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Memo regarding Confidential Information from the Air Ministry

Notes on the character of captured German pilots.

BBC ARCHIVE DOCUMENT 1940

Internal Memo

14th October, 1940.

I have a note from Ryan, C. (H)., on the result of his conversations with the Air Ministry and with officers of Army Intelligence, who have examined German Air Force prisoners. He circulates it as a warning against running stories suggesting that there is anything abnormal at this stage about the German Air Force. The conclusions reached are as follows:-
1. The pilots are mainly round about the early - 20's - that is the ordinary age. The only youngsters, such as 17, years old, have been wireless operators.

2. He found no one who had come across a prisoner who believed that German troops were already in this country. The Germans who land want to get into the hands of the regular Army as quickly as possible, and they have sometimes been afraid that the Home Guard might be 'tough' with them, and therefore they demanded to be taken to the nearest Army post.

3. It is well authenticated that German aircraft are ordered to return to aerodromes far distant from the ones they set out from. Nevertheless captured crews have known that the R.A.F. has been giving the Luftwaffe a very good run for their money. But there is no evidence of defeatism in the German Air Force or even a belief that our fighters are better than theirs.

4. There is a great difference of opinion among prisoners about what has happened to Berlin. Some thought it was very serious, and others that the damage was only light.

5. Prisoners have generally been well-behaved and not truculently Nazi. Some have not concealed that they were weary of the war.

6. Many pilots have done 4-years' service. Some have ribbons given for service in the Sudetenland and Spain.

7. Airmen who land don't destroy their planes. They either stay put, or come on to the nearest road to give themselves up. This is, of course, all confidential information intended only to give you a picture of the German Air Force, which will prevent you giving currency to silly or exaggerated stories which the Agencies may get hold of.

As a footnote, don't forget that it is absolutely forbidden to publish the names of Polish, Czech, Belgian, Dutch, Norwegian, or French airmen. This is in order to safeguard their relatives.

M.B.

[Document ends]


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Document Type | Memo

14 October 1940

Document version

Writtenin

1940

Synopsis

This document records what AP Ryan, the Controller of Home Broadcasting, learnt about captured Luftwaffe pilots from his conversations with the Air Ministry and Army Intelligence officers.

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