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Escape report Sgt W Johnson S/N 1690722
 

Sgt W Johnson was onboard a RAF Lancaster that crashed near La Frenaye, Seine Maritime on August 7, 1944. He was hidden by the underground till the liberation.

 

Three airmen of the same aircraft died in the crash and now rest in peace in La Frenaye cemetery.

 

 

"I took off in a Lancaster aircraft from Skelling-Thorpe on 7 august 44 at 22.00 hrs. I bailed out at midnight over the coast near LE HAVRE (NW Europe 1:250,000, Sheet 4, L42) and after hiding my flying equipment, I took bearings and started walking south.

A short while later, I reached a wood and began to scramble through the undergrowth. I came to some huts and I was tiptoeing quietly by when I heard voices and a couple of shots. I then ran as fast as I was able, falling down a steep slope in my haste. I continued walking after that until I reached the outskirts of LILLEBONNE (L82) when I hid in some bushes for the whole of the day.

That night, I was discovered by a French child, who went and fetched his father. I was taken to this man’s house and stayed with him for two nights, while he contacted the Maquis. On 9 Jun* a member of the Maquis called and took me in a boat across the river SEINE to his house where I stayed for two days. After that I was moved to a small farm near BOURNEVILLE (L81) where I remained for a fortnight and during that time I did a certain amount of sabotage with the Maquis.

About 25 Aug I went to TROUVILLE LA HAULE (L81) and remained here until I made contact with British troops on 28 Aug. For the next four days, I helped members of the Resistance movement round up Germans, and then I reported back to Brigade H.Q. at BONNEVILLE"

* Probably 9 August

 

 

 

 

Below is an extract of a letter that Sergeant W Johnson sent to Reginald Owen’s parents:

 

I think there was plenty of time for the whole crew to have escaped, in fact that was my belief until I reached British hands and met Art (Meredith the Rear Gunner). I know after the attack was over (the German night fighter plane) I heard Reggie’s voice over the intercom and he seemed okay then.

You see the pilot at first thought the kite (the Lancaster) was okay and asked Reg for a course. I heard Reg’s voice giving him the course when he, the pilot, suddenly gave order to abandon the aircraft. I made my way down to the rear door and opened it, then the wireless operator Don Mellish came down and we spoke a few words then I jumped. The pilot held the kite very steady and I believe he continued to do so for a few minutes after I jumped. As the port engines were on fire I was able to watch its course while descending and it seemed to fly straight for quite a time then it suddenly broke off into a shallow dive a though the pilot had left the aircraft and baled out. Halfway down, it suddenly burst into flame and blew up on striking the ground. I was certain the whole crew had escaped…

Forwarded by Ed Owen

 

 

 

 

Source:

 

Escape report: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ 

 

Additional information:

 

http://www.francecrashes39-45.net/page_fiche_av.php?id=1175
http://www.jwappleton.net/genealogy/histories/reginald-john-owen/   

Escape report F/Lt E.H.E Hearn

Escape report F/Sgt Arthur Robson Meredith
Sgt J.B. Firth

http://www.seconde-guerre-mondiale.com/lancaster-lafrenaye-en.htm
Article published in le Courrier Cauchois

 

 

 
     

 

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