The Escape Lines Memorial Society (ELMS) – News Updates

The WW2 Escape Lines is a group dedicated to preserving the history of WW2 escape lines; those Allied servicemen who used them and perhaps more importantly the nationals of many countries, The Helpers, who were responsible for organising and running them, often at the cost of their own lives and those of their families and friends.  Over 4000 allied servicemen were returned to the UK to rejoin their units and continue the fight and this often overlooked part of our national WW2 history is in danger of being lost forever.  Our aim is to educate younger generations of all nations about the role played by their forebears, many of whom never spoke of their activities while they were alive.  Our motto is ‘We Remember’ and we hope you will too.

Escape Lines Memorial Society – What’s New

  1. General Round-up
  2. The ELMS Christmas Lunch
  3. ELMS Commemorative Journal
  4. New Books
  5. Escapers, Evaders and Helpers Personal Stories
  6. A Walk in The Pyrenees
  7. The Crows Flight Trail 2017

Donating to the Escape Lines Memorial Society

If you would like to make a donation to the Society, or to a specific event organised by us simply click on the blue button titled BT MyDonate.  This will take you to the ELMS page on the BT MyDonate website where you will find instructions about how to donate.  ELMS uses BT MyDonate because they do not charge charities for this service.  All donations go towards our support for our Helpers and increasingly the education of younger generations about the role played by those who were involved in Escape Lines.

The Future of ELMS

ELMS is at an important point in its future development.  With the inevitable decrease in the number of veterans and helpers, our attention will have to focus more on preserving the history of WWII Escape Lines for future generations.  Our emphasis will therefore be on educating younger generations about those events and possibly making some of the historical information available for online search.  The Trustees are working with others to raise funds for this work, and to provide a long term sustainable future for the Society.  We are also developing strong links with schools in several European countries through our sponsorship of parties to our annual reunion.  This work will continue and we hope to exp[and it, subject to available resources.  We have also noticed an upsurge in interest in Escape Line matters in other areas, and are doing what we can to support that interest.  There is also an increase in interest in some of the trail events, and again we do what we can to foster that with help and information.  If you are interested in this subject,and would like to know more then please consider joining us, either as a member to support our long term aims or by getting involved in helping us run/manage some of the things we do then have a look at our page entitled Working with ELMS (go the the About Elms link on the main menu).  We look forward to hearing from you!

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.

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.


We will shortly be updating our diary of events for 2017.  If any of the events listed on our calendar are of interest to you then please  do get in touch for more information.  We try to ensure that we put accurate in formation about events on our events calendar, but we suggest that if you are interested in attending any of the events listed you check with us in case details have changed.  Information about the 2018 Basque Freedom Trail event has been updated on our calendar of events so if you ‘fancy’ a walk in the Pyrenees please have a look at the event on our calendar.

The Tenna Valley Trail, Italy, May 2017

For those who came this was a memorable event.  We saw at first hand some of the devastation wreaked by the recent earthquakes and were able to meet some of those whose lives have been changed, probably forever.  The weather was largely kind, although Saturday was very wet, as Nick Young found to his cost!  However it didn’t put too much of a damper on things and all who were there could not but be almost overwhelmed by the generosity and hospitality that was extended to us.  We were joined for the last two days by a group from the Senior School in Fermo, some of whom braved the elements on Saturday and who also attended several presentations given by both academics and local people about events in Italy during 1943 -44. A short report and some photos are here.

‘Ici Londres’  Escape – Evasion – Resistance  Memorial Lunch

Saturday 9th December 2017 at the venue in Piccadilly, London.  The outline for the day will be:

11.30  –   Wreath laying at the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park  (optional)
12.15  –   onwards  – Arrive at the venue
13.00 –  Lunch in the Ballroom

The cost will be £46 per ticket

ELMS members will already have received a booking form.  If you are not an ELMS member and would like to attend (all with an interest in Escape, Evasion and Resistance are welcome) then please contact us using the contact form on this site, available from the main menu at the top of the page.  We will send you the necessary booking form.  Simply complete the form and return it, with your payment to the address given.  Payment is required at the time of booking.


A Walk in The Pyrenees

Many of those who escaped to freedom did so by crossing the Pyrenees.  There were a myriad of routes used, depending on the weather, security situation, local knowledge etc.  Some of these are commemorated annually but these events may not be convenient for those wishing to retrace them.  There are several companies who can offer guided walks, on a commercial basis.  Details of these can be found on the page which contains Freedom Trails Information.  Go to the Freedom Trails link on the main menu and scroll to the bottom of the page.


  The Crows Flight Trail 2017

We have received details of this year’s event, which will run from 6th – 10th September.  For full details go to the events calendar and click on the link.  From there you can access all the information and the necessary booking form.


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.


New Books

Our latest selection of books includes one about the preparation in Britain in the event of a German invasion; the story of a navigator shot down over Belgium and his eventual return to England; the factual story about the SAS during WW2; a story about one man’s involvement with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the story of a hitherto unknown man executed by the Germans in a small town in rural France in 1944.    The book reviews are now collated by year, so if you are interested go to the Research link at the top of the page, and then click on the relevant year.

Anyone with a particular interest in the story of the Great Escape from Stalag Luft 3 may also be interested in a recent publication by Ben van Drogenbroek, which publishes hitherto unpublished information about the camp.  The book is a limited edition hardcover, the second in his series called ‘The Camera Became My Passport Home’  best described as ‘coffee table’ size  and contains over 800 illustrations.  If you are interested in this volume then please contact the author directly at


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.

BT MyDonate

Upcoming Events

  1. Allied Air Forces Memorial Day

    September 2 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  2. The Crow’s Flight Trail

    September 6 @ 6:00 pm - September 10 @ 5:00 pm
  3. Comete Trail September 2017

    September 8 @ 8:00 am - September 10 @ 5:00 pm