How was Repatriation effected?

Tercios Espanoles

Ad Honorem
Mar 2014
6,679
Beneath a cold sun, a grey sun, a Heretic sun...
The thread about downed aircrew reminded me of one anecdote I read just recently. A British airman, who was on his last op before getting married, was badly wounded when he was shot down during a raid on Berlin in August of 1943, including a bullet in the brain. He survived, but required so much medical care that he was repatriated to Britain in 1944. (He recovered and married his fiancée).

This is the only instance of this happening that I ever heard of. I have no idea how this would have been effected. Through a neutral country like Spain or Portugal? Were there specially marked diplomatic aircraft or ships which could pass between belligerents? Was there an air corridor between, say, Switzerland and the UK through which civilian aircraft could operate? I really have no idea how these things were done.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,627
The thread about downed aircrew reminded me of one anecdote I read just recently. A British airman, who was on his last op before getting married, was badly wounded when he was shot down during a raid on Berlin in August of 1943, including a bullet in the brain. He survived, but required so much medical care that he was repatriated to Britain in 1944. (He recovered and married his fiancée).

This is the only instance of this happening that I ever heard of. I have no idea how this would have been effected. Through a neutral country like Spain or Portugal? Were there specially marked diplomatic aircraft or ships which could pass between belligerents? Was there an air corridor between, say, Switzerland and the UK through which civilian aircraft could operate? I really have no idea how these things were done.
When the Germans declared war, the US Embassy personal and some other Americans were interned. After about 6 months they were evacuated via Sweden? IIRC. (the US had interned the German embassy staff as a tit for tat).

I looked the details up before. just escapes me now.
 

Tercios Espanoles

Ad Honorem
Mar 2014
6,679
Beneath a cold sun, a grey sun, a Heretic sun...
When the Germans declared war, the US Embassy personal and some other Americans were interned. After about 6 months they were evacuated via Sweden? IIRC. (the US had interned the German embassy staff as a tit for tat).

I looked the details up before. just escapes me now.
Which begs the follow-up question: How would one get from Sweden to Britain (or America) through a war zone?
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,627
Which begs the follow-up question: How would one get from Sweden to Britain (or America) through a war zone?
RAF ran a regular flight to Sweden taking mail and some passengers.

"At the beginning of the war, agreements had been signed between Sweden and the United Kingdom and Nazi Germany in order to sustain vital trade; but in spite of this, and the fact that Sweden had declared itself a neutral country, Swedish shipping began to be attacked. Sweden's trade with Britain was cut by a total of 70%. Within the North Sea blockade, trade with Germany increased, until 37% of Sweden's exports were shipped to Germany. For very important goods such as ball bearings for the British aircraft industry, delivery was made by blockade runners, using rebuilt Motor Gun Boats, which could use winter darkness and high speed to penetrate the German blockade of the Skagerrak straits between Norway and the northern tip of Denmark. "

"Negotiations between Sweden and Germany resulted in a change in September 1940. Germany granted in principle a safe conduct for Swedish merchant ships not only for trade with Denmark and Norway, but also Belgium and the Netherlands (who by the time also were occupied by Germany). [s10]

Later Germany also granted a safe conduct for Swedish merchant ships through the minefields in Skagerak. Sweden managed to reach an agreement with Britain too, to increase the safety for the traffic. Initially the shipping through the German minefields was sparse, but from March 1941 five ships passed every month. [s10]

The so called "lejdtrafiken" (shipping with a granted safe conduct) was based on agreements with warfaring countries, foremost Britain and Germany. There were limitations for the number of ships and which routes they were allowed to use, and also trade and transit agreements were used to put pressure on Sweden to make concessions, but Swedish merchant ships could sail in transocean traffic and bring goods to Sweden. [s21]

It was not a really granted safe conduct, since both Britain and Germany called it a permission for the Swedish shipping. Neither warfaring part gave any guarantees. One example is m/s Stegeholm, that got German permission to pass through the Skagerak barrier in late February 1942. West of the barrier a German plane made three attacks at mid day, but all four bombs missed. The plane then came back and shot at lifeboats and rafts. [s64]

When Germany established the Skagerak barrier about half of the Swedish ship tonnage was outside the barrier. The basic rules for the exchange of ships were one tanker for another tanker, one other merchant ship for another merchant ship, and one ship from one shipping company for another ship from the same shipping company. The ships should stop at the German control station in Kristiansand in Norway and at the British control station on the Faroe Islands. [s64]

The Swedish ships should be painted in light colors, with the ship name and the name "Sverige" in large letters on the sides and deck, several blue and yellow fields painted on the ship sides and deck (the colors of the Swedish flag), and when it was dark the ships and its flag should be well illuminated. Generally they should sail along specified routes, and the ships positions should be given to the warfaring parts every day. [s64]

A Swedish naval control officer wrote in his notes on 27 December 1943, on the way from Buenos Aires to Göteborg: 'A reconnaissance plane checked its position with the help of our ship Vingaren' (my translation). [s64]

In the middle of the "battle of the Atlantic" and other naval warfaring in the Atlantic ocean area, the Swedish ships sailed alone or together in pairs or groups of three. 76 Swedish ships were used, and they made 465 trips. Around 10 ships were sunk in this traffic. [s64]

The agreement was reached in December 1940. It was important for Sweden to be able to import among others oil and grain. However either Britain or Germany could stop the Swedish traffic if they thought Sweden acted in a way that favoured the opposing part in the war. [s48]

It would be a tricky balance for Sweden, where many activities in Sweden and by Swedes would be judged.

With this limited traffic Sweden could import important goods like oil and leather, and also merchandise like coffee.

On 14 November 1943 there were 12 Swedish ships anchored in Buenos Aires. [s64]

"Lejdtrafiken" continued until the German surrender in May 1945. The Germans had several destroyers and smaller warships stationed in Kristiansand. [s64]

From December 1940 to early 1945, with some breaks, there were 219 departures and 218 arrivals. [s21]

Totally 231 "lejdships" arrived to and 228 sailed from Sweden. 10 ships were lost. About one third of the ships were tankers, who brought oil foremost to the Swedish navy. ["


------ Aircraft stuff from same site.


"The Swedish company ABA's prewar traffic Stockholm - Copenhagen - Amsterdam - London could be maintained until the German attack on Denmark and Norway, on 9 april 1940. [s75]

The next flight took off on 16 February 1942, when Germany finally permitted this air traffic. The DC 3 "Gripen" was the first plane used for the line that now had Dyce in Scotland at the other end, and was also the first to be shot at by German planes on 22 June 1942. After some incidents during the period, on 28 August 1943 the DC 3 "Gladan" was shot down. Two bodies of the four in the crew and the three passengers were later found along the Swedish west coast. ABA stopped the traffic. [s75]

On 21 October 1943, after pressure from interested parties, "Gripen" took off for Dyce again. The Germans were informed of the flight plan, but it was shot down. Two persons survived, but three crew members and ten passengers (four children) were killed in the attempted crash landing. Shot down by mistake, was the German explanation. [s75]

For a period the courier traffic was maintained with BOAC:s Mosquito planes, with few exceptions. In March 1944 ABA took up the traffic again, and from October 1944 rebuilt Boeing B-17's were used (that could fly faster and higher). [s75]




The Swedish company ABA had regular traffic between Berlin and Stockholm, into May 1942. [s77]

From 20 May 1942 the traffic between Berlin and Stockholm was run by Lufthansa. One flight each day except Sundays, with Junkers Ju 52 or Douglas DC-3 planes. [s77]

On 2 May 1945 the last plane landed on Bromma. This time the return flight went to Warnemünde. The following day the plane from Copenhagen landed on Bulltofta in Malmö. The trip to Stockholm was cancelled, and instead the last civil Lufthansa flight during the war went to Flensburg. [s77]




From 30 October 1944 Deutsche Lufthansa switched to another plane for the traffic between Berlin and Stockholm, a 4-engine Focke Wulf Fw 200 Condor. It carried 5-14 passengers. [s77]

On 29 November it left Berlin for its 21st round trip, with among others a Japanese passenger and the Swedish vicar in Berlin Erik Perwe. Around 10:25 the watchman at Falsterbo lighthouse, looking for the plane, saw an explosion in the air in that direction. Two bodies and parts from the plane were salvaged the same day, at the edge of a German minefield. Since steel splinters in the seats had chemicals from tracer bullets, it is possible that the 4-engine plane that came out of the clouds near a German patrol boat was identified as an Allied bomb plane - and was shot down. [s77]

On 13 December Lufthansa informed among others the crews, about the importance - when flying over water in varying cloudiness - to shoot signal shots at regular intervals to avoid accidental fire from ships. [s77]




Consolidated C-87 plans were used for USA courier flights to and from Bromma airport in Stockholm, later replaced by Douglas C-54 Skymaster. [s49]




On 9 July 1941 the first agreement was made between Germany and Sweden, about German courier traffic by planes over Sweden. The civil unarmed planes (or Junkers Ju 52) should follow the three routes Oslo-Bromma-Björneborg (Finland), Germany-Bromma-Björneborg or Hamar (Norway)-Skellefteå-Rovaniemi. The agreement included terms like: passages over Sweden on highest possible altitude, and primarily without landings in Sweden. [s77]

Over time there were a number of occasions when the agreement wasn't followed, and there were changes in the agreement. The agreement for the German courier flights was cancelled on 5 May 1944. More than 3 100 German courier flights had been made over Sweden. [s77]"
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tercios Espanoles

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,627
Prisoner Exchange stuff I found. This might answer your questons.


 
  • Like
Reactions: Tercios Espanoles