then puts in groups of 24 to be put into Lancaster Bombers. The first thing they gave us was some wadding to put in our ears and a little box of boiled lollies to keep us from being sick also a “Mae West” to put on as we were going to fly over the channel. They particularly asked to sit still in the plane; we did not have such a good view in this plane as there were no windows like the troop carrier previously, although some of us near the back could see through the rear gunner’s cockpit. It turned out to be quite a good trip; we arrived at a drome called Tangmere in the South of England. The WAAFs were out to meet every plane and assisted us prisoners out of the plane and helped us with our small kits such as they were. We then got into Army trucks and were driven over to the reception hall, but before going into the hall we were again deloused as previously mention. We all thought how nice and kind these girls were to us, in the way they looked after us and entertained us. After tea they put on pictures and supper also a packet of sandwiches and two oranges to eat on the train as our train didn’t leave until 2 a.m. We got on the train at Barnham to go to Margate a journey of five hours. When we arrived at Margate we had breakfast, first thing we did after breakfast we qued for our mail and free cable which could be sent home to our relatives. There were ten letters waiting for me. We were all then medically examined, reclothed, inoculated, and paid in readiness to go on leave on the 23rd of May. Our impressions of the English people as a whole were really wonderful. In conclusion I must pay high tribute to the Red Cross. If it had not been for this wonderful organisation 90 % of us would not be here today. I owe my very life to the Red Cross." A really fascinating insight to life on the forced march and the journey the men made after being freed!
  2. I am very pleased to announce that I have been able to reunited Joseph George Penney's 1939-45 star to the Africa star I already had in the collection. A spot of luck on eBay and the seller was very happy to end the auction before anybody else bid to ensure I got the medals together again! Hopefully I will at some point in the future be able to find his other two medals and get the group back together again! If you fancy a re-read on Joseph Penney, you can find my previous post on page 4 of this thread.
  3. Thanks very much guys! Yes, with quite a few of my groups, I have been fortunate that the dealer or seller did not do any research into the item so I was able to get them for a good price! That being said, I really do put the hours in finding groups, checking names against pow lists etc but I have been well rewarded for my efforts! take care, Rob
  4. Due to new documents being added to findmypast, I have discovered that P.A.D Cartwright was a member of the 11th battalion, the Parachute Regiment and was captured on the 20th of September 1944.
  5. Thanks chaps! I think he should have been M.I.D too but hey ho! Many people got somewhat short changing when it comes to being decorated for escape! for example, a great number of the fifty murdered after the great escape should have been awarded MC's or DCM's for their escape records from before the great escape but as they were killed, all they were given was a posthumous M.I.D! Rob
  6. I have just recieved the Escape to Switzerland report for Sgt G G Law of the 3rd Transvaal Scottish who was captured at Sidi Rezegh on the 23rd of November 1941 and it has been a bit bitter sweet. As i wrote on the original post, his service papers stated that his last camp was PG52 Chiavari and that it was from here that he made his way to Switzerland following the armistice but it turns out he was moved again to a different camp. Due to the rarity of escapers from Chiavari, i did pay a fairly decent amount for the group but the actual story is pretty good so i think i have still done alright on the purchase! Here is the new information i have discovered... Sgt G G Law was captured at Sidi Rezegh on the 23rd of November 1941. Under the brief circumstances of capture section of his report he stated that he was with his unit in the 5th S.A Brigade and was captured at when they were overrun by tanks. From the 26th of November to the 12th of December, he was held in Benghazi in one of the pow cages. From Benghazi, he was sent to Tarhuna and held there until the 26th of December. On the 29th of December 1941, he was held at the transit camp at Capua and was held there until the 4th of December 1942. From Capua, he was transferred to Chiavari and stayed there until the 18th of April 1943. Finally, he was transferred to PG 148 at Bussolengo. He was assigned to be the camp leader for sub camp 6 at Angiari. The sub camp was employed doing farm work. His escape report follows like so; "Just before 8/9/43, as camp leader of PG 148/6, i had sounded the Italian Commandant 2/lt Sandro Benetti with a view to bribing him to allow the whole camp of 50 to escape. We had offered 50 lire each. When we heard of the armistice, he released us immediately. At first, we all tried to head south but eight men were captured and so i approached this Italian and asked him if he could help us escape to Switzerland. This he did and organised the escape of 39 men." On the next page, he goes on to give more detail; "First i attempted to regain our own lines to the south and got as far as Bologna but finding it too risky i returned to the Angiari area, where i remained until i contacted the ex commandant of the camp PG 148/6 who helped me reach Switzerland. We travelled by train from Angiari to Mantova and stayed the night. Then we got the train to Milan and from there the train to Erba. From Erba we went on foot to Lake Como. We crossed Lake Como by rowing boat and walked to the frontier which we reached near Bruzzella on the 23rd of November 1943." This is a very unusual escape to Switzerland as he initially spent some time trying to reach the allied lines, but returned to his camp and got the Commandant to pay for him and 38 others to get to freedom in Switzerland! I also am happy that before the armistice, he tried to bribe the Commandant to allow them to escape so he was already in the mindset of escape before the armistice! Even though it is not the outcome i had hoped for with the research for this group, its still a very interesting story and its nice to have the group to a camp leader who really did show initiative and managed to get 39/50 men to safety in Switzerland.
  7. Thanks very much Paul! I've been very lucky with the amount of pow debriefs I've been able to find for them and had a very good year of collecting! Yes it would be very nice if they did have an official POW medal like the United States do, especially if it was named, but sadly only the unofficial pow medal exists! (See final post on page 3) cheers again! Rob
  8. Hi John, Great group and amazing to have the original newspaper with his picture in it! I have done a quick search and i have found out that Leslie James Clare was held at PG57 at Gruppignano, near Udine, Italy. I have not found him on the list of prisoners held in German territories so maybe there is still a good story to be uncovered! I'll PM you the email address of my chap who access's the pow debrief and escape reports from the National Archives and maybe you will get lucky! Rob
  9. Brett, A very interesting and a sad story regarding his keenness to see action and how it turned out to be his first and last dogfight! Ive have just noticed on Findmypast, (a great site which i recommend using!), that in the last few days they have uploaded a file stating that Sgt G G Law was indeed interviewed in Switzerland about his escape from Italy so i have asked my researcher at the archives to have another look and try to find it! It states also that he was interviewed on the 23rd of November 1943, two years after his capture! Hopefully if the file can be found, it will be an interesting one! Rob
  10. Interesting reading Brett, many thanks! I know an unfortunately small amount about South African medals so it's good to get some info on the Territorial LSGC. I'm assuming that he qualified for it in 1943/1944 as war service was considered 'double time' for the lsgc so he would have qualified whilst a POW. It's 75 years ago to the day that Sgt G G Law was captured at Sidi Rezegh! How interesting that a 21 year old collector from the UK has his medals in his collection all these years after he was captured! Hope you are well, Rob
  11. Hi Alan, Yes it is an eye watering amount! But as the listing says, a truly unique group! Perhaps you could get a replica set assembled and make a nice display instead? Either way, a fascinating man to have as an ancestor and I enjoyed reading about him! Rob
  12. Hi Brett, Yes the ww2 medals are impressed with service number, initials and surname as is standard and the Territorial medal in engraved with service number, rank, name and regiment. Glad you enjoyed! Rob
  13. Hi, If I have the correct group, they are up for auction with Dix, Noonan and Webb next month. Here is the link, https://www.dnw.co.uk/auctions/catalogue/lot.php?auction_id=448&lot_id=5052 Regards, Rob
  14. When talking about the Italian Capitulation and those got back to allied lines or to Switzerland, its hard to say whether it can be classed as Escape, or simply as a mix of opportunism and luck. After the Capitulation, most camps were simply left for the inmates to control. A large amount were free for quite a few days before the Germans arrived allowing thousands to simply walk out and make their own way back to freedom, However this depended on if the senior officer in the camp followed the stay put order or not. A couple of the camps however were almost immediately taken over by the Germans. One camp in particular is Camp 52 at Chiavari. The Germans actually parachuted in on the Capitulation of Italy to take over the camp instantly. Nobody was able to escape before the camp was taken by the Germans and the Prisoners were put into cattle trucks for the Fatherland. It is estimated that only about 30 men managed to escape from the train. Therefore, it is really hard to find true 'escaper' medal groups to men held in Italy. However, i have been fortunate enough to find the grouping to Lieutenant John Jenkins (Posted about on this thread, page 2) who escaped, by hiding in the tunnel he had been working on for 6 months, when the the Germans came to en-train all of the prisoners to Germany. I have recently been able to find a group to a man who i am sure is one of those who jumped from the train from PG 52 at Chiavari. Sadly, he didn't fill out an MI9 debrief form so the details cant be truly discovered. I have seen only 2 groups to men who jumped from the train and have read a further 2 or 3 accounts of others who had jumped, but only seen the group of and heard the story of one other man who escaped in a different way. For this reason i am certain that my man jumped from the train. George Gordon Law was born on the 24th of October 1915 in South Africa. His mother and next of kin was Agnes M Gordon Law. His nationality is listed as British Colonial. He lived at 242 Kerk St. Johannesburg. His description (on discharge) is given as: Height: 5"11, Complexion: Medium, Hair: Brown, Eyes: Blue/Grey and Distinctive Marks: Scar Left side of Forehead. He joined the 1st Transvaal Scottish Regiment in 1934 and served with them until 1939 when he transferred to the 3rd Battalion Transvaal Scottish. He initially served in the East African Campaign embarking from Durban aboard the SS Westernland on the 8th of December 1940 arriving on the 15th. He served in Mombasa, Kenya until the 18th of April 1941 when he embarked from Mombasa to Suez aboard the HMT Dunera arriving at his destination on the 3rd of May 1941. As part of Operation Crusader, the attempt to relieve the besieged port of Tobruk, the Transvaal Scottish were all but annihilated at Sidi Rezegh by Rommel's Panzers on the 23rd of November 1941. The Transvaal Scottish were halted at Sidi Rezegh on the 22nd of November by strong German positions who counter-attacked with two Panzer Divisions. The South Africans formed a defensive box formation trying to take cover in slit trenched, however, in many places they could only dig down to around 9 inches due to the solid limestone underneath their positions. Their position was to be protected on the flank by the ten remaining tanks of the 7th Armoured Brigade who had lost nearly 140 tanks in four days of fighting. On the morning of the 23rd, the two Panzer divisions swept through the shattered remnants of the Armoured Brigade and attacked the South African positions from all sides. Despite heroic resistance from the infantrymen fighting tanks out in the open with nothing but rifles and machine guns and their artillery who fired over open sights until they were overrun. The South Africans were all but wiped out. The Africakorps called the battle "Totensonntag", the 'Sunday of the dead' due to the ferociousness of the fighting. After the battle of Sidi Rezegh, Acting Lieutenant General Sir Charles Willoughby Moke Norrie stated that the South Africans "Sacrifice resulted in the turning point of the battle, giving the allies the upper hand in North Africa". After his capture on the 23rd of November 1941 at Sidi Rezegh, Sgt Law was sent to PG 38 at Poppi which was a monastery near Arezzo arriving on the 14th of January 1942. On the 8th of February he was confirmed as a P.O.W. He moved camps to PG 66 at Capua on the 25th of March 1942 and moved on to his final destination on the 24th of April 1942 which was PG 52 at Chiavari. On the Capitulation of Italy, the Germans parachuted in and took over the camp before anybody had got the chance to get away as the Senior British Warrant Officer had forbidden attempts to escape as the Stay Put order had stated. The prisoners were marched off to the station on put on trains for Germany. It appears that Sgt Law managed to escape from the train and he made his way up to Switzerland arriving on the 3rd of January 1944. He was released from Switzerland in October 1944 arrived in Egypt on the 11th of October. He arrived back in the Union on the 4th of November 1944. I am going to try and contact the Regiment to see if they hold any record of Law's escape but either way, a group to a man who got away from Camp 52 is very rare indeed so im glad to have it in my collection. Its also my first Territorial Efficiency Medal to have the Bi-Lingual South African Suspender so its always nice to have a completely 'new' medal in my collection!
  15. I have just found this extra bit of information regarding William Basil Rudd's final sortie which ended in him being shot down and captured. This info is taken from 'Fighter Command's Air War in 1941: RAF Circus Operations and Fighter Sweeps' by Norman Franks. Quickly to define for those who are not aware, a 'Circus Operation' was the code-name given to operations of the Royal Air Force during World War Two where bombers, heavily escorted by fighters, were sent over Continental Europe to bring enemy fighters into combat. Circus No.93 - 4 September The first Circus of the month called for twelve Blenheims to attack the power station at Mazingarbe. North Weald got the Close Escort slot, Biggin the Cover. Target Support went to Kenley and Hornchurch. Forward Support to Northolt and Rear Support, Tangmere. Low cloud over the Channel became hazy over France with just fragments of cloud. The bombers, all of 18 Squadron, operated in two boxes of six, and made RV over Manston at 10,000 feet at 18:00. Seventeen minutes later they were crossing the French coast at Mardyck and reached Mazingarbe ten minutes after that, Bombs from the first box all overshot, but the second six saw their bombs fall on the Ammonia plant, on the coking ovens and across the nearby rail line. However, on the way in a single Me109 dived on the rear section near Hazebrouck and opened fire on one which pulled out with black smoke pouring from its starboard engine. It then burst into flames and just before it blew up, one of the crew baled out. The attacking pilot was none other than Adolf Galland who thus achieved his eighty-second victory. The escorts became embroiled in fights with Me109s going to and returning from the target and while 222 Squadron lost two pilots, the Wing claimed 2-3-1 before the 109's broke off. Both NCO pilots ended up 'in the bag'. 111 Squadron also had one pilot forced to bale out but he was later rescued. This was Sgt T R Caldwell's second baled out having done so back on the 23rd of July. Of the three Blenheim crew, only the pilot survived joining the two fighter pilots in captivity. (I am assuming the '2-3-1' means 2 destroyed, 3 probables and 1 damaged?) Its very interesting to see that Adolf Galland was involved in this operation. Galland was credited with an incredible 104 'kills' and fought against the RAF in the Battle of Britain. After the war, Galland actually became good friends with Douglas Bader!