ROYAL AIR FORCES ESCAPING SOCIETY
The society was formed in London, England in 1945 by Lord Portal of Hungerford. Its members are airmen of the commonwealth who escaped from a POW camp or who were shot down and evaded capture in enemy held territory during World War II. In most cases the success of the escape was due to assistance by patriots in the occupied countries. During World War II, almost 3000 airmen were returned to allied territory by these brave "Helpers". The object of the society is to remember, and to aid our helpers who may still be suffering the results of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the enemy, and to maintain the very strong friendships which developed during those years.
The Canadian branch of the society was formed in August, 1965. Its membership covered all provinces from coast to coast, and held annual meetings each year until is closing. Beginning in 1965, it had been able to invite and entertain in Canada over 170 helpers from France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Greece and Luxembourg. Through membership donations, fund raising drives, and with valuable assistance from the Canadian Forces, there has been no expense to those guests. We shall never forget our helpers and will be forever grateful to them. There has never been such a tremendous example of mutual trust between people of different countries as occurred when our airmen were helped and guided to safety. We have a debt of honour to fulfil.
When British based RAFES laid up in 1995, the Canadian members of RAFES decided to continue their branch and enjoyed annual reunions. In 2006, faced with the ravages of time on many of the members, too ill to attend meetings, unable to travel any distance, they "folded our wings” as an official organization. However, in an effort to provide a vehicle for continued contact between members, they have encouraged individuals in regional chapters to form social committees whose function would be to arrange gatherings of members, their families and friends, as interest warrants.
This section will be greatly expanded, with a full membership listing from the official dossier from the RAFES. Please return to this site shortly! Any contributions will be greatly appreciated.
© Stephen H Garrity (2014)