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Escape report 2Lt William E. Giffhorn (serial number O-747691)
 

2Lt William E. Giffhorn took part in the bombing of the railway bridge between Sartrouville and Maisons-Laffitte on June 24, 1944. His airplane was downed by flak and crashed in Arnouville (Seine & Oise, now Yvelines). He managed to escape the Germans and was hidden by the French until the liberation.

After the war, William Giffhorn kept in touch with the French who hid him and he sent this photo to the Paufique family: William Giffhorn with his wife in July 1945, 3 months after getting married.
 

You will find below the story he wrote after returning to London on August 26, 1944:

  2Lt William E. Giffhorn in 1945

 

 

"On the bomb run flak knocked out the right engine. Left engine was hit over the target. As we cleared the target, we jumped. 6000 feet opened at 4000feet. During my jump, I had been able to see the co-pilot in a field with some Frenchmen. I landed in a woodland clearing near Epone (NW Paris). I threw equipment under bushes in one direction and ran in opposite direction. Three hours hid in the bushes. When the search died out, I approached a house on the edge of the woods. A woman was feeding her chickens. Although obviously frightened, she motioned me back into the woods where her old husband brought me some old civilian clothes (very small) and food*.

I spent the night in their pig pen. There I learned that the co-pilot had been turned in to the Germans by the French in the field.

On 25 June at 5.00, I set out for Caen with some coffee, a bottle of wine and some hard boiled eggs. They told me to avoid Mantes. I was circling Mantes when I approached a couple for a drink, and they agreed to help me. The man took me to his home in Mantes-Gassicourt for a rabbit dinner. This man is Mr Maurice Caulbaux of Mantes la Ville (S et O). During the meal, we were joined by Mrs Caulbaux. After the meal, we left for their home in Fontenay because they had been bombed out of Mantes. I carried a hoe on my shoulder and we crossed the Seine in a flat bottom ferry.

I stayed there 9 to 10 days. The wife’s name is Germaine. Mr Caulbaux worked for a British firm before the war. Mr Caulbaux was trying to get me through to the FFI.

On 2 July, we dashed through Mantes during an air raid to make rendez-vous with the FFI. Gendarmes on bicycles followed us one mile out of town before turning back. I was taken to FFI HQ at Arnouville were I found Towning Farr RCAF in hiding. Georges Paufigue** was the chief maquis and the HQ was in his house. He is a notary. A branch of the Banque de Paris is also in his house. On 19 August, the Americans took the town."

* The man is Nestor Lambin according to an article published in le Courrier de Mantes in November 1944
** The correct spelling is actually Paufique. The Paufique family was part of underground network "Libération Nord"

 

 

Giffhorn's Aid Box

 

After the liberation, Giffhorn gave away his aid box and silk maps to Mr Paufique:

 

Giffhorn's aid box - © armées.com
© armées.com

 

Silk map of southern France and Northern Spain

 

Silk map of SE France, NW Italy and Switzerland

 

Autoroute A13, Epône rest area - © armées.com

This is the place where once stood Mrs Laprêté's little farm. The farm was bulldozed during construction of highway A13 linking Paris to Normandy. William Giffhorn spent his first night here in the pig pen. © armées.com

 

 

 

 

Source:

 

Escape report: http://media.nara.gov/nw/305270/EE-1170.pdf

 

Additionnal information:

 

http://www.b26.com/guestbook/2006.htm#Debra_Garries_1

http://www.francecrashes39-45.net/page_fiche_av.php?id=3424

 

 

 
     

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