Flying Officer D. H. Balmer
Unit : 570 Squadron, 38 Group
Service No. : J/87607
Flying Officer Balmer was the pilot of a Stirling that was shot down on the 18th September 1944. The following report to MI9, written by himself, describes the events surrounding the downing of the aircraft and his subsequent evasion from capture, aided by the Dutch Resistance.
J.87607 F/O D.H. BALMER, R.C.A.F. [Royal Canadian Air Force], 570 Sqdn., 38 Group, R.A.F.
Date of Birth: 20 Apr 19.
Length of Service: 3 yr. 4 mos.
Post in Crew: Pilot
Peacetime Profession: Lumberman.
Private Address: c/o K.R. BALMER, COMOX, B.C., Canada.
OTHER MEMBERS OF CREW
F/O G.A. MOMBRUN (2nd Pilot) (evaded, safe)
F/O KEAG (Navigator) (evaded, safe)
P/O BLIGHT (Bomb Aimer) (evaded, safe)
F/Sgt. KEMPTON, R.J. (Wireless Operator) (evaded, safe)
Cpl. BARKER (Despatcher) (killed)
Dvr. BRIDGEMAN (Despatcher) (evaded, safe)
Sgt. CRABB, R.W. (Passenger) (evaded, safe)
F/Sgt. ARCHER (Rear Gunner) (P/W)
Sgt. IRELAND (Engineer) (fate unknown) [Prisoner of War]
Type of aircraft, place, date, time of departure.
Stirling IV, HARWELL, 18 Sep 44, 1230 hrs.
Where and when did you come down?
2 miles S.E. of [OUIDENBOSCH ?], 18 Sep 44, 1445 hrs.
How did your dispose of your parachute, harness, and mae west?
Hidden by helpers.
Were all secret papers and equipment destroyed?
Aircraft burnt out.
I was the pilot of a Stirling which took off from HARWELL on 18 Sep 44 at 1230 hrs. for the purpose of dropping supplies in the ARNHEM area. (HOLLAND, 1:100,000, Sheet 5. 700790)
On the route to our target we were severely hit by flak in the region of [STAMPERSYAT ?] (Sheet 4, 720400). The aircraft immediately caught fire and I gave the order to bale out. F/Sgt. ARCHER, Sgt. CRABB, P/O BLIGHT, Sgt. IRELAND, and F/O KEAY all baled out, but as the aircraft was by this time too low for a safe jump I told the remaining members of the crew that I was going to make a crash landing, and that they should assume emergency positions. F/O MOMBRUN at great risk to himself, strapped me into my seat, using his arm as a strap, realising that if this was not done I stood a grave risk of being killed on landing. By doing so he thereby jeopardised his own chance of escape.
I landed the aircraft in a grass field. I was badly bruised and shaken but otherwise unhurt and F/O MOMBRUN and Sgt. KEMPTON were in the same state. Dvr. BRIDGEMAN sustained a dislocated shoulder and Cpl. BARKER was very seriously injured about the head. Subsequently I learned that he had been taken to hospital at ROOSENDAAL (730310) where he died.
The aircraft which was burning was immediately surrounded by Dutch people and a Catholic priest who spoke English took us to a nearby house where a young girl tended our wounds. From there on my movements were arranged for me.
The Catholic priest whose named was FATER [RAS...?], ZEGGE, HOLLAND (760330) took me to his home where I stayed overnight and next day I was visited by a member of the Underground (name unknown) who took me to the house of W.E.J. [CAMP...?] in ROOSENDAAL (730310). I do not know the address in ROOSENDAAL which was only a temporary home of [CAMP...?]. His permanent house in [VIJV...?], 126, BREDA (950360).
I stayed in ROOSENDAAL for three nights and at 0700 hrs on the 22 Sep FATER [RAS...?] came and took me to [OUIDENBOSCH ?] (777372). There he took me to the Central Police Station where I was dressed in the uniform of the Dutch Police and taken by a policeman on the back of his motor cycle to BREDA (950360). This was organised by the Chief of Police at [OUIDENBOSCH ?] whose name is DE [OKIR?]. He was very helpful. There I was taken to VROOX and ? store, a large shop owned by Mr. WITTE, who lived in the store. He had closed the shop in order that he might accommodate Allied forces who might be evading capture. During that day I was joined by F/O MOMBRUN, F/O KEAY, F/O BLIGHT, and Sgt. CRABB of my crew and by Lt. ARNOLD, S/Sgt. QUICK, T/Sgt BROGA, Lt-Col. KROSS and Major CANNON, the crew of a Dakota of the U.S.A.A.F. We were also joined by Sgt. FITZPATRICK, R.A.C. [Royal Armoured Corps] who, I believe, had been taken prisoner and had escaped from the Germans at BREDA railway station. We stayed here until 3 Oct when we were dispersed to different addresses. The reason for this move was the fact that the Germans were constantly coming into the store for supplies and we feared that they might finally decide to search the store.
Sgt. CRABB and I were taken by the Chief of the BREDA Underground (name unknown) to the home of a family, also in BREDA, but I do not know either their name or address. We lived with them for 9 days and on 12 Oct I was moved by the Underground to the home of J.W. VERSTAPEN, KORTE, [PLOE..STRAAT?] 26a, BREDA, where I stayed until the Polish troops entered BREDA on 31 Oct.
My thanks to Ann Sadler for a copy of this report.
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