Sunday, December 13, 2009

Behind Enemy Lines in North Africa

This is the true story of Lieutenant, Dick Jones, General list.

Webmaster comment: Although this story is not of the RCAF, i do have an interest also for the WW2 North African desert campaign.

In November 1941 I accidenttally parachuted into Tunisia on my way to Tripoli. The Vichy bagged me almost immediately and i was internet at Layhouat (Algeria). From there i escaped in 1942 and was again recaptured. This time i was charged for espionage and sentenced to twenty years hard labour. Despite the efforts of the American counsul, the authorities interned me in a civil prison.

In November, 1942 (by then the Americans had landed in North Africa, i escaped from prison during a revolt.

In quick time we managed to assmble part of our old organisation, obtain some money, a wireless and other necessary tools of our trade. My orders from Malta were to stay in Tunis and gain information.

After three months, i was ordered to cross through the lines and proceed to Algers. My compagnion on the journey was to be a French doctor who had been in Goal for Gaulisme (The Vichy didn't like the Gauliste)

We left Tunis at 11:30 a.m. on the 23rd February, 1943. Our conveyance was a Jewish supply lorry ferrying material to the front. A short distance from Djonzzar (Pont du Fahs) we hopped off the lorry and made into the woods. We changed into Arab dress.

By now it was 2:30 in the afternoon. A five hours walk took us the the front line. It was now dark. We oriented ourselves by the gun fire.

Everything was going well when we were captured by Arabs. Undoubtedly they intented to rob us. As we had several million francs in our possesion it would have not been a bad haul. Happily, i speak Arabic fluently. After a two hours delay we managed to convince them as we were just simple travellers and should be allowed to proceed on our journey. The snag was that while we were past the Arabs, we had lost our two valuable hours of darkness before the moon came up. This meant that we had to pass through German lines in moonlight.

We went on. At Shraa, a German patrol of three soldiers discovered us. We were in "No Man's Land". We tried to withdraw. They fired half a dozen shots in our direction. I asked my friend- "Coggia! Are yout hit?"

"No," he answered.

We pretended we were dead. When the Germans were about three yards from us we instinctively fired from our "Parabellums" (small Italian revolvers we had brought from Tunis). Then all hell broke loose. This small German patrol was supported by a fighting patrol of about 50 men. My compagnion was killed. The three Germans were killed. I was wounded in the leg. I was taken prisonner by the Afrika Korps.

At their headquarters, a German officer demanded my identity. "Dick Jones" He wouldn't believe it. At the time the Gestapo had a price on my head. The officer insisted that he knew Dick Jones quite well and that i was not him. Prospects did not look too bright, captured as i was in Arab dress with a wireless.

On arrival at Berlin i was handed over to the Gestapo. Then began a tour of German Gestapo prisons for the next thirteen months.

Repeatdedly the Germans promised to grant me P.O.W, recognition as a British officer. Eventually, i got fed up and started my hunger strike againts the schocking treatement i found myself put to.

September 20th, 1944 was a great day. I walked through the gates of Oflag IVC. At long last i was with civilized people Allied soldiers, airmen and sailors as a prisoner of war.

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