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A stroke of luck! Captured British pilots sit down with the German officer for champagne and caviar

A photo of a Nazi commander with champagne and caviar with two captured RAF pilots has been found.

Hauptmann von Luck told sergeants Edward Rodgers and Cyril Bartlam that they were “lucky” to have met him when they were captured before taking them to a cafe or restaurant in Fécamp, Normandy.

The pair were captured in June 1940 after their Blenheim bomber was shot down, as it covered the evacuation of British forces from the coastal town.

The German commander, known for his gentleman, regularly made funny puns when he captured allied forces.

Hauptmann von Luck, left, with captured RAF pilots Sergeants Edward Rodgers, second right, and Cyril Bartlam, first right, in a cafe or restaurant in Fecamp, Normandy, in 1940

Hauptmann von Luck, left, with captured RAF pilots Sergeants Edward Rodgers, second right, and Cyril Bartlam, first right, in a cafe or restaurant in Fecamp, Normandy, in 1940

Sergeant Rodgers remained in custody for another five years

Sergeant Rodgers remained in custody for another five years

Sgt Bartlam is detained for another five years

Sgt Bartlam is detained for another five years

Sgts Rodgers (left) and Bartlam (right) remained in custody for another five years. Sergeant Rodgers was on the ‘Long March’ across Poland and Germany when prisoners of war were moved due to advancing Soviet troops

The stunning photo shows the German commander sitting with his prisoners next to two bottles of champagne, small plates filled with caviar and a vase of flowers.

In his memoirs, Von Luck writes, “You’re lucky,” I greeted them. “You will stay with me for the time being.”

“That evening, next to the mayor of Fecamp, the officers of my battalion, the successful leader of the 88 mm battery, a German submarine officer and the crew of a British bomber sat together.”

The German officer was freed from the city prison by von Luck’s men.

On the back of the photo is the following message: “With Tommy flyers at Fecamp, June 12, 1940.”

The two British soldiers photographed with German soldiers in Fécamp, France

The two British soldiers photographed with German soldiers in Fécamp, France

The two British soldiers photographed with German soldiers in Fécamp, France

The image was found by the French postman and amateur historian Laurent Viton, who published it in the British magazine Iron Cross.

Days after they were captured, Sgts Rodgers and Bartlam were sent to a German prisoner of war camp.

In Rodgers’ case he spent most of the war in Stalag Luft VI in Lithuania.

In the winter of 1944-45, he was one of hundreds of prisoners of war sent on a “kill” march to the west by Poland and Germany when the Russians advanced from the east.

By the time of his liberation in April 1945, he weighed only 7 stn.

Brendan Rodgers, the son of the late Sergeant Rodgers, said: “My father told me that he was very lucky to have survived the war and that he had been treated well by the Germans when he was captured, but he never mentioned champagne and caviar. .

“I’ve never seen the photo before and was most surprised when I saw it. It’s extraordinary, but if you learn about the kind of man von Luck was, you can understand why. ‘

Their plane was shot down over Fécamp, Normandy, France

Their plane was shot down over Fécamp, Normandy, France

Their plane was shot down over Fécamp, Normandy, France

Blenheim bomber plane shown above. They were on an airplane of this model when they were shot

Blenheim bomber plane shown above. They were on an airplane of this model when they were shot

Blenheim bomber plane shown above. They were on an airplane of this model when they were shot

Iron Cross editor, covering German military history, Andy Saunders, said, “Hospitality at this stage of the war toward captured RAF pilots was not entirely uncommon – although I suspect this usually didn’t extend to champagne and caviar!

Likewise, hospitality for someone’s prisoners was often extended by the British. However, it became less common on both sides as the war progressed and attitudes hardened.

However, this photo is remarkable. These men – opponents – seem relaxed together. Almost to celebrate, and yet the war raged at its most violent. ‘

After the war, Rodgers returned to his hometown of Dublin, where he worked as a cinema manager.

He married wife Mary in July 1945 and they had four children, one of whom was a daughter whom he named Valery after the town of Frenh where his plane was shot down.

He died in 1986 at the age of 82.

Sergeant Rodgers introduced himself on his wedding day with his wife Mary in July 1945, shortly after his release

Sergeant Rodgers introduced himself on his wedding day with his wife Mary in July 1945, shortly after his release

Sergeant Rodgers introduced himself on his wedding day with his wife Mary in July 1945, shortly after his release

Bartlam, from Broseley, Shropshire, also survived the war and died in 1997.

Von Luck continued in North Africa, the Russian front and then Normandy again after D-Day.

He was captured by the Russians in Halbe, south of Berlin, in April 1945, and spent four years in a Soviet labor camp.

He died in Hamburg in 1997 at the age of 86.

The remarkable photos of the pilots with the German commander are colored by Richard James Molloy and published in the Iron Cross magazine.

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