Saturday, July 14, 2007

RCAF combat missions over occupied France in 1941

The Battle for Europe must never be forgotten. If ever we forget history it will repeat itself sooner or later in time. The Battle for Europe consisted of Hitler and the Wehrmacht wanting to invade Europe which they did and conquered a great part of it. Thus began the Battle for Europe. Poland first fell to Germany on September 1st 1939 and then France in 1940, Belgium, Holland, the Balkans and North Africa and Greece. The fighting was continued to the doorsteps of Moscow, Russia. Such a costly war in lives and resources. Hitler was gaining ground at a worrisome paste. What can be done to prevent further incursions from the Wehrmacht on European soils. Defend the Island of Britain and the free world with blood, sweat and tears. In 1940 Hitler gave the order to invade England and the name of the operation was called Sea Lion. As you have seen in my previous post, due to the tenacity of the The British, the Canadians and the Allied Airmen, Soldiers and sailors England was saved from the invasion. Now we must fight on the Shores of continental Europe and North Africa to help defeat the enemy. The RCAF has contributed greatly to the cause of freedom in Europe. In 1941 the RCAF was stationed in England to destroy any Uboats in the English channel and in the Atlantic and to cause havoc on German held territories on the European continent.

Brave Canadian and allied airmen took off from air fields in England to Attack installations in occupied territory in France and to destroy German vehicle convoys and communications but this was done at a great cost. For example, if you were flying in a Wellington Bomber or Spitfire fighter and were shot down over France there were only two options. Either you were killed by the impact of a movable machine gun mounted on the rear of Wehrmacht convoy trucks or Flak (A ground to Air Cannon aimed at aircraft's to destroy and bring you down) or you had to bail out over enemy territory which was not very encouraging for any airmen. If you were to survive the impact of the explosion on your aircraft chances were you would be wounded and you had to bail out with your parachute sometimes at night and in sometimes rather rough weather.

Bailing out in cloud cover was actually good because the enemy would have more problems spotting you as your parachute brought you down softly to the ground. Think of it this way my friend. Pretend that you are the airman that was brought down and it is you is is trying to escape the German army! Who ever is reading this article, you are in the airman's place and these are your first thoughts as you land on the ground OK, here we go! Now, i have made it thank God in am alive on French ground and as i look up to the sky Lord and Behold i see my bomber going down in flames with 4 parachutes and a sudden rush of sadness takes over the me (That's you living this, picture yourself as the airman boots on the ground in enemy territory don't forget) because you knows two of your friends inside the bomber did not have time to bail out. There should be six parachutes bailing out but there are only four to be seen. Why them and not me. We are seven on this mission! What do i hear now? My God i can hear German Shepard's barking in the distance. The airman would feel more anxiety as ever before because he knows the German army are on his tail.

(Note that the German army used German Shepard's to track airmen that were shot down because the German Shepard has a very good flair for smell and search.) I must run, i must hide, they are after me, mom please hear me, dear God don't let the German soldiers capture me otherwise what will i become. They might shoot me on the spot! Such a terrifying thought for an 18 or 19 year old kid from Toronto, Saskatoon or Quebec City, Halifax. The Airmen in the RCAF and RAF had very good training in circumstances like these. They were trained to keep their calm and remember what they were thought. First, get rid of your parachute, hide it so the German Army don't find it and then run but run silently in the forest, in the fields but do run silently and calmly and try to meet up with the members of your crew. Young man, you were sent on a mission, to destroy enemy installations and convoys but now your faith will be slim if the enemy captures you. Can i see the North star?(Aircrews were trained that if ever they were shot down over enemy territory to follow the north star because neutral territory was usually in the north? This was always depending on were the airman was shot down obviously!) It is one thirty in the morning, April 19,1941 on a clear night, it is rather cool tonight and damp. I must find my crewmen and friends. What will be of their faith in enemy territory? I saw them bailing out to the north of me. My God i still hear those German Shepard's and they seem to be getting closer, why is that. If i run i will give my position away. After all i am behind enemy lines. Then all of a sudden i hear engines, i know i recognise these airplane engines i hear above. Wellington Bombers, my God i am saved. They are flying above me at only a few hundreed feet above my head. I am here guys. Look down, just below... Well, they never saw me! They call this the rush of battle and it is also called battle Anxiety. Man, i am scared. I will follow the North Star and i will be rescued. As i am walking slowly in the forest and i feel tired and i am so hungry. I have been awake now for at least 17 hours. We took off from Skipton on Swale, England to bomb a bridge near Bordeaux France but now i am not sure exactly of where i am in France? I think i am in the region of Langon? I am cold, lost and tired. I want to sleep. I look at my watch and it is now three thirty in the morning. I sit down to catch up with my exhaustion and first thing i know i have fallen asleep on the ground only to be awaken a few minutes later by a German soldier with his K98 Mauser rifle pointing directly in my face. This is it, the war is over for me! I will only give my rank and serial number. Flight Lieutenant, Royal Canadian Air Force, serial number 4394217. Four weeks later i am sent by train to Stalag luft 3 in Sagan Eastern Germany. What as become of my colleagues i do not know! I hope they made it well? This is what happened to Canadian and allied airmen in World War 2 when they were shot down over enemy territory very often unless they had the help from the French underground.

The story is not over because you the airmen must try to escape. Your goal is not to finish the war wasting away in a prison camp. No, i shall try to escape and continue the fight for our freedom, the freedom of the free world. I will use what ever means i can to escape. Please follow my weblog because i will tell you of the true story of airmen, soldiers and sailors who tried to escape in 1943 from one of the most secure prisoner of war camps in German and based on a true story called the GREAT ESCAPE! Stay tuned!

1 comment:

minou11 said...

I am interested to read more on this true story!