Captive Life

Those members of the RAF captured by the enemy found their physical freedom lost. For many the war, as they had known it, was over but their fight continued.

Innovative breakouts were planned and attempted, such as “the Great Escape” and the “Wooden Horse” escape.

Their lives were controlled, but prisoners were determined to keep their thoughts free from their situation. Sports, music and entertainments were organised to keep up morale and avoid boredom. The opportunity to acquire further knowledge through reading and exams mentally liberated those confined to Prisoner of War camps.

Extreme hardship had to be endured. Prisoners of Japan (a country which had not signed the Geneva Convention) suffered a cruel and harsh regime which included forced labour and vicious punishments inflicted for disobedience. Disease and death were constant companions. For example, of the 2,440 prisoners employed in Sandakan, Malaya, 2,434 perished, either during the construction of the Sandakan airfield or the subsequent forced marches.