(Where we "Bought It")

Map of the Crash Site from Martin van Sleeuwan Me110 Nightfighter
Next we went on a "Nickel Raid" over occupied France. This consisted of pushing out pamphlets for the French, so they could get the British side of the war. There was lots of anti-aircraft fire but no night fighter encounters so we had relatively few problems. Our friend P.O. Skelley was shot down and we were shot down on the night of July 25, 1942. It was a clear moonlit night and we got right to the target which was Duisberg. As we were on our "bomb-run" the search lights caught us and we were bright as day. I immediately closed the doors and Pop took violent evasive action. I thought the wings would be torn off. The ack ack was bursting all around and flak hit the plane but nothing serious. Pop escaped from the searchlight but we had lost a lot of altitude. We were around 12,000 ft and in easy light ack ack range. We were lining up for our bomb dropping again when suddenly we were hit by cannon fire from a Messerschmidt 110 night fighter. He came in from about 8 o'clock and underneath us. He flew away at about 2 o'clock and I fired a burst of machine fire at him, I don't think I hit him but I think it scared him off because he didn't return. His burst had killed the mid-upper gunner. It had set fire to the two starboard engines and fouled up the hydraulic system. I stayed in the front turret to be on the lookout for more fighters. Pat "the navigator" jettisoned the bombs over the city, as it was impossible to locate and have a bomb-run in our crippled condition. Joe "the F.E." got the fire out on the two starboard engines and their propellers were feathered (i.e. locked in a stationery position). If not feathered it was impossible to control a plane. Link "the wireless operator" went back to the mid-upper gunner. He said poor Collins was dead and slumped over his guns and it was impossible to get the body out of the turret. It was impossible to get the bomb doors closed, they were jammed open and the hydraulic line to them was broken. Pop tried to keep the plane flying but with only two engines and the drag from the bomb doors, that made it impossible to maintain altitude. When we reached the Dutch border and our altitude was only 4,000 ft. Pop gave the command to abandon aircraft. Link was determined to get a message back to base to tell what had happened to us, since there was no need for radio silence now. The squadron said its planes were going down, but they didn't know what had happened. This was the reason for his determination. Link was the last to bail out at about 1,000 ft. He no sooner pulled his rip-cord to open the chute when he hit the ground. As he left the plane he saw a fighter come in and shoot up the plane so we were lucky to get out in time. Actually Pat and Willie were on the loose for about ten days before they were picked up, then they were taken to a German air base near Nimegan and Arnheim where a German pilot said he shot down the plane. This must have been the German plane that Link saw.
The following day I was picked up by two Dutch policemen and taken to a nearby town and held there until the German military came, our pilot "Pop was also held there. I was escorted to an Amsterdam prison and I was held there for a few days in solitary confinement and interrogated as well. Then along with about sixty other air crew POWs we were taken to the Rhine river and put on a barge. I recall how scenic the trip was with the hillside of terraced vineyards and the occasional castle along the way as we went up the river. We were then taken to an Interrogation Centre near Frankfurt.

I was impressed by the interrogator as he knew which squadron I was from, the name of the C.O. and other information. I had the feeling that he knew as much about the squadron as I did. At this camp we were given some Red Cross food, a razor, a toothbrush, a bar of soap and a towel which we greatly needed. After a few days we were loaded into box cars marked 40 hommes (men) and 5 chevaux (horses). Fifty men were in each box car and we began an approximately ten days journey across Germany to a POW Stalag at Lamsdorf close to the Polish border. We had a pail of water and each morning we were given a piece of sausage and bread for our rations. The train stopped twice a day so we could relieve ourselves along the rail tracks (The trains were on narrow gauge rails and they were small compared to our trains.). Fortunately, it was August so the cold was not a problem.

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