The Long Trip Home

Operation EXODUS, 3 April-31 May 1945, was the repatriation of ex-Prisoners of War from camps in Europe.

By April 1945 many Prisoner of War camps in occupied Europe had been liberated. Though free, the ex-prisoners were hundreds of miles from home with many suffering from illness, fatigue and starvation. As ex POWs flooded into collection points throughout Europe, it was clear that a swift method of repatriation was needed. Consequently, RAF bombers were tasked to fly the PoWs home.

At the height of the operation, the repatriation aircraft were arriving in Europe at a rate of 16 per hour bringing more than 1,000 people a day into British receiving camps. Many passed through RAF Cosford, now home to the RAF Museum Midlands. By the end of the operation Allied forces had brought over 354,000 ex-prisoners home.