A WAR hero believed to be one of the oldest local survivors of the Nazi Death March from Poland to Germany in 1945 has died, aged 91.
George Titley, of Stourport, who was a standard bearer for the town’s Royal British Legion, died on Tuesday last week.
Born in Cleobury Mortimer, Mr Titley became a prisoner of war (PoW) at Stalag Luft VIII B, in Lamsdorf, Poland, after he was captured in Crete in 1941.
While there, the grandfather of 14 was forced to work in salt mines, where along with all of the other PoWs he prayed for the end of hostilities.
Together with a friend, Mr Titley also helped to save the life of a Jewish woman by shaving her head, dressing her in British uniform, smuggling her into their camp and passing her off as a dead colleague.
“During his time there he became aware of the Germans’ inhumane treatment of the Jews and the Russian prisoners,”
recalled his daughter Gina Pardoe. “He once recounted a story where a Russian PoW was pushed under a train purely because a British soldier had taken pity on him and flicked the remaining stub of his cigarette towards him.”
She explained that in 1945 Mr Titley was among 80,000 of the 270,000 allied prisoners held in Poland and Eastern Europe who were force marched to Germany.
“Poorly clothed, crawling in body lice, already underfed, dad and his compatriots were forced at gun point to march over the frozen ground, sleeping often in the open,” said Mrs Pardoe.
“Somehow and miraculously he made it and he was one of 72,500 surviving ex-PoWs who were air lifted to Britain between May 4, and May 25, 1945.”
Mr Titley was discharged from His Majesty’s Service in 1948 and re-visited Crete in 1995 to honour the 50th anniversary of the war’s ending.
“Dad could rarely speak about what he experienced or what he saw without breaking down in tears,” Mrs Pardoe said.
“His memories stayed with him throughout the rest of his eventful and long life. He became a well known and a popular figure in Stourport – his adopted home – where he is remembered fondly by a great many in the town.”
Mr Titley also leaves seven children and three step children, along with many great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
A military funeral will be held for Mr Titley at St Barth