Edward Callander lived from 1917 to 1944. He was an RAF airman who was killed by the Gestapo in 1944. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Edward Callander was born in Dumfries. When he was a year old his mother was committed to the Crichton Mental Hospital, where she remained until her death many years later. Edward and his brother and sister was brought up by an aunt and by his father, who himself suffered from what would now be called post traumatic stress following his First World War service in the Kings Own Scottish Borders in the Dardanelles. Edward seems to have got into trouble as a teenager in Dumfries, and made his way to London.
In 1936, still aged only 19, Callander left London bound for France. Once there he joined the French Foreign Legion. In Spring 1940 he was among the Legionnaires who formed part of the Anglo-French forces that took part in the Battle of Narvik in northern Norway. For his part in the operation, Callander was awarded the Croix de Guerre. Meanwhile, France had fallen to the Germans, and Callander returned to Britain, where he joined the RAF as a rear gunner on Wellington bombers. In total he flew some 50 missions over enemy territory from his base at RAF Marham, and in 1941 was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. His luck ran out during a raid over Stuttgart on the night of 6 May 1942, and Callander ended up as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft 3. This was located near Sagan in what is now Poland, 100 miles south east of Berlin.
While a POW, Callander escaped on three occasions. On the first occasion he was part of a large group who tunnelled their way out. Having been recaptured, he later evaded his captors while being returned to the camp. In 1944 Callander made his third escape, this time by hiding for over two days in a disused water tank. Edward Callander apparently made it as far as the port of Danzig on the Baltic before being recaptured. This time he was not returned to his camp, instead being shot by the Gestapo.
The remarkable story of Edward Callander is told in full in Fighter! Fighter! The Story of Edward Callander by John Brenan & Richard Frost and is available from Redbek Publishing, email [email protected] or by writing to Redbek Publishing, 16 Catherine St, Whitehaven, Cumbria. The book is also available at the Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum.