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This page is intended for particularly interesting correspondence, usually questions received (and hopefully, answers given) about escape and evasion generally. The idea is for readers to be encouraged to share their knowledge of the subject and allow publication of that information here. I will always ask permission before posting anything and the inclusion of a contact email address is purely optional. I should make it clear that I regularly share enquiries with a group of friends who are often able to supply information that is new to me as well - which is what this information exchange is all about.

11 October 2017: Malcolm Fleming emailed about his uncle, Patrick Bell (628)
Dear Keith, I have been researching my family tree for many years and recently have been researching my uncle, my mother's brother, Patrick (Pat) Henry Bell. I knew he had been reported missing in late September 1941 and that he returned home via Gibraltar in early 1942. I knew nothing of how he escaped. Imagine my elation when I came across your website and found Pat's story in the Big Party. Reading many of the articles on your site, one cannot help being moved by the bravery of the people who risked all to help these servicemen. I subsequently located the attached document from one of my cousins. This is the travel document issued to Pat by the British Consulate in Barcelona. You will note the date of 7th November 1941 which would suggest that his party arrived before the 8th.
On his return, Pat joined 19 Squadron, based at Perranporth flying Spitfires, and in April 1942, he was commissioned Pilot Officer. He was Mentioned in Despatches in January 1943 and by July he was Flight Lieutenant and second in command of 19 Squadron to Squadron Leader Victor Ekins.
On the 9th July 1943, 19 Squadron, together with 132 Squadron, were detailed to escort 12 Mitchells (B-25s) bombing the St Omer marshalling yards. “As they returned to base, Flight Lieutenant P. H. Bell and the CO collided, rendering both aircraft uncontrollable. Squadron Leader Ekins baled out immediately and effected a safe landing, bruising his legs and cutting his hand. Flight Lieutenant P.H. Bell was not so fortunate, his aircraft headed straight for the ground from 1500 ft. where the collision occurred. He baled out but his parachute failed to open in time to save him.” Pat Bell is buried at the Hawkinge cemetery in Kent.
My mother, who had been very close to Pat, had his photo with the aircraft on her mantelpiece for as long as I can remember. Because of his death, the detailed story of his escape appears to have been unknown to the family. There was never any mention of him having been wounded. Thank you so much for the stories.

12 July 2016 : Roger Preece emailed about his house in France
I have recently been told that during the 39-45 war, my house in France was used as a hide-out for two American survivors from a B17 "Touch the button Nell 2", that came down in Persac. Is there any information about this, I would love to find more if possible!
I was able to confirm that the airmen were radio operator T/Sgt Clinton S Word Jnr (#920) and waist-gunner S/Sgt Kenneth F Hitchcock (#921) from the 381BG/535 BS B-17 42-38117 Touch the Button Nell II and that their MIS-X reports confirmed they had indeed been sheltered near Persac. Roger's address is 5 Impasse de Prei, La Barre, Moulismes, Poitou Charente 86500 and he would like to hear from anyone with further details of the two airmens' evasion.

26 June 2016 : Margaret Behr emailed from Powell River, British Columbia
Dear Keith, My husband and I read Cruel Crossing, by Edward Stourton and found your website mentioned in it. My husband's father Knut Behr and his sister Gys Landsberger (nee Behr) and her husband Herbert Landsberger, all German-Jewish, fled France for Spain over what we now believe was the Pat Line in late 1942. I am attaching an essay about their experiences during the war. It was written by our daughter Emma Hansen (nee Behr) for a highschool history project some years ago. She was helped by us, her parents, her great-aunt Gys, and other relatives and friends. Gys Landsberger is still alive at 95, living in her own home in Connecticut. She finds talking about their terrble experiences during the war very painful. We are not certain about the accuracy of some of the details in the essay, as her memories of this difficult time have been affected by the passage of time. Briefly, the family fled from a wealthy upper-class life in Berlin in 1933, to Paris, and the subsequent 1939 round-up and persecution of the Jews. They fled south, to internment camps, and hiding elsewhere in Vichy France. Knut was hidden by a French peasant woman for a year on her farm. They were reunited in Marseilles, went to Banyuls-sur-Mer, and a finally did the punishing treck over the Pyrenees where they were abandoned by the guides they paid, followed by imprisonment in Spain. They were eventually released. Knut went to England, and Gys and Herbert to the USA. Knut married his fiancee Hilda, from whom he had been separated by the war, in London in 1944. They emigrated to the USA in 1946, joining Gys and Herbert. Peter Behr, my husband, was born in New York in 1947. This October, Peter plans to walk the Chemin de Liberte with his son Towagh Behr, in memory of his father's and aunt's escape over the Pyrenees. I hope you will find this history an interesting addtition to your other articles. Margaret Behr
I have posted their story on my Articles page - click here to read it.

28 March 2016 : Chris Gilbey emailed me about his father, 2/Lt Arthur Sebastian Gilbey
Dear Sir. I would imagine you get bombarded with these sorts of requests, but since you have done such amazing, meticulous work with your Information Exchange Website, I thought it would be a good idea to see if you can help to shed any light on my late father: Arthur Sebastian Gilbey. (B.18/10/1919 - D.25/05/1964).
From what I have learned from sketchy pieces of information gained from The War Diary of The 4th Queen's Own Hussars, he was a 2nd Lieutenant, and was probably captured in or around the Corinth Canal, following the rearguard action 25-27/04/1941. My sisters tell me that he said he evaded capture for a while with the help of locals, in the hillside, but what has been said down the years by grandparents, friends and associates may not be true, or maybe part-true? We know he spent the next two years or so in an Italian POW camp, somewhere near Milan (we think) and then we understand he escaped - or was let out - probably on or around 08/09/1943, and spent a bit of time 'free' until he was recaptured by the Germans and spent the rest of the war in a camp in Germany; which one we don't know.
I have contacted Disclosures, Army Personnel Centre, Glasgow, and sent my £30, but nothing has come back, yet.
As you can see from his timeline, he died relatively young at 44, so we were too young to know what questions we could or should be asking, and anyhow, we all remember him not being that keen to talk about his time as a POW, from the age of 22 for the next four years. Enough rambling! If there is anything that you can tell us about our very much loved father, myself and my two sisters would be eternally grateful. Thank you for reading this. With all best wishes. Chris.
As is so often the case with enquiries about escapers in Italy, I was unable to help Chris myself. However, I contacted John Simkins at the Monte San Martino Trust (who I had never spoken to before) and asked if he could help. He readily agreed to try and so I forwarded Chris' email to him. Two hours later, John emailed Chris (copied to me) with the following reply :
Dear Chris, I can help quite a bit. I have identified your father as having been a prisoner at Fontanellato, near Parma, from where all 600 officers walked out with the consent of the Italian commandant after the Armistice in September 1943. A.S. Gilbey, Lt, 4H, is in the list of prisoners carried in the book "Home by Christmas?" [privately publlished in 1997] edited by a fellow prisoner David English (father of one of the trustees of Monte San Martino Trust). There is one ref in text to him on P38 that runs: “The option of a boat or naval vessel did not arise until later, but a few did manage to escape that way. But Tom Pitman, Black, Arthur Gilbey, Tom Wheeler, Eric Hopkins, and Maurice Goddard ... set off in the direction of Genoa or La Spezia.”
After finding that reference, I then remembered that your father was a friend of my own father, Anthony Simkins! Anthony mentions Arthur in his own account of the war. They were together at Montalbo camp, my Dad writing that he had a link with Arthur through the Routledge family and that he and Arthur became close friends and played Bridge. Both men were then sent to Fontanellato. There is a lot of literature about Fontanellato and you will find many references to it on our website www.msmtrust.org.uk. Best wishes, John Simkins, Administrator, MSMT.
Wow John, That is simply fantastic what you have written, absolutely spellbinding, I am totally thrilled and so will be my two sisters, Linda & Patricia; I will copy this through to them now. Thank you and Keith so very much. You have provided more information than I have ever known, so perhaps we were always looking in the wrong places, or simply relied on snippets of information that were fed to us/passed down all those years ago, and never delved deeper - for whatever reasons. Anyhow, you have indeed given us a lot to think over.
It always intrigued me as to why and how come, being a POW of the Italians, my father seemed to have such great affection for all things Italy, so much so that my mother (Jennifer) carried through what she told us was his/their long term aim, and moved to live in Italy, first Terracina, then Rome, where she died in 1991. The fact that there is also the family friendship & war connection with your father is extraordinary, what a real turn-up for the books, that really is. Gosh, so much information and after all these years, I now need a glass of wine methinks; no don't worry, that will wait till much later! Again, thank you (all) so very, very much, you have made three Gilbeys very happy, and extremely grateful.
I have posted this exchange (with the kind permission of both parties) as a example of the co-operation that exists between the various organisations that spend so much time and effort in researching the subject of WW2 escape and evasion.

13 December 2015 : Peter Thompson contacted me about his house in Boufflers
I have just been reading your site. I now own the house in Boufflers, Picardie that was used by the Comet line and where a number of pilots were treated for injuries prior to being moved on. I have a pair of crutches that were used by injured airmen. The house is mentioned in an article (on the evasioncomete.org website) about one of the men on your list (Jacques-Henri Schloesing). Mme Tellier was the owner during the war. In a huge stroke of irony the house was bombed by the RAF as it was suspected to be a command and control centre for V1 launches.
Our house is the Manoir de Gourlay in Rue Principale, Boufllers. It was owned by Rachel Filloux (nee Tellier) until she passed away in 1999. The house was occupied for over 300 years by the Sagebien family. Marguerite Sagebien was born 21 March 1892 the daughter of Louis-Demetrio Sagebien and Rachel Carmichael. She married Anselme Tellier who was killed during the First World War on 10th January 1915 - hence being referred to as Mme Vve (widow) Marguerite Tellier. I have pictures of the bomb damage to the west wing of the house and it's rebuilding.

12 November 2015 : Michael Beamish emailed about his father Sgt Nigel Beamish (MB/2017)
Dear Sir. On your website (which I have just discovered) I think you have omitted my father's name from your list. On the same page, you refer to Lancelot Ross Bodey, who was the other "evader" from the same flight.
I corrected the omission and mentioned that Michael's father was mentioned in my article about the "Ghost Train".
Hello Keith. Many thanks for your reply and for updating my Dad's entry on your website. I look forward to reading your article about the Ghost Train. My Dad did indeed tell me about that train - including the German guard who was supposed to be guarding him and one other prisoner. My Dad spoke very kindly of him in fact, telling me that he was a decent soul; "He gave me an apple" which I suppose after spending a couple of weeks in prison was a significant present! He was though apparently quite elderly, with heavy glasses and when the attack took place, the poor old German guard was struggling to get his rifle out one side of the train - allowing Dad and the other prisoner an easy enough escape out the other side! It sound so comical to relate - but was no doubt deadly serious ...
Michael hadn't realised that his father and Bodey had been brought together by their helpers a couple of weeks after baling out and stayed together until 2 September when Bodey left the train with two Americans, a few hours or so before his father did.
That was a fascinating read. The confusion left right and centre, the courage of the Belgian railway workers, the fate of the POW's had the train got through ... Clearly my Dad's reminiscences, as related to me, are not entirely consistent with your account, but then again no doubt my father's memories became fuzzy and confused with time - not to say embellished! Equally, he was only talking about his own personal recollections, not of the entire picture as you were chronicling. He was though very consistent in his accounts to both me and my mother on various occasions about that kindly old German guard who gave him an apple - that does not sound very like the SS to me!
Thank you also for clarifying the fate of Bodey. I had no idea that he was on the train or in St Gilles prison with Dad. I have since found out that he died in Australia in 1993, coincidentally the same year as my father.
With all the information that I managed to get out of him every now and then (and piecing them together later!) he never said that he was frightened as a POW either in the prison or on the train - it was dreadfully uncomfortable of course but apparently the Germans never got rough with him; psychological torture was preferred (e.g. his interogator would smoke endlessly in front of him and offer, but never give him a cigarette when he was dying for one). All the Germans wanted was the name of the family who had helped him after the crash and before he made contact with the Underground. Equally, he was really angry with the agent, as you would expect, who betrayed him (and presumably Bodey) and whom he swears he saw in the London office a few weeks later when he was being debriefed by the British authorities; double agents were, I suppose, pretty common.
It was, he said, only after the train when he was picked up by the Belgian Underground for a second time that he was genuinely frightened. As the war was clearly won at that stage and Belgium was more or less liberated, they were are as drunk as skunks! ... and taking fierce retributions on anyone who was either a captured German or a collaborator. Discipline had completely broken down. Some of them thought Dad might have been a German fleeing the front and trying to pass himself off as an Ally. Fortunately someone more senior and presumably less drunk intervened.
His stories about being lodged in some comfort in the Metropole Hotel in Brussels by the Allies while they checked him out were also amazing. There were several famous and senior (including an Air Commodore) Beamish's in the RAF and while my father was not one of them, they must have thought that they could not take the risk - so they put him in a Five Star hotel! Anyway, I could go on and on ... An amazing story regardless of how fuzzy his grasp of detail might have become over time! Certainly your account of the train has brought clarity to a significant part of it and for that I am very grateful to you.
PS. The family that helped Dad after the crash was Florent Dumont and family from (Bas Coron 17) Willaupuis, Hainaut - very near, obviously, to where the plane crashed. The letter I have is from Florent and it also mentions a Mr Alphonse. Curiously, the letter also includes a photo of my father, looking remarkably well considering, with Mr Dumont and Mr Alphonse! Clearly they were not too security conscious!
He was obviously a well known operator. Did he help a lot of airmen? He wrote to my grandparents in September 1945, one year later, to ask for news of my Dad. Where he got their address, I have no idea - I presume my father had given it to him some time earlier? I have his letter although sadly I have no copy of my grandparents' reply. He wonderfully signed the letter "Florent Dumont - Cultivateur". God bless him - how magnificent it was then that your profession was sufficiently important to be attached to your name.
It was at this point that I realised I hadn't told Michael that Bodey and his father were also included in my article about the "Dog House".
Thank you for your "Dog House" article, which again throws light on a question about which we knew next to nothing. Unlike the train, Dad told me very little about St Gilles except that the food was absolutely dreadful. I also suspect that "slopping out" affected him in some way ever afterwards; he was always so "just so" in everything he did and while I remember that he would tolerate my bedroom being untidy within reasonable limits, there was absolutely no leeway at all as far as the bathroom was concerned. Open heart surgery could have been safely performed in our bathroom at any time!
As I said to you previously, Dad said that the Germans did not get rough with him at any time during the interrogations. On the contrary, he said his interrogator was a very human chap who before the war had been a record salesman in South America (Argentina, I think). How bizarre - or perhaps ordinary - is that? It is sometimes difficult to appreciate that the guys on the other side of the fence during the war were for the most part ordinary day-to-day people as well ... The questioning was almost entirely focused on who had helped him and where to find them (presumably the Dumonts). He said that his interrogator would offer him a cigarette at the beginning of the interview but not give him one, saying "but let's get these details sorted out first". He would then proceed to smoke away during the interrogation and in the process continuously blow smoke over my father who, needless to say, was only dying for a fag!  
On the question of being betrayed to the Gestapo, Mark Stafford, the nephew of one the other crew members (air gunner Len Stafford - who did not survive the crash unfortunately) speaks of the surviving members of the crew being "sold to the Gestapo". He quotes his source as being "the secret evasion report on the crew" - which, I suppose could have been the one written by my father. In which case, it is possible that my father was the only person who believed and reported that they had in fact been betrayed. That said, Dad told me that while he was being put up at the Metropole Hotel in Brussels by the advancing Allies, he and another "evader" (could it have been Bodey?) found out where their betrayer was in Brussels (I do not know how) and went around "to see him". When they got there, he had already fled ... I did not have the courage to ask Dad what they would have done had they found him there. I guess I was afraid of what the answer probably would have been ... He was also very consistent in telling me and my mother on different occasions that when he was being debriefed back in London a few days later, the man in question walked in to the office! My father told us that he of course jumped up and pointed him out. To his consternation however, his debriefers took absolutely no notice of what he had said and calmly continued with the interview ... So either they thought he was bonkers, or else the betrayer was a valuable double agent who had to be protected ... or else the whole thing was a figment of my father's imagination. It is true that Dad did have a tendency to be somewhat fanciful but I cannot imaging that he would have written something fictitious in his report, so soon after the event. So while I try to keep an open mind on all these questions, I think my inclination for now is to believe that they were probably betrayed. But who knows ...
Our correspondence has continued ...

22 July 2015 : Max Lambert emailed from New Zealand about Sgt Eddie Worsdale (2016)
Initially, I'd like to thank you for your great work on Conscript Heroes and evaders/escapers/escape lines. It's helped me over the years and tonight. I live in Wellington, NZ, and in the past 10 years have written 3 books on NZ aircrew who flew from Britain in WWII - Night After Night - NZers in Bomber Command (2005), Day After Day – NZers in Fighter Command (2011) and Victory - NZ Airmen and the Fall of Germany (2014). NAN was a big seller here.
Currently I'm writing a newspaper/magazine story on Edwin (Eddie) Worsdale which I hope I can sell here. If you wish I can send you a copy of the finished product in due course. Eddie's 93, lives here in Wgtn and has got all his marbles and more. And quite mobile. The point of this is to let you know that Eddie, who is on your lists, got over the Pyrenees with Lt Cdr Billie Stephens (997) and French Canadian Adolphe Duchesnay (2020), also on your list.
Eddie, a WOp, was shot down serving with 75 (NZ) Sqdn the night of 24/25 October 1942. He and another survivor, Englishman Len Newbold (2471) (also on your lists) walked from near Reims to Switzerland in 18 days. After twiddling his thumbs in Switzerland for 9 mths he worked for the Brits as a cipher officer in Geneva for another 9 mths. He and Colditz escaper Stephens crossed into France on 5 June 44, went to Toulouse (Francoise) and then got over the Pyrenees to Spain and back to England. In Toulouse they met Duchesnay who'd got there unaided from his crash in the Dusseldorf region and the three of them then went on successfully. Stephens and French Resistance people interrogated Duchesnay in Toulouse to make certain he wasn't a German plant. Stephens spoke fluent French.
Just thought you might be interested in this. If you have anything more Duchesnay I'd be delighted to have it. Best wishes, Max.
Hello Max. Glad that my website has been of some use to you. Duchesne's story is rather inspiring and I've attached a copy of his MI9 report. Please say hello to Eddie for me. Very best, Keith Janes.
Best thanks for all of that. Greatly appreciated. Eddie'll be fascinated. He couldn't remember Duchesnay's first name. I think, from your lists, he used Andre which certainly preferable in those times to Adolphe. His parents certainly gave him a swag of names.
I found his comment that he made the journey with Lt Cdr Stephens a little astonishing. No mention of Eddie. Wonder why. In fact it was Eddie who got them over the Pyrenees. He was a determined young man.
Eddie tells me that he and S. were taken to Francoise's flat in Toulouse … then they were taken to a safe house in Toulouse where they stayed several days (4 he thinks). The guide who deposited them with Francoise had taken them all the way from Annecy not far from where they crossed into Switzerland. A French AF corporal next took the now three (and Eddie confirms Duchesnay was very much grilled by Stephens and the Resistance chaps to prove he wasn't a plant) by train to Lourdes and the corporal's house. But the man's wife was not happy about them being there and next morning they were taken east to a village called Izaourt, 2/3km southwest of Barbazan - both are on Google maps. Barbazan pix show the Pyrenees not far distant. They apparently had to get out Izaourt because the corporal had been told the Germans were about to visit the village and take able-bodied men as forced labour. I'm still checking a number of points with Eddie. It was here arrangements fell thru totally. No guide. He'd been paid but didn't turn up. Our 3 were taken out into the countryside near another small village and in Eddie's words “thrown to the wolves". Here's a couple of paras from my story:
The three men sat on a hillside, the Pyrenees clear in the background, and discussed their situation. Worsdale: “The other two, who spoke perfect French [Eddie didn't], had got cold feet. They said they'd go back to the village and return to Toulouse and M'lle Dissart (Francoise), get some help and start again. I told them I was going on. They accused me of being over confident and no doubt I was. But I felt there was no option. They wished me luck and turned back. I'd never felt so lonely in all my life.” Two hours later the pair were back. “Sheepishly they told me they'd learned the Germans were checking closely on trains going to Toulouse. I now wonder if we were lucky again that we weren't picked up on the leg from Toulouse. Anyway, they said to me, ‘we'll come with you.' ”  [Stephens later hugged Eddie and thanked him deeply for insisting on pressing on.] I've got to know Eddie quite well and he is not one telling fibs. I believe every word he says - and I've been a journo for more than 50 years.
Eddie had a good compass he'd bought in Geneva and used it to guide them up to the “pass". Early next morning a helpful French farmer/ shepherd? near the border told them about German patrols who tramped the countryside between two peaks on the frontier on a regular timetable and told them they'd be safe to cross about 12 about 12.30pm. So it proved. They were into Spain.
Thanks again Keith. Indebted to you. Will send you completed story in due course - Best wishes, Max.
I then sent Max a copy of Stephens' MI9 report.
Fantastic. So pleased to have Stephens' detailed account which I transcribed for old eyes (mine too) and took over to Eddie's this morning. He's only 6 km from here. Gave him Duchesnay's too. He was most grateful and passes on his thanks and says hello to you too.

20 July 2015 : Barbara Wojcik emailed from Minnesota about her uncle 2/Lt James S Wilschke (#267)
Greetings; I am seeking information regarding my uncle, James S Wilschke, who was a 2nd Lt. in the US. 8th Air Corps (bombardier). He bailed out over France on May 17, 1943, and made his way to Spain, via Perpignan, 6 months later. I am trying to find out where his flight originated. Unfortunately, my uncle passed away over 10 years ago, and I am just beginning my research into his story. He appears on your Escaper List as: "Wilschke James S 2/Lt USAAF 305 BG 364 BS (B-17)". I understand he was in the 305th bomber group, and flew in a B-17. I am not sure how to interpret the "364 BS" notation. Any further direction on where to look would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Barbara Wojcik.
Hello Barbara. Your uncle's aircraft took off from Chelveston (Northamptonshire). 364 BS refers to the Bomb Squadron – 305 Bomb Group was made up of three Bomb Squadrons. He and his radio operator Robert Neil are mentioned briefly in one of the chapters of my proposed book about the Bourgogne escape line, which I have attached. You can also download his MIS-X report for yourself from the NARA website. The hand-written (and most interesting) section is hard to read but with your particular interest, you can probably extract more details from that report. Hope this helps you. Very best, Keith Janes.
Well, I about fell over when I read what you sent. Thank you! I so appreciate your research. What a story! I am going to share this with my cousins, JIm's 5 adult kids. I'm sure they will recognize their Dad's handwriting. They have some of the information, but the MIS-X document is amazing. His first-person account of what happened! It looks like it was "Top Secret"; do you know when these reports were declassified?
I think that US escape reports were declassified quite soon after the war and have been available from the US National Archives (NARA) at Maryland for some time – probably under your Freedom of Information Act. They were certainly available ten years ago when I visited but they've only recently been digitalised and made available on the internet. Here in Britain, the near equivalent (MI9) reports were released less than twenty years ago. Our NA are now in the process of digitalising some of them but they are not available on the internet - you can view them all in person for free but have to pay for any copies to be sent to you.

17 July 2015 : John and Jackie emailed from France
We have a house in a small hamlet close to Arnac Pompadour, which is between Limoges and Brive not too far from Oradour and Beysannac. When we bought the house it was noticeable that in the past (many years before) someone had lived in the roof space, but according to the neighbours a family hadn't lived in the house for many many years. Whilst having a TV aerial fitted the fitter, who it transpired had previously served in the Signals Regiment pointed out that the "fishing rod" attached to one of the roof beams had been a WW2 aerial and on closer inspection we found some writing in English and some numbers. The house is on the edge of the hamlet with paths leading to it from wooded areas. In view of the fact that the resistance was very active in the area and the fact that it is reasonably close to one of the routes used we wonder whether our house has any history.
I explained that resistance radio operators are not really my area but offered to post this request for information here in the hope that a reader might be able to shed more light on the subject.

9 July 2015 : Joe McNichol emailed from Florida about his father 2/Lt Frank McNichol (#767)
First I would like to express my very sincere thanks to you for your research and the presentation of the research on this website. I found your site after reading Peter Eisner's book "The Freedom Line" and then going to the Comet Line Remembrance website.
As indicated in the subject line, this message is regarding Bourgogne evaders 2nd Lt Frank McNichol (my father) and 2nd Lt John Vollmuth. McNichol & Vollmuth are MIS-X report #s 766 & 767. Most, if not all, of my knowledge of my father and John Vollmuth's E & E experience was the result of doing my own research and finding John Vollmuth living in West Chester County New York, which provided my sister and I the opportunity to interview him regarding details of their experience. My father had died in 1966 (I was only 7 yrs of age at the time). Mr. Vollmuth described that they were being concealed for several weeks in the Champagne Ardennes region in 1944 before being moved to Paris, then down to Toulouse, then on to Pau before starting their journey over the Pyrenees. I have also obtained a copy of the MIS-X E & E report.
Until finding your website I was not aware of Georges Broussine's Bourgogne escape line. I figured that my father and Mr. Vollmuth were assisted by one of the secondary Comet Lines that had developed by 1944. Naturally I would like to research more details about Georges Broussine's Bourgogne escape line.
My question to you is other than the MIS-X report and "L'évadé de la France Libre", are there any other sources that could provide me with any additional details of my father & John Vollmuth's experience? Specifically I am interested to know exactly the route that they crossed the Pyrenees on after leaving Pau. Also, any chance of "L'évadé de la France Libre" has been or will be translated to English? Sincerely yours, Joe McNichol, Miami, FL.
Mr Janes - Since sending you the message (above) earlier today I have continued to search online sources and now realize that the copy of the MIS-X reports 766 & 767 that I have been referring to for a number of years, was not a complete copy. The complete copy that I have found today has all the handwritten descriptions that were summarized into the typed copy that I had. Now with this complete copy, I have much more of the details about their evasion experience that I did not previously have. The reports describes the assistance of M. Decorne in Aure, Jeanot Fossier in Terron Sur Aisne, Henri Billot in Ambonnay and Camille LaDurelle in Bouzy. By any chance do you know if these individuals were part of Broussine's network or one of the other lines of escape?
Hello Joe. I have attached the brief chapter about your father and John Vollmuth from my proposed book about the Bourgogne organisation. The piece was put together some time ago so perhaps you could check through and see if there is anything there that is new to you. It is just a brief overview and it's possible that further details could be extracted but for me at the time, they were just two of more than three hundred Allied evaders helped by Bourgogne. If you have more information that could be added then I would be very pleased to include it. Note that the chances of me actually publishing anything beyond some more internet articles seems slim at the moment as book publishers here in the UK don't seem very interested in the story of what was an almost entirely French-run organisation.
In answer to your question about ‘membership' of Bourgogne or any other organisation, that's often a difficult one as it depends on the definition of ‘organisation' and ‘membership'. Sorry to sound pedantic but certainly in this case, I can simply say that I don't know. I doubt that Broussine's book will be (officially) translated into English but if it's any help, the original French version doesn't actually tell us much about individual evaders (or helpers) anyway.
Your narrative sounds great Keith, thank you. Attached is a photo of John Vollmuth & I taken in 2002 when my sister & I went to his home in West Chester County NY to interview him. I sure wish I was better prepared for that interview with a full copy of the MIS-X report. I also have a copy of a short story that my sister composed from the audio tape of the interview with John Vollmuth. If you have a Dropbox account I can send you an invite to join a folder that I have posted there in Dropbox that includes a copy of that story. I had a terrific visit to the UK two months ago that included a visit to a memorial to the 457th BG at Glatton, as well as to the U.S. Cemetery near Cambridge where my uncle (392BG) is memorialized on the tablets of the missing. I would love to travel to France one day to travel the same route over the Pyrenees that they traveled in 1944.
I am just started reading a book published here in the U.S. titled "Silent Heroes", author is Sherri Ottis. The book has some good information about George Broussine and as the author terms it the "Burgundy Line", which I assume is the same as Bourgogne Line (?).
I have a copy of Silent Heroes and met Sherri in France in 2000 when we walked the first Comete Trail from St Jean de Luz. Burgundy (English) and Bourgogne (French) are virtually interchangeable names for the same thing – my story of Bourgogne is called "They Came from Burgundy".
Now that I have read Eisner's "Freedom Line" and am reading "Silent Heroes", and I recall how John Vollmuth described how difficult the crossing was for my father. I am curious as to whether one of the Comet or Burgundy crossings were significantly more difficult than the other? Are there any English speaking tour guides in Pau that a curious American can hire to do all or part of the crossing? Many thanks for all the terrific information.
The Comete routes from Bayonne and St Jean de Luz are comparatively easy. They crossed in a single night during the war and the routes are commemorated with two fairly easy half-days of walking each year in September. The toughest walks were obviously across the central Pyrenees but any of them could kill if the weather was bad. I've not walked from Pau – and don't know anyone who has – but I do know an English professional mountain guide who lives in Carcassonne who may be able to help you.
Our correspondence has continued ...

7 July 2015 : Lynton Darwent emailed about Sgt Phillip Lyndsey Kemp RCAF
Just found your excellent website. Tricky one this, I'll try to be brief. Researching loss of 408 squadron RCAF Hampden on 28/29 August 1942. I have physical and paper evidence that the aircraft was probably shot down by a nightfighter and came down near the village of Sauville, Northern France. Three crew are buried at Sauville (including a family member). Witnesses state that the pilot stayed at the controls as the aircraft came down in flames to avoid the village, but parachuted out. He was treated for burns to hands and face. I have lots of information relating to 408 Squadron operations, and this pilot flew the thousandth mission for 408 on 26th July 1942. Anecdotal evidence suggests he made it back to England. Almost certainly a Canadian national (the crew were RAF VR) and he spoke French reasonably well. The trail has gone cold, and I am restricted from access to RAF records as a non-relative. Our man is Sergeant Phillip Lindsey Kemp 1076925 RCAF 408 Squadron based at Balderton, Newark, England 1942. Any Suggestions gratefully received. Regards, Lynton Darwent.
Chorley's Bomber Command Losses have 408 Sqn Hampden AD829 lost that night with the pilot Sgt P L Kemp as POW and only survivor. Oliver Clutton-Brock (Footprints on the Sands of Time) confirms Sgt Kemp as a POW. He may have evaded for some time before capture but since there is no Liberation Report for him, I have no information about that. Not sure this helps you but it's all I have at the moment.
Hi Keith, Thanks for replying, everything helps. After an initial silence on the airwaves, I have now received some helpful advice from your side of the pond, and now I can at least find my way round the sources of records ! Regards, Lynton.
I was then able to add a message from Oliver Clutton-Brock that “A quick check of vol.1 of Nachtjagd War Diaries (Dr Theo E.W. Boiten) shows that Hampden AD829 was shot down by Leutnant Günther Bellwied, 7./NJG4, at a height of 2,000 metres west of Sauville at 2354 hours. It was Bellwied's first  and only victory. He was KIA that same night in an air combat near Monceau le Neuf.”
Hi Keith, Thanks for that last info - that has to be the ultimate tragic irony. What originated as a sorting out of old family photos has turned into a full blown research project - I have been very fortunate in locating such a lot of  records. As you will probably be aware, it has taken a long time for Bomber Command crews to receive proper recognition here in the U.K. for various reasons, but this is now being addressed.

29 June 2015 : Patricia Gemmell emailed about her mother, Helene Gill
Dear Keith. I am Australian, and how often at home I have used Google in an attempt to find out more about my mother's work in the Resistance. With no success. Google grants its favours most serendipitously!  I happen to be in Norway right now visiting my daughter, and then back to Paris and the North of France to visit family, before a week in the UK, visiting my husband's family.
My mother, Helene Gill, née Feodossief, died in Sydney on 6th December 2011, at the age of 94, and to the very end of her life she rarely said a word about her work during the war. We know she was first recruited during a holiday in Brittany, when she was asked to act as an interpreter for some hidden British airmen, and she said her work consisted of accompanying men on trains and talking on their behalf. She spoke Russian, French, English and German, all fluently.  She was a British citizen as she was married to a British citizen, and she was interned at the start of the German occupation, but they let her out after about six weeks as she had a baby, born in March 1940. She took her son, Daniel, with her on most of her missions! When she learnt that the Gestapo were looking for her, she dyed her hair and went into hiding with her son in Normandy. The house where she was living also billeted a German officer. She saw the Americans arrive.
I also know for a fact that she was largely responsible for the escape of Andrew Hathaway because Andrew's mother sent her a letter every Christmas until her death, even though Andrew tragically died not very long after the war. I have a photo of Andrew and his bride on their wedding day, and I know they had a son. I believe that Mrs Hathaway was probably the one responsible for my mother being awarded an American Medal of Freedom in 1946. I have the medal.
My mother went to the States after the war to see Andrew and his family, and then emigrated to Australia with her son. She married a Frenchman in 1953 and had three more children, two daughters and a son. We all live in Australia.
When I get back to Sydney, I can scan a number of documents I have that you may find of interest: an article from a New Jersey paper about her visit there to see the Hathaways, the citation in the British Times, something about the Medal of Freedom, and maybe something else. I also have her false carte d'identite.
If you can tell me anything more about my mother and her work in the Resistance, I would be very grateful, or point me in the right direction. I have already made a note of Roger Huguen and his book - I am fluent in French.
I am very grateful to you for your site and what I have been able to find so far. I will get I touch again when I am back home and see what I can find for you. Let me know if there is anything in particular you would like to know. Yours sincerely, Patricia Gemmell
Hello Patricia. I happen to know quite a lot about your mum's activities during the war, both from my own research and (especially) from files sent to me by my friend Michael Moores LeBlanc in Canada. With his permission, I have attached a copy of her NARA file, which you should find interesting.
Dear Keith. I am absolutely blown away by the swiftness of your reply, as well as by what you have sent me. I had no idea this information existed at all, and in fact I doubt very much that mother even knew the names of all the men whose lives she saved. I have only had time to read what you have sent me very briefly, but I find it ironic that someone could accuse her of collaboration with the Nazis when her experience of internment was so awful that she disliked the Nazis intensely and this was something that partly motivated her decision to join the Resistance. I think too that she had a strong desire to save lives.  
My mother was a very beautiful woman and men adored her. There are quite a few photos of her as a young woman, and while I cannot be sure that they were taken during the war, they could only have been taken between 1937 and 1946. I will have a look when I get back to Sydney. I don't mind at all if you want to reproduce some of my email on your feedback page. That's the whole point, isn't it - to share information, to enlarge our knowledge, to reshape history into human stories.
Helene Gill (aka Mlle Nell) is mentioned in my article about reseau Francois-Shelburn and although she worked primarily with the John Carter organisation, she also features in my story about the Bourgogne escape line. My correspondence with Patricia (copied to Michael Moores LeBlanc) has continued ...

7 December 2014 : Colin Hexley emailed about his late father, Sub-Conductor T W P Hexley (354) RIASC
I am writing to ask if you have any information or could direct me as to where I could get more information, on my late father who escaped from France in 1940. He is listed on your website as number 3304 356 (F) Sub Cond T.W.P. HEXLEY. I would be very interested in what route he took over the Pyrenees but any information at all would be interesting. Also, how would I find out about conditions in Miranda, and Barcelona.  I look forward to hearing from you.
You can get a copy of your late father's MI9 report from the National Archives at Kew. The file number is WO208/3304-356 and you can order a copy via their website.
Briefly : he was captured at a place called Gerrard Mieux (Vosges) and marched to Longuevic, where I assume there was a camp. He escaped from Longuevic on about 30 September and made his way to Montceau-les-Mines where he was helped by a Polish mining community – note that none of these dates are guaranteed. From there, he was helped to Marseille where the local police, apparently assuming him to be Polish, sent him to the English Hospital. He says he then left Marseille with Capt Leslie Wilkins (354) on 27 October but I doubt this date.  Wilkins says he left Marseille with your father and Cpl N R Illingworth (409) on 21 February 1941, passing through Port Vendres and Perpignan. It's not clear when they reached Spain but Illingworth gives the date as 24 February.
They evidently made it to Barcelona but rather than the safety of the British consulate, were arrested and spend the next six weeks or so in various prisons, notably Miranda de Ebro, before being repatriated to Madrid in early April. He left Gibraltar by sea for Glasgow on 4 July 1941. Hope this helps you.
PS. You can get some idea of conditions at Miranda by reading my father's account in the Articles section of the Conscript Heroes website. He was there in late 1942 but I have no reason to suppose that conditions were very different when your father was there.
Many thanks for your very prompt reply to my enquiry. I have had to request copies of my fathers reports as they have not yet been digitised for downloading. I will keep you informed, and if there should be any information you might find of interest, I will gladly provide it.
After his escape, my father went on to become a commanding officer in the RIASC, in the Highlands where I live. I was wondering if you could point me in a direction where I could research the RIASC Regiment and my father's full involvment. I have been through the MOD and got his military service record but very little information on what this regiment were doing up here, why they were here and what happened to them after the Normandy landings, as they seem to be the forgotten regiment. I would be extremely grateful if you could give me some ideas of where I could investigate.
If anyone can help with information about the RIASC in Scotland, please get in touch and I will put you in contact with Colin.

24 June 2014 : Mike Wainwright emailed about his father, F/Sgt John E Wainwright (2/361/1070)
I just found your site and wondered if there was any additional information I was not aware of above that I have gathered myself regarding my father who evaded capture having been shot down near Beauvais on the night of the 4th/5th July 1944. I have written up his story at http://lancaster-me699.co.uk/home-2/dad/france-july-to-september-1944.html. I am also still looking for any information on the flight engineer from his crew, Sgt William Robinson, who also evaded. Meanwhile I will keep reading your site to see if I can find any references to them.
Guess you already know that your father has an IS9 Report 2/361/1070 in Folder WO208/3350. Sgt William Robinson has an IS9 report 2/410/496 in Folder WO208/3349. I don't have copies of either but they are available from the NA at Kew. Hope this helps.
Many thanks for getting back to me. I had previously been told that the reports for my father and Bill Robinson had not been found so yes, that is great news. Are these IS9 reports ones you can get the NA to scan and send out or do I need to get over to Kew myself at some point? Also, do you know if the Pelletier family, who sheltered my father in July and August 44 were part of an organised escape route?
Pretty sure you can order the IS9 files through the NA website. Unfortunately, I don't have any information about the Pelletier family.
I am trying to get the files from the NA website now, but it is a bit of a maze to find them. The Pelletier's lived in Bonlier, near Beauvais, and later in Haudivilliers, where my father stayed with them. What I have says: Abel Pelletier had been in the Resistance since it had been formed and the elder of his eight children were also involved. Francis Pelletier, the eldest son, was arrested and imprisoned by the Germans but survived the war and now lives in southern France. His eldest daughter, Ginette would carry messages between the groups as the Germans were less likely to stop a woman and still lives in Beauvais. The rest of the children were too young to take an active role. Moise, Jacqueline and Jacques have all passed on, but Bernard, Denise and Janine are all still living in the Beauvais area, Denise and Janine still in Bonlier. There is a longer account of what I got from meeting Ginette and Bernard in 2006 on my website ...
OK, finally found them on the NA site and have started the process of getting them copied. Unfortunately it looks like Bill Robinson's report is missing - I got "This individual's report has not survived. Possible information on this individual (including duplicate or other appendices) may be present in WO208/5405-5436." I have also asked for the relevant appendices to be copied - WO 208/5428 (where anything for Bill Robinson should be) and WO 208/5433 (for my Dad - he is actually listed first in this one which is hopeful) ...
Oddly enough today I found a French website that has links to the reports as well (http://francecrashes39-45.net/page_fiche_av.php?id=377) having never seen them referenced before your email on Tuesday, in fact I had been told they had been lost. I have been away from this research for a few years since I originally gathered most of my information in 2004 to 2007 or so, and I guess things have moved on again in the intervening period. Brilliant, thanks for your help!

6 April 2014 : Diane Miller emailed from Canada about her father, Sgt Gordon Brownhill (1295)
Good afternoon. I have just finished reading Cruel Crossing (by Edward Stourton) and found your website listed in the book. The book was purchased in England for myself and my husband as a Christmas gift and to share with my father, Gordon Brownhill, RAF, RCAF.
My father, as a member of the RAF, was shot down on a Lancaster bomber mission. He escaped with the help of the underground through the Pyrenees. Reading this book gave me a fresh appreciation of all he endured and undying appreciation to all who helped him. He is still alive at age 94 and it was only recently (last year) that a relative found his name in a museum in England as one who had crossed through on the Comete Line. He didn't even know this is what the routes were called. It was only in latter years that he started to speak about all he had been through.
He has pictures of Serge Mallard, who was one of the individuals who assisted him, along with Serge's brother. Both were caught a while after my father's escape and died. One of the other gentleman that helped my dad found him through the help of his granddaughter, Julie Biserte who was travelling to Canada and who her grandfather had given a bottle of wine to for the first person she tracked down from those days. Her great-grandfather was another along that route to assist my father.
It is the family of D'Hallendre from Lille that we are now in contact with via Julie Biserte. It was only recently we found out where the crew that perished are buried and this brought great closure to my father who had wondered about it all these years.
I truly appreciated reading the book, and my relatives in England for sending it to us. It was very eye-opening and filled in a lot of pieces for me. Thank you for having the site that you do. I will be sharing it with other family members. Kindest regards, Diane Miller.
I gave Diane a link to the page about her father on the Reseau Comete website and put her in touch with the researchers there.

6 April 2014 : Jeanette Dall emailed from Australia about the article 'ANZAC Escapers from Crete'
Dear Keith. I have been reading your website and note that you invite readers to contribute what they know. My interest is in your website entry regarding Crete, entitled  “Fitzhardinge MLC from Agia Galini – 2 June 1941”.
Having heard about this barge from my father, who was one of the organisers, I have been researching the historical record recently. The official war history on the Australian War Memorial website shows that the effort was initiated by Private Roy McDonald and Corporal J Lee, both of 2/1 Machine Gun Battalion, B Company, 7 Platoon (known on Crete as 16 Platoon, it was the only B Company Platoon on Crete and for some reason was renumbered on from the D Company platoons which were also on Crete).
As you say, there was limited space on the barge and it was very much those who worked on the barge who had first preference. The exception was the crew of the crash-landed South African plane – Dad said they took the whole air crew (I think 3) because they wanted the navigator. Your website refers to a South African pilot, Sgt McWilliam. I think the pilot would have been an officer, and I suspect Sgt McWilliam was the navigator Dad referred to. Certainly it is apparent from the document relating to an award recommendation for him that he and Dad shared the navigation of the craft, although in that document he is referred to as a gunner. Dad had been in the navy for several years and knew how to navigate by the stars.
Jeanette's email prompted me to investigate Sgt McWilliam further and correct the original text in my article : 24 Sqn SAAF Maryland 1608 (Ford) was shot down by fighters on operation to Maleme on 25 May 1941. Lt E G Ford POW, Sgts D D McWilliam and T O Muller evaded – 2/Lt G L W Gill drowned during transfer to an Italian submarine. (Gunby & Temple) Jeanette included a link to the raf-112-squadron.org website which lists AC1 G R McLennan, LAC Harrington, AC Malloy, F/O Richard J Bennett and P/O Leonard L Bartley as also being on the MLC.
... Your website takes ranks from the Australian Nominal Roll which shows ranks at discharge e.g. my father was a Private at the time but is shown as a Corporal on the Nominal Roll ... You note that the list of Australian escapers incorrectly shows the same service number for Mills and Knox. I have checked the archives – the number given VX5609 is Colin Knox, the correct number for Charles Mills is VX1134.
I hope this information is useful. During my research, I have been heartened to find websites such as yours compiled by people interested in the events in which my father (Roy McDonald) participated. Regards, Jeanette Dall.

13 January 2014 : Bernard Bacquié emailed from Toulouse about RAF Sgts David Jones (1357) and James Alderdice (1358)
Hello, I'm a French retired airline captain, but now an aviation books writer. As my parents helped two RAF Halifax members to escape from the enemy in April/May 1943, I'm writing this story. Those crewmen are Jim Alderdice and David Jones, shot down during the night of 16-17 April 1943, flying Halifax II  DT690 MH-A Bar, according to the RAF Bomber Command Losses book. I'm in touch with Alderdice's daughters, but we never found any family for Jones who died a few years after war. I found your web site because I discovered the reference of their escape report : 3314/1357 for Jones and 3314/1358 for Alderdice. I can inform you that, after staying at my parents' home in Toulouse, they crossed the Pyrenees from Lourdes to Barbastro in Spain where they were arrested by Spanish "Guardia civil" and put in jail, around July 4th 1943. They were released on the following August 8th (Alderdice's 22nd birthday) and taken to the British Embassy in Madrid. No report on their homebound journey from Madrid to England. Portugal or Gibraltar ? Thank you for your interesting website. Best regards. Bernard
I told Bernard that Alderdice and Jones were flown back to the UK from Gibraltar on 14 & 15 August respectively.
Next day, Bernard sent me a photograph taken in the Tous family garden, of Mrs Tous, her nephew André Mauvais, David Jones, Bernard's mother Mimi, Jim Alderdice, Désiré Larose and Bernard's father Felix. Désiré Larose was the bargeman who brought Jones and Alderdice on his barge from Bordeaux and delivered them to the Bacquié family. Felix was a butcher, and with the Bacquié home at 18 route de Blagnac being just 200 yards from the dock on the canal lateral (now Canal de Garonne) Désiré had been a client of his for many years - and Désiré trusted him. Bernard also pointed out that Jones and Alderdice had stayed two weeks with his family, not two days as per their report, and that they only stayed with the Tous family for the weekend (when the picture was taken) while Bernard's grand-mother came to visit. The Bacquié home was at 18 route de Blagnac, on the corner with rue des Sept Deniers (today rue Franz Schubert) and Bernard tells me that his mother still remembers Jim and David sleeping in the living-room with the windows looking out onto their little garden. There was more but perhaps I should save that for a proper article ...
Bernard Baquie's book 'Des Héros sans Importance' was published by Editions Laterals in May 2014.

25 September 2013 : Kerry Sweeten emailed about her great-grandfather, Gnr James A Sweeten (371)
I would just like to send a quick email saying how brilliant your website is. I have been doing research on my great grandfather who is an escaper and found him straight away on your website. I don't exactly know much about him but he was James Arthur Sweeten and was a gunner in the RHA. I'm not even sure where about he was captured, all I know is he got captured twice during WW2, after the first time he got sent back to war. Its quite touching when you come across your ancestors names even if it is just a name. Thank you so much, Kerry Sweeten
Good morning Kerry. Your great-grandfather was captured at St Valery-en-Caux on 12 June 1940 – the same as my father – see the main ‘Conscript Heroes' website.
A couple of days later, he escaped from one of the columns marching prisoners towards Belgium (and Germany) but was soon recaptured and sent to a field camp at Airaines. On 19 June, he escaped from Airaines along with Dvr J Jones (344) and they made their way to Maison Roland (just east of Abbeville) where they were helped and supported by the villagers. On 23 September, they left Maison Roland and made their way south to cross the demarcation line into Vichy France near Vierzon, making the actual crossing by swimming the river Cher on 13 October. They were arrested by French police at Chateauroux two days later and sent to Fort St Jean in Marseille.
Both men were transferred to St Hippolyte du Fort in January 1941, along with the other British internees of what became known as Detachment W. Your great-grandfather stayed at St Hippolyte until sometime in March, when he escaped (details unknown) and made his way, with a guide, across the Pyrenees to Spain.
Like almost all escapers at that time, he was arrested by the Spanish and sent to a series of prisons which ended with the concentration camp of Miranda del Ebro where he was held until 28 May 1941, when he was sent to Gibraltar. He left Gibraltar by sea for Glasgow on 4 July 1941 and was back in England (Scotland) on 13 July.
You can get a copy of his MI9 report from the National Archives at Kew – the file number is WO208/3304 371.
Thank you so much for this information. I rang my grandad straight away to tell him about what his father did and he was thrilled to hear what you sent me. I am very grateful for all the information. Thank you.

31 July 2013 : Joanna Kozubska emailed about her late father, F/Lt Marian Kozubska
A short note to say how much I appreciate all the work you have done to produce this wonderfully informative web site. A huge legacy. I am researching my father F/Lt Kozubska and am so delighted to read details about his probable route into Spain. The information you record about the locations of the Hotel de Paris etc. will be so useful for me – thank you so much. I am going to try and follow my father's journey if I can. I'd like to try and walk over the mountains – some fitness training will be required! I would be so grateful for any further pointers you can give me about him. I am in touch with Oliver (CB) who has been brilliant and Edward Stourton. Many thanks, Joanna Kozubska.
I was able to confirm that from Toulouse, Marian Kozubska crossed the Pyrenees in a party that included St Nazaire commandos L/Cpl R W Sims (783) and Cpl G R Wheeler (740) Oflag VB (Biberach) escapers Lt Michael Duncan (639) and 2/Lt Angus Rowan-Hamilton (640) and that their route across the Pyrenees was via Banyuls (south of Perpignan) to Vilajuiga in Spain where they caught a train to Barcelona and the British Consulate.

13 May 2013 : Carol Fraser emailed about her late father, Pfc Leland E Wright (#2574)
Dear Sir, I found my father, Leland Wright on your MIS-X list. However, you have his middle initial incorrect. His middle name was Eugene, erroneously on your page as F. The story was that his glider disengaged behind enemy lines, and they were rescued by the Dutch underground until liberated. I wish I knew more about his service, he has passed away, and I have just begun my search. Thank you
I was able to direct Carol to the US government website where she could get a copy of her father's MIS-X report and gave her my notes which mention a number of other reports which she could also download. In the meantime, I asked Edouard Reniere if he could find a picture of Pfc Wright in his uniform. The reply was astounding - not only had he identified the aircraft that took Pfc Wright to Holland (C-47 42-100556) but also found number of websites on the subject and - most importantly - a book by Peter van den Linden entitled 'Kampina Airborne - Airborne Evaders in the Kampina Forest', which has a picture of a young Leland Wright (and many others) included.
Dear Keith and Edouard. I am writing to thank you both for the aid in finding information in regards to my dad. When I contacted Peter van der Linden, to my surprise, he had written a book about the operation Market Garden, but even more astounding, it was specifically about the evaders in the Kampina Forest. Attached is a picture, showing my father with his comrades, and the boys from Boxtel, who along with the townspeople hid them from the Germans for 37 or 38 days. My father had just turned 19 years old. Gabriel Sauer, right in front of him (the handsome, dark haired fellow!) was two years younger, and was part of the Dutch Resistance. It is an amazing story, and one I hope you will read. So I started a little journey, to get a bit of information on my dad's time in the service, and got a book in return. I want to thank you both for all you did for me, and I will never forget it. It was an emotional moment I did not expect. Made me so proud. I am hoping that my sister and I can travel there someday to see the museum, and go to the forest. The 70th anniversary will be in 2014, I think that is a fitting time. Gabriel Sauer is still alive, and lives here in the United States, and I hope one day to meet him, and thank him. If not for them, my sister and I might not have ever been. Thank you again, Carol Fraser

26 Jan 2013 : Donna Boston-Johnston emailed me about her late father, S/Sgt Berna L Johnston (#2346)
Dear Sir, My name is Donna Johnston-Boston. My father was Berna L Johnston. He was an American airman on your list. I am attaching his story as he told it to our family historian, Carol Nash, in 2004. He never shared any information about his experience of being shot down and the rest of his time during the War until he told this story to Carol, a niece. He said he was always afraid he would cause some harm or inconvenience to the Diris family (the people who sheltered him). My father passed away in 2009. I know he would have enjoyed reading all the stories about all the people who were involved; about their bravery and sacrifices. I hope you might share his story with any of those people who may still be alive and tell them how very thankful we are for their actions. We are so thankful he came home. He was not a wealthy man and he was not a man with any great connections, however, he was a very good man. Thank you, Donna Boston
Click here to read 'A Soldier's Story' by Berna Johnston

9 Dec 2012 : Bill Dawson emailed from the Falkland Islands about his great-uncle Sgt Ralph Henderson (1216)
My great-uncle was Pilot Officer Ralph Henderson DFM RAFVR, who was the Flight Engineer onboard 83 Sqn Lancaster ED313 with Colonel Allan M Ogilvie (Joe) DFC* OMM CD CdeG MiD when it was shot down over France in March 1943. They subsequently made an extraordinary evasion through France to Spain, I think using the "Pat" line (at least in part), may have been helped by Maurice Pertschuk, and quite probably also met Raoul Laporterie at Boussens on their way to St Girons.
I'm doing some family research into Ralph in general, but particularly his service career, which has a special interest for me as I am serving in the Royal Navy. At the moment I have become fascinated by the journey through France and Spain and have been trying to piece together some of the clues left in Ralph's small escape diary - a copy of which is held in the RAF archives in Hendon.
You mention on your excellent website that there are MI9 reports from both Henderson and Ogilvie which can be viewed at the National Archives, but tantalisingly you seem to indicate that you may know more, particularly from your footnote about Maurice Pertschuk (Eugene) and the SOE which I was not aware of.
I'd be really interested in any information that you may have regarding Ralph Henderson - or even pointers to where else I may be able to piece together the clues to build a full picture of his journey.  In return of course I am more than happy to pass the additional information back once the picture is (hopefully!) complete. Many thanks in advance for any help you are able to give. Kind regards, Bill Dawson
First of all let me quote from my friend Oliver Clutton-Brock's excellent 2009 book RAF Evaders - which I strongly recommend you buy. I added the relevent extract from pages 204-5 here ...
I also have information from Josep Calvet that your great-uncle was held at Sort prison in Spain on 30 April 1943.
You might like to note that the route they used across the Pyrenees is the same one commemorated each year at the beginning of July on the four-day Chemin de la Liberte walk. Hope this helps you, very best, Keith Janes.
Thank you so much for coming back so quickly - and with such an astonishingly detailed and revealing account!  I stumbled across your website almost by chance this afternoon and was engrossed with the tantalising leads that it provided. I shall certainly seek out your friend Oliver's book - I assume it is available on Amazon?  I am based in the Falkland Islands at the moment which does not have fantastic internet access - expensive and a limit on monthly upload / download - but we do have the luxury of being able to order VAT free from Amazon!
I have a transcript of Ralph's diary from which I have been steadily trying to decode the many names and places, and your short extract will move me on enormously. There is no doubt that since becoming aware of the "Freedom Trail" it is now on my list of things to achieve over the next couple of years. Who knows - maybe I will meet you there! But I doubt it will be before 2015 as we are stationed in the southern hemisphere until then, which makes it a bit tricky!
The information about Sort prison also tallies with the diary - a place which Ralph describes as "Hell on earth. Heads cropped close. Greatly helped by Ron.???? (unclear what the name was here)". Interestingly I have recently been in contact with Joe Ogilvie's son who now lives in Canada, and who has promised to send me copies of his father's notes and memoirs about the whole piece. That may again fill in some of the blanks. Is that from Josep Calverts book? As far as I can see online it is only available in French!
Ralph had only been on the front line 83 Sqn for 6 days since graduating from the Heavy Conversion Unit - he was along on the night acting as Flight Engineer just to gain combat experience. A baptism of fire without doubt! I'm not sure how many missions he flew when he rejoined his Sqn and before being fatally shot down in November 1943; on my next visit to the National Archives I will need to pull the squadron logs again and work through.
Finally, I'm intrigued by the footnote reference "All the Luck in the World". It seems to indicate that it is a book, but I cannot find any reference to it? Any clues ?
Yours just happened to be a fairly easy question for me to answer, especially since Oliver had already done most of the work. All The Luck in the World refers to the 1994 book by Allan Ogilvie - which you should also probably get. I don't know about Josep's book being in French, I've been working from a copy of his original notes. The Ron referred to is presumably Ron Reynolds - who, along with a Jack Jackson was at Sort on 30 May 1943. Both said to be English but I have no record of any servicemen with those names who could have been there at that time ...
I have ordered a copy of RAF Evaders on Amazon now and they inform me it has been shipped already. With any luck it will find its way down here to the Falklands before Christmas. It makes sense now that "All the Luck in the World" is Joe Ogilvie's book - I think that the CD that his son Steve is sending me may well be much of the text of the book, hopefully with some additional notes or pictures. I know you understand that this is forensic work and that every snippet or clue leads you on to somewhere else more interesting.
Finally, of course I am happy for you to use (an edited version of) our correspondence on your Feedback page - the more people that are involved, inspired and contribute, the better for those of us who are researching. Without dedicated people like you (and Oliver) the story of Ralph and many others may never be recreated for the generations of our family to come, which would seem to be a terrible shame. If I can encourage others to share their story in some small way, then so much the better.

25 Nov 2012 : I received this request from Carl Shilleto about his uncle Cpl Donald Hepworth (408)
Dear Keith, While researching information for my new website (www.fallenheroesofnormandy.org) I was pleased to come across your excellent website and find mention of my uncle *Hepworth D Cpl 7 Bn Royal Norfolk* who was taken prisoner in France in 1940. I was wondering if you had any further information about him. The reason for my request is that I will be dedicating my new website to my relatives who served in the Second World War. Sadly, they have all passed on now, and I wish to publish a memorial page to each of them. I will be happy to provide you with photographs and further information about my uncle for your own archive and, of course, a link to your website.
We are hoping to get our website ready for a beta version release in Dec 2012/Jan 2013. In the meantime, progress can be followed on the temporary development page at www.fallenheroesofnormandy.org or on FACEBOOK at www.facebook.com/fallenheroesofnormandy or TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CarlShilleto
Just one last question - would you know of any sources of information detailing any prisoners of war who died and were buried in Normandy during WWII. Thank you for taking the time to read my email and request.
I sent Carl my notes on his uncle's evasion in France and eventual repatriation via the MMB in Marseille and pointed out that such repatriation did not necessarily mean he was actually unfit. Unfortunately I don't have any information on the fallen at Normandy so if anyone reading this can help ...
Thank you for the email and very interesting reply. I will add the MI9 report to my 'to do' list next time I head down to Kew. I see from your records that you have had contact with my cousin Martin Hepworth. I will call him tonight to discuss. I passed on the service records for my uncle to Martin many years ago. It is great to see that he has done further research on his grandfather. You are right about the being fit for active service. When my uncle got back to the UK he was transferred to the Military Police and shipped off to India for the rest of the war.
Thank you very much for your time - as someone who spends much time replying to enquiries myself, I fully appreciate your dedication. If there are any questions I can help you with, with regards Normandy, please feel free to ask. With my very best wishes, Carl

16 May 2012 : I received this request from Hugo Mitchell about 6th Airborne Division evaders and POWs
I am researching prisoners of war and evaders of the 6th Airborne Division. Your website has been a great help with listing all the evaders from the 6th Airborne Division and has helped me find great information in Kew archives.
I am looking to get in touch with veterans, or family members of veterans, of the 6th Airborne Division who were taken prisoner in Normandy, the Ardennes offensive and Operation Varsity. I am interested to hear how, when and where paratroopers were captured. I am also interested in how the paratroopers were treated and what conditions were like in POW and working camps. Any stories or photos would be a great help.
If anyone reading this page can help Hugo then please email him at sixthairborne@hotmailco.uk

4 April 2012 : I received this request from Australia about Gnr Neil Isaac
I have been trying to research a family myth regarding my uncle Gunner Neil Isaac. He joined the RA before the war started and was a best in regiment gun-layer (setting the gun to target) and involved in training gunners. When war broke out he ended up in Gibraltar at Buena Vista Barracks, possibly training members of the Gibraltar Defense Unit - later the Regiment. He met and married a local girl and on his wedding day they shipped his wife out in one of the evacuation convoys to England.
The myth is that he swam behind the boat waving to his new wife. This was at night and the harbour current swept him down the coast. He swam to what he thought were the lights of Gibraltar but when he made the shore, he was greeted by a group of Spanish gentlemen in uniform and was initially charged with being a spy. He apparently spent time in a Madrid prison and somehow returned to England, worse for wear, and met up with his wife in London. He could not explain his story to the family in detail as he was shipped out to Italy and killed near Casino in 1944.
I managed to speak to the oldest surviving sister of Neil Isaac about his exploits in Gibraltar and Madrid prison. Neil had married a Maria Gomez who was evacuated from Gibraltar on the same day they were married and his unplanned arrival in Spain in about 1943. Maria had two brothers living in the mountains in Spain, north of Gibraltar. My aunt (Neil's sister) informed me that after 12 months, they managed to spring him out of Madrid prison (how I cannot imagine) and smuggled him back to Gibraltar. When I go to Spain in July, I am going to find some of Maria's family and see if the story lives on as a Gomez family myth.
Little is known of Neil's subsequent activities or postings other than that he is recorded as being killed near Naples on 23 June 1944, serving with the 205 Training Regiment, Royal Artillery. I can find no evidence of his unit being posted overseas as they seem to have been recorded as remaining stationed in the UK and listed as the 205 Field Artillery Regiment.
I now await his army records and hope to have some answers. If anyone can shed any light on his expoits in Buena Vista Barracks, Gibraltar, Madrid or Naples in Italy, I would be very grateful as his son William is the second and very keen researcher. Richard Isaac, Brisbane, Australia.

31 March 2012 : I received this update to correspondence of 22 May 2011 about Captain Roger F Lawrence RA
Keith, My daughter and I have just been to Goriano Valli. We were successful almost beyond my hopes. At the very first house we tried, immediately below the earthquake-damaged church, Enea and Sofia Liberato knew exactly what we were talking about, though Enea is from down the valley and Sofia had not been born. Sofia's mother came from next door and became deeply emotional – she had been about seven at the time, and her mother Concetta had been one of those who fed the fugitives. "Zio Silvio", actually a cousin, came with us to the church and then to the village cemetery. He had been 17, had heard the shots, had total recall of the incident – how there was a woman making it her business to pass details to the Fascists, how the officers were going to leave the next morning and had gone hastily up to the hut through the snow with no shoes on, how the body was brought down on a ladder by four men and then carried up to the church by another four. The only difference to what the parocco wrote to the ICRC was that it was not Germans but fascisti who shot him – we think the priest knew he had to live with all his flock thereafter. On the spot where the body was buried before exhumation and reburial in Moro River CWGC cemetery there happened to be growing iris, daisy, violets – the names of my grandmother and two of her sisters who also lost sons in WW2. We went to Moro River the next day, beautifully  laid out and kept up. Best wishes, Charles Gordon-Clark.  
Update : The full story is now posted on the Monte San Martino Trust website - click here to read "Finding Roger".

30 March 2012 : I received this request about Pte Matthew Downey and his comrades' evasion from Norway
Dear Keith, I stumbled across your excellent website whilst researching an old family friend who died in 1994. His name was Matthew (Matty) Downey and he served as a private with 1 Btn Green Howards. As he lived with my grand-parents for some time I frequently had the opportunity to talk to him about exploits during the war, particularly his experiences during the Norway campaign in May/June 1940. I have recently been given some of his papers which confirm the stories he told me. Within his papers are a letter from the Green Howards Association dated 1959 with a translated letter from a gentleman named Sigurd Moen - a butcher from Fosnavag in Norway. The letter mentions that Mr Moen sheltered Matty and three of his 1 Btn Green Howards comrades (Pte Whitehurst, Pte Archer and L/Cpl Barnard) until all four men could be repatriated to the UK by fishing boat. I wondered if you or any of your contributors had come across these four evaders? I know from your website that the MI9 files contain details of three other 1 Btn Green Howards soldiers who successfully evaded capture in Norway, but Matty isn't amongst them. Any information that you are able to share would be extremely welcome.
I checked with the MI9 files in the National Archives and drew a blank I'm afraid. I did however manage to make contact with the son of Sigurd Moen in Fosnavag - his aunt remembers the soldiers well and was given a Green Howards cap badge by one of them as a souvenir. Any further help that your contributors may be able to offer would be extremely welcome. Kind regards, Neil Macknight.
I have no record of these four Green Howards getting back from Norway and so offered to post Neil's request here in the hope that someone reading this will be able to help.

7 February 2012 : I received this request from Simon Moisy about his grandfather Robert James Taylor
Dear Sir, I've read through your website and would like to ask if you have ever come across a soldier by the name Lieutenant (possibly Captain) Robert James Taylor? He was my grandfather and I think from searches so far conducted that he was part of SOE or MI9. We know he operated in France and Germany and he spoke only briefly of being party to collecting soil samples on the Normandy beaches before D-Day, missing a submarine pick-up, evading SS troops and many parachute drops in the dark before that. He always just said that he was in Intelligence and never spoke of his missions (maintained opsec until his dying day!). Trouble is, I can't find any record of him in various searches I've done to date. Unfortunately my grandmother has thrown out all of grandad's stuff (as he passed away over 10 years ago) including anything with his army number on. His medals are for campaigns in Africa and France and Germany. Grandma thinks his parent company was either Royal Engineers or the Royal Cambridgeshire Regt. Other than this we know very little about what he did in the Second World War. Appreciate not a whole lot to go on, but any help (or steers to people who may know) will be very much appreciated. Best regards, Simon Moisy.
I have no mention of Robert James Taylor in my records or notes but offered to post Simon's request here in the hope that someone reading this might have some information.

4 January 2012 : I received this request about Andreas Marcellus van Den Eijnden
My name is Raimondo Bogaars and for some years now I have doing research about the war history of the villages Aalst-Waalre in Holland. During this research I found a letter from a villager who was in a German prison at Scheveningen (Holland) and sentenced to death in 1944. He was arrested, most likely on 13 April 1942, near Paris. I have a version of his story that he told his mother in prison but I am trying to find out what exactly happened. His name was Andreas Marcellus van Den Eijnden. According to his story he was underway with a group of pilots and some resistance fighters. Among them was an Russian Officer. They were to take the train in Paris. The Russian told them it was better to take the train at another time, so they went into hiding for a bit. When they wanted to take the train at the other time, they were arrested. The Russian was nowhere to be seen, and was probably a traitor. Marcellus was brought to Sint Gilles Prison in Belgium, and stayed there until January 1944. Do you see anything familiar in this story, are you able to help me with this? Or do you maybe know anybody who can? I wrote to many officials but up to now still no luck. It is very important to know if Marcellus was in the resistance or not because now he is buried in a German cemetery as a traitor.
I didn't have any information myself so I asked around. M van der Eijnden of Bakel was suggested but Raimondo was able to discount him as being the same man.
Thanks again for your efforts. M van der Eijnden from Bakel isn't the same person. When I first went to search for what happened to Andreas Marcellus I found van den Eijnden from Bakel too, but he was known for what happend. Andreas Marcellus didn't travel alone and I wonder if anyone knows anything about a arrest in or near Paris around the 13th of April 1942. I've been to different archives but nowhere states what exactly happened, just the story he told his mom from prison. He was in German service for a short while and he was also condemmed for desertion, but my guess is that you won't have to wait two years for excecution and be in two different prisons if it is just for desertion. It could be that he worked under an alias. Another name or arrest information could give more insight if he told the right story - although I think it is doubtful that he told a lie to his own mother in his death cell unless it was to cover up something else.
If anyone can help with this mystery then please contact this website.

19 September 2011 : I received this request from Sarah Hardcastle looking for information about MI9/IS9
My father, James Smith, was born in August 1918 and died in November 2006. In his papers after he died, we found evidence that in 1941 he was posted to the War Office and employed in the directorate of Military Intelligence in MI14 and MI9 (unit IS9(x)) supporting resistance movements, helping prisoners escape, and particularly supporting the different escape lines. My father was a non-commissioned officer responsible for the other ranks at the head quarters of a unit of some forty British ORs, and a greater number of other Allied personnel. In 1944 he was with IS9 (WEA) following the Allied forces through Europe until the German capitulation. He once mentioned that he was outside Belsen when it was liberated and we have an "authority to interview" card issued at the time that Belsen was liberated. We believe that he was in the same unit as Airey Neave and Michael Bentine, interviewing prisoners of war to identify those who had helped the allied effort, and filtering out collaborators who had changed sides. We know that my father was at Wilton Park, Beaconsfield, had meetings at Bletchley Park and was also stationed in Brussels. We have one photograph of him and others, probably taken at Wilton Park in July 1942, and two photographs of him and others outside number 218 Avenue de Tervuren in Brussels.
This actually goes back to 2010 when Sarah first contacted me about her late father and his work at IS9 and since then I have agreed to try and help by putting her request for more information here. I have also agreed to collect and collate any information received with a view to posting a possible story about IS9. Please note that copies of the three photographs mentioned above are available on request to this website.

16 August 2011 : I received this request from Sgt Stephen Pavlisko Jr in New Jersey
The Army Air Forces Historical Association (AAFHA) based in New Jersey USA, was formed in 1993 and is an historical and educational non-profit organization. The association participates in air shows, historical retrospectives, educational programs and seminars, providing static displays of World War II Army Air Forces memorabilia. We are historians who explain and re-tell the tales of the experiences of the World War II veterans. Our motto is simple: Remember, Respect and Honor.
On 6 June, we unveiled a new display at the Reading Pa. WW II Weekend : POW Monopoly Behind The Wire. Painstakingly recreated from our research, including an original silk escape map, we have made a near perfect reproduction of the famed British Monopoly POW escape kit as produced by Waddingtons Limited. The entire game board and all period correct pieces were reproduced using modern printing techniques. To our knowledge, we are the first to present such a display, and the reaction we have received by the public was more than enough encouragement to continue our mission and expand and share our knowledge, wherever it takes us. My ultimate goal is to move beyond the scope of the role the Monopoly game played, and to expand our research into the entire experience of the allied POWs.
I am seeking any possible documents, oral histories or contacts with people who have knowledge of or have experienced any of the MIS-X or MI9 created devices as described by Lloyd R Shoemaker in his book "The Escape Factory". Of particular interest would be anything relating to hidden items within the game of Monopoly or other type of games. Any relevant information you may have no matter how small, I would be most appreciative.
If anyone can help Sgt Pavlisko, they should contact him via the AAFHA website at http://www.aafha.org/

15 July 2011 : I received this enquiry about Pte F Butters (414) from Erik Buttars in Australia
I came across your site late this evening and found a reference (Butters F Pte 2 Bn Seaforth Highlanders) that I have been looking for for a very long time. Can you please tell me if the above name of F. Butters is actually Frank Butters, born 1913 in Angus Scotland, the youngest sibling of twelve children with the eldest being William Mitchell Butter 1889-1974, my Grandfather; or is it possible that you have or can obtain any further information about the above person, also reported as being awarded the MM? Kind regards, Erik James Buttars, Queensland, Australia.
Hello Erik, I don't have family records so I don't know whether he is the Frank Butters - youngest of twelve - that you are looking for, but he sounds likely candidate. This particular F Butters claims 10 years and 8 months of regular army service when interviewed in July 1940 so he could have been born in 1913. He gives his home address as Post Office Buildings, Invergowrie by Dundee and his peacetime profession as barman.
Dear Keith. Thank you so much for your prompt reply; this certainly sounds like the person I have been looking for, word had it that my Frank Butters joined the Southern Highlanders at age 17 therefore your 1940 interview is spot on. The address at the time of Invergowrie-Dundee is also very probable as it is approximately five and a half miles south-west of where Frank was born. Perhaps we have all found from time to time that finding such information leads to more and more questions. I guess this is part of the power of the internet and the breadth of contact that it creates. For your information and interest, I will include an overview for your consideration:
Frank Butters, born 29 October 1913 - Old Baldragon Farmhouse, Mains of Strathmartine, Angus, Scotland. Died; County of Sussex, England in March 1992 aged 78.
In 1945 not long before the war in the Pacific ended, Will Buttars received a ships cable (via telegram) from his brother Frank; informing him that his ship would be visiting Sydney and could they meet? Somehow, my Grandfather obtained a permit to travel by train to Sydney and did meet with his brother. While in Sydney, Will and Frank were interviewed by The Sydney Morning Herald 'Brothers meet after 19 Years'. I have as a teenager read the original clipping that my Aunt had kept (Jessie McGregor Buttars) and many years later transcribed the text, which I still have. Where the original clipping has gone I do not know as Jessie passed away five years ago.
My Grandfather told me many years ago about his trip to meet Frank; he said Frank had told him that he had joined the Southern Highlanders at age seventeen and since then had served in many parts of the world prior to WW2. Going on what I was told Frank was captured by the German troops after landing at Dunkirk; Frank told his brother Will that he had escaped back to England, via France and Spain, not once but at least twice, having been again recaptured on the continent. On his second return to England, he signed on to the Merchant Navy as Gunner and this is how he came to be visiting Sydney. I can also remember talk of Frank Butters receiving the MM; how true this is, I do not know?
I'm going to work on the assumption that your Frank Butters is the same as my Pte F Butters. First of all Frank was captured near St Valery-en-Caux, nothing to do with Dunkirk. This is a common error since the surrender at St Valery is not a well known event, being something of a disaster at the time and mostly involving Scottish troops rather than English - although there were also many Englishmen involved, including my own father - see the Conscript Heroes website for more details. You mention Frank claiming to have escaped from France twice - unlikely as that may sound, it would seem to be the case. He 'escaped' from France and crossed the Pyrenees to Spain (not England) twice, being returned the first time and arrested again by the French. Also his second 'escape' by train from Marseille is simple enough (at least as far as the Spanish border at (say) Cerbere or Banyuls-sur-Mer) but he reached Madrid so quickly that I strongly suspect something special was arranged. My best guess would be papers from one of the Embassies that allowed him to take the train straight through. Now that is a neat trick only accomplished by a very select few !! I suggest you get yourself a good map of France to fully appreciate the scale of his endeavours. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that he was awarded a MM for such enterprise.

10 July 2011 : I received this request from Colin Hulme about his father Fusilier Richard Hulme
My dad was Fusilier Richard Hulme (488) of the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victorias). He was in the rear guard at Dunkirk and was captured on the 15th June 1940 at Routot east of Le Havre and imprisoned in a chateau. On the 21st June 1940 he escaped and made his way to Hauville where he was sheltered for 6 weeks on a farm before going on to Romorantin in November where he lived for 6 weeks in a house in the woods. On the 24th December 1940 he reached a village near the Demarcation Line where a farmer sheltered him for the night and drove him across the DML. He was soon arrested and taken to Chateauroux then on to Marseilles. On the 1st January 1941 he arrived at Fort St Jean. On the 8th January 1941 he was transferred to St Hippolyte du Fort.
On the 13th April 1941 my father escaped from St Hippolyte with 3 other soldiers, Pte H Southern (393) Pte E S Whitley (438) and Pte H Croft (449). They walked to Ganges, took a bus to Montpellier and a train to Argles-sur-Mer where they crossed the border to Spain. They were captured at Espola near Figueras and spend the next 8 weeks in Cervera and Miranda. On the 8th June my Dad was released for repatriation with the other 3 soldiers and on the 4th July left Gibralter by sea for Glasgow. In all this time my dad was missing presumed dead. My grandfather John received telegrams from my dad that said only "Safe and Well". These were sent by the Reverend Donald Caskie to the Church of Scotland.
My dad didn't talk much of his experiences through the war. I know through my own investigations that he served at Cassino in Italy and on the 2nd December was Mentioned in Despatches for distinguished service. Sadly my dad passed away some 10 years ago, a frail but very proud man. I look back and find it hard to believe the bravery of thousands of men just like my dad.
I would be grateful if you could post my message as any information from anyone who remembers my dad from his war days, especially the gentlemen who escaped with him, or their relatives, would be fantastic. The website is superb and a great source of information. I got great pleasure reading the stories of others as it was like reading my own dad's exploits. Many thanks, Colin Hulme.

22 June 2011 : I received this request from Philippe Mourand about the crew of Lancaster LL922
My name is Philippe Mourand and I am the webmaster of web site http://www.xn--armes-dsa.com/. I transcribed and translated a few escape reports – fascinating work. These reports can be found here: http://www.xn--armes-dsa.com/rapports-evasion/index-en.htm. I am currently investigating a crash that occurred a mile or two from where I grew up at La Frenaye (Seine Maritime). I have the escape reports of the two British airmen : F/Lt E H E Hearn and Sgt W Johnson. I can email them to you if you wish. However I failed to get the escape report of the Canadian airman: F/Sgt Arthur Robson Meredith. I saw on your web site that Meredith was hidden till the liberation. Could you get a copy of his escape report? Can you email it to me?
I sent Philippe the MI9 report for Meredith and he sent me the reports on Hearn and Johnson and I'm posting this here as an example of the free exchange of information that this site is intended to promote.

4 June 2011 : Stéphane Oniszycyk contacted me again about resistance in the French village of Fillièvres.
Stéphane first contacted me in January 2011 (see below) asking for any further information I might have about the village of Fillièvres after finding my article about René Guittard and Resistance in the Ternois. I (and others) sent him some more details, and in June, Stéphane emailed me again to say that 'Combats aériens et avions tombés sur le territoire de Fillièvres et ses environs en 39-45' had been completed at last but was, at that time, only available in French. Now he was able to send me the link to an English translation.
The link to the original French version is http://dl.free.fr/bXbUGEyI3 and the link to the new English version is http://dl.free.fr/trlnWgEO5. In both cases you will be directed to a French site which will enable you to down-load this fascinating story in PDF format.
Please note that this study is the result of countless months of research by Stéphane and his friends at Les Amis du Vieux Fillièvres and that you can contact them direct at lesamisduvieuxfillievres@yahoo.fr

25 May 2011 : I received this request from Charles Clark about Captain Roger F Lawrence RA
My uncle, Captain Roger F Lawrence RA, was captured in Tunisia on February 26 1943 in the battle of Sidi Nsir - he was part of 155 Battery, the "VC Battery", though no-one got the VC because so many were captured or killed. He was imprisoned in one of the camps near Piacenza, and when the Italians pulled out of the war in September, he escaped.
Roger was presumably free for about four months, and like so many other escaped Allied soldiers, must have been sheltered by ordinary Italian folk. He was trying to make his way south to where the Allies were advancing and must have covered an impressive distance. In January 1944 he was on the run with another British soldier. On the 15th the Gestapo surprised them in a barn. Roger made a movement and was shot out of hand. The other Briton froze, was recaptured, and survived to tell the tale. After the war ended Roger was buried in the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery in the Commune of Ortona, in the province of Chieti. It's near the Adriatic coast of Italy, in Abruzzo, something like 500 kilometres south east from Piacenza.
My mother had papers giving more detail, and after her death in 1975 I passed them to her other brother; they seem to have been in a safe which was stolen from his house, and this is all that I can remember. I would dearly love to know who was with him when he was killed, and whether further details survive. If you can help me I should be so grateful; as the years pass - I am now three times the age he was when he died - I find the memory of his sacrifice more not less poignant. Yours sincerely, Charles Gordon Clark.
I could not find any information about Capt Lawrence in my files and so offered to post this request here in the hope that a reader might be able to help.
Update : 28 July 2011
Dear Keith. Since we corresponded I have received from ICRC in Geneva a lot more details about my uncle. He was first in hospital in Caserta, then at a holding camp (PG 66) at Capua, and then from 13 May 1943 at PG 49, Fontanellato, which of course has been written about a lot.
He and another RA officer, 220601 Lieut. P G King, were at a remote village called Goriano Valli, some 20 miles south east of L'Aquila, when they were discovered by the Gestapo. The parish priest wrote later in the year to the Red Cross that Roger had been "vilmente assassinato dagli sgherri tedeschi" and that his death had been "un grave lutto per la popolazione di questa frazione", which makes me think that he and King had probably been in the area some time. The Germans reluctantly gave permission for him to be buried in the cemetery of San Georgio at Goriano Valli, and many people came to his funeral. Over the next few months, before he was exhumed and taken to the war cemetery at Ortona, his "povera tomba" was often visited by the parishioners visiting the cemetery, and whenever there was a funeral they said prayers at his grave "intendendo così di rappresentare i parenti lontani".
I find this incredibly moving and it's a great joy to have got so far. What you kindly put on your website now of course needs amending. It would be wonderful to be in touch with the family of Lt. King; or with anyone still alive from Fontanellato who might remember him; and I really intend to go to Goriano Valli, next year I hope, to see if there is any old villager who remembers the episode. Best wishes. Charles Gordon Clark

26 April 2011 : I received this enquiry from Neil Cargill about Pte Robert J Banham
I am hoping to find a little more information on Pte Robert Joseph Banham who I believe may have escaped from the Hartsmandorf camp in Germany. I have a letter from Bernhard Radtke from Chemnitz dated the 20th Aug 1946 in which he also mentions a Mr F Brown and a Mr C J Curtis. The letter came amongst some personal effects of Robert Banham and having spoken to one of his family, she had the story that he had escaped from this camp and was helped by the family as their son was a deserter from the German army. The letter is only short and asks about Robert and the other two men. Do you have any information on any of the above or how many men escaped from this camp ? Hope this is not to much trouble.
Certainly not too much trouble. Unfortunately I have no record of Pte Banham, Brown or Curtis, nor indeed of anyone escaping from Stalag IVF Hartmannsdorf bei Chemnitz. If the camp was evacuated towards the end of the war (not my area) then it's possible they escaped during transfer, in which case they may not have been interviewed. There were many such cases, some I know about but many more that I don't ...

9 April 2011 : I received this enquiry from S/Sgt James M Epperson USAF about Sgt Francis E Owens USAAF
I am currently a Military Training Leader with the 381 TRG at Vandenberg AFB. A fellow co-worker and myself have been tasked with finding a 381st hero to dedicate our new student learning center to, which is currently being built. After searching the net, I came across an article you wrote called Tragedy in the Pyrenees - The High Cost of Freedom. I was intrigued to read about a fellow member "Francis E. Owens" of the 381st being a hero. I wondered if you could send me any historical data that could assist me in possibly dedicating our new learning center in Sergeant Owens name. The package process is a lengthy one and the more facts I can get, the better we can tell his story.
I pointed out that the original article (click here for details) was written by Warren Carah whose father was co-pilot of B-17 42-29928 when he and Owens were shot down over France in July 1943. It was Warren's story that inspired me in 2008 to visit the Port del Rat on the French/Andorran border where Sgt Owens and two other USAAF evaders died of exposure in their attempt to cross the Pyrenees. I sent S/Sgt Epperson some more information about Sgt Owens, including links to the MIS-X reports of the survivors from that party. I also copied my reply to Warren who sent Sgt Epperson further details of Owens' heroic actions in the aircraft before it crashed.
Update : On 9 March 2012, the 381st Training Group, based at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, dedicated a new Student Center building in honor of S/Sgt Francis E "Bud" Owens.

6 April 2011 : I received the following enquiry from Richard in Vancouver about F/Lt John Symington
I have just discovered your website and I have some information on one of the people listed : 3327 3061(-) F/Lt John W Symington - 148 Sqn Halifax - FTR SOE mission Aug 44 - sheltered by Polish partisans until liberated.
His plane was shot down while trying to deliver supplies to the Home Army during the Warsaw Uprising. The other crew members were captured by the Nazis, but he managed to evade them. He stayed with my grandparents for four months. Their names were Tadeusz and Maria (Wielopolska) Halpert-Scanderbeg. They owned an estate called Jeleniec near the town of Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski. If there is any way to contact the family and hear if they have any stories of this time I would be happy to be given this information. Regards Richard Halpert-Scanderbeg
Richard also attached reminisces from his grandfather about John Symington's stay with them. I was able to send Richard a copy of Symington's MI9 report and (thanks to John C) an address for Symington's son in Leicester.
Thank you very much for the information. I will try to contact the family. Of course I have no objection to your posting my information on your feedback page. There are quite a lot of people in Ostrowiec who are curious about what happened to the British airman. If you come across any more information about Lt Symington please let me know. Likewise I will send you whatever comes my way. I've attached the certificate of gratitude that my grandparents received from the British Government for sheltering one of its citizens.

10 March 2011 : I received the following from Charlotte James about Chester Williams
Re: Zane Kirk writing about his father F/Sgt Aubrey Charles Kirk on 28 May 2010 (see below)
The Chester (first name) Williams (surname) that you [Zane] initially described who was captured in North Africa and escaped POW camp to work for the French resistance and wore a monocle was I think my grandfather's (Major Grosvenor Williams) brother. I am pleased to hear that Chester was able to help people like your father escape France via his work with the resistance, but sorry to hear that your father did not particularly get on with him.
Chester was first captured in April 1941 and by 1944 when your father met him he had in fact been in many POW camps - he escaped four times and like many people during that time had seen rather too many of his friends die. Therefore, during his time in the resistance perhaps he did not come across quite as our family knew him.
I have inherited his alias identity papers (in which he wears his monocle), POW memoirs and a number of photos from this time but not yet taken the opportunity to research his experiences during the war outside of this family archive. In fact I was only prompted to google his name + POW association this morning because a stranger I met on a plane last night encouraged me to find out more and tell Chester's story. I would be very interested to find out more about Chester's time in either in POW camps or the resistance from people who knew him and thank you in advance for your interest in helping me fill in some of the gaps.
I am not sure how to correspond on this forum (sic) with Mr Kirk so please could you clarify do I need to check back on the forum for posts, or would you share my email address with Mr Kirk directly? Many thanks for your assistance in helping us make these links. Best wishes, Charlotte James.
I explained to Charlotte this was not a forum but that I would pass on her comments to Zane on her behalf, which I did and with her permission, gave Zane her email address. He replied :
Hi Keith, I was very grateful for the email, it was certainly a surprise. You never know who's out there searching for things. Again, I appreciate your help. The book is still coming along. I am in regular touch with Danny Dunbar and Kevin & Ben Norris whose fathers were with Dad in the maquis. Danny sent me some of his father's scribblings which made for interesting reading and provided some very useful background information concerning his and Ben Norris's escape after their crash landing. I am also still in touch with Kate Beaumont whose grandfather swapped identities with Chester Williams. I still have some research in France and the UK to finish off so at this stage I am planning to be over there at the end of the year at the latest. Thanks again for your help and forwarding on the new information. I really appreciate what people like you are doing for people like me. It makes life so much easier. Regards Zane

2 March 2011 : I received this from Esther Payne about her grandfather Pte James Smith
Hi Keith, My grandfather was James Smith. I wanted to get in touch with you as my brother and myself are still very curious about this time. My father discovered your website fairly recently and he felt that James' story should be expanded upon. I do know that he'd kept quiet after the war because of some of the people in his cell had fraternised with the Nazis as part of operations. After the war he'd still kept in touch with some of his French compatriots. I've also spoken to the son of one of my Grandfathers compatriots in Buckie and know that he'd suffered and had not recovered, for years he had not apparently taken off his shirt after football practice or after a match (during his time as a referee) because of the blowtorch burns he'd suffered as a result of his capture and interrogation.
My brother and I are extremely curious about this time, as we feel that we'd understand a lot more about our family. I feel his story should be expanded on. We are proud of what he did as a hero.
Esther an I then exchanged several emails and the following is an edited version of our correspondence
Talking to an Italian friend of mine about my grandfather he recalled a similar story from his family with the after effects of the war. His relations had fought in the resistance in northern Italy/Yugoslavia area and we compared stories. We'd both heard stories about disrupted sleep, acting out dreams that recalled missions. My grandfather at one point didn't sleep in the bed with my grandmother as he'd woken up one night with his hands round her throat. Which may well be another reason why my grandmother had not wanted his past dug into. My friend had a similar story about his relations. I do wonder how often this happened within families after the war. I remember speaking about a decade ago to co-worker in IT when I worked at Conoco called Ken Coutts, his father knew my grandfather quite well.
I had heard that in life my grandfather was a surprisingly charming man with the gift of the gab. Reading the Gardiners feedback (see 11 April 2010 below) I also recall a tale about the French family Dortmound who after the war came for a visit. Other stories after the war told about the fact that my grandfather kept his distance after the football and never took his shirt off. Later the blowtorch burns healed a bit better after he'd got bad sunburn on his back on holiday in France. I know he was a devoted father to his daughter, and had issues with his son.
I remember one tale about after the war, on my grandmothers honeymoon they stayed in a hotel in Paris, which turned out to be a brothel (one way to get the airmen out) but my grandmother didn't realise until later.
My father has heard the story of how he'd escaped the prisoner column and hid in France for a while. It was an imprisoned professor (at Fresnes) who taught him to speak French like a Frenchman. You should also get my father to tell you about the medals as I believe they've put the wrong name on them.
James was a very intelligent and brave man. I got the impression that he'd gone a bit native and (when he was arrested) was scared he'd be shot and killed as a spy. I think he was a hard act to follow and in terms of his immediate family rather difficult for them to understand and empathise with. I suspect the affects of what happened to him affected the mental health of not just him but his family. I'm proud that he did what he did, but I also feel that it must have been rather hard for my grandmother and my uncle on occasion.
I do feel his story should be told. So much about him and others are already being lost as the people who were involved in the war pass on.
Click here to read more about James Smith on the Couriers page of the Conscript Heroes website

28 February 2011 : I received this request from Oren Robison in Canada about Sgt Alvin C Turner RCAF
Dear Sir, I publish a monthly local history/nostalgia magazine [The Nipawin Bridge] at Nipawin, Saskatchewan, Canada. I would appreciate receiving any details available about the escape of Sgt Alvin Clinton Turner after his aircraft was shot down in March 1943. He is referenced on your site as 3313 1273(-). Mr Turner was raised at Codette, SK, six miles from Nipawin. After the war he was frequently asked to describe his escape ordeal/adventure, especially to fellow war veterans at Legion gatherings. He did so, but no transcripts or other records have been found by his family or others. Unfortunately Mr Turner passed away in 1958 at age 39; his wife also died at a young age and their only daughter died in February 2011, at age 54. Each November [Nov 11 is Remembrance Day in Canada] we devote most or all of our magazine to stories/photos meant to honor our military service people. It's my hope that Mr Turner's escape story may yet be told. His daughter had tried to help me locate info, but found no diary/memoirs/ speech notes etc. and because she was just two years old when her father died, she never heard him tell his story. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Oren Robison Editor/publisher, The Nipawin Bridge magazine, Nipawin, SK, Canada
Hello Oren, Unfortunately I don't have a copy of Sgt Turner's escape report. I know when he was shot down and I know he was brought out of France by the Bourgogne organisation but I don't have the details from official sources. However, I can give you the next best thing - actually it's probably better. Sgt Turner is mentioned in detail in Oliver Clutton-Brock's excellent book 'RAF Evaders'. Oliver happens to be a friend with whom I share a lot of information and whose research I trust. I have attached the relevant extract (with the author's kind permission) for your interest. I hope this is what you wanted for your readers in Nipawin.
I have now stumbled upon a photo of RAF Flt/Sgt J Couper, who died in the crash of 646. Accompanying info shows his crewmates to include Sgt A Turner and F/Sgt D Scowen, both of the RCAF. It noted Turner was an "evader" while Scowen became a PoW. This opens up another fascinating possibility: Alvin Turner was from Codette, a village 6 miles from Nipawin. A Nipawin RCAF member who became a PoW and endured the forced marches near war's end was Don Scowen. Could they have been crewmates? Scowen wrote letters home from PoW camp, but I've never previously encountered any hint that he and Turner may have been aboard the same aircraft! I also Googled Oliver Clutton-Brock and see that he has a book about all the PoWs. If you would pass this tidbit on to him I'd be grateful, for that and for any verification that the two "Nipawinners" were crewmates. Must confess that at the moment I'm in a euphoric state over info received already. Please express my thanks to Oliver as well. Best, Oren
Both Oliver and I were able to confirm to Oren that F/Sgt Couper and F/Sgt Scouwen were indeed crewmates of Sgt Turner when Halifax DT646 was lost the night of 5/6 March 1943.

19 February 2011 : I received this request for information about Denis Abrams RAF
Dear Sir. I recently found your website, which will probably take me months to take in, the detail and depth of information is quite incredible. I wonder if anyone can assist with information on an RAF airman escapee; I can't promise to give anything back as I haven't got much to give. However if I can, I will. Information - absolutely anything - would be appreciated on (and apologies for the total lack of detail, I have none I can confirm other than his story as related to me in 2007 shortly before his death aged 90):
Denis Abrams, joined the RAF c.1938 (under-aged!) as an AC1. Transferred to aircrew as Air Observer and flew with 50 Squadron probably as a sergeant. Aircrew at Lindholme, Swinderby/Waddington then Skellingthorpe on Hamdens. Believe shot down in a Hampden (possibly 1940/41 but an educated guess) and spent some 11 months in 'Europe' believed returned via Spain. Denis joined a Tempsford Squadron (again do not know which) on his return (now as Aircrew Officer, Navigator) and survived the war. He was awarded the DFC - again I do not know what action this was for, or when and perhaps more significantly, the Croix De Guerre which I believe to be of French issue but again can't be sure. The Croix also has an additional Bronze Palm Leaf. If I can get ANY information on Denis Abrams I may be able to expand a little on what I do know. To explain further, his surviving family know virtually nothing of what he did in the war as he was very secretive and I have no wish to intrude as his passing is still recent.
In 2007 Denis and I met and he told me his sadly brief but incredible story. Incredible to me that is until now as through reading your pages it is plain that many, many other 'ordinary' people performed 'extraordinary' acts of selfless courage on a daily basis. Checks of various lists and web sites fail to turn up any trace of Denis DFC Croix, as if he had never existed. In addition, his obituary on the 50 and 61 Squadron Association (of which Denis was a founding member and leading light) website 'Veterans Album' tells a story slightly different to mine regarding his escape which is why I'm reticent to describe it in case it's ME that has got it wrong! I would appreciate any help however small it may seem.
I checked my records and found no trace of a Denis Abrams (or Abrahams) and nor could anyone else that I asked.
Thanks very much for your response and time spent in looking. The problem here - and it's a big one - is that I have absolutely no detail at all to fall back on. I may also be guilty of commiting the ultimate sin of making assumptions and guesses. Any dates I have mentioned are my guess as Denis did not state any such detail. Indeed if you check on the 50 and 61 Squadrons Association website http://50-61squadron.com in the veterans album in Denis's obituary the story is that Denis was already on a Tempsford squadron when he evaded.
It may help to put my meetings with Denis in some brief perspective. I was 'researching' the history, specifically of RAF Skellingthorpe. I chanced to meet Denis at the 50 and 61 Squadron Memorial Rooms in Birchwood, Lincoln around 2007 and it was while asking about RAF Skellingthorpe's physical layout and genesis at the time Denis was stationed there that he told me of his evasion. I was not expecting anything like this and was quite taken aback. I also made NO notes of the conversation and my intention was to ask him 'later' to confirm the story but time got the better of both of us I'm afraid. He was in any case reluctant to talk further about this subject as it was obviously a great emotional strain. I believe his family also knew very little of these events at the time of his death, although they may have a better idea now, I can't say. I do not really feel I can ask them however as I don't want to cause distress. What I'm saying is that I believe in the events implicitly (the evasion) but now worry that I have misinterpreted the timescale and some of the events before and after the evasion.  This is why I'm really just asking if anybody knows of Denis's evasion - or even of him - so I can set the record straight. Just to muddy the waters further, I'm told today that the CdG Denis won is a Belgian CdG. There's a picture of the medal on the squadron's website.

17 February 2011 : Terry Denham from the 'In From the Cold Project' emailed about AC1 Jacob Gewelber
I see that ACI Jacob GEWELBER 33 Sqdn RAF is listed on your website as an escaper. I am seeking information on this man as part of our researches into men missing from the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. See www.infromthecold.org. I have a copy of this man's death certificate which says that he died on 31.05.41 in Crete. From your records it seems that this may not be so! Have you any further details on this man?
I was able to confirm that 775137 AC1 Gewelber not only survived after being captured on Crete (he was RAF ground crew at Maleme airfield) he went on to escape from Stalag Luft VI (Heydekrug) to Sweden in April 1944. According to his MI9 report, before he was sent to Germany in September, Gewelber, who was a Polish Jew, gave his name as Gilbert and claimed to come from Wales. Terry then sent me a copy of Gewelber's death certificate, issued as a true copy from the Air Force War Records of Death, which confirmed his name and service number.
I will be taking this 'possible' off our list now as Gewelber obviously survived. Your website is very useful. I only found it today but it is now bookmarked. Most of our cases come from WW1 but we have had a surprising number from WW2. We now have had over a thousand names accepted – men and women who previously were forgotten. We are now a 'Partner Organisation' of CWGC and MoD has given us a substantial grant to purchase the official documents we need for our work.

1 February 2011 : Barry Love wrote from Suffolk asking about his grandfather, Sgt J P Love RAF
Just found your Conscript Heroes website whilst digging into my Grandfather's Bomber Crash/Evasion story - most impressive, indeed - a real eye-opener into a world that has been (for me) something of family folklore!
I wonder if you might be able to help me with my research, with copies of MI9 reports, if possible? In particular, numbers: 3309 795 – MI9 Report, Sgt John Beecroft, Operation Bluebottle and 3309 796 – MI9 Report, Sgt Henry Hanwell, Operation Bluebottle.
These would hopefully help clarify details of their evasion exploits from their departure from Switzerland back through France, to the pick-up off Lyon by submarine (Hanwell's daughter is also most intrigued - she wasn't aware that such reports existed, and would like to "wrap-up" that aspect of her father's story).
My Grandfather (Sgt J P Love, Observer) has written a full account of his life in the RAF 101 Sq before and after the crash-landing, detailing their 'walk' to Switzerland, the crossing by Beecroft & Hanwell, the sad drowning of radio-op' Sgt S Bradley as he attempted to cross the river, and the subsequent capture of my Grandfather and the tail-gunner, Sgt Alec Crighton, but it ended with his repatriation to England at the end of the war. (I wonder - would there also be MI9 Reports from their debriefing? If so, could you please point me in the right direction for them?).
What he didn't know (until I started researching for Squadron/Aircraft facts & figures in 1990, when he wrote the story) was that Beecroft & Hanwell had in fact survived the war (they became instructors upon return to England), and even better, were still alive in 1990! It took some serious digging into other archives and then telephone directories, but I traced them, and we organised a reunion (covered by Anglia TV News, a copy of which is available).
I asked the gentlemen if they would be kind enough to write their continuation story to add to my Grandfather's story, they generously obliged ... and a short while after, I passed the MSS to Grandfather for approval, only for it to be mislaid, believed lost altogether! Finally, after much uprooting, I have uncovered it, and I am in the process of transcribing his hand-written work, ready for publication (I hope!).
Sadly, Henry Hanwell passed away, in 1993 I believe, and my Grandfather also in 1997 (hence the disappearance); I have yet to ascertain whether John Beecroft is still with us (I doubt it now - he was stooped and frail when we met, he was about 70yrs old then), but as I now have his address, I will write to see.
Any assistance that you may be able to offer with reports (for corroboration), facts, etc, would be most appreciated, and obviously acknowledged in publication if it progresses that far. Many thanks, Barry Love, Suffolk.
I was able to tell Barry that from Switzerland, Beecroft and Hanwell had been taken back into France by the Pat Line along with Lt Anthony Deane-Drummond. They and others were later evacuated from St Pierre Plage by the Q-Ship HMS Tarana on Operation Bluebottle and that there was an article about that operation on the website. I also sent Barry copies of the reports he asked for together with my notes about Beecroft and Hanwell's evasion.
Wow! That's what I call a swift response - and with so much info! I'm absolutely bowled over, Keith - very many thanks indeed.

30 January 2011 : Ranald Donaldson emailed from Canada about his father Cpl James Sprott Donaldson
I came across your web site this evening. My father was named James Sprott Donaldson. This name is contained in your list of escapers from prisoner of war camps in World War II. My father was born in Baillieston, Scotland on May 26, 1920. He died in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, on April 10, 1989. He was captured in North Africa in 1941 by Rommel's Afrika Korps. At that time he was a member of the Highland Light Infantry, part of the British 8th Army. He was sent to a prison camp in Italy. I do not know the name of the camp. I only know the name of one other person who was in the same camp, Winston Snow, from Newfoundland. Mr Snow died about 3 years ago. My father subsequently re-enlisted on his return to the U.K., and joined the Parachute Regiment, serving with both the 1st and 9th Battalions in France and Germany from 1943 to 1945. He demobilized in 1946, with the rank of Sergeant. He then joined the Wiltshire Constabulary. He emigrated to Canada in 1949.
You mention on your site that you sometimes have more information about the individuals listed therein. Do you have any further information on my father?
I was able to send Ranald details of his father's capture at Fuka in June 1942 and his subsequent incarceration at PG65 (Gravina) then Aquila and finally PG70 at Monte Urano. Following the Italian armistice on 10 September 1943, the British SBO Major Parkes informed the prisoners that anyone attempting to leave the camp would be classed as a deserter. This added further complications but didn't stop whole groups of men (some of whom were Commandos) from escaping. On 16 September Cpl Donaldson and two other men bribed an Italian truck driver to get them past the British guards and take them to Fermo. Cpl Donaldson later met up with an SAS team who arranged his evacuation by MTB from Cupra Marittima to Termoli on 24 October.
Thank you for your exceedingly prompt reply to my query. The detailed information that you have provided about my father's escape has heretofore been completely unknown to me. I am very grateful for this information, and will be able to share it with my 5 younger brothers and sisters. My father had not previously discussed the precise details of his escape with any of us in any great detail. As an aside, my father learned to speak Italian while in the camp. There were many people of Italian descent in Nanaimo, B.C., where we lived as children, and my father conversed with them fluently in Italian. (Evidently their only complaint was that he spoke Italian with a Scots accent).
The only thing I know about Mr Winston Snow is that he was from Newfoundland. Prior to 1949 (when Newfoundland joined Canada as its 10th province), Newfoundland was a British territory. Accordingly, Mr Snow was in the Royal Navy, rather than the Royal Canadian Navy. He and my father met in the prison camp. They never met in person again after the war. My father was at a Royal Canadian Legion convention in the 1980s in Ottawa, when someone asked him about his war service. He mentioned his time in the Italian prison camp, and that there were a number of men from Newfoundland also in the camp. My father mentioned the surname "Snow" and the person to whom he was speaking said that he knew a Mr Winston Snow who lived in Newfoundland who had been in an Italian prison camp. This other person (name unknown to me) evidently gave Mr Winston Snow my father's address (in Nanaimo, B.C.), and I believe that they corresponded by mail. I shall ask my mother, now 90, if she knows whether any correspondence remains. Again, my sincere thanks to you for providing this information. It opens a new window into my father's war service, prison camp sojourn, and eventual escape.  

23 January 2011 : Stéphane Oniszczyk contacted me from France about events in Fillièvres, Pas-de-Calais
I am writing to you after discovering your conscript-heroes website. I live in Fillièvres, a small village in Northern France. During the WWar II, our area was intensively bombed because there were six V1 launching sites around! Several American, British and German aircraft crashed in this region. We have formed an Historical Association to narrate these facts of war. We try to write about all the crashes and also the stories of airmen who were sheltered by French Patriots in our small village before they tried to evade. We ask many questions of the older men and women to preserve the memory. We distribute freely to our population the studies which are documented with photographs from this period.
Whilst preparing this story we found details of Patriot's action in stories written by Mr René Guittard of Frévent (a town near our village). In your site (http://www.conscript-heroes.com/ResistanceTernoisINTRO.html) Mr Guittard has written an excellent study of different actions of “Bordeaux-Loupiac” and “BOA”.
After passing on some details not included in the article, I suggested to Stéphane that he contact French researchers René Lesage and Hugues Chevalier (author of 'Crashs sur le Pas-de-Calais') for more details of aircraft and crews lost in his area. I also suggested posting his message here in the hope that other readers might be able to contribute ...

18 January 2011 : Kenny Spittal wrote asking about his uncle P/O William S Spittal
Dear Sir, I'm trying to find information on my uncle (on behalf of my father, his brother) and on your web site came across my uncle's details listed under ref No 3312-1151 P/O William S Spittal FTR Orleans Feb 43. Pyrenees Mar 43 to Irun and San Sebastian. Also on the same flight was his pal 3312-1161 Sgt Charles Hodgson. This is the only information I can find on the wwweb. Do you have any suggestion as to where I can start looking?
I have in my possession a small compass which I believe came from his tunic button and would like to know more about his RAF service. Thanking you in anticipation. Kind regards, Kenny Spittal
Hello Kenny. You can get more details about their evasion from their MI9 reports. Go in person or use the website for the National Archives at Kew. From my website you can see the file numbers are WO208/3312/1151 and 1162. The story is told in your uncle's very detailed report so you don't actually need Hodgson's. I think the button compass was standard issue from MI9 by that time. I have no information on either man's service career but you could try looking up their Squadron on the internet and starting there. As a relative you may also be able to acquire your uncle's service record from the RAF Management Agency at Innsworth in Gloucester.
Many thanks for the prompt reply. As I stay in Helensburgh, Scotland it's a long way to go to Kew! Therefore I've had a look at their web site but I'm unable to access the report, maybe there's something I'm doing wrong. Are you able to look at the file or do I need to order it from National Archives? Your help is appreciated.
It seems that the NA haven't digitalised that folder yet and so I sent Kenny some rather poor photographs of his uncle's report (it really is a good story) and suggested he email the NA direct if he wanted official copies.
Hi Keith. I printed off the report and handed it into my father and read it to him today (21 Jan). He was amazed to say the least and it stirred his memories about other facts he had forgotten. Bill and Hodgy's journey through France was mainly on foot from farm to farm in a near direct line south until he got to Spain. He was a country boy and farming was in his blood so maybe that helped a lot and the fact that my father said he was always practicing his French (must have known he was going to need it) This was his 64th sortie, and according to my dad the reason he lasted so long before being hit was he usually flew in Halifaxes doing the pathfinding job and dropping flares as he was good at navigating. First in and first out before the flak started!
My father really appreciated it as Bill was his big brother and they were very close. Five boys and two girls in the family. When he was missing a gypsy lady told his mother not to worry, that Big Wullie was alive and on his way home, just give him time. Apparently he was arrested when he arrived back in the UK as the intelligence people didn't believe his story. They thought he was an imposter and it took time to identify him. Anyway, thanks again.

13 December 2010 : John Gale wrote about Sgt John Stickles RCAF
Just a note to say thank you for this site and the information you maintain. My good friend John Stickles passed away last week and in reviewing his documents I found the RCAF telegrams to his parents regarding the loss of the 9 Squadron Wellington he was in as 2nd pilot and flown by S/L H E Bufton that went down in France on 27 August 1941. It was rewarding to find more of the details when I discovered your site through my searching. John went on to spend the rest of the war in various POW camps but was also one of the key 'sandpipers' for the Great Escape gang, was involved with the movie launch, and met Queen Elizabeth by invitation in 1995 for the 50th anniversary of VE day. He is one of the POW characters in the new book (released last year) by Al Trotter about his RCAF career entitled 'Against All Odds' which includes recollections of Al's time in POW camps circa 1944.
Apparently, S/Ldr Harry Bufton had a great flying career and went on to receive the DFC in July of 1944.

10 Nov 2010 : Scott Frederick emailed from California asking about his father
Dear Sir, I found your website through the USEES site as I was looking for information about my father, 1st Lt. James S. Frederick Jr. and three other allied personnel who escaped capture in Normandy, France in July and August 1944. While I was able to find all four names on the various lists I was particularly interested in two Canadians, one a pilot and one in the airborne : Pte James R MacPherson 1st Canadian Paratroopers (IS9 8/53/99 and 2/94/193) and F/Lt George B Murray RCAF 401 Sqn Spitfire MJ246 (2/86/364). If there is any way of providing information about them I would greatly appreciate it. I don't know if you would be interested but I have attached the short version of my father's story. Sincerely, Scott Frederick.
Like Scott, I already had the MIS-X reports for his father (#1028) and the other American pilot 1/Lt S C Richard Reid (#1030) but I have very few IS9 reports. Fortunately my friend John H (to whom I also forwarded a copy of Scott's story) was able to supply us with the reports for both McPherson and Murray.
Scott replied direct to John :
Dear John, thank you so very much for responding so quickly and for the documents. Every little bit helps in trying to piece together my father's experience in France. The story was pieced together from his E&E report, a newspaper interview he gave after he returned to the States, Suzanne Schneider's notebook of which we have a copy, Bob Milliken who saved my father that day by shooting down the Fw190 that was attempting to strafe him in his parachute, the history of the 428th Fighter Squadron, "The Geyser Gang", as well as help from Gary Koch. Gary is the historian for the 474th Fighter Group and he has also located Murray's grandson. I was able to locate and talk to Richard Reid through the AFEES.
We knew little of my father's experience until April of this year when we (my brothers and sisters) received a deluge of information. I am now attempting to write the full story. Again, thank you.
Scott then sent me an updated version of the story entitled 'Daisy in the Sky' which I posted as an Article on this website. A couple of days later I received an email from Bob Milliken, the P-38 pilot in the story who chased away the Fw190 that was trying to shoot Frederick in his parachute. I guessed that he and Scott had been in contact but emailed Scott again to make sure.
Yes. Gary Koch, 474th FG Historian, gave me Bob's phone number back in June. I have talked to him several times, got a copy of his book "Swat", and sent him a copy of the notebook kept by Suzanne Schneider, the Frenchwoman who cared for my father.
Do you know Jean Claude Clouet in Montmerrei, France? He saw my father parachute down that day. Gary put me in touch with him also. Jean Claude identified for me most of the individuals named in Suzanne's notebook. Suzanne and my grandmother corresponded for years after the war. Suzanne was also instrumental in finding Robert Rubel's (my father's wingman on 6 July 1944) remains after they were disinterred from the Montmerrei Cemetery and had them relocated to Normandy next to Robert's best friend and P-51 pilot Dean Hill.
Attached is Suzanne's notebook that I retyped and is annotated with Jean Claude's identification of people. All of this information was discovered since late last April of this year.
When my grandmother Frederick passed away she left a box of letters to my aunt who in turn left them to my cousin after she passed. My cousin Judy kept those letters and Suzanne's notebook stashed away on a shelf knowing very little about them. Then we first heard from Gary Koch, which launched us on this incredible journey of discovery, and on sharing our results with family members my cousin remembered the box. And yes, this [Suzanne's notebook] is a piece of history that helped to tell the whole story from every participant. I have a couple of newspaper articles featuring my dad that, of course, left out so many details that Suzanne's notebook filled in. Apparently, my father gave Suzanne his address in California as well as Robert Rubel's mother and they corresponded long after the war. Conditions must have been horrible in France for many years for, in many letters received from Suzanne, she thanked my grandmother for the numerous care packages she sent.
My father unfortunately, never made it back to France. I was able to find Robert Rubel's brother John who lives in New Mexico. He was able to take his mother to France to visit Robert's grave site in the early 60s. Suzanne was so very distressed when Robert's remains were disinterred from Montmerrei and then seemingly misplaced for she had told Mrs. Rubel where Robert's remains were.
Anyway, yes you have my permission to put an edited version of our exchanges on your website - the E&E reports leave out so much.
Please note that although Scott very kindly sent me a copy of Suzanne Schneider's notebook, it is such an intensely personal and poignant document that I have no intention of publishing it.

12 November 2010 : Joseph Hantson wrote asking about his father
Thanks to a random google search on my name 'Joseph Hantson' I was led to your breathtaking website. Not once had I taken a second thought about my grandfather's exploits in WWII, as he dismissed them without a blink of the eye when questioned (probably protecting his family). It now transpires that he was more than a foot soldier (I am not being dismissive) in an enduring war.
As a result of your reference to my grandfather, Joseph Hantson (Belgian Terrorist), I have found he has a file at the National Archives office - is this common for a Belgian Officer? His file is intriguing yet incomplete. It refers to his compatibility for active service on behalf of the British Services, yet notes concerns. It also refers to a 'past'.
You make reference to 'Brome' which is something I am not not familiar with or have been able to find information about. Are you able to give me access to more information? Are you able to point me in the right direction to find more?
To know more about a proud man who loved his family and his adopted country beyond compare would start to make my father, his brother and the rest of our family understand why we have been given such a wonderful heritage to celebrate.
I explained to Joe that Brome referred to Vincent Brome and his book 'The Way Back' and also asked him for more details of his father's file at the National Archives.

4 November 2010 : Andrew Porrelli sent this message from Australia
My name is Andrew Porrelli and I am compelled to write to you today after stumbling across your web site. I have long held a deep feeling of wonderment of the actions of the French resistance and their actions in recovering the bodies of my grandfather (1594519 Sergeant John Porrelli - 514 Squadron Lancaster DS-816) After the War, my grandmother visited Crossiles British Cemetery, and whilst there the groundskeeper put her in contact with a lady who was connected to the resistance who had had direct involvement with the recovery and subsequent funeral. It amazes me that a town under the oppression of the Nazis would risk their safety to undertake such a compassionate act. My grandmother was then given photographs of the funeral procession, the burial plot (covered with flowers) and the whole town turned out to pay their respects. I have not the words to express my deepest respect for these incredible people who risked their lives in order to show respect to my grandfather and the other airmen. As if that was not enough, they continue to this day in maintaining the cemetery and the graves of our beloved fallen heroes.
The photos that we possess because of those brave people are amongst my most treasured possessions - I will forever hold this little town in France and its people close to my Heart, and please know that on every remembrance day and ANZAC day my thoughts of deepest admiration are with them.
Most faithfully yours, Andrew Porrelli, Lest We Forget

14 June 2010 : Juan Perales wrote from Palma de Mallorca about Sgt Claude Samuel Hunt
Near our familiar grave on Palma de Mallorca (Mallorca Island) Spain, there is an old and lonely grave of RAF Sgt Claude Samuel Hunt, died April 30 1941. Looking for more information about him, I read in your web page that a Vickers Wellington (W5652) landed on Formentera island in April 1941, and five of the crew were interned in Spain.
Do you know if Claude Samuel Hunt was a member of the crew of W5652?
Sgt Hunt was a member of the crew of 3 Group Training Flight Wellington W5652 which ran out of fuel on its way to the Middle East and crash-landed on Formentura 24 April 1941. The six-man crew were interned and Sgt Hunt's death is described as having been the result of a fall at Palma. I understand he is buried at Palma Municipal Cemetery.
Many thanks for your information. I was intrigued because in the grave was written "C.S. Hunt, RAF, 30 abril 1941". The lonely grave was close to other Spanish soldiers died in our Civil War (1936-1939) and in Russia fighting for German Army in WWII. I didn't know why a British soldier was buried in Palma cemetery, very far from his home. Searching in internet, I found Claude Samuel Hunt was a RAF sergeant died in WWII, but nothing else.
Yesterday, reading some posts about allied airplanes landed or crashed in Spain during WWII, I read about a Vickers Wellington W5652 landed in Formentera Island in April 1941. I don't know why, I remembered the grave of Sgt Hunt. So, searching again, I found your page about a crew of 5 people of W5652 interned in Spain in 1941. But I knew the crew of a Vickers Wellington was 6! Perhaps my idea was true!
I don't know if Sgt Hunt was British or perhaps Canadian.
The grave of Claude Samuel Hunt is no longer in Palma Municipal Cemetery. After 69 years, it was removed because nobody claimed it, and the body of Sgt Hunt probably was buried in a communitary grave. But he rested for a long time close to other soldiers, and now we are remembering him.
According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Sgt Hunt was from Norwich in England. Actually RAFVR - Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve – 755763 Sgt Claude Samuel Hunt was a civilian volunteer to the RAF. He was 23 years old when he died. Further research by John C reveals that although his father came from Norfolk, Claude was probably born in Brantford, Ontario. Claude Samuel was about three years old when his father Claude Frederick Hunt brought him back to Norfolk where he grew up with his paternal grand-mother Annie Vardigans.

28 May 2010 : Zane Kirk wrote from New Zealand about his father F/Sgt Aubrey Charles Kirk (2420)
Firstly I would like to thank you for posting the escape and evasion lists. They are brilliant and may have solved a longstanding problem for me as I gather information for a book I am writing about my father, Flight Sergeant Aubrey Charles Kirk who was shot down over France in July 1944. He was aided by members of the resistance, most notably a man called Maurice Schwartz who lived in Custines and was part of an escape line operating in the Toul - Pont-a-Mousson area. My father was taken to Maquis 15 which operated in the hills between Rigny St. Martin and Blenod-les-Toul. He was there until the area was liberated by the US 4th Armoured Division.
Also in the maquis were his Flight Engineer, Bill (William) Hyde (2375) and two American airmen who he named as Ben and Dan. He could not recall their surnames which was a pity. He said they had walked out of Germany after their B-17 crash landed. Having stumbled across your website I was delighted to see the names of Sergeant Benjamin R. Norris and Sergeant Daniel E. Dunbar (#1503 and #1504) who failed to return from a mission on 28 May, 1944. Better still, it was noted that they crash landed in Germany. Are these the airmen my father and Bill Hyde befriended in the maquis? I think there is a strong possibility they are.
What I am hoping you can tell me is whether you know if the MIS-X escape reports are available to the public and where or who I would approach about the matter? The contents of these reports could answer a lot of questions. Unfortunately, Dad and Bill's MI9 reports did not make mention of either Dan or Ben. I have made contact with the US Escape & Evasion Society and written to the 305th BG Association making enquiries but I need to explore all avenues. I have also, without luck, tried to find a Captain Chester Williams who was second in command in the maquis. I believe he was Indian Army. He was captured in North Africa and escaped from a prison camp in Germany before making his way into France and joining Maquis 15. He spoke fluent French and was an ideal interpreter between the French and allied evaders in the maquis. Some French sources call him Cpt. Chester, but dad always knew him as Cpt. Williams, alias Emile Dubois.
It's a strong possibility that Dan and Ben are Norris and Dunbar - they were interviewed by IS9 the same day that your dad was flown back from Paris and everything else seems to fit rather nicely. MIS-X reports are available to the public and the best way to get them (short of going to NARA in Maryland yourself) is to hire a researcher to copy them for you. I think #1503 and #1504 are combined so that should help keep the costs down.
Thanks for the prompt reply. Your news is very exciting. I also received a copy of the email from Edouard Reniere in Belgium whom I will contact directly as well. You have been a tremendous help already. I sent a letter to a Daniel T. Dunbar in Georgia who I suspect may be related to Daniel E. as they both had addresses in Tucker, Georgia. We shall wait and see.
Maurice Schwartz was the manager of a mine in Marbache and while tied up with the resistance was not in the maquis. He was a link in the escape line that also included a vet in Toul named Gregorie who housed Dad, Bill and Captain Williams. A friend in France whose mother lived in Millery (where four of Dad's crew are buried) and raised money for flowers to put on the graves, has been a great help in my investigtions. He found a little shop in Frouard where Dad was also housed, and when my brother, sister and I were in Pont-a-Mousson last year he introduced us to Mm. Francois who was twelve years old when Dad stayed in her family's home. Her father was Charles Francois, chief of resistance in the Pont-a-Mousson sector. He was a solicitor by trade. Anything else I can find out about him would be useful.
I have contact with his (Maurice Schwartz) son who was 5 at the time and remembers little, but remembers his uncle, a man named Hugot who helped Maurice and spent time with maquis members. Dad always spoke of a man he called Ugo, who we are sure is actually Hugot. His first name was Andree (sic). He gave a statement to an RAF inquiry unit after the war detailing the crash. He said he'd very much like to get in touch with Dad so no doubt it is the Ugo Dad spoke so highly of.
The leader of Maquis 15 was a man named Ledur Gaetan (alias Gerin). Fernand Nedelec is still alive and has spoken to my friend, Gerard. I hope to meet him later in the year or early next year. He is apparently in fine health.
Captain Williams is a man I'd like to find out more about. My father didn't get on particularly well with him so never got to learn much about his history other than that he had escaped from Germany after capture in North Africa, spoke fluent French, and was 2IC in the maquis. In Dad's MI9 report he states that he and Captain Williams were taken to a US headquarters after meeting the Americans following a battle with Tiger tanks in Blenod-les-Toul on September 1, 1944. He never mentioned this to me but rather it was he, Dan and Ben who were picked up. They travelled back to Paris with German POWs before flying home to England.
I am sending away for a MACR (Missing Air Crew Report) about 42-39878. Any chance that anyone out there would know the pilot's name and fate of the rest of the crew?
I was able to send Zane a copy of the crew list taken from the MACR but not the MACR itself. I also passed on the following information from John C here in England :
Ancestry.co.uk has Captain Chester-Williams Indian Army 33783 Stalag 344 Lambinowice (Lamsdorf) Exchanged identity with Beaumont A.F. Sgm 2335104 R Sigs. Maybe he changed identity in order to go out on a work party and escape. Couple of deaths for Chester-Williams in UK : Frank F. in 1961 and Trevor Llewellyn in 1987. Trevor L. was from Plymouth. The London Times Archive has a Mr Chester-Williams writing the odd letter to the paper with a London address.
It may not seem much on Captain Chester-Williams but it is far more than I ever discovered. If Chester-Williams is his surname that would explain why Dad and Bill referred to him as Williams and some of the French maquis members called him Captain Chester. I assumed Chester was his Christian name. Fernand Nedelec, former Maquis 15 member still living in Nancy called him Captain Chester in his memoirs. Dad remembered the captain turning up one day wearing a monocle which caused much amusement among the French contingent in the maquis. M. Nedelec confirmed to my friend Gerard Lebel that the captain did indeed wear a monocle. Not that is either here nor there but could be a helpful clue when trying to find any surviving family who remember him.
Just to let you know I have made contact with Danny Dunbar in Georgia, USA. He is the son of Daniel E. Dunbar. His Dad died in 1997 from lung cancer but was still doing one arm push ups into his 70s! He sounded like a fine chap. Danny believes there is some correspondence which his father received from people in France who helped him during the war so is trying to dig it out. I think the B-17 Dan and Ben were waist gunners on was nicknamed War Eagle ~ #42-39878.If anyone out there has info on this 305BG, 365BS aircraft I'd love to hear about it. Danny said his father's aircraft crash landed 300 miles inside Germany after suffering engine trouble. He and Ben Norris were the only ones to evade capture, walking the 300 miles into France before being picked up by the Resistance. Dan Dunbar was part Cherokee and grew up with his cousins, learning to track and live off the land, which would explain how he and Ben Norris survived while the others were caught. They ate so many half rotten potatoes out of peoples gardens that Danny said his father never touched another potato for the rest of his life.
5 July 2010 : Zane added the following
I am in contact with Danny Dunbar and also Benjamin Norris's two sons, Kevin and Ben, and also Orval Busby whose father was the ball turret gunner aboard Dan and Ben's B-17. It is amazing what turns up when one starts digging. I have attached a couple of photos of Dan and Ben's B-17. They were taken by a member of the Hitler Youth who was helping manning a flak battery a short distance from where the aircraft came down. He was not involved in bringing the aircraft down, which crash landed following engine trouble, but was close enough to be able to walk to the crash site and help capture some of the crew, all officers who had stayed to destroy anything of value. Ben Norris says his father and Daniel Dunbar witnessed the capture of their comrades from a hiding place at the edge of the forest. It is remarkable that they managed to escape after being so close to German troops, and to walk 300 miles was incredible. From the photos you can see that one of the prop blades on the number three engine is undamaged, supporting the claim that the engine had stopped and was not turning when the aircraft hit the ground. Strange that it does not appear to have been feathered. There seems to be very little if any damage to the rest of the aircraft, so credit must go to 2nd Lt Julius Herrick for a textbook crash landing. Larry Busby says his father was interned in Stalag Luft IV and later was part of a forced march to Stalag Luft VIIA in Moosburg. I believe my father's navigator, Colin Greig, suffered a similar fate, being forced to march in atrocious conditions to Moosburg from another camp. Anyway, I hope you find the photos of War Eagle interesting. It helps paint a clearer a picture of the fate of at least one crew who failed to return. We now know for certain that 42-39878 was War Eagle. Apparently there was another B-17 (a B-17F) with 365 Squadron/305BG with the same nickname and that is the one that appears on the 305th Website, incorrectly named as 42-39878. Regards Zane

16 April 2010 : Benjamin Evans wrote from France about his grandmother Zoe Evans
I discovered your (conscript-heroes) site while searching for more information concerning my grandmother, Zoé Evans, née Caron. Her son, my father, H.G.J. Evans, died in 2004 and left some archives I am going to go through, but I am pretty sure that the oral history he transmitted me concerning his mother represents most of what can be known on her.
My grandmother was born in Norrent-Fontes (northern France), met and married George Evans. He was corporal or sergeant in the 10th (PWO) Royal Hussars dispatched from India (I don't know if the regiment kept the same name in France). The Indian troops having had many deaths due to influenza, it was decided to send them back to India in March-April 1916. My grandmother went to India by boat and gave birth to my father in 1917. They all came back to the Norrent-Fontes, Saint-Omer and Arras region in the mid twenties.
My grandfather worked until his death before WWII in the Imperial War Graves Commission. My father joined the British Army in 1939 and served in the Intelligence Corps. His mother, though a British citizen stayed in France.
She participated to what I know as "Le réseau Rail" (the railway Line) and ended captured by the Gestapo in what was called the "Mrs Evans's wagon" by La Voix du Nord, a local newspaper. She was interrogated by the Gestapo and condemned in the prison of Loos-les-Lille to 10 years or so of prison and was sent in a camp in Krefeld, Germany. She survived there several years and was liberated by the Allies in mai 45. That is why my Father was then allowed to come back from India where he was on service!
Grandmother died of the bad treatment she had endured, in the early fifties, before my birth in 1956. I remember giving a visit with my father to a fellow prisoner of my grandmother when I was 10. I had been really impressed with the way this woman said to my father "You know, mon petit, that if I am still alive, I owe it to your mother.”
I am looking for people who have been in touch with her in that period or help to find information on her activities. May I ask you if such a name reminds you something, and if you can give me a hint on how I could find something on Zoé Evans-Caron?
Sorry for the non-English terms but I haved lived in France since 1969 and only practice English from time to time!
Sincerely yours, Benjamin Evans
I couldn't help personally so I passed the enquiry on to my friend René Lesage at rene@histoirehautpays.com
Dear Keith. Je connais un peu l'histoire de Zoe Evans qui fut arrêtée le 22 février ou le 25 mars 1941 (il faut que je vérifie la date). Après avoir connu la prison de Loos, elle fut déportée en divers lieux de Belgique et d'Allemagne. Je vous joins ce que j'ai écrit sur l'organisation à laquelle elle a pu appartenir. C'était les débuts de la Résistance et il est évident que ces organisations étaient à l'époque assez floues. Je joins une photo, asez mauvaise, de Zoé alors qu'elle se trouvait en prison à Loos. Amitiés René
A Arras, se constitua assez rapidement un petit groupe, autour d'Arthur Richard, un Britannique, qui donna, semble-t-il, à cette petite organisation, l'appellation de "Coeur de Lion". Le réseau pouvait compter à Arras même sur Zoé Evans, épouse d'un Britannique, Berthe Fraser, Rosine Witton et Elisabeth Barba. Il se chargea de repérer les militaires hébergés dans l'Arrageois et le Ternois, multiplia les contacts, étendit sans cesse ses tentacules jusqu'aux groupes locaux qui se formaient de proche en proche, de "façon élastique", pour reprendre une expression du Docteur Poiteau de Bienvillers-au-Bois. La présence du réseau est attestée dans la région d'Arras, à Beaumetz-les-Loges, où Jules Gosse depuis juillet récupérait les Anglais; il est aidé par Barbier de Rivière et par Marguerite Caupain. Dans le canton de Pas-en-Artois, s'activait Eliane Méplaux, une mère de quatre enfants et dans les villages autour d'Hébuterne, elle rassemblait une quinzaine de familles. Ce réseau, tout informel, recrutait nombre de prêtres de paroisses rurales, comme l'abbé Louis Davault de Gouy-en-Artois, Jules Berthelot, curé d'Hauteville, F. Fauquembergues, curé de Croisette, au cœur du Ternois, aidé de la famille Beuvry, d'Héricourt, Edouard Régnier, curé de Conchy-sur-Canche; on faisait jouer les solidarités "professionnelles", les réseaux d'interconnaissance.
Deux ou trois filières semblent avoir fonctionné à partir d'Arras, et ce dès avant la fin de l'année 1940. Jules Gosse, de Beaumetz-les-Loges, selon des modalités qui restent à préciser, assura les premiers convoyages à partir de septembre ou d'octobre. Les Alliés étaient dirigés vers Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme et Port-le-Grand. La ligne de démarcation était franchie à Vierzon ou Plainpied et par la suite, on gagnait Marseille où l'on remettait les militaires au Consulat américain. On ne sait trop combien de convoyages furent ainsi effectués. Certains témoignages parlent d'un voyage hebdomadaire. Ce système fonctionna correctement jusqu'au début de l'année 1941. La pression allemande et les menaces se précisaient. L'abbé Davault fut alerté le 3 janvier 1941 par un émissaire de la Préfecture et il prit le large avec Jules Gosse, se refugiant pour quelques mois en zone non occupée: ils profitèrent de l'occasion pour prendre en charge trois Britanniques, mais leur itinéraire fut parsemé d'embûches. Leur passeur de Port-le-Grand venait d'être arrêté et ils gagnèrent Marseille après maintes péripéties. Nos deux hommes revinrent en Artois en juillet, mais Gosse fut bientôt arrêté. Par ailleurs, le groupe d'Hébuterne- Bienvilliers était décimé au début de 1941.
Est-ce à partir des difficultés de janvier que le réseau emprunta une filière animée par des cheminots? De nombreux indices signalent son existence, mais il nous est difficile d'en tracer l'organisation, tant il est vrai que la résistance des cheminots, pour effective qu'elle ait été, fut phénomène collectif, et malheureusement pour nous, au niveau de ses protagonistes, anonyme. Quoi qu'il en soit, l'arrestation de vingt-et-une personnes, survenue le 25 mars 1941 (ou le 22 février), à la gare d'Arras, montre que cette filière fonctionnait régulièrement. Elle était animée par Adèle-Zoé Evans. Les Britanniques étaient habillés en bleu de chauffe. Le réseau Richard Cœur de Lion en fut démantelé.
Zoé Evans fut internée à la prison de Loos. Le 12 septembre 1942, Zoé fit partie d'un convoi qui l'amenait en déportation. Elle connut les prisons de Bruxelles, d'Aix-la-Chapelle, de Munich, d'Anrath, de Gütersloh et enfin de Wiedenbrück d'où elle fut libérée le 15 avril 1945.
I passed René's information on to Benjamin and this was his reply to René
Je vous en remercie de tout coeur car c'est la première fois que je prends connaissance de ses activités de résistance via une source extérieure. Les résultat de vos recherches confirment ce que j'ai pu apprendre oralement de mon père. Dans ses archives figure une petite coupure de presse de la Voix du Nord (de mémoire, car ces archives sont chez sa deuxième épouse, à Bonn) relatant l'arrestation de Zoé et intitulée "Le wagon de Mme Evans". J'ai souvenir de la photo de Loos-les-Lille où elle figure avec d'autres détenues. Mon Père m'a dit qu'elle était passée par le camp de Krefeld? J'ai aussi un carnet d'adresses dans lequel je rechercherais les noms que vous avez évoqués. Un cousin de Zoé, Jean-Jacques Duthoy, Professur d'université, comme mon Père Henri Evans, a écrit un petit livret sur elle. Il y est question de sa personalité et de sa vie mais n'est pas dédié à ses activités de 39-45. Je mets ces documents à votre disposition. Pour ma part, je serais, bien sûr, intérressé d'en savoir plus, mais pour l'instant, et compte-tenu du travail de recherche que cela engendrerait, je suis satisfait.
Je retrace actuellement le parcours de la vie du mari de Zoé, George Evans mort avant 1939. Mon Père ne savait que peu de choses sur ses origines et n'a pas osé "creuser". Grâce à ses photos (deux à la King Edward's school de Witley et une dans son régiment du 10th (PWO) Royal Hussars en Inde), j'ai pu entamer un début de recherches. Son école était destinée à des orphelins, des enfants élevés par leur mère abandonnée ou issus de la rue. J'attends les résultats des recherches de l'archiviste de la KEW et ensuite essayerais de reconstituer sa carrière militaire. J'ai le projet (mais ne sais pas s'il aboutira!), d'écrire un livre sur cette saga historique de 1882 à nos jours. Je pourrai le résumer par la vie extraordinaire d'un orphelin/gosse de la rue, des lanciers du Bengale à nos jours, en passant par la Grande et la 2nde guerre mondiale. Je vous prie de bien vouloir m'excuser de ce long mail et vous remercie encore d'avoir pris de votre temps pour la mémoire de Zoé. Très sincèrement, Benjamin Evans

11 April 2010 : Marie-Louise Bennie wrote from Australia about her mother Germaine Gardner
I have read with great interest the article in your (conscript-heroes) website concerning Harold Paul Cole.
My name is Marie-Louise Bennie (nee Gardner). I was born in Wambrechies (Lille) in 1931. My father was James William Gardner, who had served from 1915 to 1918 with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and was a sergeant in the Engineers. Following the Armistice, he married Germaine Celine Delliesche, and eventually secured a position with Massey Harris in Lille (Marquette). Apart from myself, there were three other children - Jacques, Suzette and Jacqueline.
Following the fall of France my father, a British subect, was arrested by the Germans, and eventually consigned to a prison camp in Upper Silesia. As a matter of interest, one of his fellow-prisoners at this camp was the celebrated author P G Wodehouse. My father was repatriated in 1944 because of ill-health, and he died in 1946.
Not wishing my brother Jacques (Jack) to be taken by the Germans and sent to a labour camp when he reached the age of 18 (which would have been in July 1941), my mother, through contacts concerning whom I have no knowledge, volunteered to escort some British soldiers through the demarcation line to Marseille. These soldiers were Eddie Street, Bob McLelland, and I believe they were accompanied by John (James) Smith. He was killed in Scotland in a car accident in 1970. This therefore is the party mentioned in your article. I am told on very good authority that, prior to the escape, my mother sheltered a wounded British airman in the basement of her house in Wambrechies.
We arrived safely in Marseille, where we stayed for some months (I am not sure how long). Jack, who had travelled separately, was with Rev. Donald Caskie, at the seaman's mission, prior to walking across the Pyrenees, thence to Barcelona (via a Spanish gaol) and to Gibraltar. He then sailed to Liverpool in a convoy, and eventually joined the RAF, rising to the rank of Warrant Officer, and was a rear-gunner in a Lancaster bomber. He flew in a number of missions over Germany, including Hamburg in '43.
After Marseille, my mother and her three daughters reached Lisbon, where we stayed for some 3-4 months. During this time, my eldest sister met and married a (then) medical student and remained in Lisbon, where she died a few years ago. Eventually, we were flown to Britain (via Shannon) in a Coastal Command Sunderland flying-boat. I believe that our arrival in England (Guildford) would have been in the late winter of 1942.
And there the story of our escape from France ends. I now live in Melbourne with my husband, James, having migrated in June of 1966, following an eight-year assignment in Kenya. We have a large family including nine grand-children and two great-grandchildren!
After an exchange of emails, Marie-Louise continued :
I recall staying with the Damerment family soon after we left home; in particular M. Damerment, who was a kind and friendly man. If my memory serves me right, we stayed with the Damerments, together with some other people, for a short time before proceeding southwards. Prior to our escape, we did of course make an unsuccessful attempt to leave what seemed to be the path of the German advance. The family was separated, and we only managed to get as far as what I have been told was the Pont St Valery. Unfortunately, this bridge had been destroyed, and we were forced to return home to rejoin the rest of the family in Wambrechies.
As regards James Smith (we always knew him as John Smith), shortly before my father died just after the war, he came to see us in Guildford. I was very pleased to learn from your article that he had been awarded the Military Medal for his bravery - how tragic that his life was cut short in a car accident.
We travelled from Marseille to Lisbon by train, via Perpignan, and I am not aware of any major difficulty in undertaking this journey. Since my father, a Londoner, was British by birth, there was of course no problem in regard to claiming British citizenship. He happened to be in Canada in 1914, and volunteered to enlist in the Canadian army rather than return to the UK.
When we finally flew to England early in 1942, it was quite certainly in a Sunderland flying-boat, and I doubt whether it was a commercial flight, since the aircraft's interior was completely stripped, and we sat on the floor for the entire journey. I'm told that Sunderlands were not normally used for commercial purposes, so I have assumed that it was an RAF aircraft. However, I was young (just under 11 years old) and my memories are obviously very hazy.