While many WW2 prisoner-of-war (PoW) escapes are well known, even famous, thanks in part to the success of books and films on the subject, little is known about the aids and assistance PoW’s were receiving from MI9, based in the UK. MI9 was a branch of WW2 military intelligence responsible for assisting the escape and evasion of Allied Pows from occupied Europe. While still operating within the remit of the Geneva Convention, MI9 successfully smuggled in contraband and intelligence to the PoW camps to help assist with breakout and then return of captured Allied PoW’s. Finally, they interrogated all escapees on their return to the UK to gather both escape and military intelligence for wider distribution, thus helping to contribute to the Allied intelligence war effort. MI9 and the role they played during WW2 has been largely marginalised since the end of the war with their files classified and little published as a consequence. However, since the relatively recent declassification of its files, there is a growing interest in its work and its role in WW2 prisoner-of-war escapes.
David Robertson is a PhD student in the Michael Howard War Studies department at Kings College, London. He was born and raised in Perth, before going on to study Modern History at Glasgow University. After graduation, he moved to London, where he continued his studies for a Master’s Degree in Contemporary History and Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London. Upon its completion, he moved to Kings College, London to start his PhD in 2016. David first started studying MI9 for his Master’s thesis, which looked at the role of MI9 in Second World War prisoner-of-war escapes. Limiting his study to just Allied escaping officers, David successfully proved the link between MI9 and the majority of successfully completed escapes, including The Great Escape, Colditz and the Wooden Horse, successfully debunking a number of escape myths along the way.
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