They came from Burgundy
Chapter 28
The Loss of Sgt Peacock
On 22 October 1943, Frederick Long (1545) Alfred Jaworowski (#208) Anthony Marandola (#209) Oscar Hamblin (#210) Harry Hawes (#211) Allan Johnston (#212) Vincent Cox (#219) and Charles Peacock were taken by train from Paris via Toulouse to Pamiers and Lavelanet.
Capt Frederick H Long (1545) was captured with his Commando unit at Lentini (Sicily) on 14 July 1943. He was held at Campo 66 (Capua) until mid-August when he was moved to PG19 at Bologna. Following the Italian Armistice, the camp was taken over by German troops and on 11 September 1943, the inmates of PG19 were sent by rail to Germany, arriving at the ORs camp of Moosburg on 13 September. A few days later the officers were moved to Fort Bismarck near Strasbourg (Alsace).
On 1 October 1943, Long and Capt Roy Bridgman-Evans (1557) escaped from the camp, covered by brother officers as they cut their way through the wire. They walked to Epinal in Lorraine where they found shelter for a couple of nights then on to Aillevillers-et-Lyaumont where they were sheltered by a man named Nicholas Vogelsang. Their photographs were taken and on 12 October, Emil Horn (of 7 Faubourg de Montbeliard) came from Belfort with ID cards for them. On 16 October, Emil Horn took them both by train to Belfort where they spent the day with Albert Zangelen at 16 Faubourg de Lyons and met Paul Rassiniers (of 15 rue de Papillon, Belfort) head of the de Gaulle section. Later that day, a guide took them overnight from Belfort to Paris where, outside the Place de l'Opera, they were handed over to the Bourgogne organisation.
On arrival in Paris on 17 October, Long and Bridgman-Evans were taken to Georges Guillemin's home at 69 rue Victor Hugo in Colombes where the two men parted, Bridgman-Evans leaving for Perpignan that evening while Long was taken by Marie (Gabrielle Wiame) first to Maud Couvé at rue de Madrid and then to stay overnight with Andrée Vandevoorde and family at Fontenay-sur-Bois. Next day he was taken to a Mme Woittegand (query spelling) at Vincennes where he met Major William Boren (#194). On 21 October, Long was put in touch with Capitaine Level of the French army and four other Frenchmen with whom he was to travel – and Mme Marie provided Long with a new ID card. Next evening, Long was taken to the Gare d'Austerlitz where he joined the five Frenchmen, two American officers and five American ORs ...
Sgt Alfred A Jaworowski (#208) and S/Sgt Anthony Marandola (#209) were the waist-gunners of B-17 41-24591 Rigor Mortis (305BG/366BS) (Halliday) which was returning from Stuttgart on 6 September 1943 and just short of Beauvais when they found, like so many others that day, they were running out of fuel. As they left formation they were attacked by fighters and the aircraft was abandoned to crash near Neufchatel-en-Bray (Seine-Maritime).
Jaworowski was helped immediately on landing near Gournay-en-Bray and soon joined by the injured Marandola . They were hidden in a barn for two days until their journey was arranged. They were visited by a M Coleman – a herbalist at Gournay-en-Bray – who brought a young schoolteacher who was on holiday from her job in Paris. The two airmen were helped by various local people, given clothes and ID papers, until 11 September when they were taken by train to Paris. Jaworowski comments that while nothing happened on the train, everyone seemed to realise who they were. At Gare Saint-Lazaire, they were passed on to another French woman who took them to a luxurious home of an elderly woman in the Etoile area. They were visited there by a Scottish nurse (widow of a Frenchman) from the American Hospital who tended to Marandola's injuries, and by a rich American woman called Elizabeth, wife of a movie director. They also met Andre Blateyron (who smoked a big pipe, like Sherlock Homes) and his brother-in-law Raoul (Pierre Berteaux), who supplied them with papers. Raoul was very dark, always wore a black hat and (apparently) had ambitions to become a Chicago gangster after the war.
On 18 September, Francois (about 19 years old) took them to his home near the Eiffel Tower where they stayed with his mother Germaine - and heard that the American woman Elizabeth and several other members of the organisation had been arrested. On 1 October, a short, blonde woman called Marie (Gabrielle Wiame) took them to stay with Maud Couvé, Alice Brouard and Alice's daughter Marguerite (Maggie) at 25 rue de Madrid. Marandola was able to indulge in his love of cooking by preparing vegetable soup (there being very little food of any kind available without resorting to the black market) while Marie would bring them cigarettes. They were also visited there by Andre and Raoul – and Maurice, a police inspector who took them out for drinks and got a new ID card for Marandola. On 22 October, Maud and Maggie took Jaworowski and Marandola to the station and passed them on to Marie who turned them over to their guide, described by Jaworowski as a good-looking big-shot with an odd hat ...
T/Sgt Oscar K Hamblin (#210) and 2/Lt Harry H Hawes (#211) were the top-turret gunner and bombardier of B-17 42-3455 Lucky Thirteen (384BG/546BS) (Faulkiner) which was returning from Stuttgart on 6 September 1943 and running out of fuel. They had already sustained flak damage before being attacked by fighters and the aircraft was abandoned south of Beauvais. Hamblin and Hawes - along with their pilot 1/Lt Russell R Faulkiner (#172) - were sheltered in and around Clermont, Creil and Chauny before being taken to Paris and the Bourgogne organisation – see Faulkiner earlier.
Hamblin was lucky to get that far, having first landed in a lake (presumably l'etang de Breuil-le-Sec) and almost drowning when he became entangled in the shrouds of his parachute. Fortunately he was carrying a hunting knife in his coveralls and was able to cut himself free and just as he released himself from the parachute, a French couple came with a boat to rescue him and row him ashore. However, according to Roland Luccesi writing in his 1984 book ‘De l'Interieur vers la Force' that wasn't quite the end of the story. The French couple were Louis Faulon and his wife and when Louis asked Hamblin if he were American, Hamblin's Germanic sounding ‘yeah' resulted in Mme Faulon trying to knock him overboard again with an oar and it was only her husband's intervention that prevented her. Hamblin was finally brought safely ashore and taken back to the Faulon home in Breuil-le-Sec to dry out. They contacted local resistance man (and village maire) Andre Pommery and two days later, Gaston Legrand collected Hamblin and took him by motorcycle back to his house in nearby Clermont ...
On 29 September, Hamblin, Hawes and Faulkiner were brought from Chauny to Paris and the Jardin des Plantes where they were handed over to an elderly woman, known as the Lady in Black. After taking Faulkiner back to her apartment, the ‘Lady in Black' returned to deliver Hamblin and Hawes to Simone Levavasseur who sheltered them in a room above her sweet shop, La Petite Chocolatiere at 19 Avenue d'Orleans. They were visited regularly by the Lady in Black until the evening of Friday 22 October when she took them to the station ...
2/Lt Allan G Johnston (#212) was the navigator of B-17 42-5057 (305BG/422BS) (Dahly) which was also returning from Stuttgart on 6 September 1943 and into a strong head-wind. Like so many others that day, they were running low on fuel and eventually fell out of formation. After half an hour of evasive manoeuvres against fighter attacks, the aircraft was abandoned over Picardy.
Johnston landed south-west of Abbeville, near Blangy-sur-Bresle. He was helped by a young brother and sister named Fauget (not found) and sheltered for the next month with both the Fauget and Crept families (Honore Crept at Ferme Romesnil) in Nesle-Normadeuse. On 4 October, Johnston was moved, firstly to Blangy-sur-Bresle then to Eu, where he stayed with M Beauvisage at 60 Boulevard Victor Hugo and joined his radio operator T/Sgt Grant Carter (#213). On 8 October, Johnston and Carter were driven to Hornoy le Bourg where they stayed with Joe Balfe. After two days at Hornoy, they were taken to stay with Rene (aka Jean) and Odette Lemattre in Amiens for a week.
On 15 October a man in knickers (sic) and horn-rimmed glasses took Johnston and Carter to Paris and turned them over to the Lady in Black, a tall, red haired woman - wife of a French colonel - who lived on the fourth-floor of an apartment building in Paris XV. They were sheltered there for a few days before Johnston was moved to stay with Peter Magnas at 3 rue du Guesclin. On 22 October, the Lady in Black (Madeleine Melot) took Johnston to the station ...
S/Sgt Vincent J Cox (#219) and T/Sgt Charles B Peacock were the tail-gunner and radio operator of B-17 42-30271 Bomb Boogie (95BG/335BS) (Ransom) which was abandoned over Picardy on 6 September 1943.
Cox landed near Saint-Erme-Oute-et-Ramecourt where a young boy called Henri hid him and returned later with food. That evening Cox was passed on to two men (one blond) who had his radio operator Charles Peacock with them and taken to a house where they were joined by waist-gunner S/Sgt Pasquale Delvento (#184). Next day, Cox and Peacock were taken to stay with M et Mme Mueler/ Muller (query) at nearby Amifontaine. On 16 September, Cox and Peacock were moved to stay overnight with the blond men who first had helped Peacock and where they joined their top-turret gunner T/Sgt Harold R Knotts. Next day, a Red Cross nurse from Paris took Cox, Peacock and Knotts to Paris by train. Cox and Peacock stayed three days with Simone Levavasseur in her apartment at 9 rue Mouton-Duvernet until Mme Blondie and the Lady in Black (Gabriele Wiame and Madeleine Melot) took them to Asnieres-sur-Seine where they stayed with Pauline Hagues at 7 Avenue Marianne Rouston. On 22 October, a young man named Lucien Demongogin (of 18 rue Victor Hugo, Asnieres-sur-Seine) took Cox and Peacock to the station where Mme Blondie turned them over to a guide who was leading 2/Lt Allan Johnston (#212) ...
On 22 October, the eight evaders were taken overnight by train to Toulouse (where they changed guides to a short French officer who was on his way to Algiers to join the Free French) and then the three-thirty afternoon train for Foix but got off at Pamiers. They were joined by a man known as Antonio (Antonio Mandico/Antonis Manolico – query) and took a regular bus to Lavelanet where they ate a delicious (sic) meal (courtesy of Louis Soum and his wife of rue de l'Hirondelle) and slept in a closed-down textile mill. Antonio and their French guide from Toulouse handed them over to a mountain guide (Georges Miquel of Les Cabannes) and they were joined by more Frenchmen. The party left at nine the following evening (24 October) and walked until 3 am next morning, getting lost in the process. They found a house (somewhere short of Les Cabannes, according to Long) where they were allowed to sleep in a barn and a boy from the house put them back on the right trail – they had apparently climbed the wrong mountain. They set off again the following morning – having by then fallen out with the French who were (allegedly) experienced mountaineers while the Americans, many of whom had had no exercise for weeks, were suffering – to a village. They stayed in the village all the following day before leaving at 4am on 27 October. They were supposed to walk 30 kilometres but four of the Americans got lost in the fog and snow and only caught up again by luck. They built a fire in a cabin before deep snow forced them to retrace their steps back to a valley and another house. Some of the Americans lagged behind again after one of them fell in a stream but caught up once more. The French stayed in the house with a fire and changed their clothes while the Long and the Americans were put in a wood shed where they built a fire of their own, regardless of the lack of chimney. They stayed for the rest of the day at the house and after a row between the evaders and the French, set off once more on the morning of 29 October – this time in bright sunshine and at a very slow pace and taking a five minute rest every hour - until climbing one last mountain at 6 o'clock that evening. By that time, almost everyone except thirty-four-year-old commando Frederick Long was sick and vomiting (including some of the French walkers) and Cox and Peacock were left behind after the French officer from Toulouse insisted the guides take them on as it was getting dark. They went to a hotel (the restaurant Calbo) in Soldeu, Andorra where the French had rooms and the evaders slept in the barn. Next day a taxi took the evaders to a small town, passing an exhausted Cox along the way – they didn't dare pick him up as the taxi driver wasn't part of the organisation but the French arranged for Cox to join them later that day. The seven remaining evaders were taken by bus across the border into Spain and La Seu d'Urgell - where they picked up Sgt Kenneth Moore (#214) - and were met by a Spaniard who gave them a meal and Spanish travel documents and they spent the night in a hotel. Moore hadn't been expected and so didn't have Spanish papers but the rest of the party left by car the following morning for Barcelona and the British Consulate, arriving there at five o'clock on the morning of 1 November.
Marandola is particularly critical of this group of Frenchmen, saying the trip across the Pyrenees was unnecessarily disagreeable, with them treating the Americans ‘like dogs' and saying it was a miracle there wasn't murder done ...
Sgt Kenneth R Moore (#214) from B-17 42-5890 (Christenson) had made his own way to Tarbes before joining a group of French and crossing into Andorra. It was another two days before suitable documents were supplied and he reached the British Consulate on 2 November.
While crossing the mountains, Cox was usually at the front but he dropped back to walk with Peacock who was exhausted. Peacock collapsed just after crossing into Andorra and Cox stayed with him until they lost touch with the rest of the party. The two men stayed overnight in the mountains and Peacock was unconscious when Cox left him to go down into Soldeu. On finding the guides, Cox told the them where he'd last seen Peacock and they told him they would go and find him. Cox waited another day but heard nothing more about Peacock - or the guides. At the time of writing this, and in spite of an extensive investigation in 1950 by the US Graves Registration Detachment – and further enquiries by Claude Benet in 2013 - 32385488 T/Sgt Charles B Peacock USAAF is still officially MIA.
Some additional details are taken from US 7887 Graves Registration Detachment Case 9938 file, the 1950 investigation into the fate of Sgt Peacock, kindly sent to me by Terry duSoleil of 95BG MIA Research.