July 21, 2008

Shot Down, Caught in an Avalanche and Captured by Germans

valorc has been doing a lot of work on the Missing Air Crew Reports from World War 2.

While I was looking at some annotations, I came across this great report:

It tells the story of an American B-24H Liberator that was shot down south of Paris. 5 of the crew made contact with the French resistance. After being moved around a few times, it was decided that they would try to hike out of France over the Pyrenees.

They set out with 4 French civilians, one of whom was to act as guide. While they were hiking over the mountains they were caught in a blinding snowstorm and then in an avalanche. One of the crew, Royce E Smith, freed himself from the snow and then searched for and found the rest of the party. Francis J Thackeray, and the 4 French guides were killed.

The remaining 4 airmen (Smith, William J Donley, Edward J Gilbert and Robert H Hirsch) headed off to try to find the Spanish border, but became lost and wandered into a small French mountain village where they were taken by the local police and turned over to the Germans.

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