Escape Lines Memorial Society – News Updates

Escape Lines Memorial Society – What’s New

  1. General Round-up
  2. ELMS Commemorative Journal
  3. A Fund Raising Challenge on behalf of ELMS
  4. Remember the film The Great Escape
  5. New Book
  6. Fundraising and Donations
  7. Escapers, Evaders and Helpers Personal Stories

London Lunch  Saturday 10th December 2016

John Clinch has kindly offered to organise a lunch for both ELMS members and the wider Escape and Evasion Community.  It will take place on Saturday 10th December in the RAF Club in Piccadilly at 1.00pm.  The cost of the lunch will be £44 per head and there will be a cash bar to allow individuals to purchase whatever drinks they wish. The venue only accommodates 64 people so if you would like to come then you will need to let John Clinch know as soon as possible  as a number of people have already registered an interest.  Places for the lunch will not be confirmed until you have paid so to confirm your place please make a cheque made payable to J A Clinch and then email John at clinch.John for his home address.  (Just click on the link and an email box will open for you.)  Alternatively if you wish to pay by bank transfer then email John at the same address and he will provide you with the necessary bank details.  It is planned to lay a wreath at the Bomber Command Memorial at 12.00.  Please ensure you have confirmed and paid by the 15th October as John will be going to Australia for a month.  Places can be cancelled up until the 2nd December with a refund of the money paid.  After the 2nd December there will be no refunds as we will have to pay the Club for the places booked.  Look forward to seeing you there!

Elizabeth Harrison MBE
E HarrisonIt is with much sadness that we have to report the death of Elizabeth Harrison MBE. She passed away in hospital on Sunday 10th July 2016 after a long illness. Former secretary of the Royal Air Forces Escaping Society and creator of the RAFES plaque in St Clements Dane RAF Church, The Strand London with copies in the RAF Club, in the RAF Museum Hendon and in Canada, The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Australia.  The Australian plaque which has been in storage for some years will go back on display at a new Bomber Command Hall at the RAAF Museum, Point Cook near Melbourne this year.
Her funeral took place on Friday 22nd July at Putney Vale Crematorium. It was straight forward and simple, with an eulogy from Frank Dell read out by his nephew – hopefully to be circulated in due course; plus tributes and a reading of one of Elizabeth’s poems by her grand daughter and great-grand children. The committal ended with a recording of Edith Piaf belting out Non, Je ne regrette rien. I think we could all imagine Elizabeth singing along.  The wake at the RAF Club was well attended and we gathered around Elizabeth’s iconic plaque to pay tribute.  There is a full obituary published in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday 23 July which can be found by following the link from Elizabeth’s picture at the top of the page.

Contacting ELMS

We welcome contact from anyone interested in the Society and its ‘raison d’etre’.  However, we have recently been receiving a number of ‘spam’ emails, sent via our contact form.  To avoid this we have added a small validation box to our form, which requires the sender to input a short series of letters/numbers in a box.  We hope that this will not prove difficult for users.


If any of the events listed on our calendar are of interest to you then please  do get in touch for more information.  We have updated (where possible) information about the various trail events taking place this year.  If you are interested in taking part in any of those listed please contact us for more details/registration information.

We have recently received the latest registration proforma for the  Bidasoa (Basque Country) Freedom Trails Association Commemorative Trail from Urruna to Donastia/San Sebastian 19-20 August 2016.  This is the first year for this event and if you are interested then please check the event on the calendar where you can find the necessary information.  The registration form gives all the information required, including costs, and is in PDF format.

The Comete Trail 2016.  Full details of this years event, and the necessary application form are available via the link on our events calendar.  Please note the organisers exhortation to book your hotel as soon as possible as September is still a busy holiday period in the region.  Also note the instructions about where the only coach collection points are!

Crows Flight Event 2016  Details of this year’s Crows Flight Trail event in Slovenia can be found by following the appropriate link under the events section where you will find full details of the event and the necessary application form.  The event is considered a tough walk, so participants MUST be fit!

Escape Lines Material for Schools.

We have a section specifically for schools (under Young ELMS) and will be continuing to develop that section this year and we have produced a school’s pack (created by teachers) which is free of charge.  Just contact us for your copy.


We are always looking for accounts of escapers/evaders and helpers. If a member of your family has a story to relate then do let us know, and we will publish it here.  It does help if you have a photo, at least of the individual concerned so if you think you have an item that may be of interest then please do contact us using the contact form available on the main menu.

ELMS  Forum

We have received recently several enquiries from individuals seeking information about either WW2 contacts that involved their relatives, or decorations and awards that their relatives might have received.  Although we do hold a significant quantity of archive material there are often occasions when we can provide little in the way of help.  We do have a Forum, where visitors can post queries which can broadcast their question to a much wider audience.  To post on the forum you do need to register, but this is free and does not require any further commitment.  The forum is available through the link on the main menu bar at the top of this page.  We look forward to having you join us.

Escape Lines Photograph Album

The is a considerable collection of photos covering many of the events and occasions attended by ELMS members.  Please click on this ELMS link

A Commemorative Journal


Did you attend any of the Escape Line Reunions at Eden Camp and/or the Talbot Hotel in Malton, in the early days of the Society, but in particular between 1989 and 1995, or do you know someone who did?  The Director is putting together a pictorial record to celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of our reunion at the Eden Camp Museum, 1990 -2015. The volume will be A4 size, printed on high quality paper and filled largely with photos.

We would be grateful for ANY photos which record events covering that 25 year period, but in particular we are looking for photos of reunions during the early years.  The majority of our members in those early years were Army Escapers, together with some from SOE and also MGB crews of the 15th Flotilla (Shelburn Line) and helpers. A number of RAFES airmen also attended.

If you are willing to lend us the photo’s for copying they will be returned to you as soon as possible. Alternatively if you have electronic copies please email these to  or to

Please include a note explaining who is in the photo, and also include your own name and address so that original photos can be returned to you. We are happy to receive photos in black and white or colour and in any condition.  Although we will use as many pictures as possible we cannot guarantee that they will all be used but we will try our best.

Thank you for your help in this matter.

A Fundraising Challenge on Behalf of ELMS

Following their recent attendance at the Society’s  Annual reunion, staff at S.E.R.E have decided to mount a fund raising challenge event to raise funds for three charities, ELMS, Scotties Little Soldiers and Country Holidays for Inner City Kids!  This is a very welcome announcement and we hope that it will be well supported.

The challenge will be a 24 event during which staff at S.E.R.E  will attempt to run, cycle and row a distance of  approximately 1400 miles, equivalent to the distance from Gibraltar to RAF St Mawgan.  It will take place over the 13th and 14th July and the aim is to raise as much money as possible for the three charities.  Any money donated to ELMS will enable us to continue with our very successful educational visit programme by which we support groups of students from Europe (usually in their final year at senior school) who attend our annual reunion in York.   The S.E.R.E team have also promised to provide us with a follow up report and photos!  If you would like to make a donation specifically to ELMS you can do so via this link,

or you can of course send a cheque to either ELMS or the challenge team.  Afternote:  The challenge raised more than £700 and the ELMS share is more than £400, so well done to all those who took part and to those who contributed to the fundraising.  I hope to have some photos to show shortly!

Do You Remember the film The Great Escape

I am sure most of us remember the film, but I am also sure that most of us didn’t realise that the character played by Steve McQueen, Virgil Hilts the ‘Cooler King’ was in fact based on a real airman.  Click on the photo to read the story behind the story!

The Great Escape


And for a short article on one of the last two survivors of that event, Flt Lt Paul Royle who was recaptured about 20 kms from Stalag Luft 111.  He died recently aged 101 and there is a short article on the RAF website. Click on this photo (Royle is back row, right)

The Great Escape 2


(With Thanks to the RAF)

New Books

Our latest selection of books includes an anthology of poetry titled Sisters in Spitfires, a review of The Long Range Desert Group, a  history of ‘Ungentlemanly Warfare and a study of The French Resistance.  For a short review of each one have a look here .

And we have a new addition to our Young ELMS book reviews, Run, Spy, Run by Craig Simpson.  Have a look at the Young ELMS section to see a short review


We are grateful to The Alarm Monitoring Company Ltd for their recent generous donation

As a registered charity we are entirely dependant on the generosity of our members and others whose contributions enable us to fulfill our objectives.  As the number of veterans we support slowly dwindles we are re-focusing our work on educating present and future generations about our particular part of this nation’s military history.  We produce school packs which comply with the requirements of school curriculae, and we support students from countries where civilians provided help and assistance to escapers/evaders by bringing them to the UK to attend events.  We also promote our trails, events where we can retrace the footsteps taken by our fathers and grandfathers, during which local historians deliver informal talks or more formal lectures about events in their particular area.   To enable us to continue to do this we would be grateful for any support you might wish to give us.  We have set up a donation link with BT MyDonate, which operates on a not for profit basis.  If you would like to donate to our charity please go to Donate to ELMS, or if you would like to fund raise for us by participating in or staging an event then please contact us via our website.

Escapers, Evaders and Helpers Personal Stories

Stories of individuals that appear as part of our photo slider at the top of the page are usually removed after a while to make space for new material.  If you are interested in any of the stories of these individuals  then please go the the Escapers and Evaders menu item where you will find stories previously published.

Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events at this time.