EVADED CAPTURE IN FRANCE
175858 P/O Derek Augustine BROOK, 297 Sqn., 38 Gp., T.A.F., R.A.F.
Left : ALLIED BEACHHEAD, 2 Aug 44. Arrived : SOUTHAMPTON, 4 Aug 44.
Post in Crew : Rear gunner.
Other members of the crew:
S/Ldr. EMBLEM, R.A.F.(pilot)
F/Lt. SLIPPER, R.A.F. (navigator)
F/Lt. BULLIVANT, R.A.F. (wireless operator)
F/O PICKARD, R.A.F. (bomb aimer)
F/Sgt. BRAYBROOKE, R.A.F. (despatcher)
My experiences up to the time of baling out are as related by F/Lt. SLIPPER in his report.
I baled out at 0030 hrs on 28 Jul 44 and landed in a field about half a mile South of MUNEVILLE-SUR-MER. While I was in the air I saw the aircraft explode as it struck the ground. I fractured my left ankle on landing. I crawled to a small nearby wood and hid my parachute, harness and mae west.
I stayed in the wood until noon, when a farmer approached my hiding place and I called to him. I had not dared to leave my hiding-place, as the Germans were very active on the main road from COUTANCES to BREHAL, which was about 200 yards distant. The farmer was willing to help me and he went to his home and returned a few minutes later with a sack, into which he put my parachute, harness, mae west, and battle dress blouse. He carried the sack and assisted me to his home, which was nearby. I was taken into the barn, where my ankle was bathed and bandaged, and I was given food. About 1800 hrs I was taken into the house and put to bed.
On 29 July the farmer gave me civilian clothes and told me to dress quickly, as Germans were approaching the house. A German officer and a party of soldiers searched the farm outhouses. They were engaged in the requisitioning horses, and did not search the house. Later that day the secretary of the local group of the French Forces of the Interior came to the farm. He told me that one of the local inhabitants, an old man, had informed the gendarme that an airman was being hidden at this farm. The gendarme reported this to the Mayor who told the gendarme to mind his own business.
I stayed at the farm until the afternoon of 30 Jul. I had previously given a letter addressed to the O.C. American Forces in CERENCES, to the daughter of the farmer, with instructions to give it to the first American she saw. On the way to CERENCES she met an American Lieutenant in MUNEVILLE-SUR-MER. He came to the farm in a jeep, accompanied by the girl, and took me to MUNEVILLE-SUR-MER.
Just before I left the house the village priest arrived and handed me 2,000 francs which he said he had taken off on of the bodies which he had found in the wreckage of the crashed aircraft. He also gave me some charred R.A.F. escape maps. I returned the money to him to help to pay for the funeral expenses. The funeral was to take place on 31 Jul. In MUNEVILLE-SUR-MER. The priest told me that he thought that there were three bodies, but he could not be certain, owing to the effect of the explosion. He could not discover any means of identifying any of the bodies.
The American Lieutenant left me in MUNEVILLE-SUR-MER and I contacted a Reuter’s War correspondent, Seaghan MAYNES, who had intended to proceed to BREHAL. I told him my story , and he decided to take me in his jeep to No. 101 Evacuation Hospital, about 20 Miles South of CHERBOURG. We arrived there about 2100 hrs. My ankle was set in plaster the following day (31 Jul.). In the afternoon I was taken by ambulance to the beachhead, where I spent the night in a tent and was put on board a L.S.T. on 1 Aug. I was then brought to the U.K.
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