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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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1 PRU
28.12.1941 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (PRU), Spitfire PR.IV AA804, Plt Off. Charles P.E. Hall MiD

Operation: Photographic Reconnaissance, Düsseldorf, Germany

Date: 28th December 1941 (Monday)

Unit No: 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (PRU), 16 Group, RAF Coastal Command

Type: Spitfire PR.IV

Serial No: AA804

Code: LY

Location: Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands

Base: RAF Benson, Oxfordshire

Pilot: Fg Off. Charles Piers Egerton Hall MiD 50896 RAF Age 23. PoW No. 1423 */ Murdered

* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).

Note: In conformity with the normal practice of these units the aircraft carried no individual identification letter.

REASON FOR LOSS:

On the 28th December 1941 Fg Off. Hall took off, on his third operational sortie, in Spitfire PR.IV AA804 from RAF Benson at 10:40 hrs on a photographic reconnaissance mission to Düsseldorf, Germany.

Either inbound to or outbound from the target he was forced to abandon the aircraft over the Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands. The aircraft crashed into a forest east of the city at 14:05 hrs.

It is not known whether the loss was through enemy action or engine failure.

Fg Off. Hall was eventually sent to Stalag Luft 3 where he worked in the Forgery Department which also included taking photographs of PoWs to be used in forged documents. (Ref 1, pp.161-162).

Note: He enlisted in the Royal Air Force on the 11th February 1935 and was trained as a photographer at RAF Halton. Thereafter it is probable that he was employed as a station photographer until he re-mustered for aircrew training.

Flt Lt. Hall earned for himself or was selected on an early position in the line of two hundred hoping to escape from the north compound of Stalag Luft 3.

On the night of the 24th-25th March 1944, 76 officers escaped from the north compound of Stalag Luft 3 which, at that time, held between 1000 and 1500 RAF PoWs. The escape was made by the means of a tunnel. At about 05:00 hrs on the 25th March the 77th PoW was spotted by guards as he emerged from the tunnel.

An overview of the German response to the escape and the subsequent British prosecution of those responsible for the murder of fifty of the escapees is summarised in the report entitled “The Fifty - The Great Escape”.

It is not known when Flt Lt. Hall exited the tunnel nor with whom he travelled, if at all. What is known from the trial transcript is that he was captured at or near Sagan and that he was one of a number of recaptured officers who were gathered together in Görlitz prison in Germany which was under the control of the Gestapo. Gradually the numbers of recaptured officers grew until thirty-five were held there.

On the 31st March two of the surviving officers witnessed a number of Gestapo agents collect the following ten officers and take them away; Flt Lt. C.P. Hall, Ft Lt. Birkland, Flt Lt. B. Evans, Flt Lt. G.E. McGill, Flt Lt. E.S. Humphreys, Flt Lt. P.W. Langford, Flt Lt. C.D. Swain, Fg Off. R.C. Stewart, Flt Lt. E. Valenta and Fg Off. A.D. Kolanowski. None of these men were seen alive again.

It was alleged that a Gestapo agent by the name of Lux selected and commanded the death-squad that carried out the order to execute selected prisoners.

Believed to be Kriminalobersekretär (Chief Detective) Walter Lux who was reported to have been killed in the Siege of Breslau in 1945.

No one was formally charged with the actual murder of Flt Lt. Hall or the other fifteen officers killed by Lux and his death-squad. The bodies of this group were cremated at Liegnitz (Legnica) in Poland and their urns returned to Stalag Luft 3.

Burial details:

Memorial to “The Fifty” near to Żagań (Courtesy: CSvBibra - Own work, Public Domain)

Above grave marker for Flt Lt. Charles Piers Egerton Hall MiD (Courtesy of TWGPP)

Flt Lt. Charles Piers Egerton Hall MiD. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery, Collective grave 9.A. Grave inscription: "TO THE TREASURED MEMORY OF MY DEARLY LOVED SON". Born on the 25th July 1918 in Kings, Norton, Warwickshire. Son of Aubrey and Marcella (née Lenihan) Egerton-Hall, of Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey.

Fg Off. Hall was promoted to Flt Lt. whilst a PoW on the 17th April 1943. London Gazette 11th June 1943.

Flt Lt. Hall was Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) recognizing his conspicuous bravery as a PoW because none of the other relevant decorations then available could be awarded posthumously. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 8th June 1944.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.

Thanks to ‘The War Graves Photographic Project for their great work.

Other sources listed below:

References:

1. Stalag Luft III - An official history of the ‘Great Escape’ PoW Camp - Published by Frontline Books - ISBN: 978-1-47388-305-5.




RS & TV 14.08.2022 – Initial upload

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Acknowledgements
Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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