Obituary: Great Escape prison camp veteran Henry Stockings built post-war life as Poringland pig farmer

Flight Lieutenant Henry Stockings (DFC), who was in Bomber Command. He later lived in Poringland, an

Flight Lieutenant Henry Stockings (DFC), who was in Bomber Command. He later lived in Poringland, and died aged 98 on February 10, 2015. Picture: SUBMITTED

A prisoner of war who played a part in The Great Escape tunneling effort has died peacefully aged 98.

View of Stalag Luft III camp in Sagan, Germany

View of Stalag Luft III camp in Sagan, Germany

Flight Lieutenant Henry Stockings, whose plane crashed over enemy lines, helped shift dirt as a so-called 'penguin', waddling with bags of sand, and distracted prison guards at the Stalag Luft III prison complex for Allied airmen in Poland.

He moved from hut 104 on the night of the escape to make room for the numerous escapees through the tunnel named Harry, later depicted in the 1963 Steve McQueen war film The Great Escape.

Mr Stockings suffered under the punitive restrictions imposed after prison guards realised the scale of what had happened, and he remained captive until the end of the Second World War.

After returning to England he settled near Poringland as a poultry farmer.

Flight Lieutenant Henry Stockings (DFC), who was in Bomber Command. He later lived in Poringland, an

Flight Lieutenant Henry Stockings (DFC), who was in Bomber Command. He later lived in Poringland, and died aged 98 on February 10, 2015. Picture: SUBMITTED


You may also want to watch:


He later worked as a pig breeder and maintained an extensive outdoor herd at the south Norfolk farm until his retirement in 1994.

Born on August 22, 1916 in Cambridge, Mr Stockings was called up on September 3, 1939 - the very day that a state of war was declared by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

Most Read

He joined 44 Squadron at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire and was part of Bomber Command.

On one morale-boosting mission he was at the controls of a Hampden bomber for more than 12 hours, aiming to drop leaflets over Danzig, now known as Gdansk, at the southern tip of the Baltic sea.

It is thought that at this stage of the war this was a world record flight for a twin-engine bomber, and that this combined with his other mine-laying activities led to him being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by King George VI in 1941.

Later that year his plane was intercepted by a German night-fighter on the way back from an assigned military target in Cologne.

His parachute became tangled in a tree, he was surrounded by German soldiers with machine guns and barking dogs and taken as a prisoner of war.

He was interrogated by the Gestapo for two weeks and moved around various camps, including Stalag Luft III in Poland.

Mr Stockings returned home when the war ended in 1945, married Mabel West and had three children - David, Pauline and Andrew.

After his first wife died of cancer, he married Catherine Stirk, who survives him aged 104.

He died on February 10, 2015.

He is also survived by his daughter Pauline and his step-daughter Heather.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter