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escape lines memorial society

york press

Veterans to thank wartime helpers
Lord Crathorne at the unveiling of the Escape Lines Memorial Society's Helper Memorial, at Eden Camp, near Malton, in April 2006. Above, members of the society at a previous gathering
Lord Crathorne at the unveiling of the Escape Lines Memorial Society's Helper Memorial, at Eden Camp, near Malton, in April 2006. Above, members of the society at a previous gathering

VETERANS who escaped from occupied territory more than 60 years ago are to meet the brave civilians who risked death to help them at a reunion later this month.

Members of the Escape Lines Memorial Society (ELMS) are heading to York for the world's largest gathering of escapers, evaders and helpers.

During their stay, the war-time survivors will attend a Service of Remembrance at Eden Camp Museum, near Malton, home to the world's only memorial dedicated to the helpers.

Roger Stanton, ELMS founder and secretary, said the event was about remembering "helpers" who assisted Allied soldiers and aircrew escape Nazi forces. The reunion has attracted the attention of ambassadors from London-based embassies who will also be attending.

The ELMS is an association for Allied service personnel who escaped from POW camps, as well as evading aircrew or soldiers, their helpers, families and those who support the society's aims.

It is dedicated to the memory and support of the people who ran the escape lines and led Allied soldiers to safety through neutral countries such as Switzerland or Spain and onwards to Gibraltar.

Nick Hill, the museum's director, said the gathering at Eden Camp on April 26, said: "It is the biggest reunion in the world for people from all escape lines. We are very proud to host it. The organisers deemed our museum the most suitable in Europe."

Commending the helpers, many of whom were young women, Mr Hill said: "They were extremely brave. The youngest now is in her early 80s. The society aims to keep the memories going."

Mr Stanton said: "They hid, clothed, and fed their parcels', and then escorted them across occupied Europe to neutral countries, or through Spain to Gibraltar.

"They were given no training, were not paid, and if caught, were subject to harsh treatment by the Gestapo.

"Some were tortured, many were executed and those who survived interrogation were thrown into concentration camps together with their families where many died.

"The escaper or evader, if caught with them, was sent to a POW camp. Irrespective of nationality, religion or political persuasion, these brave helpers', ensured by their actions, that allied servicemen returned to England.

"Most did not give their names. They appeared when needed, and disappeared after their part in the escape line link was completed. They came from all walks of life.

"They all played their part in ensuring that over 3,000 recorded escapers and evaders reached England to fight again.

"It is important this small part of Second World War history is remembered."

International film crews will also be at the reunion, which includes a formal dinner at the Monk Bar Hotel, in York.

Society members have also been invited to meet members the York branch of the Royal Air Force Association club.

1:33pm Monday 14th April 2008

K for Kitty Crew


I could not agree with you more. The helpers that risk their lives must never be forgotten. They of all people. with no real backup support took it upon themselves to do the very best they could for the allied movement. We salute you all.



Air Commodore

Status: Offline
Posts: 206

I was one of those Airmen who was helped by the Escape lines (The Chauny Line was my first one) but D-Day occurred before I could join the Comete Line and travel to the Basque country.  However, the people who hid me and fed me (30 extra pounds worth) shall always be remembered as friends.

I wish I could get to the York meeting, but advanced age puts a damper on travel.


John A. Neal
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