Johnny Travis – Wireless Operator

One of the crew members on that ‘one way journey’ to Emden was Johnny Travis and he is one I wasn’t able to find too much about initially. There aren’t too many photos of him around and those are rather blurred – a couple with the crew in Oakington and one of him on his wedding day in uniform.

He is mentioned in dad’s book but as dad didn’t stay in Luft Stalag III for more than a year he wasn’t privvy to Travis’ exploits in connection with the Great Escape. It wasn’t until recently that I realised that he’d stayed in LSIII !

However, someone on a forum on Facebook directed me to a book in which he is mentioned on more than one occasion – ‘A Gallant Company: The men of the Great Escape’ by Jonathan F. Vance


Some of the crew on MG-J Stirling shot down 7 June 1942. Back row l. to r. – Edward ‘Ted’ Earngey,  Frank St. John ‘Johnny’ Travis, Sidney ‘Mac’ Macnamara and Norman ‘Buck’ Tayler. 

Front l. to r. John ‘Jack’ Arnold and William ‘Bill’ Goodman. (So missing from this crew are: Harry Spry and Clarence Francis ‘Frank’ Henigman)

I’ve just finished reading it and was gratified to note that Travis was mentioned numerous times in connection with articles that he’d fashioned to aid the escapers. Overall, I found the book was astonishing – not just for the depth of research but also for the stories of what happened both before and after the escape which were both tragic and, in a few cases, triumphant. It’s a book that I’d recommend to anyone wishing to find out about the escape and those involved – and for me it was difficult to put down. Although it’s an emotional read especially in the last chapters – I found it gripping.

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