Evasion Statistics – Airmen

If you are a newcomer to the subject of escape and evasion during World War II, here are some citations to consider:

1. John Nichol and Tony Renell, in their book Home Run, Escape from Nazi Europe (2008), p. xvii, say:

In the Second World War a quarter of a million Allied soldiers and airmen — British, American, Australian, Canadian, and others — were stranded behind enemy lines and became prisoners of war, filling scores of camps in eastern Germany and Poland, as far from their home as the Germans could put them.  Just a few thousand — somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 — evaded capture, stayed free and made that home run back to Britain.

2. Herman Bodson, in his Downed Allied Airmen and Evasion of Capture (2005), provides these figures:

Total lost airmen in World War II, European Theater:

  • RAF & associates  55,573
  • USAAF  3,687

Allied airmen made POW in the Netherlands  —  9,748.

Planes crashed in the Netherlands

  • UK  2,500
  • US  1,750

Airmen killed over the Netherlands:

  • UK  9,000-10,000
  • US  6,000

3. Oliver Clutton-Brock in his new book, RAF Evaders (2009), calculated that there were 2,198 RAF evaders.  His breakdown by year was:

  • 1940  91
  • 1941  78
  • 1942  157
  • 1943  398
  • 1944  1342
  • 1945  132

Sorted by country of origin, the RAF evaders were from:

  • United Kingdom  1251
  • Canada  544
  • Australia  177
  • Poland  72
  • New Zealand  58
  • France  23
  • USA  14
  • Belgium  12
  • Norway  12
  • Holland  9
  • South Africa  7
  • Czechoslovakia   6
  • Eire  5
  • Balance (Bermuda, Rhodesia, Russia, Seychelles)  7

4.  According to Ralph K. Patton of the U.S. Air Forces Escape and Evasion Society, the 8th Air Force in WWII experienced the following:

  • Airmen shot down  over western Europe  60,000
  • Killed in action  26,000
  • Taken prisoner  30,000
  • Evaded capture  4,000

5. Bob de Graaff in his Stepping Stones to Freedom (2003), described what was occurring over The Netherlands in the summer of 1943:

Tens of planes belonging to both the Allied and the Luftwaffe were shot down daily, many above The Netherlands.  For example, during the night of 13 May 1943, twenty Allied bombers crashed in the north of the country.  Ten days later, during a nocturnal bombing raid on Münster, twenty-eight planes crashed within Dutch territory.  A record loss was set on the night of 21 June when no fewer than forty-four RAF planes were shot down above The Netherlands.  In the annals of military aviation history, 28 July marked the beginning of the period better known as the ‘bloody summer of 1943.’

One response to “Evasion Statistics – Airmen

  1. I have a picture of an American airman shot down somewhere near Tongeren, Belgium in the fall of 1943. He had parachuted from his plane before it crashed and was seriously wounded so was taken to St. John’s Hospital in Tongeren by the Germans. The resistance had snuck the airman out the window of his hospital room and returned him to the Allies. A 14 year old Belgian girl snapped his picture with her box camera she had hidden under her clothes. She, along with another Belgian girl, took clean sheets and blankets to any soldiers in the hospital. Is there a possibility anyone would recognize “Charlie from Chicago”? That might not be his real name or his real home town.

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