This is a post with a difference, and a blog subject I want to feature more often in the future if the information is out there. My main plans for blog content related to the prisoner of war camps in the area is to visit them and uncover any further details and history about the actual camps and locations. However, I also want to record the stories of how some of the prisoners who were held in Cheshire actually ended up there.
There are lots of stories of the local POW’s, accounts of the boredom and the monotony of their controversial incarceration in the Cheshire area. Links between the heroic actions of individuals during World War 2 and the prisoners who were held in Cheshire have either been lost or never really been highlighted.
We are approaching the anniversary of Operation Bodenplate which was around the mid-point of the Battle of the Bulge in Late December 1944 / Early January 1945. This was the German counter attack and one final attempt to cripple Allied airfields in the low countries. A German captain pilot called Ewald Trost was held at Crewe Hall as a POW but before being captured by allied forces he was a Squadron Leader for the first waves of attack during Operation Bodenplate.
This account starts on his arrival to the battle…’Trost noticed smoke columns and he turned to the south-west. When he arrived over the airfield he noticed 40-50 aircraft. Coming in from the west, he dived to attack and aimed at a spitfire then saw it burning.’
Trost made three circuits of the airfield, diving to attack and climbing again to 500 meters. He shot up to three spitfires and saw them burning. On his fourth approach to the target his aircraft was hit by AAA in the engine and fuselage.
When I arrived over Eindhoven several aircraft were already on fire. I attacked from the west, pulled up again, flew a left-hand turn and attacked again from the west. This I repeated twice and I aimed at the aircraft that weren’t already burning. Preparing my fourth attack I saw another undamaged aircraft and taking aim I was suddenly hit by Flak. My ammunition was suddenly hit and started to explode and also flames entered the cockpit. I pulled the canopy handle and with a big wwwooofff it was gone. I opened the belts and was already half out of the cockpit when the flames extinguished. I climbed back in and made a belly landing.
Trost crash landed his plane known as ‘Red 12’ 7 km north of the Eindhoven airfield attacked earlier near a small vilage called Oirschot. He had suffered burns to his face and .303 bullet wounds in his right arm. His wounds were treated in a Canadian army hospital then later by Dutch doctors. Trost was moved to the UK at the end of January for interrogation where most of his Captivity was at the Crewe Hall POW camp.
Most of the information for this blog post was sourced in the book:
Bodenplatte: The Luftwaffe’s Last Hope