Saturday, March 28, 2009

The true story of a WW2 RCAF hero Mr. Kenneth Landers

Mr. Landers is a very nice man that i happen to know and admire. Although, i do not see and speak to him often enough due to the distance that seperates us, i still admire him for his courage that he has demonstrated during the Second World War and i would like to share the story of his imprisonment during the war, the year was 1945. Mr. Landers was a Flight Lieutenant and navigator with the Snowy Owl Squadron #420 from 1942 to 1945.

On the evening of January 5, 1945, Halifax bombers of the RCAF were dispatched from Yorkshire, England to Hanover, Germany, laden with 4000 lbs of incendiaries which were to be dropped on the target between 19:30 and 19:40 hours.

Flying officer Ken Landers was a navigator on one of the bombers. At 19:37 hours, while on the bombing run, his aircraft was attacked by a Junkers 88 night Fighter and struck three times. On the third attack, both port engines became inflamed causing the pilot to order the crew to "abandon aircraft". We bailed out, landing a few minutes later in the city of Hanover as the civilians were coming out of their bomb shelters. I was immediately attacked by the throng, suffering several blows and having my dog tags, watch etc, stolen. In the mindst of the beating, a Gestapo officer appeared and took me away. He was joined by three Home Guardsmen and they proceeded to take me to a jail in the town of Wanstorff, a suburd of Hanover. I learned later that four of my crew were listed as missing in action, they were never found and two others were captures.

While proceeding to the jail that night, the Lancaster bombers attacked Hanover at 21:30 hours, bombing the fires from their ealier raids with blockbuster bombs. The Gestapo agent and guards became very excited and beat me unmercifully with their weapons during the latter raid, which could be seen and heard befind us.

I was jailed that evening and the next morning, along with eight other allied airmen we began a two day forced march at times and sometimes in railcars to Frankfurt at the "DU LAG LUFT" Air interrogation centre. During this time, we were shackled and monitered by Home Guards. As we went through cities, we were stoned and verbally abused by German civilians and certainly were fearful of our lives.

On arriving at the interrogation Centre, i was put in solitary confinement for eight nights and seven days. On the eight day, i was ushered into a major's office and a two hour question period began, i was in real rough shape - i had hardly eaten for ten days and my face and head were bloodied from my beating. Amazingly, the major knew the names of my crew, my RCAF Station, where i lived in Canada, the name of my fiance and that of my two brothers who were in the Air Force, among other data. I had not givin any information to the Germans other than my name, rank and serial number and i was dumb-founded at the interrogator's knowledge!

When i would not answer any of his questions concerning muilitary matters, he informed me that since i had no I.D. he would have to inform his superiors that i was a spy and therefore could expect to receive a spy's sentance - -death at sunrise.

The next morning, i along with some 40 other Air Crew prisoners, many American, were lined up. We all expected to be shot! However, we were marched across the city to a prisoner of war reception area, run by the International Red Cross. What a relief to have a shower and food!!!

After four days there, some 100 of us spent five days-marching, in box cars, etc.. Travelling some 300 miles to Stalag Luft One in Barth, Pomerania, where i was imprisoned until liberated by the Russian army on May 3rd, 1945. I was finally able to enjoy my freedom and i was able to return to England on May 13, 1945....

This is the TRUE STORY OF A TRUE HERO. Thank you Mr. Landers for what you have done for our FREEDOM. Men and Women like yourself will never be forgotten for generations to come! Thank you Mr. Landers and God bless yourself and your loving family!

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