University of Oxford
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Flight Lieutenant Tony Hayter from the Great Escape

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 19:46 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

For the whole time Fl Lt Tony Hayter was in the RAF he wrote regular letters to his girlfriend, Cynthia Henstock, whom he clearly hoped to marry one day. These started with his initial training, then on to the Middle East and finally from Stalag Luft III.

They describe quite a dull uneventful life but the reality was very different. He was shot down over Sicily in 1942 and taken to Stalag Luft III in Poland. Once there it seems he was immediately involved in preparations for the "Great Escape". He started giving German lessons, he was also attending lectures on navigation.

The breakout took place in 1944 but sadly he was one of the people recaptured, and one of the 50 who were shot. There is now a memorial to those men at the site of the camp.


Item list and details

1. Flight Lieutenant Tony Hayder in RAF uniform. 2. Copies of some letters sent by Tony to his girlfriend. 3. Photograph inside Stalag Luft III. 4. Letter to Tony's mother from Vincent Byrne after Tony was shot for escaping. 5. Grave stone and site memorial postcard. 6. Images of the 50 that were shot.

Person the story/items relate to

Flight Lieutenant Tony Hayter

Person who shared the story/items

Colin Philip Cruickshank

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Contributor is the son of the person's girlfriend

Type of submission

Shared at West Meads Community Hall, West Sussex on 11 November 2023. The event was organised by Bognor Regis u3a.

Record ID

106397 | BOG051