RIP Phil Lamason

May 21st, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A true Kiwi war hero has died, aged 93 in Dannevirke. I blogged about Phil Lamason in March:

At the weekend the film Lost Airmen of Buchenwald was on television. It told a fascinating little known story of 168 allied airmen who were illegally sent to a concentration camp in WWII, and how Acting Squadron Leader Phil Lamason kept them alive. Lamason is a kiwi, and amazingly is still alive aged 93.

The 168 airmen were sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, which was technically not an extermination camp, but still saw 55,000 people shot or worked to death.

Lamason as the senior officer assumed command of the airmen, and many of them say his leadership kept them alive. Lamason kept asking for them to be transferred to a POW camp, but this was denied. They were ordered to work as slave labour. Lamason refused to order the men to work, as allied soliders could not work for war production for the Nazis. He refused to back down even when threatened with summary execution by an SS officer.

Lamason managed to get word to the Luftwaffe, about the airmen being held at the concentration camp. He was hoping they would intervene, as they would not wish their captured airmen in the UK to be treated in the same way. Two Luftwaffe officers visited the camp pretending to inspect bomb damage, and talked to Lamason. They reported to Hermann Goering who ordered them transferred.

However before news of the transfer came through, they were ordered to be shot on 26 October. Only Lamarson knew this, but didn’t tell the others to keep morale high. Then the transfer came through on 19 October.  They were just one week away from execution. 166 of the airmen were transferred and survived.

It was a fascinating documentary and well worth watching. New Zealanders can be very proud of Mr Lamason, a true war hero.

I’m very glad I saw that documentary and learnt about Mr Lamason, when he was still alive. All New Zealanders should be proud of his courage and leadership. My thoughts go out to his family.

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10 Responses to “RIP Phil Lamason”

  1. tvb (4,324 comments) says:

    I knew the Lamasons but I had no idea he was this war hero and nor I suspect did my father who knew him well. Such was his modesty which is typical of NZ heroes which makes them such special NZers. It is not the NZ way to shout about things.

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  2. David Garrett (6,978 comments) says:

    I am so pleased I made the effort to track him down and call him the day you blogged about him DPF…I fear we shall never see the like of their generation again. RIP indeed brave airman.

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  3. tom hunter (4,698 comments) says:

    And it would appear that one of his children went on that March post on Sunday night to announce Phil’s death:

    Phillip John lamason 1915-2012
    My wonderful dad,Phillip John Lamason died peacefully yesterday on the 19th May 2012.at 4.25pm. Aged 93.
    God Bless you Dad.

    From one whose father was born in the same year, fought in that terrible war, went through several POW camps after the destruction of 24 Battalion at the battle at Sidi Rizegh, and died in 1987, let me also say God Bless all of them.

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  4. Lucia Maria (2,278 comments) says:

    Wow. What an awesome man.

    Rest in Peace, Phillip John Lamason.

    I will pray for his soul.

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  5. DJP6-25 (1,362 comments) says:

    Another member of the greatest generation passes on. RIP.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  6. gump (1,620 comments) says:

    I’d like to apologise again for the comments I made in the last thread about Mr Lamason.

    I completely misjudged the actions of this remarkable man.

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  7. cubit (356 comments) says:

    A magnificent man. It is people like him who have served this country so well with no great fanfare given or expected.

    I am sure he will be remembered by his comrades of Bomber Command when they gather in June to commemorate their service in Bomber Command.

    RIP Phillip Lamason

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  8. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    We didn’t know about this Kiwi hero because of our hopeless media and privatisation govts

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  9. David Garrett (6,978 comments) says:

    And talking about that Bomber Command reunion, what has happened re that guy who is a naturalized New Zealander but who flew for the RAF because he was a Brit at that time? The miserly gummint won’t pay for this ticket because he wasnt a New Zealander at the time. Bloody disgraceful.

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  10. Longknives (4,686 comments) says:

    Always sad to hear about the passing of our World War Two veterans (there are precious few left)- and this guy sounded like a true hero..RIP Mr Lamason.

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