If an Allied pilot was captured by German soldiers in World War II, what would his fate have been? Would he have been interrogated and tortured for intel?
My father was a Rear Gunner on Wellingtons, and was shot down outside Dusseldorf quite early in the War. Being shot down was probably the only thing that saved his life, very few Rear Gunners survived the war otherwise.For fighters, approaching a bomber from behind, the Rear Gunner was the first target. Once he was out of action, the plane was pretty much a sitting duck. Dad collected a large amount of shrapnel in both legs, and next thing, the entire plane was on fire.The Rear Gunner’s turret was too small for the Gunner to have a parachute with him, he had to get into the main fuselage to collect it. And if the turret was not correctly aligned with the fuselage, the only answer was to take an axe and hack your way in, since the plane's hydraulic system was out of action.By the time Dad had got back into the main part of the plane and collected his parachute, things were really getting pretty scary. Once he was out of the plane and his parachute had opened, it was suddenly wonderfully quiet after the noise, the flames and the panic of a few moments earlier. He was conscious that his mouth was very dry, no doubt because of all the adrenaline from the past few minutes.But he was prepared. As a boy, growing up after the Great War (he was born in 1915) he had been inspired by stories of the early RFC flyers. One in particular had really impressed him, the story of one of the first aircrew to save his life by parachuting to the ground. This man had apparently been so cool that by the time he landed, he was halfway through smoking a cigarette!Well, Dad thought that was definitely very cool. And so he never flew without a packet of cigarettes and a lighter in the breast pocket of his flying tunic. Now, the moment had come: he took a cigarette from the packet and placed it in his mouth, then took his lighter in his hand. And at this point, a thought occurred to him: “They're an unfriendly lot of bastards down there, they were shooting at you a few minutes ago. Do you really want to show them where you are?” So when he landed, he still had the unlit cigarette in his mouth and the lighter in his hand. But at least the thought was there!He landed in a ploughed field, planted with some small and prickly bushes. He listened for a while and heard a church clock somewhere, before trying to drag himself on his bottom, since he couldn't walk at all, towards the village ‡ which unfortunately meant going across the furrows and the rows of bushes! Soon, he heard voices and realised that people from the village were approaching. As they arrived, he called out for water, the only response was their exclamations of “Paraschut!” They wanted his parachute for its silk.He was duly handed over to the local authorities, and was taken to a small military hospital. He spent a couple of weeks there, before being moved to his first PoW camp. After a few weeks, it was discovered that although he had been shot down as a Sergeant, by the following morning he was actually a Pilot Officer, so he had to be moved to a camp for officers, Stalag Luft III as it happened, because the Luftwaffe was always very keen to do everything correctly, and he remained there until the closing stages of the War.You will notice a complete absence of German brutality and torture in this story, because it just didn't happen. They all received the same basic interrogation on being captured, to which they were only permitted to give their name, rank and number, and as the Germans knew that was all they were going to be told, they didn't push hard for anything much more. Most aircrew couldn't have told them anything very significant anyway.During the final weeks of the War, when the camps were emptied and the thousands of prisoners were on forced marches up and down the country, there was some pretty brutal treatment and some outright atrocities. But that is for a different Question!