Staff-Sergeant Edward Bryan Medeicott Helme

 

Unit : "D" Squadron, No.1 Wing, The Glider Pilot Regiment

Army No. : 4105593

 

Staff-Sergeant Helme's glider landed near Caen and he was taken prisoner close to Ranville on the 7th June 1944. The following is his M.I.9 evasion report:

 

Captured : Ranville, 7 Jun 44.

Escaped : From train 30 Jun 44.

 

Date of Birth : 22 May 20.

Army Service : 5 years.

Peacetime Profession : Chemist.

Private Address : Brick House, Tillington, Hereford.

 

I left R.A.F. Station, Tarrant Rushton at 0130 hrs on 6 Jun 44. I landed near Caen, but not on the correct landing zone, at 0330 hrs. I tried to make for the Allied lines near Ranville (France, 1:250,000, Sheet 8, U 17). I was captured with Lt. Pringle (R.A.) and Sgt. N.W. Hornsby (Glider Pilot Regt.) near Ranville on 7 Jun 44. Both these two are still P/W. As P/W we were moved to Pont L'Eveque (N.W. Europe, 1:250,000, Sheet 4, L 50) with our hands tied. We stayed here for three days. Pte. Sutton (Parachute Regt) was shot whilst trying to escape [Note: This could be Private Christopher Frederick Sutton, 7th Parachute Battalion, KIA 06/06/44, or Private Edward Ernest Sutton, 3rd Parachute Brigade Headquarters, KIA 08/06/44, No Known Grave] . On 10 Jun I was moved to Verneuil (Sheet 7, R 03). Food conditions here were bad. On 15 Jun I was moved to the interrogation centre at Chartres, where I stayed for nine days. On 24 Jun I was taken to Front Stalag 153 (Chartres). We were 683 in one room and were unable to lie down.

 

On 29 Jun we moved to Paris in buses to entrain for Germany. From then on my story is the same as that of Sgt. Shannon (S/P.G.(F) 2327), and S/Sgt Dow (S/P.G.(F) 2328). We escaped from a train on route for Germany on 30 Jun.

 

 

Sergeant Shannon continues:

 

I left Chartres early on the morning of 29 Jun 44 by bus in a party of 600 for Paris. At the Gare du Nord we left the buses and were forced to march between two lines of civilians who spat, struck, kicked, and shouted at us. This was a special reception party, for the other citizens of Paris were very friendly, but were kept away by the armed guards. We were marched to the Gare de L'Est and had many photographs taken of us. Also a radio commentator gave a description of us as we passed. We entrained 40 per wagon, receiving bread and sausage for three days and a drink of water. Towards night time S/Sgt Dow (S/P.G.(F)2328), Sgt. Helme (S/P.G.(F)2329) and myself broke the window open to escape but the train stopped before dark and guards were placed around the trucks.

 

We were allowed out in the morning of 30 Jun for 15 minutes, given a drink of tea, and once more locked up in the wagons. The train was held up by air raids most of the day. Towards night time we again broke the window open (in a different wagon) and at midnight climbed out on to the buffers and jumped. I jumped first, and became separated from Dow and Helme.

 

I walked up and down the railway track, but was fired at by a patrolman and hid in a field. After a wait, I headed South by the stars and entered a wood, but after walking for an hour came out at almost the spot where I entered. I returned to the railway to search for my comrades but was again fired upon. I headed South, and slept on the fringe of the wood.

 

The next morning (1 Jul) I explored the wood and met Dow and Helme. We headed S.E. or South all day, proceeding with great caution, as we had seen one German soldier in the wood. At nightfall we came out at the shrine at Neuvizy (Sheet 6, O 6919) and slept in a thicket off the road.

 

On 2 Jul we crossed the main road and headed across the fields, roughly South. Our escape compass was useless, as it was full of water. We entered a barn and stripped off our clothes, as we had been in continuous rain for 12 hours. We ate wild fruit and drank rain water. Dow approached a farmer, who was scared, but let us have two litres of milk. We slept in the wood some distance away, as we did not trust the farmer.

 

On 3 Jul we crossed a main road and railway, and Dow approached a cottage for food. We were given chicken, cheese, bread, and cider and told to be careful of German patrols. We crossed the fields all day and at evening approached a hamlet where we were given more food, cider, and eau-de-vie; also an old coat. We slept in a hay-rick.

 

Early in the morning of 4 Jul we approached a farm at Auboncourt (Sheet 9, O 6511) where we were given food and clothing which had been collected by the farmer's wife from the villagers. We slept the night at the farm. We were visited by members of the Resistance, one of whom, a gendarme conducted us to Ville-sur-Retourne (T 6294) where we stayed 12 days. Owing to Gestapo activity, we were moved to Tagnon (T 5199) but after nine days the neighbours became too curious, and we were moved to Reims.

 

I was separated from my companions owing to lack of accommodation, and stayed alone with a member of the Resistance. Dow and Helme were accommodated elsewhere in Reims. On the evening of 5 Aug we were warned that the Gestapo were making a raid, and I got away. My shelterer was taken prisoner, but was released after 15 days detention. I was taken to the same house as Helme, where we stayed until conducted to Paris by American Intelligence on 3 Sep 44.

 

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