Flight Lieutenant Bram Van Der Stok

 

National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3320/95

 

Name: F/Lt. Bram Van Der Stok.

Unit: 41 Squadron, A.D.G.B.

Captured: 12th April 1942.

Escaped: 24th March 1944.

Left: Gibraltar, 10th July 1944.

Arrived: Whitchurch, 11th July 1944.

Date of Birth: 30th October 1915.

R.A.F. Service: Since 14th September 1941.

O.T.U.: No.1 (Hawarden)

Conversion Unit: Nil.

Post in crew: Pilot.

Peacetime Profession: Medical Student.

Private Address: Dutch Headquarters, Arlington House, Arlington Street, London.

 

1. Capture:

 

I took off from TANGMERE in a Spitfire aircraft at 1200 hrs on 12 Apr 42 on a sweep over FRANCE. I became separated from my formation and was attacked by a formation of enemy fighters near ST. OMER (N.W. EUROPE 1:250,000, Sheet 1, H 15). My aircraft got out of control and I baled out at approximately 16,000 ft.

 

I landed in a field North of ST. OMER and contacted some French people, but they refused to help me, as Germans were close by. I was captured about five minutes after landing.

 

I was taken to ST. OMER aerodrome, where I was interrogated and introduced to the pilot who claimed to have shot me down. I was then taken to a house in ST. OMER, where I spent the night. This house is specially reserved for the detention of captured airmen. I was searched and asked some questions  and sent on the following day (13 Apr) to Dulag Luft, where I arrived on 14 Apr. I was interrogated before being allowed to enter the camp, but I refused to answer questions on military matters. No attempt was made to force me to answer questions. I remained in Dulag Luft until 27 Apr.

 

On 27 Apr I was sent to Stalag Luft 3 (SAGAN) with a party of approximately 70 Air Force personnel. I was put into the East compound.

 

2. Attempted Escapes. STALAG LUFT 3 (SAGAN).

 

(a) About the middle of Jun 42 F/Lt. PALMER and I intended to make an attempt to cut through the perimeter fence of the East compound at night. On the way from our barrack to the fence we were picked up by a searchlight from one of the control towers. We were able to get back to our barrack without incident, and the Germans did not succeed in discovering our identity.

 

(b) On 12 Mat 43 Lt. Cdr. SCHAPER and I hid in the Vorlager. We had succeeded in getting into the Vorlager from the East compound in a delousing party and we were not missed when the party returned to the compound. We were wearing Russian greatcoats and caps. Under the greatcoats we were wearing German Luftwaffe uniform and had on civilian clothes under the uniform. We hid in the roof of the lavatory used by the Russians and we remained there throughout the night.

 

F/Lt. HILL and a Belgian officer (name unknown) were attempting the same method at the same time as Lt. Cdr. SCHAPER and myself. They were hiding in the same roof. F/Lt. HILL and the Belgian officer were discovered during the night. A further search of the lavatory was made early next morning, and Lt. Cdr. SCHAPER and I were discovered. We were able to save our money and papers, with the exception of SCHAPER's Soldbuch. The money and papers were got back into the compound by giving them to a Russian who was in the lavatory at the time of our capture. We were punished with 14 days' "hard".

 

(c) On 11 Jun 43 a mass escape from the North compound was organised. There were two parties. A delousing party had been arranged, and an hour before this party was due to leave the compound a similar party was formed up and they walked through the gates with two Gefreiters (escapers in German uniform) in charge. A few moments later a party of six senior officers walked through the compound gate with me. I was dressed as an Unteroffizier. The six senior officers were Col. GOODRICH, Lt. Col. CLARKE, both of the U.S.A.A.F., W/Cdr. DAY, W/Cdr. TUCK, S/Ldr. JENNINGS, and F/Lt. KUCZGINSKY. The fake delousing party succeeded in getting clear of the camp, but were all re-captured later. My party was stopped a the second gate, as the guard recognised me. I was able to hide my German money, but my false German papers were found. The senior officers were punished with seven days in the cells. I was held pending enquiries for 48 days and then punished with ten days' "hard".

 

3. Escape:

 

On 24 Mar 44 a mass escape took place from the North compound of Stalag Luft 3 by means of a tunnel which had taken one year to construct. I was No.18 in the tunnel, priorities having been worked out by all the people taking part in the escape. Approximately 200 intending escapers were fitted out with clothing and papers, but I do not know how many of them were able to get out. The tunnel was 150 yards in length and was approximately 25 ft. below the surface, with a vertical shaft at each end. A rope was placed from the exit of the tunnel to a safe position in the woods about 15 yards from the exit, where a controlling officer gave the "all clear" by a tug on the rope.

 

I got out of the tunnel without incident and made my way to SAGAN station, where I had to wait for three hours, as trains were delayed by a raid on BERLIN. A time-table had been worked out, and the controlling officer in the woods gave each man a definite train by which to travel. This plan was upset by the air raid.

 

On the way to the station I was accosted by a German civilian, who asked what I was doing in the woods. I was wearing the following articles of clothing which had been altered in the camp:- Naval jacket and trousers, an Australian greatcoat, R.A.F. escape boots with the tops cut off, and a beret which had been made in the camp. I was posing as a Dutch worker and carrying appropriate identity papers. I told this civilian that I was a Dutch worker and that I was afraid of the police arresting me for being out of doors during an air raid. He said "It is all right if you are with me". He escorted me to the railway station.

 

At the station one of the German girl censors from the camp, who was on duty there, spoke to S/Ldr. KIRBY-GREEN. This girl was suspicious of him and got a Hauptmann of the German military police to examine his papers. While this was being done the girl spoke to me. She asked me a number of questions, but I was able to satisfy her. The Hauptmann was satisfied with S/Ldr. KIRBY-GREEN's papers. During the time I was waiting at the station at SAGAN I saw the officer who had been No.32 in the tunnel arrive.

 

The train for BRESLAU arrived at approximately 0330 hrs on 25 Mar. I travelled (second class) to BRESLAU where I arrived at 0500 hrs. There was no control of papers. I saw about eight of my fellow escapers there. They were - S/Ldr. BUSHEL, Lt. SCHEIDHAUER, Lt. STEVENS, Lt. GOUWS, F/Lt. STOWER and at least three others whose names I do not know.

 

I purchased a second class ticket for ALKMAAR (HOLLAND) (N.W. EUROPE 1:250,000, Sheet 3b, Y 95). I had the necessary Urlaubschein to do this. I spent the day in two cinemas and in the evening took a tram to the main station, where I got a train at 2000 hrs for BENTHEIM (GERMAN 1:100,000, Sheet 58, 7897). My papers were examined on four occasions during the journey. I arrived in BENTHEIM at 0900 hrs on 26 Mar. My papers were examined at the frontier control and I was passed through without incident. All my magazines and newspapers were confiscated.

 

I purchased a ticket and travelled by train (third class) to OLDENZAAL (HOLLAND) (6498). On arrival in OLDENZAAL I purchased a ticket and travelled by train (third class) to UTRECHT (N.W. EUROPE 1:250,000, Sheet 2a and 3a, E 29) where I contacted a man. This man provided me with Dutch identity papers and ration cards, and gave me food and shelter for three days.

 

On 29 Mar I travelled by train (third class) to AMERSFOORT (E 4098) where I contacted a man. I stayed with this man at his home until 1 Apr when I travelled by train (third class) to MAASTRICHT (Sheet 3, K 5652). I had an address where I stayed for two days, and on 16 Apr I travelled by bicycle to ECHT (K 6980) where I stayed at a house for four days. On 19 Apr I went by bicycle to GEULLE (K 6060) and crossing the river MAAS into BELGIUM at UYKHOVEN (K 5960) escorted by a Belgian. This Belgian gave me a Belgian identity card and a bicycle. I used the bicycle to travel to HASSELT (K 3161) where I stayed one night. On 21 Apr I travelled by train (third class) to BRUSSELS.

 

On arrival in BRUSSELS I went to a house where I remained until 24 May. On that day I travelled by train (third class) to PARIS, where I arrived the following day, and continued by train (second class) to TOULOUSE, where I arrived on 26 May. The remainder of my journey was arranged for me.

 

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