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’s West Midlands branch. By the end of the operation Allied forces had brought over 354,000 ex-prisoners home.