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North to the apricots

The escape stories of Sergeant Bruce Crowley DCM: New Zealand prisoner of war in Greece & Germany 1941–1943, as told to Julia Millen

Bruce Crawley as told to Julia Millen


Out of print


Sergeant Bruce Crowley, A section 4RMT of the NZ Army Service Corps, was the first New Zealand POW to make a successful escape from Germany back to Britain in World War II. Captured during the Allied withdrawal from Greece in April 1941, en route to a German POW camp he jumped from the train and for several months lived among Greek villagers. Re-captured he was sent to the infamous Stalag VIIIB in southeastern Europe.

In July 1943 Crowley scaled a wall and escaped from a working party at Breslau. Disguised as a civilian he made his way by train to a Baltic port where he planned to stowaway on a ship to Sweden.

Read about Bruce Crowley’s remarkable escapades on the run from the Germans in this new book recorded by the old soldier himself.

Julia was interviewed about the book on Radio NZ's Summer Nights on Monday 14 January 2013

Read a review in NZ Army News

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Readers’ comments

"I have just read your book North to the Apricots... and I had to contact you to say how much I enjoyed it. My father was taken prisoner in Greece. He always talked about what a hell hole Salonika was, but that's all. Your story answered many questions. He never talked about the cold, but certainly the lack of food. He ended up at Stalag 18a in Austria. This year we are visiting the farm that dad worked on for 18 months. The family are looking forward to our visit. The records are still in existence detailing where our soldiers worked. Thank you again for your book, it was very, very good... Many thanks.

~ Ross Newland, Napier

About the author

Bruce Crawley as told to Julia Millen