Françoise - Partis vers 22 Mai
In various files for Françoise Dissard, there is a list of evaders helped by her organisation in Toulouse, together with dates that one might assume referred to their departure dates from Toulouse.
This article is about a party of thirteen airmen (Howard Turlington, Anthony Mills, Harold Maher, Bernard Reed, William Ross, Raymond Serafin, Francis Marx, Albert Jackson, Roderick Francis, Arthur Cavanaugh, Earl Woodard, Monroe Hotaling and Laymon Mahan) listed as leaving on 22 May, who set off on 26 May to cross the Pyrenees, reaching Canejan in Spain on 29 May 1944.
It may be worth noting that just before setting off, the party were joined by two more Americans, Ivan Glaze and Warren Cole, who are listed as leaving on 26 May, and then as they headed into the mountains, by Ronald Hoare RAF, James Smith RAAF and Jesse Hamby USAAF, who are listed as leaving on 30 May (see Article)
This page first posted 29 Aug 2022
T/Sgt Howard J Turlington (#814) from Dunn, North Carolina was the 24-year-old top-turret gunner of 384BG/547BS B-17 42-5849 Hells Belles II (Butler) which was on the way to Nantes on 16 September 1943. It was about two o'clock in the afternoon, and they were about 10 miles east of Rennes when their fighter escort turned back, at which point their formation was immediately attacked by enemy fighters. They salvoed their bomb-load and dived but with the left inboard fuel tanks on fire, the aircraft was abandoned, exploding before hitting the ground.
Turlington bailed out at 18,000 feet, his jump inadvertently delayed because he was spinning so much before he could pull his rip-cord, and landing in a field [near Rennes]. He left the parachute and threw everything else under a bush some distance away, before setting off in the opposite direction, running as far as he could before diving into a bush where he stayed until it got dark. He then walked until about one o'clock in the morning when he settled down to sleep. It was raining in the morning, and so Turlington waited until five in the afternoon before approaching a farm worker, persuading him to take him home and give him some food. The man also helped Turlington identify his position on his escape map, but was not able to supply any civilian clothes.
Turlington continued making his way south for the next two weeks, sometimes finding help and shelter, paying 900 francs for some civilian clothes to wear over his ODs, and walking about 250 kilometres before finally meeting a man named Gaston Guillemet, who was hauling grapes near the village of Magné, just west of Niort (Deux-Sevres), who sheltered Turlington on his farm, while his friend Leopold Veillon , a milkman for Niort, contacted the local organisation.
On 3 October, a man of Corsican origin named Gilbert De Peretti (of 42 rue Brun Piroufoux, Niort) and another man, came for Turlington, the plan being for them to take him into Niort for a few days and then to Paris to catch an aircraft. Turlington was sheltered by De Perretti's father-in-law, Henri Denoue (of 184 rue de Ribray) who owned a garage and bicycle shop. Henri Denoue gave Turlington some civilian clothes, and Henri Babin (of 9 rue Ricard) who owned the men's clothing store called “Noel”, gave him a suit, toilet articles and socks.
At the end of two weeks the aircraft idea was abandoned as too dangerous, and two weeks later a blond man (5 ft 8 inches tall, about 140 lbs, wore glasses with dark frames) came from Paris to tell him to be patient because there were 130 airmen already tied up in the capital. Turlington says the man was an agent of some sort, with blue-prints of airfields and contacts with England, and was later caught.
On 8 November, Gilbert De Peretti told Turlington that he would be leaving via Spain in three or four days, and on 11 November a man came who said he would be his guide and that they would be going via Bordeaux the following day. That trip was postponed however as their chauffeur was “out of town”. The following night, the Gestapo had a round-up of many of the people in the resistance movement, and the man who had come with Gilbert De Peretti to Gaston Guillemet‘s farm to collect Turlington, was one of those taken. Gilbert De Peretti, his wife and the guide all left for Paris immediately to avoid being picked up.
Turlington was moved to Henri Babin's house at 9 rue Ricard, and stayed with him until 29 November when De Peretti returned. He said that Spain was out of the question for a month until things cooled off, and Turlington moved back to stay with Henri Denoue at 184 rue de Ribray.
Whilst staying with Henri Denoue, they often had dinner with farmer Gaston Guillemet and milkman Leopold Veillon, and at New Year, Veillon's son, a labour réfractaire came down for the holidays. Turlington stayed with Leopold Veillon from 1 to 5 January to keep his son company before returning once more to Henri Denoue. Turlington spent his time helping out around the garage, hiding whenever strangers came in but by the end of the month, was getting very impatient, making it clear that he could not stand it much longer. They all maintained that no-one was going out through Spain, and asked if he would like to join the maquis instead. Turlington said he would, and Henri Denoue said he would have to join them soon himself, and would take Turlington with him.
On 25 February, the Prefect of the Departement, who Turlington understood to be in charge of all the gendarmes in the departement, came from Parthenay in his car with members of the gendarmerie. They said they were going to take Turlington to join two “comrades”, and they drove him some 70 kilometres north to the village of Irais, where Mme Irene Bineau-Loubeau, was sheltering Sgts Harold Maher and Anthony Mills.
S/Sgt Harold Frank Maher (#816) from Lisbon Falls, Maine was the 22-year-old tail-gunner, and 21-year-old Sgt Anthony Lyle Mills Jnr (#817) from Los Angeles, California, one of the waist-gunners of 92BG/327BS B-17 42-30735 (Stroff). They were returning from Cognac-Chateaubernard on the afternoon of 31 December 1943, when they were attacked by fighters, which damaged their #4 engine. They made it to the coast but were then hit by flak which knocked out their #1 engine. The pilot gave the order to prepare to ditch but when they broke through the cloud cover they saw they could reach land, and the aircraft was crash-landed (beautifully, according to Maher) in a ploughed field near La Roche-sur-Yon (Vendée).
Maher says that none of the crew were injured and they scattered at once, Maher and Mills hiding together in a ditch while German soldiers approached, and watching them return an hour later with their pilot 2/Lt Michael J R Stroff and radio operator S/Sgt August K Struhar. They stayed in the ditch until it got dark, and then used their compasses to head east.
After making their way steadily east for twelve days, they met a 16-year-old-boy who took them to back to his house where three elderly women gave them a meal. Then the boy took them to a man in another settlement nearby, from where he and four other men, took the two Americans to the village of Adilly (which is about 6 kms north-west of Parthenay). They were taken to a large house with an iron fence around it, home of a man could read and write English (he was heavy, in poor health, about 50 years old, and married to a younger wife). The unnamed man interrogated them and then called in a one-armed man (about 35 years old, black hair, well dressed) who took them to a farm near the town where they were sheltered with an elderly couple (the man's feet had been injured in last war), their widower son (about 45 years old) and his son (a half-wit).
During their time with the elderly couple, a gendarme from Parthenay (5 ft 10 inches tall, slim, light brown hair) came to see them (and took letters which they wrote to their families), and a tailor brought clothing for them.
After eleven days with the elderly couple, Omar Hullin (from Saint-Jouan-de-Marnes, which is just east of Irais), a grocer from Irais, and another man came in a lorry and took them to Irais, where they were sheltered by Mme Irene Bineau-Loubeau, who was living with her widowed mother, Mme Marie Loubeau; Mme Bineu was 30 years old, and her husband was doing forced labour in Vienna. On 25 February, Maher and Mills were joined by T/Sgt Howard Turlington, and on 10 March, by 2/Lt Bernard Reed.
2/Lt Bernard L Reed ( #804 ) from Badger, California was the 24-year-old co-pilot of 448BG/715BS B-24 42-100430. Their target on 5 March 1944 was Mont-de-Marsan (Aquitaine) but cloud cover prevented bombing so the division turned away, and different groups went for targets of opportunity. Their group tried the aerodrome at Fontenay-le-Comte (Pays de la Loire) but no bombs were dropped, and then as they turned away, they were attacked by fighters. The tail of the aircraft was set on fire, the top turret and controls knocked out, and with the right wing on fire, pilot 1/Lt William Ross (#803) sounded the alarm bell and the crew abandoned the aircraft.
Reed says that he bailed out at 14,000 feet, delayed his jump to 1,000 feet, and landed in a freshly ploughed field near Niort (Deux-Sevres) at about two-thirty in the afternoon. He left his parachute and flying gear and set off walking, carrying on until three o'clock the following morning, when he reached a small stone hut on the outskirts of a town, where he built a fire and went to sleep. The hut was close to a house, and he was woken up by two men who came to the hut. Reed introduced himself to them (in English) and they said they would come back that evening with civilian clothes. They duly returned, and took him into the house, where he stayed for the next two days, brushing up on his French while his journey was arranged.
The man who took him into the house and contacted an organisation had been a Peugeot motorcycle salesman before the war, and now sold bicycles. He took Reed to stay with Henri Denoue (at 184 rue de Ribray in Niort), who ran an auto-repair shop, and was the father of the local organisation chief. On 10 March, Reed was given an ID card by Henri's son-in-law (Gilbert De Peretti) before Henri's son and the local Chief of Police drove him to the village of Irais.
In Irais, Reed was taken to stay with Mme Irene Beniou-Loubeau, where he joined Sgts Howard Turlington, Howard Maher and Anthony Mills.
Mme Beniou was secretary to the maire, Roger Piet (local butcher and resistance chief, who made ID cards for them), and she and her mother sheltered the four Americans (Reed, Turlington, Maher and Mills) for the next two months. During their stay, a pork butcher from Taizé was trying to make contact with Paris for them, and Reed reports frequent visits from gendarmes, saying that practically the whole village knew they were there, with goods being dropped off at the house all the time until 28 April when gendarmes from Parthenay warned the people of Irais that someone had reported the presence of the Americans in the town. Omar Hullin and his daughter Yvette promptly moved them, taking the Americans to stay with Omar's sister, Mme Minot, who lived with her husband and their two children, 20-year-old Jacques and 17-year-old Louisette, on a farm at Douron (about 3 kms south of Irais), where Reed says that “everyone was in the resistance”. They stayed on the Minot farm for four days while maneuvers were held all around them, and on the fourth night, Jean, son of a local resistance leader, led them on foot to another farm, between Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes and Moncontour, where they stayed with M. and Mme Cochard, their 26-year-old son Jacques and 20-year-old daughter Raymonde. They stayed with the Cochard family for about 18 days before Maher and Mills were returned to Mme Biniou in Irais (where they stayed until 18 May), while Reed and Turlington went to stay with Omer Hullin, described by Ross as being a “farmer, grocer and general hell-raiser”, at Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes.
During their stay with Omer Hullin at Saint-Jouin, Reed and Turlington were joined by Reed's pilot William Ross and radio operator Raymond Serafin – and also by 2/ Lt Rudolf Gabrys (#2150), Sgt Earl Hostetter (#2151) and T/Sgt George Hunt (#2152) from B-24 42-100414.
1/Lt William O Ross (#803) from Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania was the 28-year-old pilot of 448BG/715BS B-24 42-100430 which was shot down on 5 March 1944 - see Reed (# 804) earlier.
Ross landed in a field where a group of people were waiting for him; a woman took his equipment and the school-master at Oulmes (Deux-Sevres) ( Andre Fraigneau), put him on a bicycle. They cycled together to a house where Ross was given a civilian coat, and then straight on to another house where he met his radio operator Raymond Serafin. As soon as Serafin had changed into civilian clothes, they were taken to another house, home of the mayor of Benet, where Ross was given civilian clothes before the school-master took them by bicycle to his parents home in Celles-sur-Belle, where they were sheltered for the next two days.
S/Sgt Raymond Wladyslaw Serafin (#815) from Amsterdam, New York was the 24-year-old radio operator, and when the fighters attacked, Serafin (who seems to have been the top-turret gunner as well) says that bullets went through his ammunition cans, his plexi-glass turret disintegrated and the guns jammed. He was unable to open the bomb-bay doors but as the plane banked, he “rolled” through the nose of the aircraft and pulled his rip-cord. He could see four chutes below, and more above him, realising too late that they should all have delayed their jumps, before landing in a back-yard, where he was “immediately met”. He was quickly taken to a house further along the road, where he was given a shot of Cognac and some civilian clothes. While his uniform was being burned (along with the ID photographs he'd left in a pocket) he was joined by his pilot, William Ross.
During their stay with Andre Fraigneau's parents at Celles-sur-Belle, Ross and Serafin were joined by their bombardier 2/Lt Richard Grant (#1436), ball-turret gunner S/Sgt Eddie Guidry (#1437), tail-gunner S/Sgt Jack Garrett (#1438) and waist-gunner S/Sgt Norman Benson (#1439).
Ross says they were warned that the Germans knew about the school-master (Andre Fraigneau) taking them to Celles, so while he left to join a maquis, the airmen were moved to a farm, from where they were moved to a third place. Ross credits this quick action with saving them, adding that the school- master's mother was taken to the hospital by the Gestapo, and made to talk.
The six Americans were taken on foot to Périgné, where they stayed overnight in the biggest house in town (Grant says it was a small hotel), and next day by truck about 20 kms south-east to Chef-Boutonne. In Chef-Boutonne, Ross says they were placed us with three different families for four nights; Mlle Gorand (nf) was one, a female school-teacher (Mme Elise Giroux) was another, while Ross stayed with the third family on a small farm on the outskirts of town (Grant says that Garrett and Guidy stayed in a schoolhouse and the rest in a deserted house nearby).
Three days later, they were all driven another 16 kms to a café in Villefagnan. Benson and Garrett were taken to the hospital at Ruffec to have some schrapnel removed, and when they returned, the airmen were sent to different homes in the area; Grant and Guidry to Ruffec, where they stayed with the maquis chief; Benson and Garret to Le Bouchet (which is near Lupsault) where they were sheltered with a school-teacher, while Ross and Serafin were taken by motorcycle to Longré and sheltered by a farmer named Manuard (M. et Mme Suzanne Mesnard - query) - Ross commenting that they were all “under the supervision” of a 50-year-old wine merchant from Villefagnan, whose son Pierre (Pierre Chauvaud at the Café du Centre - query) owned three picture houses.
2/Lt Richard H Grant (#1436), S/Sgt Eddie J Guidry (#1437), S/Sgt Jack M Garrett (#1438) and S/Sgt Norman G Benson (#1439) were flown back to the UK from an airfield near Limoges on 3 September 1944.
On 27 April, Ross and Serafin were taken from Longré by car, going first to Saint-Fraigne, where they picked up Sgt Earl Hostetter (#2151) and T/Sgt George Hunt (#2152) - gunners from B-24 42-100414 - and then driving to Niort, where they joined 42-100414 bombardier 2/Lt Rudolf Gabrys (#2150). Note that Gabrys report (dated 16 September 1944) diverges a bit from Ross at this point ..
Serafin stayed with Henri Babin at 9 rue Ricard while Ross says that he spent three days in Niort with a man who owned a garage (Henri Denoue of 184 rue de Ribray), and whose son-in-law was an espionage agent. Then the son of the Chief of Police at Niort gave them all ID cards and they were taken by train to Irais. They spent two weeks with Omer Hullin at Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes while the Germans held maneuvers all around, and were joined there by Bernard Reed, Howard Turlington, Harold Maher and Anthony Mills. Ross also reports being taken out on one occasion with the mayor of Irais (Roger Piet) to look for a suitable landing field for aircraft.
Turlington confirms that Reed and Ross had stayed in Niort with Henri Denoue (at 184 rue de Ribray) while Serafin had been taken to stay with Henri Babin (at 9 rue Ricard). Then, because an old lady had started talking about them, they were all moved to a farm about 3 kms away. They lived there in one room until 16 April, when they were moved to another farmhouse 6 kms away. At the end of April, they returned to Irais, and Turlington and Reed stayed with Omar Hullin at nearby Saint-Jouan-de-Marnes, where they remained until 18 May, being joined there by Ross - to whom Turlington defers for the rest of his report.
Meanwhile Serafin says that before going to the railway station to take a train for Irais, he was taken to a studio where he and members of Lt Robert Martin's crew (assume Gabrys, Hunt and Hostetter, who had been sheltered in Niort by Gilbert de Peretti at 42 rue Brun Piroufoux), were taken to a family who owned several farms, and had two beautiful daughters.
On 18 May, a young man from Paris (very small, married, had a moustache), a tall elderly doctor and his beautiful blonde wife (both of whom spoke perfect English), arrived in a truck driven by the pork butcher from Taizé, and they took the nine Americans (Turlington, Maher, Mills, Reed, Ross, Serafin, Gabrys, Hostetter and Hunt) to the railway station at Thouars, where t hey boarded a train for Tours. Turlington, Reed and Ross were guided by the doctor; Maher, Mills and Serafin with the doctor's wife, and Gabrys, Hostetter and Hunt with the young Parisian. From Tours they took an express train to Vierzon where missed the train for Toulouse by two minutes and had to spend the rest of the day wandering about the town and local woods. Ross reports that the last he saw of Gabrys, Hostetter, Hunt and their young guide was ten minutes before their train pulled out at 2300 hrs - they never got on it.
Gabrys report says that he, Hostetter and Hunt were taken to a railway station at Pas de Jeu (which seems unlikely), where they caught a train to Tours, and on to Vierzon. He says while they were waiting at Vierzon, their Parisian guide (who Gabrys says was connected to British Intelligence) became suspicious of a man apparently following them, hid them in a growth of trees and went off to investigate but never returned. That night, they approached a farmhouse where they were taken in for the night, and next day taken to a local resistance chief who told them that five Americans had recently been captured at Vierzon.
2/Lt Rudolf F Gabrys (#2150), Sgt Earl D Hostetter (#2151) and T/Sgt George C Hunt (#2152) were flown back the UK from an airfield near Limoges on 16 September 1944 .
On their arrival in Toulouse, Turlington, Maher, Mills, Reed, Ross and Serafin were taken to a café where they were passed on to a girl who took them to Françoise (Dissard), where they met Major Roderick Francis, Capt Arthur Cavanaugh, 2/Lt Earl Woodard, 1/Lt Monroe Hotaling and T/Sgt Laymon Mahan from B-17 42-97070. Turlington and Ross spent the night in Toulouse with a lieutenant in the French navy who had come back after missing the train to Saint Gaudens but unfortunately Maher, Mills, Reed and Serafin all defer their reports to Ross from this point so I don't know where they spent the night in Toulouse .
Notes on some of the Françoise lists suggest that Turlington, Maher, Mills, Reed, Ross and Serafin were helped by “Jean-Marie” (SOE agent Henri Frager) but unless the three guides who came from Paris were part of that organisation, I have found no evidence to support that.
On 25 April 1944, the 457BG/750BS B-17 42-97070 (Bender) was abandoned to crash near Saint-Germaine-d'Aunay, Orne. Six of the eleven-man crew were captured but the other five evaded successfully, spending three weeks in Normandy, before travelling together via Paris, to Toulouse.
Major Roderick L Francis (#806) from Terry, Mississippi was the 25-year-old Air Commander, flying as co-pilot of B-17 42-97070 on a morning mission to Nancy on 25 April 1944. They were in the high position, leading the group but cloud obscured their target, and they were returning home with their bomb-load when the radio operator, T/Sgt Laymon Mahan (#810), reported the bomb-bay was on fire. Francis says they could see no reason for the fire as there had been neither fighters nor flak but the engineer (assume T/Sgt James L Free) decided they had to jettison their bombs. Francis quickly realised the fire was out of control and the plane “hopelessly gone”, and ordered the eleven-man crew to abandon the aircraft, leaving it to explode and crash near Saint-Germaine-d'Aunay, Orne.
Francis went out through the bomb-bay, delaying opening his parachute because his hands were burned, and then waiting until he was at about 1,000 feet before pulling the rip-cord. He landed in the top of a tree (near Le Sap, Orne), and it took him a while to climb down. He retrieved the escape kit that had fallen from his pocket, and ran down into a thickly wooded valley where he hid in the woods for the next several hours, hearing German troops searching the area. At about four o'clock, he began walking south-east until he reached a small road, which he followed to a prosperous looking farmhouse. He acknowledges that he had been advised not to go to large houses but says he was too tired and hungry to care, and approached a woman who was washing clothes in the yard. The woman promptly turned and went back into the house, and Francis, deciding he had made a bad mistake, ran off down the road. He covered about a kilometre before stopping to hide in an abandoned hay-loft in the middle of a field. About an hour later, two Frenchman on bicycles came to the loft to ask if he was an American, and when he said he was, told him to stay there, and they would bring him food and civilian clothes later. The two men returned after dark and took Francis back to the big farmhouse, where he was given a soft feather bed for the night.
Next morning, Francis was moved into a barn, where he was brought food and hot water for shaving, and at about four o'clock that afternoon, was returned to the house. There was a man there who spoke a little English, and he took Francis by bicycle to Avernes-Saint-Gourgon. Their destination was the Chateau d'Avernes, where Francis was sheltered by Georges Siaddeau and his daughter for the next six days, spending much of his time there trying to learn enough French to hold a conversation.
Georges didn't have any organisation connections, and Francis felt they would be happy enough to keep him until the invasion. Then, one day he received a note saying that men would come on the Sunday to take him to join some comrades but on the Saturday, an Englishman named John Vallely arrived.
Sgt John Dugdale Vallely (2620) from Carlisle, was a 25-year-old British soldier who had been serving with 4 Bn the Border Regiment near Fecamp on 10 June 1940 when he (and others) escaped through German lines. Vallely made his way to Verneusses (Eure) in July, where he had been living with a French family named Huby ever since.
Vallely told Francis that his organisation (which had helped 1/Lt Edward Carey (#718) earlier that month) would get him out but that it would take three weeks to arrange. Francis didn't want to wait that long, and decided to take the first offer, and three days later a man that Francis says was the habourmaster at Le Havre (M. Valiance - query) came to see him.
On the Sunday, a tough-looking man called Maurice (aged about 18 with brown hair and a hook nose) took Francis by bicycle to Cisai-Saint-Aubin and a well-to-do farm where he met a man, his wife and their two young children. Next morning, a man that Francis says looked like the American actor George Raft, took him by truck to Gacé, and Francis was sheltered with a wealthy farmer named Lucien Legenvre and his son Raymond (who had already helped Woodard and Hotaling - see later), about 6 kms east of Gacé, at La Trinité-des-Laitiers.
Capt Arthur Thomas Cavanaugh (#807) from Wayne, Nebraska was the 25-year-old Group Lead Navigator, and he says that he “tumbled out” as soon as Major Francis gave the order to abandon 42-97070. He had no recollection of opening his parachute but after floating through a cloud layer at about 3,000 feet saw an orchard below, and despite his best efforts to avoid them, slammed into the last tree. He ran south into a forest, and about half an hour later, met radio operator T/Sgt Mahan (#810). They agreed to hide separately until nightfall, and then leave the area together but half an hour later, some children rode past on bicycles, evidently knowing the Americans were there somewhere, and as Cavanaugh was worried they would draw attention, and not knowing where Mahan was, started walking south again.
At about eight o'clock that evening, Cavanaugh came to a farmhouse on the edge of the woods, and seeing a girl there, asked if he could sleep in the barn. The girl took him to the house, gave him some bread and milk and then led him to the barn. She was just putting a blanket down for him when her mother arrived to ask whether he usually slept in a barn in America, and when he said he did not, took him back to the house, and showed him a proper bed. About ten minutes later, the children he had tried avoid earlier, came in to shake hands with him.
Cavanaugh set off walking again next morning, and whilst avoiding a town, ducked back into the forest where he met some woodcutters. He told them he was an American pilot in need of food and civilian clothes, and one of the men took him to an abandoned house in the woods and told him to stay there while they found help. No details are given here but once Cavanaugh had civilian clothes, he was taken by bicycle to the town he had so carefully avoided, and his journey arranged. He also learned that Francis, Woodard, Hotaling and Mahan were safe in the district, and he later met up with them.
2/Lt Earl E Woodard (#808) from Farmington, Missouri was the 24-year-old navigator of 42-97070, and his basic (typed) report simply says that he delayed his jump and then hit hard, somewhere near Gacé (Orne). After burying his parachute and flying gear in a large hole, he walked up a lane to a house, which he waited until nightfall before approaching. The people there gave him civilian clothes but made it clear they wanted him to leave because of all the Germans in the area. Woodard gave them his calling-card, and they took him to another house, where his journey was arranged, and next day, he was joined by 1/Lt Monroe Hotaling.
Woodard's hand-written report is very hard to read from this point but I think he says that he was taken to Lucien Legenvre's farm at La Trinité-des-Laitiers, and at supper that evening, the local maire and another man brought Lt Hotaling. Then a man (Porcher - query writing) arrived to take them 5 kms to his barn, where they found they were going to stay. Next day, Roger Boudon and two other men brought Sgt Mahan - they also brought weapons. Then someone brought a young man called Cloter (18-19 years old, he couldn't speak English but claimed to be a French-Canadian from Quebec). Roger Boudon then took Hotaling to his home (in Orgères), and a few days later they heard that another “comrade” had been found. They (Woodard, Hotaling, Mahan and Cloter) were moved to a house (location not given), and Captain Cavanaugh was brought to join them, and later, Major Francis.
1/Lt Monroe J Hotaling (#809) from Los Angeles, California was the 42-year-old Group Gunnery Officer, and flying as tail-gunner and observer of 42-97070. He was badly burned around the eyes before bailing out, jumping through the main entrance door, the last man to leave. He pulled his rip-cord almost immediately because he had been off oxygen for several minutes, and saw the aircraft circle around him twice as he drifted down to land in a yard near Monnai (Orne) belonging to a man (Margelet - query writing) who raised horses. He quickly unbuckled his chute and started to run but was “grabbed” by a Frenchman.
Hotaling remembered to pull the first-aid kit off his parachute before being taken around a barn, where the man, Alfred Marguet (from Heugon), gave him a German Luger pistol and took him to a wood. Marguet helped Hotaling into a tree, where he discovered there was nothing in his first-aid kit for burns, and a few minutes later watched as three German soldiers passed below. A couple of hours later, a woman named Yvette arrived to call him down. She gave him a long dark overcoat to put on over his uniform and led him to a road where they met Alfred Marguet, who took Hotaling to a culvert under the road. Marguet told him that two “Boche” were coming and instructed him to shoot the first one while he dealt with the second - which they did, disposing of the bodies in a pond and weighing them down with rocks.
Yvette took Hotaling to a farmhouse, where she exchanged his flying suit for civilian clothes, and then put him in the hayloft but twenty minutes later, returned to take him into the house where he fell asleep on the couch. Later, Yvette woke him and took him back to the hayloft, and he heard a motorcycle arrive, and someone speaking German. The German came into the barn with two Frenchmen, Alfred Marguet and Yvette's brother, also named Alfred, and Alfred Marguet made signs to Hotaling which he interpreted to mean he should jump down and strangle the German but when he jumped, he hit the German on the head, and broke his neck. Hotaling was then taken back into the house while Alfred disposed of the German and his motorcycle.
That evening, M. Boudelet (secretary to the maire of Saint-Evroult-Notre-Dame-du-Bois) arrived, and he took Hotaling by bicycle to Saint-Evroult, and his daughter Simone Sicard (query writing), took Hotaling back to her house for the night. The following morning, the maire came to the house with a man from Orgères named Roger Boudon, (a local resistance chief who had helped S/Sgt Arnold Pederson (#615) in February) who told Hotaling he would be leaving that night, and that evening, Hotaling and Roger Boudon followed Alfred Marguet to Lucien Legenvre's farm at La Trinité-des-Laitiers, where Hotaling joined Earl Woodard.
From La Trinité, a man called Marcel Lamé or Launé (query writing) took Hotaling and Woodard to his home in the woods, where he gave them a shotgun and a rifle. Date not given when Roger Boudon and a young man called Cloter brought T/Sgt Laymon Mahan to join them, and Roger gave the three Americans .38 calibre revolvers and some hand-grenades.
T/Sgt Laymon M Mahan (#810) from Morrison, Oklahoma was the 24-year-old radio operator of 42-97070, and says that he bailed out at 21,000 feet, apparently losing consciousness as the next thing he knew, his chute was open. He landed in an open field near Gacé, threw his parachute into an old cellar, and started running. He soon met his navigator, Captain Cavanaugh (#807), and they ran together for a short while before settling down in some bushes, about 200 yards from one another. Mahan waited until ten o'clock before moving out, and then failed to find Cavanaugh, and slept out alone that night.
The following morning, Mahan began walking, not finding anyone willing to help him until reaching a village, where he hid and watched for a couple of hours. He then stopped a boy on a bicycle, and once Mahan made him understand what he wanted, the boy took him to a house. Details are hard to read but Mahan seems to have met Yvonne (possibly Yvonne Boudon-Duval, wife of Roger Boudon - see below), who spoke a little English (he thought she came from Paris), and acquired some civilian clothes. A few hours later, a boy known as Cloter was brought in, claiming to be French-Canadian.
An elderly man then took Mahan and Cloter by cart to a hotel at Echauffour where someone (Noelle Guillou) spoke English. From there, Roger Boudon took them to a house where they joined Woodard and Hotaling, and Mahan says he was (mostly) with Woodard from this point.
Further details from each man are hidden in their interviewing officer's faded scribble, from which extracting details from their jumbled accounts has been a real struggle, and in some cases, virtually impossible, so most of the following comes from Hotaling's report.
Hotaling seems to have separated from the other four crew-members for most of their time in Lower Normandy but in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it seems reasonable to presume the other four airmen stayed together, only being moved occassionally from place to place.
Roger Boudon wanted Hotaling to go to his house, so he cycled to Roger's home at Orgères. Hotaling seems to have got himself involved in some local sabotage, including helping to blow up a bridge over a road to the west of Echauffour, with Hotaling, Roger Boudon, Cloter and a number of young people connected to the sabotage group, sleeping overnight in a farmer's barn. I think that Hotaling says it was Marcel Launay (query spelling - Marcel Launay was the curé at Tournai-sur-Dives) who gave him a .45 automatic pistol. Early next morning, Hotaling went to the farmhouse for breakfast, and a man called Raymond (not Lucien's son) took him to a house near Cisai-Saint-Aubin (just north of Orgères) and a man with a name like Garton showed him a barn out in the fields that was full of ammunition.
Hotaling spent that night with Roger Boudon (presumably at his home in Orgères) and met Mlle Noelle Guillou (about 32 years old, medium height with brown hair), who ran a café in Echauffour - she spoke English, and although not member of an organisation, had contacts in Paris (she had helped P/O Ronald Daniel (1855) a few weeks earlier).
Later the following day, Hotaling was taken to the home of a man who had “befriended Mahan”, and that night, two four-engined aircraft (he thought they were Lancasters) dropped a number of containers. Hotaling says there were 40 or 50 people there to help collect up the containers, which included first-aid supplies.
Two days later, Raymond Legenvre took Hotaling and Cloter back to his father Lucien's farm at La Trinité-des-Laitiers, where he told Hotaling that he and his crew-mates would be taken to Paris, and then Le Havre to be taken to England by boat.
Next day, Francis, Cavanaugh, Woodard and Mahan were brought to the farm, everyone sleeping in the farmhouse except Hotaling and Marcel Launé (query spelling), who slept in a barn. Next morning, Cloter was taken away, and the others went to a small house some kilometres away, where everyone was armed with Sten guns.
A few days later, they met with Roger Boudon and Noelle Guillou back at Lucien Legenvre's farm where they learned that Mlle Guillou was making the arrangements for them to go to Paris - Boudon explaining that with all civilian traffic stopped on the roads, it would impossible for them to get to Le Havre and take a boat but that the people in Paris could probably get them out.
Roger Boudon was killed in a battle with German troops on 8 July 1944.
Hotaling mentions going with Mahan to see Alfred (assume Alfred Marguet at Heugon), John Vallely coming and taking their photographs, and meeting a man named Bernard Neville.
Date not given when Raymond Legenvre told them were leaving, and the five Americans were taken by truck to stay overnight at Saint-Martin-de-Bienfaite-la-Cressonniere. Next day, they went on to Montreuil-l'Argille and then through Orbec to meet Robert Alexis Stalhard (born 31 May 1902, a farmer at La Breviere, Calvados who worked with both Henri Frager's Donkeyman circuit and Claude de Baissac's Scientist circuit).
Details after that are confusing but Francis Buffet (Chief from Lisieux, born 7 Sept 1910) is mentioned, travelling to Lisieux and staying overnight in a hotel. I think it was the following morning when Robert Stalhard and Francis Buffet went with the “Chef de Province” (about 45 years old, greying temples, sharp features, rode a motorcycle) to Paris, and the rue de Suisses, Paris XIV. Henri Frager seems to get a mention here as visiting and then leaving, and a black-haired chap, aged about 26, who asked Hotaling and Francis to give his compliments to Amondet (?) at the French Embassy.
I'm not sure how a man called André (possibly FFI chief André Mousset of Beaumesnil, Eure) got into the story, travelling with Francis Buffet to take the Americans from Paris to Toulouse ..
Francis Buffet and André (Mousset - query) took Francis, Cavanaugh, Hotaling, Woodard and Mahan by train to Toulouse, where they arrived on the morning of 19 May, and explained that their involvement ended at the city, where the Americans would be passed on to another organisation.
Francis and Hotaling stayed with Buffet while Cavanaugh, Woodard and Mahan were taken north-east of the city to Croix-Daurade. They stayed overnight at the villa Pamplemousse, 27 Chemin Cazals where they were looked after by Andrée Lamy, whose husband René had been killed at Amiens in an Allied air raid just nine days earlier.
Next day, Cavanaugh, Woodard and Mahan were brought back into Toulouse, and joined Francis and Hotaling at Françoise Dissard's apartment (12 rue Paul Meriel - query), and over the next twenty-four hours, were joined by more Americans (Turlington, Maher, Mills, Reed, Ross and Serafin - plus Francis Marx) - and F/ Sgt Albert Jackson.
T/Sgt Francis Cornelius Marx (#813) from Dolgeville, New York State was the 26-year-old radio operator of 448BG/713BS B-24 42-110087 which was on a mission to Ludwigshafen on 1 April 1944. Pilot, 1/Lt Harrison C Mellor (#1100) reports that they lost their pathfinder over the target, and despite the deputy taking over, spent an hour north of the city before dropping their bombs over an unnamed town. On attempting to return to the UK, they ran into a head-wind, and with the aircraft running low on fuel, Mellor asked permission to leave the formation, and abandon his aircraft over France. They headed south until their engines began to fail, and at about 1330 hrs, Mellor ordered his crew to bail out, he and co-pilot 2/Lt Douglas J Neames {#2357) being the last men to leave.
Marx didn't delay his jump, pulling his ripcord at about 8,000 feet and drifting over a small town before landing in someone's backyard. He was still unbuckling his parachute harness when two boys ran up and directed him to a nearby hill, indicating that he should hurry. Marx left his chute hanging in a tree, and began discarding his flying gear as he ran, following a wooded ridge for two hours until finding an open field, and waiting in the woods until nightfall, when he crawled into a haystack. He was woken there next morning by a farmer come to collect hay, who told him to stay where he was while fetched a friend. Two hours later, the farmer returned with S/Sgt Mike Little (#719), one of the waist-gunners from his aircraft, and another Frenchman, who took him back to a house. Marx says he deliberately avoided learning the name of the town he landed close to but Mike Little says that he landed near Orrouy, Oise.
Little was taken to Paris that afternoon by “a lady and a gentleman”, and makes no further mention of Marx. On 4 April, a man called André, who came to the country to collect vegetables, took Marx back with him to Paris. After helping André and his family with their vegetable business for a few days, André took Marx to the Swiss consulate to see if he would help. However, the Ambassador turned Marx away, and he was then unable to find his way back to the market where André worked. Having heard that small cafes were a good place to look for help, Marx got lucky on his second attempt, the owner contacting his brother, Lucien Degorter, who took Marx to his home, a café at 70 rue Saint-Maur, Paris XI where he was sheltered for the next six weeks while his onward journey was arranged.
One of his visitors was an Irish woman who was an English tutor for children, and one of her pupils was the son of a man in an organisation. The organisation was headed by a woman called Margaret (about 45 years old with bleached blonde hair) who ran a milk by-products business, and she was a friend of Mme Edith Lacombe of 39 avenue Paul Doumer, who was married to a Frenchman who managed a travel agency, and was in a resistance group. Mme Lacombe also had a friend who was married to an American, and had lived in New York City for ten years.
On 16 April, the Irish lady took Marx to a M. Constant at his dress- shop (Robert Constant at 46 rue Laugier, Paris XVII - query), from where a girl and man took him to meet group of young people - 4 girls and 6 boys - who were in a resistance group, and had a number of Sten guns. Two of the boys and two of the girls then took Marx to the gare d'Orleans where they boarded a train for Toulouse, all but one of the girls getting off the train at a station just short of the city. The remaining girl, who apparently had a room in Toulouse, took Marx to a café where she handed him over to the leader of the Toulouse resistance, a French lieutenant (5 ft 8 inches tall with wavy brown hair and a moustache) who spoke English with an accent, and Marx stayed in his rooms overnight. The next day, a girl took Marx to meet Françoise Dissard in a house near a large square (assume Place du President Wilson), where there were already nine (sic) other Americans (Turlington, Mills, Mayer, Reed, Ross, Serafin, Francis, Cavanaugh, Woodard, Hotaling and Mahan), and an Englishman (Albert Jackson).
F/Sgt Albert Vincent Jackson (1995) from Horley in Surrey was the 33-year-old mid-upper gunner of 514 Sqn Lancaster DS815 (Nichol), which was on the way back from Frankfurt when they were attacked by a Ju-88. Jackson says that he is sure he hit the Junkers but his own aircraft was badly damaged, and despite diving to try and put out the resultant fires, F/Lt C W Nichol crash-landed his aircraft in a ploughed field about two kilometres south of Nordausques (Nord-Pas-de-Calais) at just after midnight on 23 March 1944.
The aircraft broke its back on landing, and F/O R D Deans RCAF (bomb aimer) and Sgt F C Townsend (flight engineer) were thrown from the nose, Deans having already been wounded during the fighter attack, and Townsend injuring his face; Jackson was also thrown out, injuring his knee. F/Sgt Arthur John Elliott, the 20-year-old wireless operator, had been hit in the spine and was still trapped, and Jackson says that he and rear-gunner Sgt George C Fearman (2557) tried to get Elliott out. The navigator Sgt P S Hoare then went back for his maps, and at that point, the aircraft caught fire, and they were forced back by a sheet of flame.
The six men sat and discussed their next move, and while Deans and Townsend said they could not walk, Jackson, Nichol, Fearman and Hoare set off together, Jackson being helped by the other three. At about 0230 hrs, Sgt Hoare decided he needed a drink and went off to find one - the others waited half an hour but he failed to return, and they continued walking through the night without him. At about six o'clock, they stopped at a wood, where they slept through the day, and then as Jackson felt he couldn't keep up, Nichol and Townsend went on, the three men agreeing they should head south-west.
Sgt Fearman (who was interviewed on 21 September 1944) has a slightly different version of events, confirming that Deans, Townsend and Hoare were injured and in need of medical attention but saying they deliberately attracted the Germans' attention while he, Nichol and Jackson got away.
Jackson made his way to Nort-Leulinghem, where he lay in a field watching a farmhouse before approaching. He was given food and a bottle of water before leaving, continuing to walk by the night and rest by day until the morning of 29 March, when he reached a small farm outside Lumbres (home of Alfred Feyelle and family at Acquin-Westbecourt), where he was taken in. He was given food, and the farmer's wife bathed his injured leg, and when he asked if they knew anyone who spoke English, one of the sons brought a man named Alexandre Canonne (of Quai de Blequin) who asked him if his name was Jackson - explaining that Nichol and Fearman had reached another farm nearby two days earlier.
Alexandre Canonne said he would get Jackson to Paris as soon as possible but in the meantime, he should stay on the farm. Jackson stayed with the Feyelle family until the night of 20 April, when a friend of Canonne's, a Belgian, took him back to Cannone's house in Lumbres. The original idea of taking a train to Paris next morning was delayed because of American bombing, so the Belgian took Jackson to Lille, where they met another Belgian, this one named Lucien, a former professional footballer who claimed to have kept goal for Tottenham Hotspurs in 1929, and they stayed overnight in a hotel.
Next morning (22 Apr), Jackson and the two Belgians took an eight o'clock train to Paris, the journey taking ten hours due to a combination of bomb damage and the engine breaking down. On arrival in the capital, Canonne had told Jackson he would be staying with René Boullet at the Hotel Cristal on rue Jarry, near the gare du Nord but when one of the Belgians telephoned, they were told that Boullet would not be back until late that night. The first Belgian then left to return to Brussels while Jackson and the second Belgian “hung around cafés” until eleven o'clock that evening. They then checked and found that Boullet had not returned to the hotel, and so the Belgian took Jackson to his flat for the night.
Next morning, the Belgian saw Boullet at the hotel, and Jackson met him later that day in a café near the Belgian's flat. A doctor friend of the café's proprietor came and attended to Jackson's leg before taking him to his “surgery for electrical treatment”, and then Boullet took him 7 rue Chaptal, Paris IX where he was sheltered with Mme Sylvie Rousselot.
Boullet told Jackson he would only be staying with Mme Rousselot for two or three days but it wasn't until the night of 16 May that Boullet called for him and handed him over in the street to another man, who took him to a flat on the bank of the Seine, home of a couple named Silver. Both the Silvers spoke perfect English, and the husband, Marcel G Silver, told Jackson that he was the Chief Christian Scientist practitioner in Paris, and that Boullet had asked him and his wife to put Jackson up after hearing that the Germans intended to raid the Pigalle area where Mme Rouselot lived - he did not mention that he was an associate of “Jean-Marie” - SOE agent Henri Frager.
On 18 May, Marcel Silver took Jackson to meet a woman at gare Saint-Lazare, saying that he was being transferred to another organisation, and the woman took Jackson to her home in the suburbs where he stayed overnight. On the evening of 19 May, the woman's husband (who told him that a party had gone through the night before (assume Francis et al.) took Jackson to gare d'Austerlitz where he gave Jackson a ticket for Toulouse and handed him over to a woman guide.
On arrival in Toulouse on 20 May, Jackson and his guide waited at the station until a man came along, who passed Jackson over to another woman, who took him to Françoise Dissard, who Jackson says knew he was coming. At her home, Jackson met about 13 Americans, including William Ross, Roderick Francis, Arthur Cavanaugh, Earl Woodard and Monroe Hotaling. Françoise told them that eight (sic) men would leave that night and six were to follow in the morning.
Jackson says that he was in the first party, which included Francis, Cavanaugh and Hotaling (who says that Ross and Turlington were also in first group). They went from a suburban station (presumably Murat) to Saint-Gaudens, accompanied by two guides. In Saint-Gaudens they were met by a driver known as Frisco (American-born Jean Barrere) and a guide - Jackson reports that Frisco was definitely in touch with Françoise in Toulouse. The two men took them by car to a disused farmhouse where they spent the night while Frisco and the guide returned to Saint-Gaudens to meet the second party, leaving them with a Sten gun. The others failed to arrive, and at about mid-day on 21 May, Frisco and the guide returned with the car and took the party to an empty house near Sarracave (Midi-Pyrenees), about 30 miles from Saint-Gaudens. They told the group that some of the guides had been arrested in Toulouse, which was why the others had not arrived that morning.
On about 23 May, the other six Americans (assume Mills, Maher, Reed, Serafin, Woodard and Mahan) arrived at the farm, and on 25 May, two more Americans, 1/Lt Ivan Eugene Glaze (#797) and S/Sgt Warren Woodruff Cole (#821) (navigator and tail gunner of 42-30782 B-17 42-30782 (Reed) which was shot down over Holland on 11 January 1944) joined them.
Jackson says it was 26 May when the evaders were taken in two cars, into the foothills. Just before arriving at their destination however, the vehicle with Jackson on board, passed a car stopped at the side of the road, and two shots were fired at their tyres. Both shots missed and the car set off to chase them. The evaders and their guides went another 200 yards before leaving their car at the roadside, and scattering to hide. They watched the pursuing vehicle drive past before returning to their car and continuing their journey.
At a rendezvous point on the road, they met the rest of the Americans - and P/O Roland Hoare (2003) (flight engineer of 12 Sqn Lancaster JB650 (Grannum), shot down over Belgium 27-28 Jan 44) and F/O James Smith RAAF (1998) (pilot of 9 Sqn Lancaster LM361, shot down 18-19 April 1944) - who had joined Hoare at Orville (Indre) on about 6 May, and says they joined “Jackson and 15 Americans” at Arbon (Midi-Pyrenees) on about 24 May - and 2/Lt Jesse M Hamby (#762) (co-pilot of B-24 42-28763 (Teague) shot down south of Arras 1 April 1944), who had joined Hoare and Smith a few days earlier at Bagnères-de-Bigorre.
Jackson says that the remainder of his journey was same as Hoare - who simply says they crossed to Canejan on 29 May, where they were arrested by Spanish police, and taken next day to Les, then Viella (Vielha), Sort (where all 18 evaders are recorded as arriving on 5 June) and Lerida (where they contacted a British representative). On 13 June, they left for Alhama, and on 23 June, Jackson left for Gibraltar.
The only other details I've managed to extract from the American reports is Francis saying that their guide across the mountains was a former French air force pilot called Georges, and that they were joined by some refugees who gave up on the first night despite the Americans carrying their baggage for them; and Ross saying the party was in pretty bad condition, and that F/O Vincent [Jackson] had to be dragged by Woodard, Mahan and Marx.
Jesse Hamby (#762) arrived at Gibraltar on 19 June, leaving two days later on an overnight flight to Whitchurch (Bristol). Jackson arrived at Gibraltar on 24 June and was flown (presumably overnight) to Bristol, arriving there on 25 June, along with Smith (1998) and Hoare (2003). I think rest of the Americans were taken to Gibraltar together, arriving there on 26 June. Cavanaugh (#807) was flown overnight to the UK, arriving 27 June; Glaze (#797), Francis (#806), Woodard (#808) and Hotaling (#809) were flown overnight to Bristol, arriving 28 June; and Mahan (#810), Marx (#813), Turlington (#814), Serafin (#815), Maher (816), Mills (#817) and Cole (#821) were flown overnight to Bristol, arriving there on 30 June. Ross (#803) and Reed (#804) don't say when they were flown to Bristol but probably on the same flight as Francis, Woodard and Hotaling.
Special thanks to Michael Moores LeBlanc for his particular contributions to this article; to David Harrison and Paul McCue for identifying some of the people who worked with “Jean-Marie”, and as ever to Franck Signorile for his help in identifying some of the helpers.