Heroes Return Blog – Stories from Second World War veterans’ trips


Reg White from Waltham Cross returns to Germany by Big Lottery Fund
October 29, 2010, 10:36 am
Filed under: Germany, RAF | Tags: , , , , , ,

One veteran making the most of the scheme is Reg White from Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire. Joining up in the RAF aged 19, Reg underwent training in Stafford and Crewe before embarking on operational training on Wellington bombers, and then on to Lancasters as a Flight Sergeant Rear Gunner in Australian Squadron, 460 based at Binbrook, Lincolnshire.

Flying hazardous night operations over Germany, Italy and German-occupied Europe, Reg, recalls the fateful evening of Jan 27th 1944, on a mission over the heavily defended Berlin.

He recalls: “We were approaching the target when we were suddenly attacked and very badly hit.  At first I didn’t realise what was happening as I was in the rear turret and had no phone communication. Then as we started to jump I remember hearing someone shout ‘For god’s sake Skipper, bail out!’ I don’t remember what happened after that till I hit the ground and looked up at the black parachute above me. Everything was so quiet. I found out after that only three of us had survived, the other four were killed and later buried in Posen.”

Escaping the jump with no more than a burst eardrum Reg quickly hid his parachute and decided to try and head for home.  He recalls: “I wanted to set off for Switzerland. I travelled at night and during the day hid in trees. But one day I decided to chance it and as I was coming out of a clearing I suddenly saw a German soldier. He saw me, raised his gun and shouted ‘Englander? Americano?’ I told him I was English and then he seemed quite friendly. I remember wondering what he would have done if I had said Americano.”

He continued: “He took me to a nearby farm and handed me over to a German sergeant who told me he had fought in the First World War and had been taken prisoner by the English. I asked him how he was treated and he said, ‘very well’, and then offered me something to eat.”

He was then taken to an air base in Guben, where he met up with the other two survivors of his aircrew, and from there to Berlin where he was put on a flight to Frankfurt to undergo interrogation. He recalls: “The interrogation wasn’t so bad, being a rear gunner I wasn’t expected to know too much. It was the navigators who knew all about the flight routes and plotting.”

Reg was then transported to Stalag Luft 6 a Luftwaffe controlled camp at Hydekrug, on the Baltic Coast. He recalls with irony: “It wasn’t a holiday camp and we were not ill-treated, but all we had to live on was watery swede and potato soup and a bit of black bread. At the beginning of the war the POW rations were quite good but of course it was our own boys shooting everything up that caused the shortage.”

Later when the Russians started to advance into Germany Reg and his compatriots were loaded into cattle trucks and transported to an army camp in Torun, Poland and then onto  Fallingbostel in Central Germany where they were liberated.  Reg was eventually flown home in a Lancaster arriving in England on VE Day. He recalls: “I know I was very lucky. Things that happened to me always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.”

Now 87, Reg will travel on a Heroes Return 2 grant to Germany where he will visit aircrew war graves in Berlin, travel to the Ruhr Valley, Mohne Dam, Colditz, Dresden, and visit the museum at the famous Stalag Luft III, site of the great escape.


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