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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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40 Sqn
16/17.10.1941 40 Squadron Wellington Ic Z8862 Sqn Ldr. Thomas G. Kirby-Green MiD

Operation: Duisburg, Germany

Date: 16th/17th October 1941 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: 40 Squadron

Type: Wellington Ic

Serial: Z8862

Code: BL:B

Base: RAF Alconbury, Huntingdonshire

Location: Kirchhellen, Germany

Pilot: Sqn Ldr. Thomas Gresham Kirby-Green MiD (Twice) 39103 RAFO Age 26. PoW No. 652 */Murdered

2nd Pilot: Sgt. John Alan Lamb 1261295 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Obs: Sgt. John Allen Jacques R58300 RCAF Age 24. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Alfred Henry Harman 987367 RAFVR Age? Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Patrick Leo Hennigan DFM 628890 RAF Age? Killed

Air Gnr (Rear): Fg Off. Peter Clifford Campbell-Martin MC 78357 RAFVR Age 44. Killed

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


Z8862 took off from RAF Alconbury as part of a force of 78 bombers, comprising 47 Wellingtons, 26 Hampdens, and 14 Whitleys targeting Duisburg. A further 8 Hampdens carried out searchlight suppression sorties.

Z8862 was the only aircraft lost and was hit by flak from 1. & 3./Res. Flak Abt. 382 and 3./Res. Flak Abt. 445. The aircraft crashed at Kirchhellen, Germany. No time is recorded. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (13 July 1941 - 29 May 1942) The Early Years Part 2 - Theo Boiten).

Those that perished were initially buried in the Kirchhellen Cemetery near Essen. They were reinterred at the Reichswald Forest British Cemetery on the 13th May 1947.

This was Sqn Ldr. Kirby-Green’s thirty-seventh mission and was considered such a catch that his capture was announced by William Joyce aka ‘Lord Haw Haw’.

(1) Sqn Ldr. Kirby-Green was eventually sent to Stalag Luft 3 where he was responsible for gathering and disseminating information about Spain.

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”.

Sqn Ldr. Kirby-Green and J10177 Fg Off. Gordon A. Kidder, RCAF were paired for the escape and they were the 21st and 20th out of the tunnel. They made their way to Sagan railway station where a number of other escapees where also awaiting a train.

Flt Lt. Van der Stok witnessed Sqn Ldr. Kirby-Green having his papers examined by a Feldgendarmerie Hauptmann (Capt in the Military police) after a German girl censor from the camp became suspicious of him. The Hauptmann was satisfied with Sqn Ldr. Kirby-Green’s papers and he was free to embark a Breslau bound train which left at 03:30 hrs. (Ref 1.)

106346 Flt Lt. Bram Van der Stok, RAF was from 41 Sqn, and was shot down flying Spitfire Vb BL595 on the 12th April 1942. He was one of three escapees that made a ‘Home Run’.

They arrived at Breslau and made a connection with a train bound for Czechoslovakia but were arrested at Hodonin in southern Moravia on the 28th March and taken to the prison at Zlín.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Sqn Ldr. Kirby-Green were established during the first of two British Military Courts which was convened at the Curiohaus, Hamburg between the 1st July and 3rd September 1947. This was the trial of Max Wielen and 17 others where they were charged on nine counts.

All of the accused were named on the first two counts. These were charges of conspiracy against the accused together with SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller, Head of the Gestapo (Amt IV of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt) (believed to have been killed or committed suicide), SS-Gruppenführer Arthur Nebe, Head of the Kripo (Amt V of the RSHA) (Executed after the attempt on Hitler’s life) and Max Ernst Gustav Friedrich Wielen, the Kripo and Gestapo police chief of Breslau with the rank of SS-Obergruppenführer, in the participation of the killing of the 50 officers.

In counts three to nine, six groups of accused were each charged with the killing of one or several officers. Every accused with the exception of Max Wielen figures in one of these charges and no accused figures in more than one.

Specifically on the 9th count, Erich Hermann August Zacharias, a former member of the Zlín Grenzpolizei (Frontier Police), was concerned in the killing Fg Off. G.A. Kidder, RCAF and Sqn Ldr. T.G. Kirby-Green RAFO, in the vicinity of Mährisch Ostrau on or about 29th March 1944.

Mährisch Ostrau is now Moravská Osytava in the Czech Republic.

The court heard that Hans Ziegler, the Commanding Officer (CO) of the Zlín Grenzpolizei summoned Zacharias and an Adolf Knippelberg to his office on 29th March 1944, and told them that two British officers had been caught in the neighbourhood.

The evidence by Zacharias differs from the evidence for the prosecution. The prosecution relied on a deposition made by Zacharias and on an affidavit sworn by a man named Friedrich Kiowsky, who was their driver, according to which Ziegler told Zacharias and Knippelberg that the two prisoners were British officers and PoWs and were to be shot on orders from Berlin, and that Knippelberg and his driver were to take one prisoner out in their car, and Zacharias and his driver Kiowsky were to take the other prisoner in their car and that both prisoners were to be shot.

The defence maintained that Zacharias’ deposition was not a voluntary statement, but was made under duress and that Kiowsky’s affidavit could not be relied upon as he was really an accomplice who had been charged with murder and tried by the Czech Government. The court should therefore rely on Zacharias’ evidence in the witness box, which was to the effect that the CO told them that the two officers were saboteurs and spies, and had to be shot on orders from Berlin, and that, however, they did not have to carry out this order since the two officers made a determined attempt to escape, so that he and Kiowsky had to shoot them in carrying out their duty as a military escort.

The court found Zacharias guilty of the charge and he was sentenced to death by hanging.

Hans Ziegler committed suicide on 3rd February 1948;

Friedrich Kiowsky was executed in Czechoslovakia in 1947 after being convicted of murder;

Adolf Knippelberg was prematurely released from a Red Army PoW camp in 1945 and disappeared.

Zacharias was executed on 26th February 1948 at 10:50 hrs at Hameln prison. Albert Pierrepoint, assisted by RSM Richard A. O’Neill, had started at 09:00 hrs with the double execution of two war criminals unrelated to the Sagan Case of the Fifty Officers. Between 09:28 hrs and 12:08 hrs this was followed by the execution, in six doubles and one single, of those condemned for the murder of the Sagan escapees.

Burial Details

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

Sqn Ldr. Thomas Gresham Kirby-Green. Poznań Old Garrison Cemetery 7.D.7. Born on the 28th February 1918 in Nyasaland, modern day Malawi. Son of Sir William Kirby-Green, Down, Nyasaland, Africa (Former Governor of Nyasaland). Husband to Dorothea M.D. (née Hayman) Middleton of Surrey North Eastern, Surrey, England.

1st MiD awarded to Flt Lt. Kirby-Green on the 24th September 1941;
2nd MiD was awarded posthumously to Sqn Ldr. Kirby-Green on the 8th June 1944.

Sgt. John Alan Lamb. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery 20.D.14. Inscription reads: "AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE WILL REMEMBER THEM". Son of William George and Esther Emily Lamb, of Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey, England.

Above: Grave marker for Sgt. Jacques (Credit: Mitch Buiting - Wargraves Volunteer Photographers)

Sgt. John Allen Jacques. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery 20.D.15. Inscription reads: "GLAD DID I LIVE AND GLADLY DIE FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO BE FREE". Born on the 26th June 1917 in Ancon, Canal Zone, Panama. Son of Mace McConnell and Florence (née Allen) Jacques of Ancon, Canal Zone, Panama.

John Allen Jacques was a United States (US) citizen. He enlisted in the US Navy in 1937 and was a Midshipman, 2nd Class at the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. He tendered his resignation from the US Navy on the 29th February 1940 and left on the 14th March 1940 to pursue his civilian career.

On his way overseas the war in Europe put a stop to his plans to grow coconuts in Tahiti, which was a French colony. As the USA was not involved in the conflict he travelled to Canada and enlisted in the RCAF on the 12th July 1940. He was trained as an aircrew Observer.

Sgt. Alfred Henry Harman. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Joint grave 20.D.11-12. Born in June 1918 in Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales. Son of Richard Henry and Margaret (née Powell) Harman of Newport, Wales.

Flt Sgt. Patrick Leo Hennigan DFM. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Joint grave 20.D.11-12. Husband to Margaret Mary (née Clarkson) of Marylebone, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. Hennigan was awarded the DFM whilst with 99 Sqn, which was promulgated in the London Gazette on the 30th July 1940.

Fg Off. Peter (Pierre) Clifford Campbell-Martin MC, Croix de Guerre. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery 20.D.13. Inscription reads: "FERIENS TEGO". Born on the 6th November 1896 in Bengal, India. Son of Henry Torrence and Adeline Ellen Mabel (née Augier) Campbell-Martin; husband of Emily Barbara (née Walsh) Campbell-Martin, of Kensington, London.

Fg Off. Campbell-Martin was detached from 264 Sqn, which was a night fighter Squadron flying Boulton Paul Defiant fighters.

The service career of Peter Clifford Campbell-Martin started in the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment where he was a 2nd Lt. before joining the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).

On 3rd February 1918, he was part of a bombing mission against rail installations near Melle in Belgium, flying as an observer in a 25 (Fighter) Sqn, De Havilland DH.4 with Lt. Ernest George Green, his pilot.

Behind German lines the formation was attacked by German fighters and the aircraft of Green and Campbell-Martin was shot down by Leutnant Otto Löffler of Jasta 2 "Boelcke". The aircraft came down near Ghent in Belgium which was behind German lines. Both Green and Campbell-Martin were captured and became PoWs. However, Campbell-Martin succeeded in escaping from a PoW camp near Holzminden and made his way to the Netherlands and Great Britain, where he arrived on the 16th August 1918.

He was granted a permanent commission as Lt. (Observer Officer) in the RAF with effect 1st August 1919.

For his exceptional feat of escaping Lt. (Observer Officer) Campbell-Martin was awarded the Military Cross (MC) which was promulgated in the London Gazette on the 16th December 1919. He was also awarded the French Croix de Guerre for his service.

Lt. (Observer Officer) Campbell-Martin MC was dismissed the service by sentence of General Court Martial (GCM) on the 5th January 1921.

Peter Clifford Campbell-Martin moved back to India but returned to Britain in October 1939 to re-join the Services for WW2.

He was granted a commission in the RAFVR for the duration of hostilities as a Plt Off. with effect 8th April 1940 and transferred to the General Duties (GD) Branch (Aircrew) on the 26th August 1940. He was promoted to Fg Off. with effect 26th August 1941.

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


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 05.12.2021 - Initial upload

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