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Escape report Captain Kenneth H. Powers (serial number O-424132)
 

Captain Kenneth H. Powers took part in the raid on the Sartrouville-Maisons-Laffitte railway bridge on July 24, 1944 and his B-26 was shot down over Normandy on the way back. He was hidden by the French underground till the liberation.

 

 

 

"At nightfall, I found a barn beside a lane and crawled into a hedge. I saw two girls go up the lane and a house and I went on the gate so that they would see me. As they joined their parents they turned and all four saw me at once. There was great excitement and chatter; the father just repeating “non, non, non” (no, no, no) but the girls hid me in the culvert through which the farm’s stream flowed under the road. The elder sister asked for my papers and I showed my dog tags, the younger one brought me a large “Mother Hubbard” to cover my uniform and I was taken into the house.

I was taken into one of the bedrooms and fed. I was then given civilian clothes while her father screamed like an eagle. Around midnight, I heard three shots fired from an American 45. Believing it could be a signal from one of my crew, I tried to return it, but they blocked the door and wrapped themselves around me. They assured me that the Germans had some of the crew and were waiting in the next field to see what results these shots would bring.

When I awoke the next morning, the room was full of curious people; after they had examined all my possessions, one said: “Pas allemand” (not German) and they all became very friendly.

They were a poor family but they made me eat everything they had. After my first day here, Germans dropped in constantly for cider and seemed on very familiar terms. When I questioned the girls about this, they said the soldiers were all Austrians of the 375 Regt Batteries A, B and L. They said the 2000 troops in the area were Poles, Austrians and Czechs; only the officers were really Germans.

No attempts were made to hide me from the neighbors, but I was told to pose as a German. This fooled no one. As I lay sleeping on the lawn on 26 June, I awoke and found armed soldiers and Giselle standing over me. I rolled over again and pretended to sleep while she explained my presence as a farm laborer.

On 27 June, I was in the orchard when a man with a dictionary suddenly approached me and asked if I was an American. When I replied in the affirmative, he said he had one of my crew and described Pvt Hudson. He told me that I would be moved to a house in Blonville sur Terre. The family had been watching our conversation from the house and now hid me for fear he was a collaborator. By nightfall, they were reassured and I slept in the house.

Two men came here next day and wanted to take me to Caen (Calvados). While they were there, however, the man with the dictionary arrived, said he represented the Resistance and was taking me to Blonville. As he was older than the others, I made the mistake of thinking that he knew what he was talking about and decided to follow him.

I left in a horse and trap with three men. One, the local postman, was communist. They took me to the house of the postmistress at Blainville sur Terre. Here I met John Mathews an injured British paratrooper who had jumped on Dolay. The day after I arrived, I was joined by Hudson. We were here one week. There were too many visitors whom were used to describe as lieutenants, captains and generals in the Resistance. Even collaborators, who thought it wise to be friendly, came to call. Amongst the latter were a baker who cooked for the Germans and made us white bread and a man said to be the biggest farmer in Calvados. He sold to the Germans but not to the French especially during the first two winters. He was a friend of the Commandant and had a car and gasoline. When she found about us, a jealous woman indicated that she might turn us in.

One Sunday, a man drove us to see a bombed house. When he saw Germans stealing his potatoes, he set off after them even though we were in his car and a rather nerve cracking scene took place before we got away.

On 5 July, James Palfrey, another British paratrooper joined us and we moved 500 yards of the farm of the local Resistance chief Pierre Fettes. We spent 10 days in his loft as there were 200 Germans camped in a nearby thicket. We then moved to the home of the Chief’s lieutenant Jean Bradet in St Pierre. We were here until 22 august. Geoffrey Luggar and Raymond Peters (British Paratroopers) joined us here. On 16 august, we heard that there were 800 one man torpedoes at Nillers and that several hundred would be launched from the nearby Chateau that night. The radio was not working properly so a man was sent to Falaise to tell the allies but we never heard from him again.

On 22 august, M Badet went to Branville and told a colonel in the Devonshire Airborne Regiment about the six of us. The colonel sent for us and sent me on to the Brigadier with the Resistance people who had information on minefields. I was given a truck and round up the evaders in the area, 13 in all, and after a night at Dogale, we went to Bayeux"

 

 

 

 

Source:

 

Escape report: http://media.nara.gov/nw/305270/EE-1136.pdf

 

Additional information:

 

http://www.francecrashes39-45.net/page_fiche_av.php?id=3427  

 

 
     

 

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