Sir, F/Lt. Pat Melly, an ex-Riley apprentice, better known, perhaps, for his competition
successes in this country and on the Continent, has returned from a prisonerof-war camp in Germany.
Pat was shot down in the Western Desert in November, 1941, and managed to land with minor wounds. He was taken prisoner by the Italians, and although he was in Bologna, the German headquarters at the time Italy quitted, he managed to break away, and after hiding for a number of days, including two days in North Italian sewers, he was given away by an Italian woman and found himself in a steel truck along with a number of other P.O.W.s bound for Germany via the Brenner Pass.
His experiences from then on would provide a most interesting book, and included a term in the camp at the time 50 R.A.F. officers were shot after an attempted escape.
On YE-Day Pat ” commandeered ” a Bowser, complete with trailer caravan, and drove away in the general direction of Belgium. On his way he spotted a Mercedes, and decided it had possibilities.
Further adventures before he arrived at an evacuation airport included the use of two Opel cars, one taken from a German officer who drove up to surrender and left his car complete with food, kit, etc. He finished his journey in a Hansa and, as he was about to board a Dakota, expressed regret at having to leave the car, whereupon he was invited to drive it in but, unfortunately, whilst the Dakota will accommodate a jeep, Melly’s Hansa was just 6-in, too long, and so he bequeathed it to a corporal who happened to be standing by, and took his place in the ‘plane.
After nearly four years imprisonment he was, of course, completely out of touch with events, and when he arrived in Brussels he learned that the “black market” would have welcomed his Hansa and would, in fact, have rewarded him with an exorbitant price.
Ironically, Pat caught a cold in the turret of the Lancaster which carried him to England and, as he said, this was a bit hard after having survived under hedges and in ditches for many weeks before the final release without any apparent ill .effects whatsoever. I am, Yours, etc., PUBLICITY ilANAGER,
Riley (Coventry), Ltd.