Allied Insignia Signed by POWs

Drawings by Robert E. Toomey 1944-1945.

Robert Toomey drew insignia of various Allied Air Forces of RAF Bomber Command while he was a prisoner in Stalag Luft VII (Bankau) and Stalag III-A (Luckenwalde). These drawings were signed by friends and fellow prisoners in camp.

The identities of the airmen who signed each of "Bob" Toomey's drawings, their sevice numbers and nationalities were confirmed largely thanks to the book "The Long Road" by Oliver Clutton-Brock and Raymond Crompton, which lists all POWs who were interred at Stalag Luft VII.

Images of pages from Robert Toomey's diary © Claude Lafleur

Drawing by RCAF Sgt. Robert E. Toomey, POW at Stalag Luft 7, Bankau in 1944.

Royal Canadian Air Force

Signed by R.E. Toomey, 1944 (R82585/C90314). Robert Toomey arrived at Stalag Luft VII along with 39 other prisoners on August 29, 1944 , according to the book "The Long Road: Trials and Tribulations of Airmen Prisoners from Bankau to Berlin by Oliver Clutton-Brock, Raymond Crompton".

Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres

Drawing by RCAF Sgt. Robert E. Toomey, POW at Stalag Luft 7, Bankau in 1944. Signed by fellow POWs Geo. Surgeoner, E. Woolmer, H. C. Redpath, M. Muirhead, R. Bruce Lusted, Bill Watson, M. M. Johnston, N. F. Page, Murray Bridge, J. M. Hughes, T. E. Brummell, T. P. Whiteley, G. H. Pringle.

Royal Australian Air Force

Signed: Geo. Surgeoner, Eric A. Woolmer, James M. Beecroft, H. C. Evans, Harry C. Redpath, M. Muirhead, J. M. Hughes, R. Bruce Lusted, T. E. Brummell, Bill Watson, T. P. Whiteley, M. M. Johnston, G. H. Pringle, Howard R. Goodsell, Norman F. Page, Murray Bridge, William Geelong.

Notes: W/O Mervyn John Muirhead (427136) Stalag Luft VII POW number 752, escaped from a brick factory where POW's stayed during the forced march of January, 1945. He was in RAAF 467 Squadron.

W/O George Henry Pringle (425213) , Stalag Luft VII POW number 94, was a wireless operator shot down on his 13th mission. The only survivor of his crew of eight in RAAF 106 Squadron, he parachuted near Hildesheim and was captured within 5 minutes at 2 AM, on May 23rd, 1944.

Warrant Officers George Surgeoner (421414 / POW 631), Richard Bruce Lusted (419880 / POW 601), Mervyn Miles Johnston (4426421 / POW 594) and Howard Russell Goodsell (423709 / POW 585) were crewmates when their aircraft from Squadron 466 was shot down by flak at Boissiere St. Martin on August 9, 1944. All signed the drawing above.

Evans may be Horace Clement 'Bill' Evans (417168).

The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial

All of the RAAF airmen whose names are listed above are commemorated on a memorial for Australian prisoners of war in Ballarat, Victoria in Australia and listed on the website "Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial".

Drawing by RCAF Sgt. Robert E. Toomey, POW at Stalag Luft 7, Bankau in 1944. Signed by fellow POWs.

South African Air Force

Signed: Chris J. Jansen (280690V), N. H. Swale (212201V), R. Preston (328339V), D. J. van Rooyen (41880), Martin Zerff (135082V), D. A. Wooldridge (328413V), D. Hayes, G. B. Edwards (102517), D. de Kock (542303V).

Notes: D. P. De Kock, a rear gunner was captured on July 13, 1944 after bailing out during a bombing raid to Montevarchi.

Martin Zerff, a wireless operator/air gunner was captured July 14, 1944 after bailing out during a raid on the marshalling yards of Prato, Italy when his aircraft was hit by flak.

George B. Edwards, who spoke German was used to interview Raymond Hughes at Luft VII on August 25th, 1944. Raymond Hughes had offered his services to the Germans when he arrived at Dulag Luft for questioning and he assisted in broadcasting German propaganda. The Germans began to mistrust Hughes and sent him to Stalag Luft VII August 24, 1944. Hughes was convicted after the war of voluntarily aiding the enemy.

Photo WO2 Norman H. Swale, SAAF wireless operator/air gunner, March 1944.

On September 13, 1944 Swale baled out of a Marauder aircraft hit by flak at 13,000 feet during a raid on German lines in the north of Italy.

Drawing by RCAF Sgt. Robert E. Toomey, POW at Stalag Luft 7, Bankau in 1944. Signed by fellow POWs.

Air Wing of the Armed Forces of Malta

Signed: Antonio Marco Publo (Anthony) Camenzuli (1818930).

Notes: Halifax bomber serial HX291 of squadron 433 crashed April 22, 1944 and F/S Anthony Camenzuli was captured in Antwerp August 3, 1944. He arrived at Stalag Luft VII on August 22, 1944.

A. M. P. Camenzuli

Drawing by RCAF Sgt. Robert E. Toomey, POW at Stalag Luft 7, Bankau in 1944. Signed by fellow POWs.

Royal Netherlands Air Force

Signed: Petty Officer C. Smit (90549), F/S R. L. van Beers (1814965), Petty Officer H. Groendijk (906042), Sgt. R. P. M. van der Heijden (12623). Each name was printed and signed beneath.

Notes: Reinout P. M. van der Heijden also mentioned here and here with photo. Ron L. van Beers mentioned here with photo.

Notes: Harrie Groendijk was the nom de guerre of Wilhelmus Michael Theunissen of the Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service. He was shot down over France in July 1944 and hid in a barn but was betrayed by French civilians. After he was taken prisoner he assumed the name Harrie Groendijk (sometimes spelled Groendyk) of South African descent to protect family and friends at home in Holland.

Harrie Groendijk.

(Nom de guerre of Petty Officer W. M. Theunissen. See note below.)
Drawing by RCAF Sgt. Robert E. Toomey, POW at Stalag Luft 7, Bankau in 1944. Signed by fellow POWs.

Army Air Corps (UK)

Signed: J. L. Wilson (1675969) , R. O. Ellis (1395330), J. Lovett (128577), J. A. Urquhart (5185152), A. G. Clark (2884663).

Notes: F/S Robert O. Ellis, nicknamed "Slim" had some medical training as a member of the St. John Ambulance Brigade and set up an MI (medical inspection) room to treat prisoners under the direction of the German camp doctor.

J. L. (Len) Wilson was Robert Toomey's friend at Stalag Luft VII. He is mentioned in the diary on page 9, and was in Toomey's combine. He also signed one of Toomey's "name cards".