Truth about PoWs

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We have heard a lot recently about the illustrious career of the late and great Sir Richard Attenborough, perhaps best known for The Great Escape.

But there is a fundamental historical flaw in that film and indeed all prisoner-of-war films and books.

Many years ago I met a man captured by Rommel’s troops at St Valery. I was astonished to be told that he had spent the war in a Polish coal mine, and was lucky to survive.

Because of these films, I assumed that all PoWs lived in camps.

The truth is that, under the Geneva Convention, only officers lived in camps – other ranks had to work, usually in hellish conditions. The PoW genre does not make this clear.

John Davidson

Dalry Road

Edinburgh

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