Sergeant Jean Louis Warren

 

Name: R.136975 Sgt. Warren, Jean Louis, N.

Unit: R.C.A.F., 434 Squadron, 6 Group, Bomber Command, R.A.F.

Captured: Near Cologne, 8th November 1944.

Escaped: Near Doetinchem, Holland, 2nd February 1945.

Date of Birth: 14th July 1914.

R.A.F. Service: Since June 1942.

Peacetime Profession: Store-keeper.

Private Address: Pointe-Av-Pic, Quebec, Canada.

 

1. CAPTURE

 

We left THOLTHORPE in a Halifax on 17 Nov 43 to bomb COLOGNE. We bombed our target and on the way out were hit by a night fighter. The machine was on fire and started to spin and we dropped from 20,000 ft. to 9,000 ft. before the pilot got control and straightened it out. The intercom. was shot away and I thought that we were flying back to ENGLAND.

 

After a few minutes I went into the plane and flashed a light on the altimeter and found we were between 900 - 1,000 ft. I went back to the turret, got my parachute, but before I could bale out the plane hit the ground and burst into flames. I got out and started to go back to see if I could find any of the crew but bullets were exploding and I was hit in the lip and wrist. I was also badly bruised and hurt my knee, so that I could not run. I hobbled to a tree about 50 yards away and lay down. Just as I did so a bomb in the plane went off. It is my belief that the rest of the crew baled out.

 

I hid in a haystack that night, and the next morning it took me about an hour to start moving.

 

I walked across the fields most of the day and slept in the woods till 0500 hrs the following morning. By this time I was feeling so sick that I went to a farmhouse and gave myself up.

 

2. CAMPS IN WHICH IMPRISONED

 

DULAG LUFT (WETZLAR)    ) - 19 Nov 43 - 1 May 44

STALAG IVB (MUHLBERG)  )

 

3. ESCAPES

 

(a) FIRST ATTEMPT.

 

On 17 Mar 44 I managed to join a party of French prisoners who were going out for supplies. When we arrived at the stores, I broke away and went to a cemetery where I had arranged to meet Sgt. POIRIER, R.C.A.F., who had escaped four days before.

 

Our idea had been to got o ESTERVERDA and catch a goods train to SWITZERLAND.

 

On arrival at the cemetery I learned from some French prisoners who were working there, that POIRIER had been recaptured by the Germans and that they had a special guard on the trains, and that it was impossible to escape that way.

 

As I had no food or maps, I decided it was best to go back to the camp and await a better chance. So I stayed at the cemetery the night then joined the supply party and got back to camp unquestioned.

 

On arrival back in camp the Man of Confidence, W.O. MAYERS, R.C.A.F., asked if would cover for a man that had escaped, and from then until I made my escape on 1 May 44 I was covering for different men.

 

(b) SECOND ATTEMPT.

 

On 1 May I escaped in the same way as above, with P/O J. BRANDFORD, R.A.F. We hid in the cemetery for three days, the French working party bringing us food supplied by the Escape Committee.

 

On the third day we heard that the Germans were going to search the cemetery so we made for a wood on the outskirts of ESTERVERDA where we were joined by Sgt. P. THORNE, R.A.F. and a private in the British Army and two Frenchmen.

 

We stayed in the woods for four days, going down to the railway yards daily to see if there was a train for SWITZERLAND.

 

I also went into town to make contact with a Frenchman who was to seal the goods wagon of the train in which we travelled.

 

On the fourth day our supplies were running short, so we decided to catch the first goods train going West.

 

The morning of the fifth day we got on a car loaded with rolls of paper that was going to HOLLAND.

 

It took us five days to get to HOLLAND. We had enough biscuits to last out, but no water for the last two days.

 

When we were getting close to HOLLAND we started to make a hole in the box car with a small pocket knife and managed to make it large enough by the time we arrived at HENGELO, Holland. (GERMANY, 1:250,000, Sheet K.53, V 30).

 

We dropped off the train and split up in twos, BRANDFORD and I going to together. We went to a house on the outskirts of town, obtained some food and water, and started walking North.

 

We slept the first day and night in a haystack and at five o'clock the next morning started North again. We made contact with a farmer who gave us food and water and advised us to hide in a wood till night.

 

We went to the wood and decided to split up, as food was very hard to get. I stayed in the wood and BRANDFORD went away.

 

Later in the day five or six members of the Underground came and took me to another farm where I stayed for three days.

 

Then I was taken to a house on the outskirts of BORNE (MALMELO) V 31) where I stayed for five weeks. There I met BRANDFORD again.

 

After five weeks the German search got close and we were moved to NIJVERDAL (N.W. EUROPE, 1:250,000, Sheet 2A, V 11) where I stayed for five more weeks.

 

At the beginning of Aug, I was taken by another organisation to ZWOLLE (Z 83) and stayed there for two nights and from there was taken to a boat in the canal where I stayed for ten days.

 

After this I was taken back to ZWOLLE where I stayed until 28 Aug 44. BRANDFORD stayed on the boat and I have not see him since.

 

I was sent to a castle owned by a Baron near HATTEM (Z 83) and stayed one night in a hut in the woods. The next morning the Baron's son came and told me that the Germans had searched the castle and arrested none of the inmates.

 

I stayed in the woods all day and night and the next day the Baroness came with a bicycle and took me to a village close by where I made contact with another organisation. I then cycled to a farm outside GORSSEL (Z 90) where I stayed for eight weeks.

 

The first two weeks I worked on the farm but for the last six weeks I had to remain hidden in a small cave underneath the pigsty, coming up at night for a meal. There were two Poles, five Dutch, and myself.

 

One morning we heard German voices and the door was opened and we were arrested.

 

The Germans knocked up around with rifle butts and made us stand up against a wall with our hands over our heads for 4-5 hours. They arrested the farmer and nine members of the organisation and burnt the farm.

 

We were then marched to DEVENTER (Z 90) and put in the LANDWACH prison, section one. Despite the fact I told the Germans that I was an R.C.A.F. escaped P/W and showed them by P/W identity disc, they persisted in calling me a "terrorist" and treating me as one.

 

For the first two or three days we were five to a cell 12 ft by 6 ft, then they put in nine more, making the total fourteen and we remained that number for three weeks.

 

We were not allowed out and had to do our ablutions in a pail in the corner of the room.

 

There I met Sgt. THORNE again and also Sgt. WHITTAKER, R.A.F. who had broken his arm, but the Germans refused him medical aid.

 

All this time we were prisoners of the S.D. (Gestapo in occupied countries).

 

One morning two members of the S.D. came for me in a car and, picking up five other S.D. on the way, took me to an empty house on the outskirts of the town. There an S.D. officer interrogated me while the rest stood round the room with drawn revolvers.

 

He started off by telling me I was a "terrorist" and asking questions about the Underground. I told him I was not a "Terrorist", I was a member of the R.C.A.F., whereupon he knocked me down and kicked me in the body, head, and face for 15 - 20 minutes. He then pulled me to my feet and asked me more questions. The interrogation lasted from 1000 hrs till 1600 hrs.

 

When I got back to prison my body was all black and blue (especially my back), my head and face were cut, and my head was swollen all over.

 

We stayed in this prison for one month and were then moved to OXELHOFT, near DEVENTER, where we stayed in prison for about a month.

 

On 14 Dec we were moved to DOETINCHEM (A 07) to an S.D. special prison for transients going to GERMANY.

 

Conditions were very bad in this prison. Our daily ration consisted of litre of soup (so-called) and 200 grammes of black bread. We lay on straw, had two cotton blankets, and the place was infested with vermin. I had no coat or shirt, only a pair of overall pants, and summer underwear. No soap or towels were provided and one washed under a tap in the cell. We were allowed out in the yard for five minutes per day but after the first week all prisoners were so weak that they could only go out every other day. Some were too weak to go out at all.

 

The cruelty of the guards was awful. Every day and all day cries and screams of people were heard who were being tortured for information, and prisoners who looked all right one day would appear with black eyes, bruised hands and marks on their backs where they had been flogged.

 

I managed to help two Dutch Underground men escape and the next day another Dutchman, aged 57, who had been in a cellar with them, was flogged and a German guard hit him in the ear so badly that he had to be sent to hospital and subsequently died.

 

On 1 Feb we were to move to GERMANY - a six day trip. We were given one loaf of bread each as rations for the trip.

 

Ninety-four were loaded into two box cars.

 

4. ESCAPE.

 

We knew that if we got to GERMANY there was no hope for us, so we were determined to try to escape en route. We ate our full ration immediately we got on the train to help us get back a little strength and set to work prying open a small window in the car. We got the window open and in the night five of us dropped off the train. There were guards along the line and they immediately started firing, so everybody ran. I heard later that Sgt. P. THORNE, R.A.F. (home address Liverpool Hill, KINGSTON, Surrey) had been wounded and sent back to prison at DOETINCHEM, and Sgt. WHITTAKER, R.A.F. had gone on with the train to GERMANY.

 

I left the train at 0200 hrs and walked all night through water up to my waist. The next day I hid in a wood and towards evening contacted two Dutch farm hands who took me to a farm outside EFT (Sheet 3B, Z 18) where I was given food and clothing.

 

They then contacted the Underground who sent me to a doctor's house at DIDAN (E 87) where I stayed until 5 Feb 45.

 

On 5 Feb two members of the organisation came and brought a bicycle and were to take me to LOBITH, near ELTEN (Sheet 3A, E 96). We started off, but after a few miles I got so weak and sick that I could not ride any longer, so one of the men took me on the pannier of his bicycle to LOBITH where I stayed on a barge all night.

 

The next night 23 civilians and I were to cross the RHINE in two boats, eight in one boat and 16 in the other. We started off but 15 minutes after leaving the bank Germans opened fire with rifles, machine guns and, I think, small calibre guns.

 

I was in the smaller boat which got a hole punctured in the bottom and started to sink slowly. We managed to get to the larger boat and everybody scrambled into it. There were too many in the larger boat and we could not row so four of us got back into the small boat and managed to get back to the shore, landing between DOORNEMBURG and PANNERDEH. We walked back to our starting point and a Dutch nurse, who had been in the boat with us, took us to the farm where she had been staying. I met Col DUNCAN, U.S.A.A.F. and we stayed there until 22 Feb.

 

On 22 Feb the Germans gave orders that all farms were to be evacuated, so we posed as members of the family, loaded up to horse wagons, and started to move. We were stopped by the Dutch police twice, but managed to get through and finally arrived at ANGERLO (E 97) where we stayed at a farm for eight days.

 

Then, dressed as Dutch Police, we went with a member of the Dutch Police to his home at DOESBURG (E 98) and stayed for five days.

 

From then we went to HUMMELO (E 97) to a house next to a castle.

 

On 23 Mar we bicycled to a village close to RHEDEN (E 87) where we met F/Lt. RICHARDS, R.C.A.F.

 

The next day Col. DUNCAN and F/Lt. RICHARDS (who were billeted together) were moved, and I was taken across the IJSSEL over to VELP (E 55).

 

I stayed there until 16 Apr when the British troops arrived on the outskirts of the town and I joined them. I was finally sent home, landing in U.K. on 19 Apr 45.

 

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