Ronald Littledale

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Ronald Bolton Littledale
Nickname(s) Ronnie
Born 1902
Northwich, Cheshire
Died 1 September 1944, aged 42
Airaines, Normandy
Allegiance United Kingdom British Empire
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1922–1944
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Unit King's Royal Rifle Corps
Commands held 2nd Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps
Battles/wars World War II:
Awards Distinguished Service Order

Lieutenant Colonel Ronald 'Ronnie' Bolton Littledale DSO (1902–1944) was a British Army officer who became a Prisoner of War and successfully escaped from Colditz Castle during the Second World War but was Killed in action on 1 September 1944.

Early life

Born summer 1902 in Northwich, Cheshire[1] the only son of Captain John Bolton Littledale and his wife, Clara Stevenson.[2]

He was educated at St. Aubyn's, Rotttingdean and then Eton.[3]

Pre-World War II Army Career

Littledale was trained at the Royal Military College and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 1 February 1923.[4]

He served with the King's Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) in the BAOR, India, Palestine and Northern Ireland,[3] rising through the ranks during the 1920s and 1930s

World War II

Littledale took part in the defence of Calais serving as a Major. On 26 May 1940 he was captured by a German patrol near the Fort at the harbour mouth.[3]

Prisoner of War: Stalag XXI-D

With other captured officers he was marched across northern France for about 10 days then taken by train from near Luxembourg to Trier, Mainz and onward to Oflag VII-CLaufen in Mid June 1940.

In March 1941 he was transferred to Stalag XXI-D, Poznań in Poland.

As a Prisoner of War he made several escape attempts. In May 1941, with two other British officers; Lieutenant Mike Sinclair and Gris Davies-Scourfield, he escaped by hiding in a modified handcart carrying rubbish to a pit outside the camp. They made contact with the Polish underground movement in Warsaw but, after parting company, Davies-Scourfield was recaptured in March 1942. Littledale and Sinclair were recaptured in Bulgaria after 8 months of freedom and handed back to the Germans.[3][5]

Prisoner of War: Oflag IV-C, Colditz Castle

The three were all sent to Oflag IV-C at Colditz Castle, Littledale arriving there on 15 July 1942.[3][6]

On 15 October 1942, together with Captain Pat Reid, Lieutenant Commander William E. Stephens RNVR, and Flight Lieutenant Howard D. Wardle, he escaped from Colditz, and travelling with Stephens arrived in neutral Switzerland on 20 October 1942.[7]

Littledale left Switzerland on 25 January 1943, and with Flight Lieutenant Hedley Fowler, who had escaped earlier from Colditz, travelled across unoccupied France. They crossed into Spain on 30 January 1943, however they were arrested by the Spanish authorities later the same day.[8]

They were taken to a military prison at Figueras, where they were held in filthy and cramped conditions until 22 February 1943. Then they were taken to the British Consul in Barcelona. From there they travelled to Gibraltar arriving on 25 March 1943.[9]

Free again

Littledale returned to the UK shortly afterwards.

For his escape and actions whilst in captivity he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 4 May 1943.[10]

He was killed in action on 1 September 1944, commanding the 2nd Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps and is buried at Airaines Cemetery in France.[11]

Further reading


  1. "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 22 October 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Crisp, Frederick Arthur, ed. (1905). Visitation of England and Wales. 1–3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Stevenson family history
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Escape to Freedom. KRRC
  4. The London Gazette: no. 32792. p. 807. 2 Feb 1923. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  5. 'Colditz - The Full Story' by Pat Reid page 132
  6. 'Colditz - The Full Story' by Pat Reid page 306
  7. WO208/3288 Official Camp History O4C - Chapter X para 4
  8. 'Those Who Dared' by G Brown page 120
  9. 'Those Who Dared' by G Brown page 121
  10. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36000. p. 1997. 4 May 1943. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
  11. "Casualty Details: Ronald Bolton Littledale". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 23 August 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>