Escape Lines Memorial Society – News Updates

Escape Lines Memorial Society – What’s New

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

Donating to ELMS

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.

What Does ELMS Stand For

What does ELMS stand for?  After only a short acquaintance with the Society, Marina, an 18 year old Italian student, and two generations away from WW2, grasped it well in an article she wrote following her attendance at last year’s Annual Reunion in York.  These are a few extracts from her longer article (reproduced in full here):

‘Pass important values to the next generation’
‘Raise awareness of still topical social issues like people’s rights and tolerance’
‘Human beings will learn from their mistakes, learn how to communicate with one another and understand the value of life’
‘Everybody matters.  It is not right to make people expendable to the greater needs of the State, because the State doesn’t come first.  Humankind does’
‘Someone would come have to come home after all, to spread the knowledge and the values that we picked up on’
‘Provided us with an insight that cast a new light on those past events’

The ELMS motto “I help the old to remember and the young to understand” (quoted by former ELMS member the late Gervaise Cowell MBE) is so apt.  In addition to remembering and commemorating the past it is also our responsibility to provoke thought and awareness of how the lives of people from previous generations can have relevance today;’ to learn from their selfless example and pass on this message to future generations.  we are fortunate that ELMS is developing links with the younger generation – the future is dependent upon learning from history.  To that end the Resource packs which ELMS distributes free to schools emphasise that information about the escape lines is not only relevant to the history curriculum, but also across the broader sphere of humanities.

I have long wondered why, with our initial membership comprising so many escapers, evaders and helpers, many of whom are sadly no longer with us, that there has been minimal interest and support for the Society from their families!  They are the succeeding generations who owe their very existence to the survival of their forebears thanks to the many acts of co-operation, compassion and humanity.  Perhaps we all need to reflect upon the wider role that we, too, can play, both to preserve history and to promote the tenets and principles practised and upheld in times of duress.  (With thanks to Jackie Stanton)

Special Purpose Groups

Do you have skills?  Do you have some time that you could offer?  Could you volunteer your services to one of the Special Project Groups that ELMS is developing?

Maybe you have expertise in Business, Law, Fundraising, Languages or Education.  Perhaps , for example, you could give a talk on the escape lines to a local group and become a member of the ‘Speakers Panel’ (appropriate material is supplied); or share your research with the Research Group or on the website Forum in answer to queries that appear there; or join a commemorative trail as a walker, supporter or part of a back-up team; or assist with a particular role during the organisation of a specific event? Even just placing a poster in a nearby library, or inviting a local school to sample the free Education Resource Pack help to promote both the escape lines history and the Society.  Maybe you have contacts who could help us? Your commitment does not have to be onerous; just make the Trustees aware that you have the expertise/interest and are prepared to be called upon or consulted from time-to-time to support specific projects.  We already have members who give talks;  those who contribute book reviews; others who represent ELMS at events/wreath laying etc; and those who attend events then send a write-up and photos.  Country based reps keep us in touch with events in their areas and represent the Society at some of those events.  There is no compulsion; we are all volunteers but we do need more to ensure that we build a long term future for this Society

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.

ELMS Annual Reunion

6-Eden-Camp-Group-2008-400x280The annual reunion is drawing near and if you have not yet registered to attend then please do so as soon as possible, in particular if you will need accommodation in the hotel in York.   Please also remember that ELMS members will need to show their membership cards to gain free entry to Eden Camp for the annual ceremony, and also to attend the AGM.  If you cannot find yours then please contact us for a replacement!

The Tenna Valley Trail, Italy, May 2017

This year’s event has now been confirmed and details can be found under the appropriate link on our events calendar.  If you wish to attend then please contact us a s soon as possible.  If you would like to raise money for us using this event then please follow this link.  

Chemin de La Liberte 2017

This year’s event will take place over the 6th – 9th July.  Please go to the events calendar to find more details

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.

2016 Bidasoa/Basque Freedom Trail Report

We have now uploaded a report about this year’s Bidasoa/Basque Freedom Trail event, which can be accessed either via the photo in the scrolling banner at the top of the page or via this link.  We will publish dates etc for next year’s event as soon as they become available.

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.

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. Chemin de la Liberte 2017 6th – 9th July

    July 6 @ 8:00 am - July 9 @ 5:00 pm
  2. ELMS Family Day, NMA Saturday 5th August 2017

    August 5 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  3. Allied Air Forces Memorial Day

    September 2 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm