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Escape report Sgt William F. Koenig (serial number 19147442)

Sgt William F. Koenig (serial number 19147442) took part in the bombing of the railway bridge between Sartrouville and Maisons-Laffitte on June 24, 1944. His airplane was downed by flak and crashed in Arnouville (Seine & Oise, now Yvelines).


Here is the story he wrote after returning to London on August 26, 1944:



"Hit by flak before the target. On bomb run, flak cut our oil line. We bombed target. Then made left turn and fell behind formation. Pilot gave order to bail out. 2 went up to waist gun hatch and radio operator and I tried to jettison waist-gun. Then I went waist-gun window after photographer and r.o. Only pilot in plane when I left. Saw a chute on either side of me. I landed in Goussonville (S of Mantes). Sprained ankle severely in landing. Young Frenchman ran towards me and told me to run. I ran and the Frenchman took my chute. I got into woods where I stayed for 2 days and nights. My ankle was then badly swollen. I crawled to edge of wood and saw a farmer working on a hill. I got into a pasture between to patches of wood. I lay on edge of pasture for 2 hours, then crossed river to other wood and watched farmer. Then in afternoon, I approached farmer and asked for food and drinks. He made me sit behind haystack and bought his nephew (Marcel Daunay) who could speak English. He asked for identification. Then the farmer’s wife, another woman (Suzanne Nouhaud) and girl came with food. Then they put me back into woods for the day. At night, it began to rain. I crawled into field under hay. Then I heard someone whistle and the farmer’s nephew and a short Frenchman came for me. This Frenchman interrogated me. This man (Mr Beton or Betton*) put me on a bicycle and led me and then carried me to his house in Boinville en Mantois where were his wife, one son, daughter and an evacuee (Mme Hauchet or Huchet) from Mantes and another man (A RAF, Thomas Moffit**, an evader who had been here a month). They fed me and put me into loft with Moffit. Mme Hauchet took Moffit to Mantes for 2 days while 2 stayed at Mr Betton’s. Mr REICHE or RICHE of FFI in Mantes came to see me here (Spoke English, about 5’3”, medium build, brown hair, very high forehead). Mr MENSEN of FFI, friend of RICHE also came to keep us. Druggist from Mantes bought medicine for me. After about 2 weeks, a young man (mayor’s son from Arnouville) bought me a letter from a letter from my bombardier who was in Arnouville living with the mayor (PAUFITTE?***) with a Canadian evader.

On August 20, an American patrol came into Goussonville. Moffit and I put on uniforms and went into town and saw the captain. He told us to stay a couple of days. Then me, Lt Giffhorn, a Canadian from Arnouville and a P47 pilot arranged to go back together. But on 23 August, Giffhorn came in a jeep and got Moffit and me and went to HQ of 106 Calvalry. They sent us to Corps for the night. Next day to Army at Le Mans. Here Moffit and I got a ride to Laval where we went to IX AF HQ for the night. Next day, captain Luria gave us orders and took me to landing strip from where on 25 Aug we flew to UK and 26 Aug, we came up to 63 Brook St


FFI said that in bombing of Mantes, every third group in the 6 groups of 6 B26s which came over consistently missed the target (a small railway bridge) + when the Seine bridge was bombed, the first group of B26 destroyed the bridge and the second group then dropped all bombs in the town."

* The correct spelling is Beton

** The correct spelling is Thomas Moffett

*** The correct spelling is actually Paufique. The Paufique family was part of underground network "Libération Nord"





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