EVADED CAPTURE IN FRANCE
115673 F/Lt. Bernard BULLIVANT, 297 Sqn., 38 Gp., T.A.F., R.A.F.
Left : CHERBOURG, 2 Aug 44. Arrived : ALSHOT, 2 Aug 44.
Post in Crew : Wireless operator.
Other members of the crew :
S/Ldr. EMBLEM (pilot)
F/O PICKARD (bomb aimer)
F/Lt. SLIPPER (navigator)
P/O BROOK (rear gunner)
F/Sgt. BRAYBROOKE (passenger)
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 July 44 and landed in an orchard near the village of MUNEVILLE SUR MER. My parachute was entangled in the trees and I could not hide it.
I removed my mae west and began walking South.
After a time I hid in a hedge until daylight in order to get my bearings, and then again began walking South.
After about two hours I hid in a wheat-field until 1300 hrs, when I decided to move, as I was very wet. (It had been raining since early morning). I came to a small hamlet where I asked for help. I was given civilian clothing and some food.
I started walking North for a short time with the intention of trying to reach the Allied lines, but as it was quite clear that the Germans were retreating, I retraced my steps and walked South. There was quite a lot of enemy activity on the main road from COUTANCES to BREHAL.
I walked along this road and saw an attack by Typhoons on a small enemy convoy. I was about 200 yards from the vehicles while they were being attacked with rockets.
Shortly afterwards I contacted two French boys who appeared to be suspicious of me. I told them that I was English and asked them to direct me to a place where I could get water. They escorted me to their home on the edge of a wood and I was given food and drink. I arrived at the house at 2000 hrs and stayed there until 0630 hrs on 29 Jul, when I left the house, as enemy troops were approaching it. I passed a group of Germans and one of them addressed me in French.
I did not understand him, but I said “Oui”.
Apparently this was not the correct answer because he began to shout in French, but again I did not understand him, however I said “Quatre kilometre”. He appeared to be satisfied and I was allowed to pass on in the direction of BREHAL.
After I had passed through BREHAL a German staff car stopped beside me, and a German officer spoke to me in French. “Ici” was the only word which I understood, so I said “Oui, oui” and he thanked me and drove on.
A few minutes later I approached a house on the Southern outskirts of BREHAL seeking water. I was about to ask the occupants of the house for it when I noticed that three Germans were standing a few yards away. I did ask for water in a low voice, and the woman asked me whether I would like to have some bread. I said “Yes” and she gave me some. She then took me round the corner of the house out of earshot of the Germans. I told her that I was English and she nodded that she understood, but made a signal for silence. She took me into an air-mid shelter in a field close to the house and later brought me a meal. She also dressed my face which had been gashed when I baled out. I asked whether any members of the resistance movement where in that district and I was told “Yes”. I was also informed that a Canadian pilot was in hiding at a nearby farm, and that I would be taken to see him.
A little later I was taken to a nearby farm and saw P/O Gerald BILLING (S/P.G./WEA/7/16/29) a Spitfire pilot operating from Strip G 4 in NORMANDY. He told me he had been shot down on 1 Jul 44. The man who escorted me to this farm was a British civilian from the Channel Islands (name unknown) who had recently escaped from GERMANY. He had been engaged on sabotage work in the district for about one month previously. He was shot dead by the Germans a few hours after my arrival whilst attempting to steal a bicycle.
P/O BILLING knows this man’s personal details.
I stayed at this farm until about 1600 hrs on 30 Jul, when an American tank arrived. The tank commander advised everyone to leave the house. I became separated from P/O BILLING. I believe that he went with an American Intelligence Officer. I walked to BREHAL where I met the local chief of the resistance movement. He arranged for me to stay in BREHAL that night.
On the following morning (31 Jul) I went with a batch of German prisoners of war in a lorry to COUTANCES. I was then taken to LESSAY by a military police officer. On the way I sent a signal to the O.C.. 297 Sqn., from headquarters, 8th Infantry Division, informing him that I was safe.
At Lessay I saw the Civil Affairs Officer, (Capt. G. MOORE) and I stayed with him until 1 Aug when I was sent to LA HAYE DU PUITS where I saw Civil Affairs Officer (Lt. L.B. POTTER) who arranged transport for me in a jeep to CHERBOURG.
I reported to Command Headquarters there and was sent to the American Naval Headquarters, where I met the officer of the day (Lt-Cdr. F.J. BOURGAT). He issued me with naval working dress and then introduced me to S/Ldr. TURNBULL, Officer i/c Air-Sea Rescue, R.A.F., who accommodated me for the night and sent me to the U.K. in one of his launches on the following day.