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Stalag Luft I
Barth, Germany
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Stalag Luft 1— Barth, Germany
Copyright © 2Lt Robert Harold Palmer, 301st BG, provided by the John Edward Ross family, used by permission

These rare photographs of Stalag Luft 1 were taken by 2Lt Robert Harold Palmer, copilot of the 15th Air Force, 301st BG (H), 32nd BS, 2Lt William Epps Crew.

On 25 Feb 1944 the Epps Crew was flying their 29th mission. The target was an ME-109 Aircraft Component Factory in Regensburg, Germany. On their way to Regensburg, they were attacked by German fighters. A 20mm cannon shell exploded in the pilot's control console. The plane continued on a fairly level flight path but none of the control surfaces would respond. Pilot William Epps ordered the crew to abandon ship. Procedure required safe jettison of their bombs before bailing, however after the bomb bay doors were opened, the bomb load would not release. Even the manual bomb release cable was damaged by the 20mm shell and did not work. This made it difficult for Epps and Palmer to exit the plane. They had to remove their parachutes and squeeze past the bomb load before redawning their chutes and jumping through the bomb bay doors.

All crew members were able to exit the plane and landed safely. They hid in local barns until the German soldiers began searching for them. They surrendered to prevent the Germans from harming the local farmers that were harboring them. All crew members were taken to the South Compound, Stalag Luft 1 where the crew was split up and housed in different bunkhouses. 2Lt Palmer was held by the Germans at Stalag Luft 1, Barth-Vogelsang Prussia from 25 February 1944 until liberated by the Russians in April-May 1945. He passed away on 12 May 1995.

Stalag Luft 1 - South Compound, with a POW walking to the Bathhouse (Spring 1945)

Stalag Luft 1 - South Compound Roommates including 2Lt Robert Palmer,
standing in back row far left (1945 during liberation of camp)

Stalag Luft 1 - European Occupation map, hand drawn by POWs and used to lift moral.
POWs colored the map as word of advancing Allied troops leaked into the camp.

Stalag Luft 1 - Bunks removed from sleeping quarters shortly after liberation (Spring 1945)

Stalag Luft 1 - South Compound Guard Tower unoccupied 5 days before
Russian troops arrived (Apr 1945)

Paris France - Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower greeting recently
liberated POWs (May 1945)

Stalag Luft 1 - Interior of South Compound Bathhouse (Spring 1945)

Stalag Luft 1 - Lt. Robert H. Palmer (center with chin in hand) and other POWs
waiting for liberation truck to Paris (May 1945)

[photos and captions courtesy of John Edward Ross]