"I was Radio gunner in a Marauder and our target
was to bomb the railroad bridge at the junction of the OISE and SEINE at
We made our bomb run through flak which was both heavy and accurate. There
was too much smoke over the target area to observe the results of our bombs
and we were just turning off our bomb run at about 12,000 ft when the a/c
was hit four times by flak.
One 88 mm burst in the tail wrecking the tail guns and wounding the tail
gunner slightly, one burst between the tail gunner and myself and the third
burst near the forward bomb bay and made a hole and set the port engine on
fire. The shell which burst near me blew up the right leg off my flak suit
and numbed my leg. There was a hole on either side of me in the plane about
1 ft diameter.
The tail gunner called to me that he was hit but when he turned round, I
told him that his face had been only cut a little by glass. His guns however
had been knocked out, so he came forward ready to abandon ship.
However the pilot called to us that he had the plane under control and that
we were to sit tight. I cleared the port window, dragging the gun inboard as
the dumping mechanism had jammed. The engineer then reported on intercom
that the port engine was on fire, and I could see the flames through the
When I heard this report, I told the engineer to put on his parachute and to
pass mine which I put on. The a/c had slipped violently to starboard on
being hit but the pilot had regained control at about 8,500 ft. Now,
however, he must have seen the fire himself and he ordered “abandon ship”
The tail gunner went out first, out of the starboard window. Being the only
one on intercom I told the pilot that we were all ready to go and wished him
I went out of the port window and was followed immediately by the Engineer.
I made a delayed drop and landed in a clearing in a wood for which I had
steered. My engineer landed close by.
We rolled up our chutes and made for the edge of the wood where we were met
by 5 or 6 French people who helped us hide our equipment under some leaves.
One man took us through the wood for about 15 mins to his house nearby,
while the others kept watch. Here we were fed, given map and compass and
civilian clothes, which we put on over our uniform with our revolvers in our
belts outside. Here we stayed until about 1800 hrs during which time, the
enemy had been hunting for us and some of the neighbouring houses had been
In the evening, we moved off on our own intending to circle Paris and the
East and thence to Spain. At dusk that night, we came to outskirts of
Pointoise (R8866) where I approached a Frenchman and asked him for details
of curfew and movements of troops by night.
He took us to his home and after giving us certain information told us that
it was hopeless to try for Spain and that we should head for Caen. So we set
off again, this time W and after stumbling about a good deal in the dark, we
slept the night in a wood west of Pontoise.
The following morning, we decided that we would travel by day along
secondary roads and across the country rather than travel by night. About
noon, I approached a farmer who took us into his house and fed us. He told
us that our plane had fallen close by and after identifying it myself he
said that three of the crew had escaped, one with a damaged leg, but we
never had any more details of them. We moved off in the afternoon and slept
in a field N of Mantes (R 6262) that night.
From here we set out next morning and reached St Martin La Garenne (R6067).
We went N along the river to Vetheuil (M6960) looking for somewhere to
cross. As there were a lot of Germans about, we retraced our steps and came
to a farm near Sandrancourt ( R6566). The farmer indicated a house in the
village and told us of a woman who would row us across which she did.
We continued on our way and landed up that night at Croisy (R3468) where we
went into a café and after having had some cider we approached the
proprietor to whom we declared ourselves. He gave us some food and we stayed
for the night.
The next morning, he put us on our way telling us to make for Conches and
after travelling all day, we arrived at Conches (R0463). Here we slept the
night in a farm N of Conches, and also we were told to contact someone in
We continued travelling the following day and at night arrived at a farm
near Beau Mesnil (Q8670) where we rested until the following noon. From here
our journey was arranged, until we were captured about 1 km E of Troarn on
23 June (Sheet 7 F/2 FRANCE 50,000 165679)
On that day, we had been guided to within about 5 or 6 miles from the lines
where we were left to complete the journey alone. When we were within 1,000
yards from allied lines, we ran straight into an enemy ammunition convoy,
camouflaged on the road. We had no alternative but to face it out.
We successfully got by about 250 troops when we were called back by a
Caporal of the advance guard, but as our papers showed us to be deaf mutes
we paid no attention until the third call when I casually looked round and
allowed my attention to be attracted by his motions.
He asked for our papers an as I had no photographs of myself, my identity
card had one of my Engineer’s. The Caporal was not satisfied so we were
taken before an officer (the Unit was Signals).
He did not seem particularly interested in us and seemed at a loss as to why
the Caporal had brought us before him. However, he ordered us to be searched
and then put on our way.
Immediately prior to the search I had seen one of the N.C.Os reach for his
revolver and realizing that they had nothing on us till now I managed to
warn Hartman that we were probably going to be tricked to see if we were
actually deaf and dumb. This conjecture proved correct as the N.C.O. came
round behind us and let off a round. However we didn’t jump, and the rest of
the guard laughed at him.
One of the guards searched my right coat pocket missing my escape map but
when he looked in my left coat pocket, I knew the game was up and he
produced my pistol, which incidentally was German. The guards immediately
put their riffles to their shoulders and I thought that we had had it.
The officer thereupon accused us of being spies but simultaneously I pulled
open my shirt and showed him my uniform underneath and produced my identity
discs from my pocket.
He spoke some English and asked me what I expected to find behind the lines.
I replied that the only interest we had in the lines was how to get through
them. This seems to ease the tension somewhat and by my manner I indicated
that I was unimpressed by his spy story and successfully attempted to pass
the matter of in a jocular fashion until at last he really was convinced.
When they found my revolver they simultaneously discovered Hartman’s. This
contretemps stopped the search until the parleying was over, into which
Hartman had not entered.
At his point we were ordered to remove everything from our pockets, a job we
did most thoroughly.
One NCO admired my cut away knife and so I told him to keep it for himself.
He seemed very sympathetic and advised me to let him have my sheaf as well.
I considered it a good idea to have at least one friend at court and he
promised that nothing else would be taken from my effects.
We were then taken to an Arty HQ where we were interrogated together. We
were asked what kind of a plane we had been flying, when and where we came
down, and how many in the crew. To this we only replied with our name, rank
and number. He seemed more disappointed than annoyed at our attitude and
soon gave up. He was a Major Arty.
About 22.00, we were taken to Bozule to a Div HQ and about midnight while en
route we stopped at a Lufwaffe HQ and we were locked in a smoke house while
it was being decided whose prisoner we were – Luftwaffe or artillery.
During our search previously, I had deliberately omitted to disclose a map
and some papers which would have implicated friends and which I carried in
the leg pocket of my flight suit.
I had crumpled this map into a ball and removed it to my civilian jacket
pocket in the darkness of the German Jeep and I now gave the map to HARTMAN
to hide it in the caves while I kept guard.
He had no sooner finished hiding it when I lit two cigarettes, on for each
of us. The flare of the match attracted the attention of the officers who
were just outside the door, which suddenly flung open and we were ordered to
come out. They thought we were trying to destroy some papers but the
cigarettes convinced them. However, we were now thoroughly searched, but
they did not search the building and after a while, we continued our
About 0100 hrs, we arrived at DOZULE where we were put in a barn until about
1000 hrs when we were again interrogated.
Our interrogator was an intelligence Lieut att to the Div and we went in
separately. He was very courteous and was apparently impressed by my salute
and attitude and invited me to sit down. He was filling up a form with my
particulars, the name, rank and number had been taken from my tags. His tone
was quite conversational and he read these details out to me and asked if
they were correct. I replied that they were and he said “Thank you”. Then he
hesitated a little and very disinterestedly asked me how old I was. I
replied that I could give him no more details. He said “Oh it’s all right, I
just wondered, it’s nothing to do with the report”. Then he went on. “You
will naturally want to let know your next of kin that you are safe, whom
shall we notify?”. I replied “The Red Cross”. He said “Yes I know. But that
takes such a long time”. “We can notify your people by radio”. I still said
He asked me no more questions and putting aside my personal effects, he gave
me a receipt for the £30 sterling I had. He closed up his file, offered me a
cigarette and said “I was going to ask you how long you had been in England,
but of course I can’t expect you to answer that. I only wondered because I
used to work there myself”. He then went on to tell me how he worked for a
Jewellery firm in SHEFFIELD and did his best to get me into general
conversation. In this he failed.
In the evening, I was taken by truck to BONNEBOSQ together with a S/Sgt, RN
Commando, who had been a bombardment liaison officer and a British
paratrooper. The former was about 20 yrs, sandy curly, 5’9”, about 11 stone.
He had been dropped on one side of the DIVES and his radio on the other and
he was therefore unable to check in by radio.
The paratrooper was from 6th airborne Div aged about 21, 6 feet tall, 12
stone in weight, light brown hair. At BONNEBOSQ, we were placed in a
temporary prison camp numbering about 30.
Here I was kept until 3 july when at about 1400 hrs I escaped details of
which are as follows.
As I spoke some German, the guards who were mostly of a rather dumb type
gradually became to place more and more confidence in me until such a time
that I was allowed to go on outside details under guard.
While I was at the camp, Sgt Major Edwards, 3rd commando, 1st Bde S.S. was
bought in and as we were the senior, we discussed withal the others ways and
means of escape.
General opinion was for escape but as agreement could not be reached as to
the method, S.M. Edwards and myself decided to make a break for it.
Accordingly I wheedled the guard into selecting he and I to fetch some straw
from a nearby farm. We had previously loosened the bars of our window
intending to escape that night but this had been discovered, without,
however, any suspicion being aroused.
On arriving at the farm, the guard suggested we should stay for lunch, as he
was not on duty until 1500 hrs. We readily agreed and when the meal was
over, it was about 1400 hrs, I suggested that we should return to the camp.
He was rather reluctant but EDWARDS and I had arranged that we would
overpower him while going through the door and disarm him.
This we accomplished and after warning the farmer to tell anyone enquiring
for us that we had just gone a little way away, we marched off to a wood
We were unfortunately without a compass and as the day was cloudy, had no
means of telling our direction. At 1800 hrs, we finished up almost in the
same spot, having gone in a circle.
When we found that we were that close to the camp, we decided to get under
cover for the night as the alarm would have been given by this time.
Edwards covered the German in a hedgerow while I went in a farm on the edge
of bornebosq and asked for food and shelter. Those people readily agreed to
hide us and give us food, clothing, maps and compasses.
They sent for a girl who could speak English and we now knew that our
erstwhile guard would have to be disposed of.
He was sitting at the table with his head on his arms, when Edwards hit him
a terrific crack on the head with his revolver. The German far from being
knocked out, leaped to his feet and closed with Edwards. After a short
scuffle, he (the German) indicated that he wanted to go to the latrine. He
was obviously stalling for time.
We took him out to a thicket, where the struggle was resumed and we killed
him with a bayonet. We then buried him but had to take cover in a barn as
there were search parties all around. Fortunately, they did not discover us
and we remained in the same place hidden until the morning of the 5th.
On the evening of the 5th of July, we arrived at St Pierre des Ifs in
company with a friendly refugee and we stayed in a barn for the night.
From here our journey was arranged."