Flight Lieutenant Gordon Herbert Thring

 

Unit : 620 Squadron, 38 Group, RAF.

Service No. : J.7913

 

Flight Lieutenant Thring's aircraft crash-landed in Normandy on the 6th June. The following is his M.I.9 evasion report:

 

Left : Allied beachhead near Caen, 8 Jun 44.

Arrived : Gosport, 8 Jun 44.

Date of Birth : 24 Jun 19.

R.A.F. Service : Since 8 Feb 41.

O.T.U. : Ossington.

Conversion Unit : Woolfox Lodge.

Post in crew : Pilot.

Peacetime Profession : School Teacher.

Private Address : Rockwood, Ontario, Canada.

 

Other members of crew:

F/O Price (navigator).

F/O Braathen (bomb aimer).

Sgt. Buchan (flight engineer).

F/Sgt. Burgess (wireless operator)

F/O McMahon (rear gunner).

 

(Note: The other members of this crew, who have not been interrogated by I.S.9(W), were with F/Lt. Thring during the whole of the time covered by this report).

 

I took off from Fairford in a Stirling aircraft at 1010 hours on 6 Jun 44 on a special mission to France.

 

After we had reached the target and completed our mission the aircraft was set on fire by machine-gun fire from the ground. Owing to the fact that the dinghy was on fire and the sea near the coast was crowded with shipping, I considered that it was inadvisable to "ditch". I crash landed near Periers-sur-le-Dan (France, 1:250,000, Sheet 8, U 0676), about six miles North of Caen.

 

The whole crew hid in a field until dark. We then walked openly in an attempt to reach our own lines, but we were spotted by two Germans on bicycles. They challenged us and we were made prisoners. We were escorted to a dug-out where we were searched. We were then taken under armed guard to near Caen (U 06), but a short distance from the town we turned North to Mathieu (U 0476), six miles North of Caen, arriving at a chateau there at dawn on 7 Jun. We were fed and put in a barn. During the day we were aware of Allied activity in the area.

 

That evening we spent about four hours in a trench with the Germans at the suggestion of the Colonel, who seemed greatly concerned about our safety. During the time we were in the trench a lot of firing took place between Allied troops and the Germans occupying the chateau. The German soldiers requested my engineer, Sgt. Buchan, to go out with his hands up, but I would not allow him to take this risk.

 

Fighting continued until dusk, and then ceased. At 2330 hrs. a German captain asked us to go into the basement of the chateau, and we did so. We were joined by all the German soldiers who had been defending the chateau. The Captain told us that he intended to surrender to the Allies at dawn.

 

At daybreak on 8 Jun another German officer, a Lieutenant, gave orders to the soldiers to lay down their arms and to remain in the basement. At 1030 hrs. two British soldiers approached the chateau, and the German soldiers asked us to make him and his men prisoners and march them out of the chateau. The Colonel and Captain had disappeared during the night. We armed ourselves, made the Germans our prisoners, and marched them outside. We contacted the two British soldiers, handed the Germans, numbering 61, over to them, and accompanied the party to a local headquarters. We were then sent to the beach and despatched by boat to the U.K.

 

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