Lance-Corporal Eric Wigby

 

National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3324/111

 

Name: 14589798 L/Cpl. Wigby, Eric.

Unit: 3rd Battalion Irish Guards.

Left: Dieppe, 8th November 1944.

Arrived: U.K., 8th November 1944.

Date of Birth: 13th June 1924.

Army Service: 15th April 1943.

Peacetime Profession: Draughtsman, Air Ministry.

Private Address: Lund Lane, Hampshaite, Harrogate, Yorks.

 

On 15 Sep 44 my battalion was withdrawn from the line, then just on the Dutch border, and came back over the ESCAUT Canal into the village of OVERPELT (N.W. EUROPE, 1:250,000, Sheet 3, K 3894) to reinforce and regroup. My platoon was positioned in an orchard close to a farmhouse.

 

On 17 Sep we were ordered to join another company to make up strength. While we were waiting for orders, another guardsman and myself were invited to go to the farmhouse. At 1300 hours the move appeared to be taking place so my companion left to collect his kit. As I had mine ready, I walked about the farm awaiting his return. I was walking back towards the farmhouse when a civilian stepped out of a barn, which our company had used as a cookhouse, and beckoned me. I walked over to him and he stepped back to allow me to enter the barn. As I did so he clapped his hand over my mouth and I found myself covered by two men dressed in British uniforms. One of them told me in moderately good English, that any attempt to shout or escape would be futile.

 

We then left by a door away from the orchard and I was put into a British 15-cwt truck, one of the men covering me in the back of the truck, while the other one drove. We went back over the ESCAUT Canal through the British lines without incident, and into the woods N.W. of OVERPELT, from which my battalion had withdrawn.

 

I was put in one of the trenches with two guards. I was then interrogated by an officer as to my brigade, its planned movement into HOLLAND, its officers and the casualties suffered during the previous week. He then took my pay book from me and told me I would be moved to GERMANY as soon as transport was available. Fortunately, British Army dispositions made this impossible.

 

On 26 Sep the guards left me alone early in the morning to get my breakfast. I walked away unnoticed until I got to the last trench but one. There was a Schmeisser lying on top of this trench so I grabbed it. The two men inside jumped up and I shot them. The three men in the last trench popped up on hearing this and I shot them as well. I then ran away as fast as I could. Several shots were fired after me but I got away into another part of the wood.

 

There was a road running alongside, along which our tanks were passing, but I avoided showing myself to them in case they shot me on sight. By keeping to the wood I got back to the bridge over the ESCAUT Canal at 1730 hours that evening.

 

I called at an isolated house where they gave me food. I then made my way back to the bridge, walked through OVERPELT and then to HECHTEL (K 3484). A little way out of the town I stopped a Red Cross lorry which took me to BOURG LEOPOLD (K 2783), and spent the night there with some people. On 27 Sep I got a lift by an Army transport to BRUSSELS. After spending the night there I decided to go to MONS. I went by milk wagon to a village just near, where I spent the night. On 29 Sep I went into MONS by jeep.

 

On 30 Sep I was taken to PARIS in a Salvation Army lorry and reported there to the British Military Police. I stayed in PARIS until 7 Nov, helping at B.A.S. Headquarters. On 8 Nov I returned to ENGLAND from DIEPPE.

 

Return to Escape Menu