Widow of heroic RAF PoW sells his wartime archive 76 years on 

The widow of an RAF hero who survived two Nazi ‘death marches’ has sold his poignant wartime archive 76 years later.

Sergeant John Morton was captured after he jumped out of a blazing Lancaster bomber as it was shot down in a raid over Berlin.

He was taken to a PoW camp in Lithuania but was forced to march hundreds of miles west in appalling conditions as Russian allies advanced from the east.

Many of the PoWs were weak and starving and were bayoneted or shot because they could not sustain the hellish pace.

The widow of an RAF hero Sergeant John Morton, who survived two Nazi 'death marches', has sold his poignant wartime archive 76 years after his plane was shot down over Berlin

The widow of an RAF hero Sergeant John Morton, who survived two Nazi ‘death marches’, has sold his poignant wartime archive 76 years after his plane was shot down over Berlin

Morton was captured after he jumped out of a blazing Lancaster bomber as it was shot down in a raid over Berlin. But after being taken to a PoW camp in Lithuania, he survived two gruelling 'death marches' back towards Germany

Morton was captured after he jumped out of a blazing Lancaster bomber as it was shot down in a raid over Berlin. But after being taken to a PoW camp in Lithuania, he survived two gruelling ‘death marches’ back towards Germany

Having survived the first long march, Sgt Morton was faced with an even more gruelling one in January 1945 during the coldest winter in 50 years.

The men trekked over 500 miles in 60 days to the camp near Hamburg, with the constant threat of being executed by tyrannical German guards.

It is believed that about 3,500 Allied PoW’s lost their lives during the long marches.

Sgt Morton survived but was so starved he spent a month in hospital in Britain upon his return home at the end of the war.

He recovered and subsequently worked as a graphic artist and was a talented painter whose work was showcased at the Royal Academy.

Pictured: The medal set awarded to Leading Aircraftsman John Morton, comprising of a 1939-1945 Star with Bomber Command clasp, Air Crew Europe Star, War and Defence Medals

Pictured: The medal set awarded to Leading Aircraftsman John Morton, comprising of a 1939-1945 Star with Bomber Command clasp, Air Crew Europe Star, War and Defence Medals

Sgt Morton survived the marches but was so starved he spent a month in hospital in Britain upon his return home at the end of the war. Pictured: The letter sent to Leading Aircraftsman John Morton's family informing them that he was missing

Sgt Morton survived the marches but was so starved he spent a month in hospital in Britain upon his return home at the end of the war. Pictured: The letter sent to Leading Aircraftsman John Morton’s family informing them that he was missing

Sgt Morton died aged 76 in 1997 and now his prized possessions have been sold at auctioneers Dominic Winter, of Cirencester, Gloucestershire.

His wife Valerie Morton, 83, from Weybridge, Surrey, sold the archive as she wanted it to go to a home where it would ‘truly be appreciated’.

It fetched £1,100 including fees.

She said: ‘My late husband did not like to talk about the war but I know his plane was on fire when he parachuted out of it.

‘During his years as a PoW, he started drawing and found he had an exceptional talent.

‘This was encouraged, not just by his friends in the camp but also by his commanding officer.

His wife Valerie Morton, 83, from Weybridge, Surrey, sold the archive as she wanted it to go to a home where it would 'truly be appreciated'. Pictured: John Morton with his wife Valerie on their wedding day

His wife Valerie Morton, 83, from Weybridge, Surrey, sold the archive as she wanted it to go to a home where it would 'truly be appreciated'.

His wife Valerie Morton (pictured left together), 83, from Weybridge, Surrey, sold the archive as she wanted it to go to a home where it would ‘truly be appreciated’.

Sgt Morton (pictured) died aged 76 in 1997 and now his prized possessions have been sold at auctioneers Dominic Winter, of Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Sgt Morton (pictured) died aged 76 in 1997 and now his prized possessions have been sold at auctioneers Dominic Winter, of Cirencester, Gloucestershire

‘At the end of the war, when on the long march, due to his deteriorating health, he was unable to carry his artwork and threw it all into a hand cart.

‘Had he fallen behind he would have been shot.

‘Unfortunately it got lost on the march and he was never able to retrieve his work.

‘He died in 1997 and I’ve kept hold of these items since then but I’d like them to go to a home where they will be truly appreciated.’

The archive includes his campaign medals, RAF log books, photos and a Caterpillar Club badge he was awarded for successfully bailing out of a downed aircraft.

Also sold were his cigarette lighter which is engraved ‘John Morton, Stalag Luft VI Heydekrug Deutschland’ and his RAF officer’s service dress hat.

A Dominic Winter spokesperson said: 'It was a difficult decision for the family to sell this emotive archive but we are delighted to have had the opportunity to assist them in placing the collection in the hands of someone who will also appreciate it.' Pictured: Morton's flight logbook for the month of January 1944

A Dominic Winter spokesperson said: ‘It was a difficult decision for the family to sell this emotive archive but we are delighted to have had the opportunity to assist them in placing the collection in the hands of someone who will also appreciate it.’ Pictured: Morton’s flight logbook for the month of January 1944

In February 1944 his Lancaster was shot down by a Junkers 88 aircraft over Erfurt. His flight logbook shows his last flight recorded on February 15 where he is marked 'missing'

In February 1944 his Lancaster was shot down by a Junkers 88 aircraft over Erfurt. His flight logbook shows his last flight recorded on February 15 where he is marked ‘missing’

A Dominic Winter spokesperson said: ‘It was a difficult decision for the family to sell this emotive archive but we are delighted to have had the opportunity to assist them in placing the collection in the hands of someone who will also appreciate it.’

Sgt Morton joined the RAF aged 20 in September 1941.

He trained in Ontario, Canada, before qualifying as an air bomber in December 1942.

He served in 626 Squadron based out of RAF Wickenby, Lincs, and flew in 11 bombing operations.

In February 1944 his Lancaster was shot down by a Junkers 88 aircraft over Erfurt.

All seven men of the crew bailed out of the bomber but the co-pilot was critically injured and dies several days later.

His medal group consists of a 1939-45 Star with Bomber Command clasp, Air Crew Europe Star, War and Defence Medals.

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