The story of a hero POW who escaped his Nazi captors eight times during the Second World War has been revealed for the first time.
Trooper Thomas Moreton was captured by German soldiers near Dunkirk, in northern France, days before the Allied evacuation in 1940.
The 23-year-old, who served with The 15th/19th The King’s Royal Hussars, was sent to Stalag XXB in East Prussia. But Thomas, of Walthamstow, East London, repeatedly escaped from the camp.
In 1942, he climbed over a fence to find a civilian doctor to tend to a seriously ill fellow prisoner.
He returned with a friendly German medic, but was immediately seized by furious guards.
After another escape, in 1943, Thomas spent five months fighting alongside the Polish Resistance. He was captured and put in front of a firing squad, but was not shot, as the Gestapo thought he might eventually talk.
Most of his other escapes came when he slipped away from guards during work parties outside the camp.
In April 1945, Thomas was sent on a 1,000-mile “death march” to avoid the invading Russians from the east.
The men endured temperatures of minus 35C and many froze to death, including some of the German guards.
He was eventually liberated by British-led American forces, but chose to stay and fight rather than go home. Thomas, who was a tank driver during the war, died, aged 82, in 1999.
His son Chris, 68, has written down his dad’s exploits. The remarkable story has only now emerged because Chris is selling Thomas’s medals at auction.
He said: “I’m extremely proud of what my father did. He was one of those people who would never give up. He just wanted to make it back to England so he could fight in the war effort.”
Thomas told his son how he came to the aid of his ill friend Ernest “Ginger” Lofthouse, who was being denied medical treatment.
Thomas scaled a barbed-wire fence and then stole a bike, before pedalling to the nearest town to look for a doctor.
Thomas said: “For taking the bicycle, I received three months’ solitary confinement on bread and water. News reached me later that if I hadn’t got Ginger medical aid, he would have died.”
Of his 1943 recapture, Chris said: “They accused him of being a saboteur, took him to their HQ and beat him.
“They then tied him to a post in a courtyard, blindfolded him and fired blanks at him to get him to talk about the partisans.
“He didn’t talk and a few days later they did the same thing to him again.”
Thomas’s medals go on sale at Boningtons, in Epping, Essex, tomorrow.
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