Sunday, October 14, 2012

(J/15811) Colin (Frank) Sorensen - Course 38

1922 - 2010 Frank was born in Hjorring, Denmark and immigrated to Canada with his family when he was 17. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force at age 18 and was eventually sent to Wales where he was trained on Spitfires to become a fighter pilot. He was wounded over Dieppe, but was able to ferry his Spitfire to home base where he survived the crash landing. Frank's Squadron was sent to North Africa to fight against Hitler's top General, Rommel, the Desert Fox. During a mission in April 1943, Frank failed to return to base. He had been shot down in Tunisia and crash landed behind enemy lines where he was taken prisoner and shipped off to a German POW camp called Stalag Luft III. He spent two years in the camp and took part in the Great Escape in March 1944. He was number 81, however number 76 was in the tunnel when the German guards discovered the escape. Of the 76 who escaped, only 3 reached freedom. Of the 73 captured, 50 were shot by the direct order of Hitler. In January 1945, the 10,000 Allied Officers of Stalag Luft III, being used as human shields against the advancing Russian Army were ordered to evacuate camp. The long march started in Sagan Germany, now part of Poland and ended with a much diminished company of prisoners eventually reaching an area east of Hamburg where they were intercepted by Allied Forces in May 1945. During the forced march, the men suffered through the coldest winter Europe had experienced in decades. They had only the clothes on their backs and had to forage for food once their supplies were exhausted. The German guards shot any who fell by the wayside, and had the POWs carry German flags to elicit friendly fire from the Allied forces. Once the prisoners were met by Allied tanks, the German guards readily surrendered. One guard gave Frank his Luger as his sign of surrender. Frank spent weeks recuperating in a hospital in Bouremouth, England and was repatriated to Canada in July 1945 at the age of 23.
(Photo: Sitting in Harvard at 11 SFTS). Frank met Betty Bodley on the tennis courts at Queen's University, Kingston and they were married in December 1946. Frank entered Dental College at the University of Toronto and graduated in 1951. He practiced dentistry for 38 years, starting his first practice in Leamington, Ontario, eventually settling in Kingston in 1954.


  1. I see my father's name, Colin Sorensen in the newspaper clipping for Ontario men. I also recognize some of the other names, men who signed the back of my father's graduation photo from EFTS, Fort William, Ontario. Have a number of my father's photos from SFTS Yorkton as well as letters he wrote home. I see one man missing from the graduation - my father wrote about his death after a crash.

  2. I'm doing an investigation on a crash on 25/26 juli 1943 in Culemborg (NL) in which Keith McLean Johnston, born in 1917 in Vancouver, Canada, got killed.
    The rest of the crew bailed out in the village where I live and were made POW.
    Do you have perhaps a photograph of Keith or do you know how to get it?
    I can't find anything about this crash on your website.

    Thanks for your help!

    Richard van de Velde

  3. I have information on a crash Jan 10, 1943 which killed R147894 (LAC) Turnbull James Orlo and R55392 (LAC) Campbell Alan Robert in "E" Flight Course 68, high level navigation in a/o FJ272 near Peebles, SK.

  4. I have created this blog with Frank Sorensen's daughter.