Some 2803 Royal Air Forces airmen who 'failed to return' from sorties during WWII either evaded capture or more rarely escaped from captivity.
For most their eventual return to Allied territory was by clandestine means.
In evading or escaping they forced the enemy to devote scarce resources to finding them. They also gave heart to the Allied Forces operating over enemy territory. It was possible to get back.
Escapers and evaders were almost always reliant on the goodwill of ordinary people - extraordinarily brave people - in the countries under Fascist control.
MI 9 was set up to provide training in escape and evasion, coordinate escape lines and provide and devise materials - such as escape kits - to help highly trained airmen to get back.
Helpers risked torture and death for the help they gave. Their families faced deportation to concentration camps. Many thousands suffered because they aided Allied airmen. A number of organisations operated to guide and shelter Allied Forces evaders and escapers on their journeys to freedom.
SAVED THROUGH WALKING
On behalf of our American friends we hosted an Air Forces Escape & Evasion Society page launched in 2004.
This was succeeded by their own website http://airforceescape.org/
This website is hosted by 207 Squadron Royal Air Force History: 207 had 39 evaders. 207's Great Escaper was executed.