25 Astonishing Facts about Prisoner of War – Part 2

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1Tibor Rubin

Tibor Rubin

Tibor Rubin survived the Holocaust, fought for the US Army during the Korean War, became a POW, and had to wait 55 years to receive his Medal of Honor, all because his sergeant was an anti-Semite.

2. William E. Dyess along with 9 American POWs, with the help of 2 convicts, escaped a Japanese controlled prison simply by walking away. The escape took months to plan and was considered as the only successful mass-escape of Allied POWs from a Japanese camp during the Pacific War.

3. Captain Richard Antrim was captured in 1942 and held as a POW. During this time, he impressed his captors with his engineering skills and helped the Japanese arrange trenches. From the air, the trenches spelled out “US”, warning bombers not to attack and that it was a POW camp, saving hundreds of lives.

4. During his time as a POW, Alexis Casdagli made numerous cross-stitches. One of them was so good that the Germans displayed them in his POW camp for everyone to see, unaware of a secret message stitched into his handiwork. The message, in Morse code, reads "God save the King" and "F*ck Hitler."

5. Special Forces intel officer Colonel James N. Rowe was a POW in the Vietnam War. He spent 62 months in captivity, battled numerous diseases, solved engineering problems to disguise he was an intel officer, and escaped via helicopter by over-powering the guards.

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6Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

At the age of 13, future U.S. President and current POW Andrew Jackson took a saber to the face from a British officer after he stubbornly refused to shine his boots. He then grew fond of the scar calling it his own badge of freedom.

7. A German POW named Georg Gaertner in the US escaped his New Mexico camp in 1945 and stayed on the run for 40 years, before giving himself up after confessing to his American wife.

8. Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill was held POW in South Africa, and after hearing that his release was unlikely, he made a 300-mile escape by jumping freight trains and walking.

9. On August 5, 1944, one of the biggest jail-breaks (Cowra breakout) in history involved hundreds of Japanese POWs attempting to escape an Australian prisoner camp. The Japanese considered the Australians weak because they treated the prisoners well. The breakout ended with 234 Japanese dead and another 108 wounded.

10. A group of POW during World War 2 recorded a documentary about their imprisonment using a secret camera built with parts smuggled inside sausages.

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11Eric Lomax

Eric Lomax

A British Army officer named Eric Lomax (left in the photo) was a prisoner of war in Japan during World War 2. He was starved, viciously beaten and tortured by a Japanese officer named Nagase Takashi. 50 years after he was released, Eric Lomax met his chief tormentor again and they became great friends.

12. Floyd Thompson was the longest-held prisoner of war in US history, spending nearly 9 years in captivity in Vietnam. When he returned, his wife was living with another man and of his 3 children, only his eldest child barely remembered him. Within 4 years of rescuing, he attempted suicide.

13. A Japanese aggressor named Kazuo Sakamaki was captured alive from Pearl Harbor. He was denied his request to commit suicide, and was kept as a Prisoner of War through the remainder of World War 2. He was released back to Japan after their surrender. He then transitioned to a life of pacifism becoming leader of Toyota Motors.

14. Robert Barany was a prisoner of war when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Prince of Sweden and Red Cross negotiated with Russia for him to attend the ceremony.

15. Hitler had captured Stalin's son (Yakov Dzhugashvili) as a prisoner of war and offered to exchange him with a German Marshal prisoner. Stalin responded, "I will not trade a Marshal for a Lieutenant."

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16German POWs

German POWs

In World War 2, German POWs in America were shocked by how African Americans were treated. This was due to the prisoners working alongside them in the fields, allowing them to become closer over their shared labor.

17. Denholm Elliott (AKA Marcus Brody) was a World War 2 gunner whose plane went down in the North Sea in 1942. He and two other survivors became prisoners of war in Silesia, where he got involved in amateur drama.

18. An American soldier named Joe Kieyoomia was the only prisoner of war to survive both the Bataan death march and an atomic bomb blast. He was also beaten for months by his Japanese captors who believed him to be Japanese-American when he was, in actuality, of Navajo descent.

19. Walter Frederick Morrison, the inventor of the Frisbee fought in World War 2 as a pilot, got shot down in Italy, and was a prisoner of war for 48 days.

20. A group of escaped German POWs returned to Camp Ozada in Alberta, Canada voluntarily after encountering a grizzly bear.

21Galvanized Yankees

Galvanized Yankees

250 Union soldiers surrendered to the Confederates, enlisted in the Confederate Army while held as POWS, were recaptured by the Union Army, and then re-enlisted as Union soldiers. They were called Galvanized Yankees.

22. Fritz Joubert Duquesne fought against Britain in the Boer War, was captured and held as a POW in Bermuda, escaped to the USA where he became a secret agent for Germany during both World Wars, heading up the largest espionage ring in American history.

23. Between 1970 and 1973, four Israeli fighter pilots translated The Hobbit from English to Hebrew to pass the time in an Egyptian prison, where they were held as POWs. The pilots' translation was published commercially in 1977, and up until 2012 was considered the best Hebrew version of the book.

24. During the Great Papago Escape, 25 German POWs (primarily naval personnel) dug their way out of a Phoenix POW camp in hopes to ride the rapids of the Gila River down to Mexico. It never occurred to the prisoners that most rivers in Arizona run dry.

25. American POWs in Vietnam would check if a new prisoner was American by tapping the first notes of "Shave and a Haircut" on a wall and seeing if they responded correctly.

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