Saturday, 18 December 2010

Stalag Luft 4

Stalag Luft IV

On 28th April last I wrote a blog about a young Pilot Officer W. McIlhagga serving with 156 Squadron of the RAF in the early days of the air service in World War II. He was with 156 Squadron for five months in 1942. I said at the end of that piece that William McIlhagga emigrated to Canada and transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force in which he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. I have had no other information about his war service until recently I came across a reference to him in a Forces Genealogy website where he is referred to as Flight Lieutenant W. McIlhagga, with service in the RAF, his regiment being the Royal Canadian Air Force. The reference was to him being a Prisoner of War in the German Camp known as Stalag Luft 4, which was at Tychowo Poland (German Gross Tychow).

This camp opened in May 1944 and appears to have been disbanded in February 1945 when a Russian Offensive was approaching and some 6000 prisoners were forced to leave on foot and undertake what became known as the 'Death March', of some 600 miles spanning 86 days. Most of the prisoners of Stalag Luft 4 were Americans though there were also British, Canadians and others. The general conditions in the camp were reported on by the Red Cross and were judged to be poor in relation to food, health, mail and recreation, though there did seem to be adequate clothing. Although I have searched the Internet I have found no list of prisoners, nor any details about individual prisoners. Therefore I have no knowledge of whether William McIlhagga was transferred to Stalag Luft 4 from somewhere else, nor how long he was there nor whether he was involved in the 'Death March'. We do know he survived the War and at some stage returned to Canada.


  1. I have found a reference to Flt.Lieut. W. McIlhagga on a site called which has military-genealogical records. It says the incident on which he became a POW was on 9-10 Oct 1944, flying a Halifax aircraft. Unfortunately there are no details except that his Location Duty was Bochum, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia. At the time he was stationed at Skipton on Swale, an RAF station which opened in 1944.

  2. Correction: It opened in 1942 and became operational in 1943.