A chilling tale of Battle of Britain and POW exchange in Barcelona
Venkat Raman –
A small group of guests were at the Aviation Hall of the Museum of Transport and Technology Auckland (MOTA) in Western Springs, Auckland on Friday, April 7, 2017, to celebrate the launch of a book titled, ‘From Battle of Britain Airman to POW Escapee: The Story of the Late Ian Walker.’
The Book, written by Angela Walker of Auckland, is a tribute to her father, a Champion Cyclist-turned Airman, who lived to narrate the story of his life as a war hero and later as a Prisoner of War in the hands of Germans.
The Book was launched by Lisa Chappell, known for her role as Claire McCleod in ‘McCleod Daughters,’ a drama series on Nine Network.
The Book narrates the Second World War story of Ian Walker, a New Zealander in the ranks of the Royal Air Force, who participated in the ‘Battle of Britain’ before being transferred to Bomber Command.
He survived three plane crashes in his Wellington bomber.
The Great Escape
His third and final crash occurred in the enemy territory, where he was captured and taken prisoner. Confined within the claustrophobic walls of a POW camp, he hatched a plot with a fellow inmate to escape. This they achieved, almost miraculously, in broad daylight. Living on basic rations, they navigated the enemy wilds until they were captured, yet again, and taken back to prison.
After languishing in POW camps and hospitals for more than two years, Mr Walker had the good fortune of being placed on a list of injured men to be exchanged, man-for-man, with German prisoners.
The Barcelona Exchange
The little-known story of the history-making exchange that took place in Barcelona in October 1943 is detailed in the Book, describing how thousands of allied and axis prisoners were safely returned to their homelands in the midst of war.
Ian Walker died in 2009 at the age of 89.
Speaking at the launch, Angela Walker said how she took efforts from her formative years to preserve the details of her father’s extraordinary odyssey in full.
Her tale circumnavigates the globe, weaving snippets taken from letters and extensive journals kept by her father to create a compelling, warm-hearted and thrilling account of his war. Having once inspired her to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, her father now continues to inform and inspire her through the stories she has recovered from his past. Her book commemorates the efforts of all New Zealand’s wartime airmen who, like her father, made significant contributions in the fight for allied victory.
About Angela Walker and her husband
Angela Walker and her husband Dr Kannan Subramaniam have been long-time friends of Indian Newslink and were featured in our columns first in 2003.
Dr Subramaniam is currently Senior Director (Cardiovascular Lead) at Pfizer Essential Health, Global Medical Affairs for the Asia Pacific Region, New South Wales, Australia, based in North Shore, Auckland.
We featured him first (Indian Newslink, July 15, 2003) to report on an innovation of ‘Intrahealth,’ of which he was then Vice-President. The company’s ground-breaking research was on easy detection of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), diabetes and a host of other human ailments.
About two years later, we wrote about his visit to Batticaloa, in the east coast of Sri Lanka to provide psychosocial and psychological relief and counselling to the victims of the tsunami that resulted from the Indian Ocean earthquake killing more than 30,000 people on December 26, 2004 (Indian Newslink, February 15, 2005).
Angela Walker, who he married in 1995, worked in Revo, an advertising agency. She won a Gold Medal in Rhythmic Gymnastics in the 1990 Commonwealth Games (New Zealand) and represented New Zealand at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Title: From Battle of Britain Airman to POW Escapee: The Story of the Late Ian Walker
Angela Walker with her Book