Flight Lieutenant J. D. Peterkin
National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3322/10
Name: 77123 F/Lt. J.D. Peterkin.
Unit: 141 Squadron, Bomber Command, R.A.F.
Left: France, 9th September 1944.
Arrived: U.K., 9th September 1944.
Date of Birth: 8th April 1915.
R.A.F. Service: Since 3rd February 1940.
Peacetime Profession: Student.
Private Address: 4, Elfleda Road, Cambridge.
We took off in a Mosquito II from WEST RAYNHAM at 2300 hrs on 5 Jun 44. The aircraft was shot down by Flak. I baled out near the forest of EPERLECQUES (NW. EUROPE, 1:250,000, Sheet 1, H 16), badly bruising my left knee and shoulder. I fell in a parkland adjacent to a road and hedge, in which I buried my parachute and mae west. The ground was too hard to dig. I opened the dinghy and took out the compass and three red Verey cartridges in mistake for the dinghy aids case.
I ran away from the scene of landing, and was seen by a patrol of three Germans, who had no difficulty in capturing me. I walked along a road with the German patrol until I feel in a dead faint. When I recovered I was lying on the ground and only two members of the patrol were visible. The contents of my pockets were on the ground beside me. The Germans were walking up and down the road, so when they were a few yards away I grabbed what I could and slipped back into the trees and squatted in a bush. In a minute or so the Germans discovered my absence and started to crash around, but did not come into the bush.
I took the opposite direction and walked along the road for two or three kilometres, keeping in the shadows, but making no further attempt at concealment. I was feeling unwell and could not see very well, so I had to hide again. I first walked into a standing crop, but made too big a trail. At last I found a place where two cropfields joined and where I could walk without breaking the crop. I then lay down and went to sleep.
I stayed in the field until the morning of 7 Jul. At 0600 hrs I called to an old man, who came over, and I understood him to say that he would bring the Germans. During his absence I moved two or three hundred yards into another crop. I could not have gone any further because I was so weak. The old man did not return so I decided to try to make for a church, the steeple of which I saw to the South-East of my position. I hoped to contact the priest, who, I thought, would be able to speak English. As soon as it was dark, at about 2230 hrs, I moved off, but I was in a very weak state and could only go half the distance, so I hid in some straw in a shed for the night. There was a pool of rain water around one of the posts, and that was the first water that I had.
I started to walk again at about 0400 or 0500 hrs (8 Jul) towards the church tower and, when almost there, was seen by a man; who spoke to me. There was no hope of running any more, so I made him understand that I was not German. He took me to his house in the village of EPERLECQUES (N.W. EUROPE, 1:250,000, Sheet 1, H 16) and produced an English-speaking Frenchman. Contacts were made for me with a group who got me forged identity papers and looked after me until I was picked up by Lt. Col. JOHNSTON, 2nd Div., Canadian 1st Army on 6 Sep.
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