“I went and knocked at the door there was a light. And the person who answered the door was a rather large young Flemish man and he spoke Flemish which I answered in my best schoolboy german and the door was closed in my face inmmediately! And I thought that’s a very, very, very good sign so I knocked again.”
(extract from interview in London, 30/04/2008)
EVADED CAPTURE IN BELGIUM / 17 September 1942
I came down in a ploughed field N.B. of DIEST. I buried my parachute and flying kit in a wood, and walked S.W. across country till 0500 hrs. When I had reached KAPELLEN, a small village on the road between DIEST and TIRLEMONT seeing a light in a house I knocked and said “Guten Morgen, móin Herr”, which at first caused a certain amount of suspicion. I asked for food, and explained who I was. A man was brought who spoke English, and I was handed over that day to an organisation.
The house at KAPELLEN where I found shelter on 17 September 42 happened to be that of the BURGOMASTER. His son in law got in touch with an organisation. That evening the son in law and I bicycled to TIRLEMONT. I then followed two other men on bicycles to a doctor’s house, where I got food, a bath and shelter for the night. Next morning (18 Sep) I was taken to the manager’s house at the local slaughterhouse. I returned to the doctor’s house for the night.
About 0700 hrs on 19 Sep I was taken to the railway station, given a ticket, and told to follow a man. On arrival in BRUSSELS the man spoke to me (but not before we were clear of the station) and took me to a warehouse. I was asked particulars about myself and then sent to the house of M. Achille OLIEU, 416 (or 417) ave des Pagodas, BRUSSELS II. M. OLIEU kept me two days (18-20 Sep) and I spent two more nights at another house, meeting Sgt. MOUNTS.
I left BRUSSELS on 23 Sep with a guide for PARIS. There I stayed from 23 Sep – 1 Oct with M. AYLIE, 437 rue de Babylon, and from 1-3 Oct with M. MORELLE (this name is an alias), rue Oudinot. While I was at the first address a number of other R.A.F evaders arrived (25 Sep). on 3 Oct I left PARIS with P/O FREBREG (S/P.G. (-) 935), Sgt. HEAP (S/P.G. (-) 949) and Sgt. LEDFORD (S/P.G. (-) 948). Our guides to ST. JEAN DE LUZ were JEANNINE and ELVIRE, and a lady and “B” (an Englishman) joined us at BAYONNE. I crossed the PYRENEES with the same party.
(Extract from / the escape and evasion reports / National Archives UK)
EVADED CAPTURE IN HOLLAND / 25 June 1943
Gordon Mellor / Navigator, RAF
"I think I am probably most affected by the dedication of people like Dédée de Jongh and her father, and the other people who gave us help at a great risk for themselves. And indeed, the comete organisation which was only one of course of a number of others, suffered huge losses of people who risked their lives to help somebody of another nation.”(Extract from interview in London, 24/04/2008)
EVADED CAPTURE IN BELGIUM / 5 October 1942
I took off from ELSHAM WOLDS at 1900 hrs on 5 Oct 42 to bomb AACHEN. On the way back we were attacked and I had to bale out, landing at 2145 hrs somewhere S.E. of TURNHOUT, BELGIUM. I saw the a/c destroyed as I was coming down. The rest of the crew were:
W/O EDWARDS (pilot) (believed P/W)
Sgt. MEAD (second pilot)
F/Sgt. HAWTHORN (bombardier)
Sgt. GIDDENS (W. op.) (believed P/W) R.N.Z.A.F.
Sgt. GREEN (engineer)
Sgt. RICHARDS (mid upper gunner)
Sgt. MacMASTER (rear gunner)
I have no definite news of the crew; but while I was in LIEGE I was told that three Ps/W had been recently taken through the town and the description of one of them resembled W/O EDWARDS. A second one was described as a New Zealander and my therefore have been Sgt. GIDDENS. Soon after landing I heard someone moving in a field of beet not far from me. Since F/Sgt. HAWTHORN was ready to bale out next after myself, it is quite possible that this may have been he.
I landed in a tree unhurt except for a few scratches on the face. I left my parachute in the tree, hid my mae west and walked in a Northerly direction past some farmers; I then turned South across country for three hours, guided by the North star, till I came to a road. I followed this road South until daybreak, when I lay up for the day in a copse, feeding on raw carrots and raw potatoes that I found in the fields. At 1900 hrs (6 Oct) I continued South for 2 kms and passed through a village until I came to a barbed wire fence where I punctured my water bottle. I then climbed up a hill and hid in a garden cave until nightfall, 7 Oct, when I crossed two railway tracks South of a town, which I have now established as being HASSELT, and moved S.S.E. along the road towards LIEGE, skirting TONGRES. At this point I found signposts along the main road, indicating the directions of TONGRES and LIEGE. Four miles N.W. of LIEGE I turned right to LANTEN, and hid all day in the upper floor of a bombed house. After dark I walked on in pouring rain to ALLEUR, and as I was soaked I went to a house where two men and a woman received me and gave me refreshment. Very soon I established contact with an organisation by means of which I was brought back to the U.K.
(Extract from / escape and evasion reports / National Archives UK)
Stanley Hope / Radio operator RAF
“I have often thought that, we would have gone that day, we would have been in Spain the next day, instead of being caught by the Germans. Yes, yes, I would have got home.”
(Extract from interview in Leeds, 25/04/2008)
CAPTURED IN SOUTH WEST FRANCE / 15 January 1945
I was on a P.R.U. mission to VIENNA on 8 Dec 42 and on the way back our Mosquito developed engine trouble and eventually we had to bale out. I landed in a field about 10 kms North West of ENGHIEN (25 kms South West of BRUSSELS), at roughly 1745 hours. After hiding my equipment I made my way to the nearest farm in order to find out where I was. The farmer told me my position and I set out for ENGHIEN with a view to taking a train to BRUSSELS.
I arrived at ENGHIEN at about 0100 hrs 9 Dec and hung about until first light. I then tried to obtain help from various priest but none was forthcoming. I therefore cleared out of the town and made for the railway. There I found a small cottage at a level crossing where I was given food and some civilian clothes and told how to take the train for BRUSSELS.
(I do not know the name of these people, but the house was at the first level crossing going North from ENGHIEN). I took a train from ENGHIEN and arrived in BRUSSELS in the late morning. I spent the rest of the day wandering round BRUSSELS trying to make contact with various people I knew when I had stayed there in peacetime. I was unsuccessful, but eventually succeeded in obtaining lodging through the owners of a café where I had enquired for lodgings.
I stayed there for four weeks whilst my friends tried to get in touch with the Underground for me. During the first week in Jan 43 a friend of M. NEVEN (whose name I do not now) eventually contacted the Underground and on 6 Jan a girl came to the house and checked up on me.
Later I was counter checked by a male member of the organisation and on 7 Jan I was taken away by two women to another address in BRUSSELS, where I was given false papers etc. on 9 Jan I was taken to the Station where I met three guides and we travelled together to PARIS where I arrived on the morning of 10 Jan. I stayed three nights in PARIS in a shop in the district of CLIGHY (?). I received additional false papers here and then on 13 Jan accompanied by guides and with two other R.A.F aircrew we left PARIS by train to BAYONNE. We arrived at BAYONNE on 14 Jan (am) where we met fresh guides. We were taken to a café for a meal and then our party split up and with another R.A.F. type I was taken to a house where we rested until it was time to entrain for ST. JEAN de LUZ. We reached ST. JEAN de LUZ in the late evening, met fresh guides and then set out on foot into Spain. As the weather was very bad, it was decided to spend the night at a farm. The following midday, 15 Jan, we were just having a meal when a German Military patrol marched in and arrested us. After my capture I was in various prisons at BAYONNE, BORDEAUX and PARIS where I suffered numerous interrogations about my evasion, until I was finally taken to Dulag Luft on 24 May 43.
“I joined the Royal Airforce on the edge, because I falsified my age. I joined the Royal Airforce actually when I was 16 and ¾ years. I told them I was 17 and ¾, which was the minimun age you could join the RAF. And then you’re called up at 18 and ¼. So, my actual age, when I was called up for service, was 17 and ¼.”
(Extract from interview in Wales, 28/04/2008)
I went into a café in BERLICUM, West of ‘s-HERTOGEN-BOSCH (N.W.EUROPE, 1:250,000, Sheet 3A), on the morning of 25 Jun 43. I asked the owner if she could find someone who spoke English. Eventually she understood me and brought the village schoolmaster. He brought VAN BUREN (phonetic spelling), a former naval officer, who lives at BERLICUM. VAN BUREN asked for my identity discs, which I did not have with me. I showed him the maps from my purse. I do not know whether he had seen these maps before, but I eventually convinced him I was English. He took me to a farm near BERLICUM, where I stayed from 25 to 30 Jun. I was told that VAN BUREN was checking my identity with LONDON.
On 30 Jun I was taken to ROSMALEN, just N.E. of ‘s-HERTOGENBOSCH, by VAN BUREN and J.A.A.M. VENROOY, G. 72 B, ROSMALEN. I was told I would be here for ten days at the most before being sent to ENGLAND. I was actually five weeks in ROSMALEN. I stayed in two houses in ROSMALEN:-VOLLMAN, D.53, ROSMALEN, first two weeks and fourth week. F. MICHELS, E.119, HINTHAN, ROSMALEN, third week and last week.
I gathered that my helpers hoped at first to send me to the U.K. by aircraft. After five weeks VAN BUREN said this scheme had proved impossible, and spoke of getting me away by motor boat. This plan also fell through. About the end of the first week of Aug I cycled from ROSMALEN to ‘s-HERTOGENBOSH with VENROOY. At the station I was met by VAN BUREN, who took me to NIJMEGEN. I had no identity card, but there was no control on the train. I stayed two weeks with Adolf POOLEN, chemist, 337 Dalsevecht (?), NIJMEGEN. He was a member of an organisation helping Dutch students to avoid labour service in GERMANY. During this time I was visited by the man who knew the route to SPAIN. He later got me an identity card. I was then moved for a week to a monastery outside NIJMEGEN belonging to a French order. There were Dutch students and soldiers hiding there. I passed as a deaf and dumb French soldier.
At the end of Aug a girl came with my identity card, and next morning she and I travelled by train from NIJMEGEN to TILBURG. At OSS, on the way, we were joined by the man who had supplied the identity card.
At TILBURG we met a Dutch policeman with a motor-cycle who took me to a dug-out in wood, probably near ESBEEK (North West EUROPE, 1:250,000, Sheet 3), where there were Dutch students hiding. I was here for three days.
On the fourth day another policeman took me by motor-cycle to the Belgian frontier. After hiding till a German patrol had passed, we wheeled to motor-cycle over the frontier and then rode into WEELDE. We went by bus to TURNHOUT and thence by steam tram to ANTWERP. I had no Belgian identity card. An aviator had apparently come down in the district the night before, and a German patrol boarded the tram at one of the stops. The tram was crowded and we managed to get off at the next stop without being challenged. We got the next tram into ANTWERP, whence we travelled by electric train to BRUSSELS.
(Extract from / the escape and evasion reports / National Archives UK)