(1939-1945) WWII
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 12194
Joined: 2009
Liberation of Bergen-Belsen
4/13/2021 12:04:24 PM
April 15 is the anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by British forces.

I was just reading a story in a newspaper about the rescue and transportation of the prisoners of the Nazis at Bergen-Belsen.

The story is about the attempt by the children of aircrew in one aircraft to find out what their Dads did to rescue these people. In this case, the crew was from RCAF 437 squadron and the fathers never told any of their children about these rescue flights to Bergen-Belsen. One of the air crew was Jewish and even his father never mentioned a word to his son.

Apparently this squadron and I presume others of Bomber Command flew into Celle, near Bergen-Belsen, often carrying high ranking officers and medical people and fuel into Celle and then evacuating prisoners from the camp. A check of the operations record books indicates that 437 squadron was making 19 flights per day from its base in England to Celle.

The RAF code for the Celle airport was B118. That is how the children of this crew found out how many times their Dads went to Celle.

But, the return flight was to B56 which was Evere airfield near Brussels. I have a few questions but primarily I wondered why these people were transported to Brussels. In an interview, one of the senior officers of 437 squadron, Jack Sproule, said that these planes would carry 29 paratroopers into combat, but the pilots would load nearly 100 Bergen-Belsen prisoners into them. 437 was a transport squadron and still is. It is based out of Trenton, Ontario which is near my home.

During the war, they towed gliders into combat during Market Garden and during the crossing of the Rhine and hundreds of more mundane tasks. They were flying Douglas Dakotas and I don't know whether 100 people could be comfortably accommodated in one of those.

Were these people who were evacuated fitter than others or did they need advanced medical care?

Was there an international commission set up to deal with repatriation of the prisoners of Bergen-Belsen? Was it based in Brussels?

So I am just curious about the fate of these poor people who were transported from an evil place. Why were they flown to Belgium and from there, to where?



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