Flight Sergeant James Patrick Dowd
National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3315/41
Name: 553789 F/Sgt. Dowd, James Patrick
Unit: 83 Squadron, Bomber Command, R.A.F.
Captured: Kranenburg (Germany), 13th March 1942.
Escaped: Arbeitskommando E488 Grottkau (Stalag VIII B), 29th August 1943.
Left: Stockholm, 24th September 1943.
Arrived: Leuchars, 25th September 1943.
Date of Birth: 25th June 1922.
R.A.F. Service: Since May 1939.
O.T.U.: No.14 O.T.U. (Cottesmore).
Post in crew: First wireless operator.
Peacetime Profession: R.A.F.
Private Address: 13 Craigmillar, Castle Terrace, Craigmillar, Edinburgh.
Other members of the crew:
P/O. BROMILEY (First pilot) (P/W);
Sgt. FOSTER (Second Pilot) (killed);
Name unknown (Navigator) (killed);
Sgt. DAVIES (Second wireless operator) (killed);
Sgt. ROSE (Mid upper gunner) (killed); and
Sgt. THOMPSON, R.C.A.F. (Rear gunner) (believed killed).
I was a member of the crew of a Manchester aircraft which took off from SCAMPTON on 13 Mar 42 about 2000 hrs to bomb COLOGNE. On the way in to the target we were shot down at 2240 hrs by a JU.88 over the Dutch-German frontier, and were ordered to bale out. I am not certain where we were attacked, but it was probably near NIJMEGEN (N.W.EUROPE 1:250,000, Sheet 3A).
I landed in a small fir wood and after tearing my parachute, harness and mae west into pieces I buried them in the snow. I got out of the wood and on to a farm track. In a short time I reached a house, at the door of which a man and woman and two children were standing. They were pointing to the aircraft which was burning about two miles away. I heard them talking, and, as I thought I was in HOLLAND, I called the man over and told him I was a British airman. He took me into his house and got me a cup of coffee. I was in the house for about ten minutes and got out my escape maps. Just as the man was pin-pointing my position the door opened and two policemen came in. I then realised I was in GERMANY and that the man had sent his son for the police.
Both the policemen, one of whom was a special constable, were armed. They took me away at once to the police station. As I had injured my knee in landing, they allowed me to ride on the special constable's bicycle. On the way I think I heard one of the policemen mention KRANENBURG, and I believe that it was to that village I was taken. The ordinary policeman telephoned, presumably to arrange for a search for the rest of the crew, and more policemen arrived. The policemen all wore badges with the word "Düsseldorf".
I was at the police station till 0500 hrs on 14 Mar, when two Luftwaffe men, one a Feldwebel and the other an Unteroffizier, arrived for me and took me in a car driven by a Luftwaffe Gefreiter to a town which was probably NIJMEGEN. Here I was kept for about two hours at what appeared to be a Luftwaffe Headquarters, and was given coffee and rolls. I was not interrogated at all here, not being asked even my name, rank and number. The policemen had already taken from me my escape kit and the few coppers I had with me.
The Feldwebel and Unteroffizier took me by train in a reserved compartment to UTRECHT, and thence by electric train to AMSTERDAM. From UTRECHT we travelled with a Luftwaffe Major, who spoke English, and two S.S. men in army uniform. We arrived in AMSTERDAM about 1700 or 1800 hrs.
In AMSTERDAM I was taken to a Luftwaffe Headquarters off one of the main streets, and put into what appeared to be a detention barracks. In the cell next to me was a Luftwaffe Feldwebel who told me in good English that he had been given a sentence of six months' imprisonment for low flying. After the guard commander had gone in the evening, the Feldwebel slipped me some cigarettes.
I was not interrogated till the next morning (15 Mar) when an interpreter, a Gefreiter, asked me my name, rank and number, which I gave him. He gave me three of my own cigarettes. In the afternoon after exercise I was taken to the sick-bay and X-rayed for broken ribs. While exercising on the parade ground I met P/O McDONALD, P.R.U., who had also been shot down on 13 Mar.
On 16 Mar, P/O McDONALD and I, accompanied by a Feldwebel and two Gefreiter, left AMSTERDAM by train at 0710 hrs and travelled via CASSEL to FRANKFURT-AM-MAIN, which we reached about 2330 hrs that day. We slept that night in the German Red Cross room in the station.
2. DULAG LUFT:
On the morning of 17 Mar I was taken with P/O McDONALD by train to DULAG LUFT at OBERUSAL (GERMANY 1:250,000, Sheet 64). On arrival, about 0700 hrs, we were put into separate rooms in a building near the Kommandantur outside the camp proper. I was put in a room upstairs and P/O McDONALD in a room downstairs. I was alone in my room for four days. Meals were adequate by German standards.
When I was first put into my room a Feldwebel took away all my uniform and flying boots, which he returned in about ten minutes, presumably after having searched them. He also took my watch which was returned to me when I went into the main camp.
I was interrogated in my room on the first day by an officer (probably a Leutnant) named EBERHARDT, who spoke good English. He gave me a Red Cross form to fill in. I said I would keep it for use when I went to the lavatory, and he said he was only trying to help me. He then tried to persuade me to fill in just my name, and this also I refused to do. He produced a list of names of all with the Squadron numbers against them, and rattled off a number of names, some of which I knew. He asked if I knew any of the names, and I said I had been in the R.A.F. for only about two weeks. He asked how I came to be a Flight Sergeant wireless operator after such short service, and I replied that promotion was very quick.
Next day (18 Mar) EBERHARDT returned and said that if I had been only a short time in the R.A.F., plenty of people seemed to know me, adding "I, too, know you. You are from 83 Squadron." I think he must have discovered my squadron number from someone in the camp who knew me. I refused to speak and he said, "The Scots have very bad manners." (He had realised from my accent that I came from SCOTLAND.)
On the third day (19 Mar) a Luftwaffe Major, who appeared to be a radio specialist, visited me and began a discussion about wireless. He produced photographs and circuit drawings of an I.F.F., and I noticed that the most important circuit was missing from the drawings. He also had photographs and circuit drawings of almost every type of radio set that I knew, and of some that I did not know. I did not answer his questions and said that I did not know anything about radio sets beyond how to operate them. He went away disgruntled, but afterwards brought me a book to read.
That afternoon another officer (probably an Oberstleutnant) visited me and began telling me about the new F.W.180. He wanted to know from me about the performances of the Lancaster. I said I did not know anything about, and he did not press the interrogation.
On the fourth day (20 Mar) EBERHARDT returned with a sheaf of Red Cross forms. He filled in particulars on one of my name, rank, number and date of birth, which I had told him, and the number of my squadron and the type of aircraft, which he had got from other sources. He asked me to complete the form, and when I refused he said he would do it for me.
About 1500 hrs that day the Feldwebel took me to be photographed in the same building, after which I was moved to the camp proper. I was not interrogated again. Immediately I arrived in the camp a Flight Lieutenant warned me against talking, because of the existence of microphones and stool-pigeons, and advised me not to trust anyone except people I had known at home, and not to say much even to them. I was put into a room with three Sergeants. There may have been microphones concealed in our room, but we could not locate them.
At the end of Mar an attempted escape was made by P/O KEY, P.R.U. He hid in the camp as a sergeant to give the Germans the impression that he had escaped. After two days' search the Germans concluded that he had really got away. Only a few sergeants and a few of the permanent staff knew that he was still in the camp. As part of his plan of escape P/O KEY buried himself in a sheep pen in the playing field with only a piece of piping sticking out of the ground to breathe through. He was buried for about two hours. When the guard came to lock the gate of the playing field in the evening he went straight to the sheep pen, which he had never done before, kicked up the earth, and pulled out P/O KEY. I am of the opinion that his plan to escape had been definitely given away to the Germans by someone in the camp.
3. STALAG VIIIB. (LAMSDORF):
About 14 Apr I was moved to STALAG VIII B (LAMSDORF), (GERMANY 1:100,000, Sheet 11) with a party of 70 or 90 Flight Sergeants and Sergeants. We arrived at LAMSDORF about 17 Apr and I was put into the main camp. Our flying boots were taken from us, possibly to be sent to the German Army on the Russian front, and we were given wooden clogs.
B. FIRST ATTEMPTED ESCAPE:
In Jun 42 I planned to escape with Sgt. GOUGH, R.A.F., but he was moved to STALAG LUFT III, SAGAN, before we could carry out our plan. I decided, however, to make the attempt alone, and changed places with Pte. BRUCE, Gordon Highlanders on a working party of 15 which was going to join a party of about 50 who were working near ROTHFEST (Sheet 117) clearing the bed of a canal. We arrived at our billet about 1300 hrs, and at 2100 hrs I escaped with a soldier from NEWCASTLE (name unknown) whom I had met for the first time on the working party.
We escaped through the window of our room be bending back the bars. There were three guards in the room next door, but they did not hear us. My plan was to make for PRAGUE, as we had heard in the camp that there were Czechoslovakian organisations there which would help us to get to SWITZERLAND. I had maps, which I had got in the camp from an R.A.F. Sergeant, and a supply of food which would have been enough for one man for about three weeks. I carried the maps, the food and a spare shirt in a small attache case which Pte. MORAN, Black Watch, had given me. He had got the case while working outside the camp.
After leaving the billet we headed S.W. across country, and after passing through NIKLASDORF (Sheet 116) we got into the hills on the Czechoslovakian frontier. Unfortunately, my companion lost the home-made compass which we had with us, and on the seventh day our food gave out. We had then crossed the frontier and were somewhere near FREIWALDAU. We went to a house and asked for food expecting the people to be Czech. The owner of the house, however, was a Sudeten German who, recognising us from our uniform, immediately sent for the police. We were taken to the police station, locked up for the night, and next morning were sent back to Stalag VIII B by train.
In the camp I was put into the "Strafblock" (punishment compound) to await my turn to go into the cells, which, as usual, were crowded. In the punishment compound I was visited by Capt. WEBSTER, R.A.M.C., who said he would help me to make another attempt at escape.
In the punishment compound I went at first under the name of BRUCE, the name of the soldier whose place I had taken on the working party. One day, however, I was recognised as R.A.F. by Unteroffizier CISSEL, a Ukrainian, serving in the German Army. CISSEL was in charge of the R.A.F. compound. He reported my true identity to the Gerichtoffizier, who gave me fourteen days' imprisonment instead of the seven normally given for a first attempted escape.
C. SECOND ATTEMPTED ESCAPE:
While doing this sentence of fourteen days I was put into the cell next to Dvr. Geoffrey ROBERTS, R.A.S.C., who was also being punished for an attempted escape. He had already served ten days in a civilian prison, and was then doing the last four days in the camp cells. He was anxious to make another attempt at escape, but wanted a little time to build up a food supply from Red Cross parcels, and agreed to change cells with me. This we did by climbing over the barbed wire on top of the wooden partition between the cells. I took his place on the last day of his imprisonment. When the Unteroffizier came to release me that night he realised that I was ROBERTS. Both ROBERTS and I had given him a considerable amount of trouble, and this seemed to confuse him, because when I insisted that I was ROBERTS he eventually signed my release form.
I was then moved to the convalescent compound. Capt. WEBSTER having arranged for me to be sent there so as to facilitate another attempt at escape. Capt. WEBSTER certified me as fit for work, and I was sent next morning to the working compound. Here I met two other R.A.F. Sergeants - Sgt. James PATON, R.C.A.F. and Sgt. David MORAN, R.C.A.F. - who, like myself, had assumed the identity of soldiers in order to escape. With them I was sent on a working party to a paper factory, ARBEITSKOMMANDO E42 at ROTHFEST (Sheet 117).
We spent about a week at ROTHFEST collecting information for our escape. Our plan was to go to the North first of all, the general direction of the German search for escapers being towards the South, and then head West towards FRANCE, or, failing that, towards HOLLAND or BELGIUM. The DIEPPE raid had just taken place, and, believing that the second front had opened, we hoped to join the invading British forces. We decided to cross GERMANY by following the main roads. We made a collection of food, and both MORAN and I had maps, I having managed to retain mine with my attache case after my first escape.
We made our escape during the first week of Aug 42 while working on the night shift at the paper factory. Only about 14 P/W were employed at night and supervision was not strict. We stole civilian clothes from the German workmen's dining room and bicycles from the factory yard. We left the factory about 2300 hrs, and cycled to DEUTSCH WETTE, about two miles North of ROTHFEST. Here we tried to jump on a goods train, but the train was moving too fast. We continued North to NEISSE (Sheet 117). While passing through the town we came to a round-about, and swung left instead of right. This attracted the attention of two policemen who were standing nearby. They stopped us and asked us for our papers. The policemen took us to the police station about 50 yards away so that they could check our names and addresses. We arrived at the station just as the duty Sergeant was taking down particulars of our escape from the camp. We spent the night and the next day in the gaol and were then sent together to STALAG VIII B.
When we reached the gate the camp Unteroffizier CISSEL was standing there speaking to one of the guards. he made a rush at me, but was stopped from attacking me by a German medical officer. CISSEL then sent me to the cells, where he visited me later with two guards. He said he was going to knock me down. I took off my battle dress blouse and stood up to him. He backed away and produced his pistol. He then called the two guards who held me against the wall while he punched me in the stomach with his fists and the butt of his pistol. he also hit me across the nose with the butt of his gun, and I fainted. When I woke up I was alone in the cell. I reported this incident next morning to the Gerichtoffizier, an elderly lawyer who had since been moved from the camp. He was half drunk, as usual, and added seven days to my sentence, making twenty-one days in all. I served the whole of this sentence.
D. CHAINING AT STALAG VIII B:
After I came out of the cells at the end of Sep or the beginning of Oct, the Germans began their chaining "reprisals", and I was among those shackled. At first we had our hands crossed in front of us and tied. We were tied from 0800 hrs till 2030 hrs with only a break for soup, between 1100 and 1130 hrs. After the first month we were put in handcuffs between which there was about a foot of chain. The chaining was still going on when I left STALAG VIII B on 22 Jun 43, although about 500 men, all of whom had been prisoners for a long time, had been unchained by then.
At the beginning of the chaining all Red Cross parcels were stopped for six weeks. The Germans then allowed us rations from the parcels, without actually giving us the parcels. Over Christmas 1942 and the New Year 1943, we got about four parcels each.
On 6 Jan 43, I was sent into the camp hospital with a cold. In hospital I contracted tinea on the arms, and was kept in hospital till the first week in Apr.
4. ESCAPE FROM GROTTKAU, ARBEITSKOMMANDO E.488 (STALAG VIII B):
Immediately I came out of hospital I began to prepare for another escape. In hospital I had studied maps brought in by Sgt. CRONIE, R.A.F. I also obtained from the Escape Committee a Bescheinigung and an Ausweis. The photograph for the Bescheinigung was taken by Sgt. BOYLE, Gordon Highlanders, with a small camera which he got outside the camp, I think from a German civilian. By bribing the German guard with two tins of cocoa and fifty cigarettes he also obtained a film, developing materials and printing paper. The Bescheinigung and Ausweis were typed documents. The Bescheinigung stated that I was a Belgian worker named Jan DYKE, and that my Arbeitsbuch (work book) was in the Central Registry for stamping. The Ausweis certified that I had been working in DRESDEN and had to proceed as quickly as possible - this phrase was inserted to cover travel by Schnellzug - to STETTIN to report to the labour bureau there for further work in a war factory. The Ausweis also stated that my Arbeitsbuch and Lohnzettol (pay book) were following through the usual official channels. Both documents bore what purported to be the stamps and signatures of the Polizei Präsident and the chief of the Labour Bureau, DRESDEN, and both also stated that I had permission to travel by rail. I collected a considerable store of chocolate for my journey. My plan was to escape from a working party and get to STETTIN and from there by ship to SWEDEN. Before leaving STALAG VIII B I had been given 50 Reichsmark by Capt. GORRIE. I relied on getting civilian clothes once I had reached the ARBEITSKOMMANDO which was at GROTTKAU.
B. TRANSFER TO GROTTKAU:
I left STALAG VIII B on 22 Jun 43 for ARBEITSKOMMANDO E.488 at the Nende Sägewerk (sawmill) at GROTTKAU (Sheet 117). I worked here for about two months, going into strict training for my escape. We had first-class food here. Most of it came from Red Cross parcels, and the German civilian butcher gave us pork chops about twice a week. Cpl. TAYLOR, who was captured at ST. NAZAIRE and was in charge of the ARBEITSKOMMANDO, gave me extra rations for taking with me. I was able to get eggs from the Ukrainian and German civilian workers in the sawmill in exchange for articles of civilian clothing which I had received in parcels from home. I also managed to acquire another 100 Reichsmark in exchange for a pair of socks, a packet of tea, and a packet of cocoa.
I escaped from the billet at GROTTKAU, a building attached to the house of the Nazi manager of the sawmill, about 1900 hrs on 29 Aug. I was wearing the following clothes:-
Green jacket which I stole at the factory.
Pair of battle dress trousers (with turn-ups) dyed brown. I obtained the dye from a German apprentice in the sawmill for two cigarettes, and dyed the trousers myself in the billet.
Grey shirt from a parcel from home.
Blue pull-over, also from a parcel from home.
Blue tie with white and red stripes, obtained from a German by barter.
British Army socks.
Pair of civilian hoes from a parcel from home.
Black peaked cap which I had got from a Ukrainian.
Ukrainian workers had promised me a civilian suit, but in the end did not produce it.
The guard was having supper at the time and I simply walked out. I had arranged to meet L/Sgt. Alexander TODD WOOD, Gordon Highlanders, who had escaped from the ARBEITSKOMMANDO three days before and had returned to a German woman who lived in the old gate house of the sawmill. As she was getting nervous, he had decided to go with me.
I met TODD WOOD by the railway adjoining the sawmill and we walked South along the line to GROTTKAU Station. TODD WOOD had been supplied with food by Cpl. TAYLOR, but had no identity papers, although he also proposed to pose as a Belgian worker. At the station TODD WOOD bought two railway tickets for BRIEG (Sheet 105) and we left GROTTKAU about 1915 hrs. In BRIEG we had to change trains. Here TODD WOOD decided that, as he had no papers, he would not go with me, but would go to ODERBERG, near MÄHRISCH OSTRAU, CZECHOSLOVAKIA, where he hoped to get shelter and help from a Czech woman.
D. BRIEG TO BRESLAU:
After TODD WOOD left me I bought a railway ticket for BRESLAU. I did not require to show my papers here or anywhere else during my journey. The first train from BRIEG to BRESLAU, which left about 2115 hrs, turned out to be a special train carrying troops from the Russian front. Almost immediately afterwards the conductress came round and asked what I was doing on a "Wehrmachtzug" (army train). I said I was a foreign worker, and, without seeing my papers, she said this was a "Schnellzug" and demanded two Marks additional fare. As she left me she shook her finger at me and said, "Passt auf!" (Look out!)
I was standing in the corridor and was the only civilian there. An S.S. policeman in black uniform was standing near me, and kept looking at me rather suspiciously. An Unteroffizier of the Bahnhof Polizei then came along. (He was dressed in ordinary infantry uniform, and had round his neck a chain bearing a large metal plate with the word "Bahnhofwache" and a number on it.) When he saw me he went up in the air, but an Oberfeldwebel of the Luftwaffe, who was standing between me and the S.S. policeman, said the conductress had seen me and that I had paid the extra fare. The policeman subsided, and saying "Ach so. Gut." passed on. There was no further incident on the journey.
The train arrived in BRESLAU about 2200 hrs and I got out immediately and off the platform before the troops had left the train. I went into the booking hall, where there were hundreds of people about, there being a Hitler Youth rally in BRESLAU that day. I hung about the station until 2330 hrs, when I got into a queue and bought a ticket for FRANKFURT-AN-DER-ODER.
E. BRESLAU TO STETTIN:
At 0041 hrs (30 Aug) I got a personenzug (slow train) for FRANKFURT-AN-DER-ODER. I slept all the way, arriving in FRANKFURT about 0630 hrs. I had a wash and brush up on the station and went into the waiting room to eat some of my food, and drink a bottle of beer which I had brought. I walked round the town for a little and then returned to the station about 0830 hrs. The station restaurant opened about that time and I waited there till 1000 hrs, when I bought a ticket for EBERSWALDE, about 30 miles N.W. of BERLIN. I had decided to avoid BERLIN in case of identity controls during air raids.
I arrived in EBERSWALDE at 1400 hrs. I went into the station restaurant and had coffee and some of the biscuits from my own store. Potatoes were the only food to be had there without a ration card. I then bought a ticket for STETTIN. I thought that the girl in the booking office was about to ask me for my papers, but she did not do so. I caught a Schnellzug for STETTIN about 1500 hrs, arriving in STETTIN about 1730 hrs.
F. STETTIN: (NOTE: All map references in this section are to PHARUS Plan of STETTIN.)
I left the railway station immediately and walked round the town. During my walk I met a man who called himself a Pole and whom I afterwards discovered to be a Polish-Ukrainian. I told him I was a Swedish sailor, had missed my boat, and wanted to meet some Swedes. He took me to a brothel for foreign workers near the harbour. This place was forbidden to Germans.
I hung about the place from 1900 hrs till 2100 hrs. As the Pole and I were leaving the house we met two young Dutchmen whom I heard speaking English to a Swede. Thinking they were English, I asked them who they were and told them I was an R.A.F. escaper and that I wanted to get on board a Swedish ship. I left with the two Dutchmen and the Swede to go to the boarding house where one of the Dutchmen was living. On the way the Swede, who was half drunk, jumped on board a tram and I did not see him again. At the boarding house I shared a bed with the Dutchman.
Each day while I was in STETTIN I had lunch in a restaurant on the BOLLWERK (G.8), between the BAUMBRÜCKE and the HANSABRÜCKE. The staff of the restaurant did not know I was English, but merely that I was a foreigner. I ate unrationed food - soup, red cabbage, and potatoes - every day. The Dutchmen went with me there only one day.
On 1 Sep the Dutchman with whom I had been staying said I could not remain any longer, as the owner of the house was returning that night. That day I had another trip round the harbour, this time alone. At night I returned to the brothel and met the two Dutchmen by arrangement. We found two Swedish sailors, but they would not take me on their ship. While I was in the brothel the Gestapo arrived. I got hold of a Polish girl, and went upstairs to her room. She spoke German, and I told her I was a British airman. At first she was scared, but I coaxed her round, and she hid me under the bed. She sat down on the bed, and when the Gestapo men came in they merely looked round and walked out. The girl told me to leave at once, but to come back next evening and meet her outside the door before the house closed. She said she would try to find a pro-British Swede. I met my Dutch friend outside after this and returned his passport, which he had lent me. (He also had an identity card and did not require the passport.)
I went with the Dutchmen to a camp for foreign workers off ALTE VULKANSTRASSE (J.34) and spent the night (1-2 Sep) in his dormitory. There were three German A.R.P. workers sleeping in the room, and when they went to work in the morning they informed the police at the ship yard nearby that there was one too many in the room. The policemen came to the camp. They were dressed in dark blue uniforms with black peaked caps. On the caps they wore a badge with an anchor and the sword "Schliffswerft". The policemen asked me what I was doing in the camp, and I said I was a Swedish seaman, that I had missed the tram the night before, and that I was now going to my ship, where I had to start work at 0600 hrs. Fortunately, I was wearing a small Swedish seaman's union badge which one of the Dutchmen had given me. (On the badge was a white lighthouse, with a double beam, and the letters "S.S.F." all on a red background.) One of the Germans recognised this badge and believed my story. They told me to get out and not come back. I left the camp at once.
I went back to the town and sat in the HAKEN TERRASSE (G.7) till 1100 hrs. I had a bar of chocolate and some biscuits for breakfast from the store of food which I carried in the small despatch case. I had lunch in the restaurant in the BOLLWERK, and after another trip round the harbour I went to the pictures in the afternoon. In the evening I returned to the brothel and got a Dutchman to tell two Swedish seamen who I was. I offered them money to take me on their ship, but they said I would be caught in the FREIHAFEN (H.J.789) and refused to take me. I saw the Polish girl again, but she said that she had not been able to find a Swede to help me, and could not help me herself. I left the house with my original Dutch friends and travelled with them on the tram car which took them to their camp off the ALTE VULKANSTRASSE. I continued on the tram to the terminus to the North of the town, and slept the night (2-3 Sep) in a small copse.
Next morning (3 Sep) I returned to the town, partly on foot, and partly by tram, and went again to the HAKEN TERRASSE. I spoke to three Swedish sailors who came along the TERRASSE from a seaman's home nearby. They said it would be impossible for me to get on to a Swedish ship, and advised me to give myself up. That afternoon, after lunch in the restaurant on the BOLLVERK, I went to the pictures. I tried the brothel again in the evening, but the Swedes there either could not or would not enter into conversation with me.
About 2200 hrs I went to the FREIHAFEN. I crossed the BAUMBRÜCKE (G.8) and went along the AM DUMZIG quay (H.J.78). I climbed a fence running along the railway line on the VIEHHOF KAI at the FREIHAFEN, and got alongside a small Swedish sailing and auxiliary motor ship. I was crossing the plank to the ship when a harbour policeman appeared. (He wore military uniform with an armlet bearing, I think, the word "Hafenpolizei" in gold letters on a black ground.) I staggered, pretending to be drunk. He asked for my "Ausweis" and I said "Ich habe hier zwanzig Ausweice." ("I've got twenty passes here.") At the same time I pulled out a packet of 20 French cigarettes. The policeman looked at the cigarettes and asked me what I was. I said I was Swedish and that my ship was the Vestis. (This was the name of a ship I had seen lying off the BOLLWERK.) He said that I was in the wrong harbour. I said I was sorry and offered him a cigarette. He took the whole packet and showed me out through the main gate. To reach the gate we had to pass through a gate house in which there were about five guards, but none of them said anything. Once I had got out I ran off as fast as I could.
I then walked right round the outside of the FREIHAFEN to try to get in at the West side. At the end of the KAISER WILHELM KAI there was a small waiting room used by passengers on the ferry which crossed the FREIHAFEN. Two Danish ships were loading near this waiting room. Two searchlight beams were trained on the ships and lit up the wire round the FREIHAFEN just where I had hoped to climb it. There were also two harbour policemen standing near the ships, and it was obvious that I could not hope to climb the fence then. I lay down on a bench in the waiting room and fell asleep, hoping the policemen would be gone by the time I wakened.
I was awakened at 0600 hrs the next day (4 Sep) by an old German workman who said that the ferry was about to leave. I got on board the ferry and crossed the FREIHAFEN. I then walked back into the town and along the HAKEN TERRASSE, going later to the PARADE PLATZ (E.F.78), where I had a wash at a public lavatory. I went to the restaurant on the BOLLWERK for lunch, and to the pictures in the afternoon.
From the picture house I went to a pub in FISCHERSTRASSE (G.8) and stayed there from about 1600 hrs till 1800 hrs. I then decided it was "do or die" and started to go back to the end of the KAISER WILHELM KAI. At the HANSABRÜCKE five Danish seamen stopped and asked me the way to the nearest restaurant. I took them into a pub nearby and told them who I was. One of them spoke English. They agreed to take me back to their ship the MARGARETE (2,000 tons) which was lying in the River ODER on the East side of the ODER-DUNZIG INSEL (H.7) and which was sailing at 0930 hrs next day. The ship was moored in the river because her sailing had been delayed on account of the riots in DENMARK.
We went along the BOLLWERK until we were opposite the ship, and the Danes signalled for a small boat. The Danish watchman from the ship came over in the boat and said that the German watchman was still on the ship. The Danes had a half bottle of Schnaps left and we decided to get the German watchman drunk.
We went to the ship in the rowing boat. On board I found that the German watchman was already half drunk, and gave him the Schnaps. When his relief came on board about half an hour later the German watchman left without counting the number of seamen on board. I was put in the forecastle with four of the five sailors who had befriended me. The five seamen, the watchman, three firemen, the cabin boy and the cook knew I was on the ship, but none of the officers knew about me. The cook, who spoke English, gave me a hot meal that night.
G. STETTIN TO SWEDEN:
The next day (5 Sep) the ship sailed at 0930 hrs. At 0915 hrs the ship was searched by the Germans, but as she had already been searched in the FREIHAFEN, they were not very thorough. I was hidden under one of the bunks in the forecastle. The ship was bound for RIGA (LATVIA) with stone chips, which, I was told, were for making runways in RUSSIA. We arrived in RIGA on 8 Sep and remained there till 15 Sep. I was hidden in the forecastle all the time.
We left RIGA on 15 Sep and anchored off DRAGÖR (DENMARK 1:100,000 Sheet 41) on 18 Sep. I persuaded five of the Danish seamen, all the seamen in the crew except one, to desert, and at 0100 hrs on 19 Sep we took one of the ship's life boats, and began rowing across to LIMHAVN, S.W. of MALMÖ, SWEDEN. The crossing took five hours. The sailors rowed and I acted as navigator, steering by the stars. We took a compass with us, but when we unwrapped it we found it was unserviceable.
We got into the harbour at LIMHAVN about dawn. A Swedish Customs officer came along and telephoned the police, who took us to the gaol in MALMÖ. Here the police asked me questions to identify me.
Next morning (20 Sep) a Swedish Air Force officer tried to interrogate me, but I only gave him the markings of my aircraft and asked him to pass the information to the British Consul. I also told him that I had escaped from GERMANY. Later that morning the Air Force officer took me to the British Consulate in MALMÖ. I left that night for STOCKHOLM, arriving next morning (21 Sep), when I reported to the British Legation, and was interrogated by the Assistant Military Attache.
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