Flying Officer John Connell Warnock

 

National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3324/109

 

Name: 127325 F/O John Connell Warnock.

Unit: 168 Squadron, 2nd Tactical Air Force, R.A.F.

Captured: Near Varaville, 19th July 1944.

Escaped: Near St. Souplet-Sur-Py, 13th August 1944.

Left: Duvy, 9th September 1944.

Arrived: U.K., 9th September 1944.

Date of Birth: 11th June 1923.

R.A.F. Service: Since 27th February 1941.

Post in crew: Pilot.

Peacetime Profession: Student.

Private Address: 27, Steward Drive, Clarkston, Glasgow.

 

I took off from SOMMERVIEU (FRANCE, 1:250,000, Sheet 3A and 8, T 7979) at 1930 hours on 19 Jul 44 in a Mustang aircraft on a reconnaissance flight. I was attacked by four Me.109s near LISIEUX (N.W. EUROPE, 1:250,000, Sheet 7, Q 5388). I baled out about 2030 hours and landed near a chateau on the outskirts of VARAVILLE (FRANCE, 1:250,000, Sheet 3A and 8, U 1976). I discovered that my right leg had been injured when I struck the tail of the aircraft on baling out. I hid in some bushes as I heard Germans shouting. I was discovered about half an hour later.

 

I was taken to the chateau where my leg was dressed and then made to walk to a farm about a mile distant where I was briefly interrogated by a German N.C.O. I was then accommodated in a barn under guard until about 0030 hours on 20 Jul when I was taken by a motor lorry to a brickworks on the outskirts of BONNEBOSQ (Q 4395). I arrived there at 0500 hours.

 

I was placed in a room with ten other prisoners including:- 1/Lt. Ted FAHRENWALD and 2/Lt. Louis LYNCH, both U.S.A.A.F., and Sgt. PAGE, R.A.A.F.

 

On 22 Jul F/Sgt. DOWDING, R.A.A.F. and a R.A.F. sergeant (name unknown) were brought into the room. On 23 Jul the officers (Lts. FAHRENWALD, LYNCH and myself) were separated from the other ranks and accommodated in another room.

 

On 24 Jul I was taken to a hospital in BONNEBOSQ. During the time I was there the dead body of Gnr. McGRADY, Peter Anthony, R.A. was brought in. I obtained his name, etc. from his paybook. After my leg had been dressed I was taken back to the Brickworks.

 

We remained in the room at the brickworks until 0100 hours on 1 Aug when we were taken by lorry to FALAISE (U 1436), where we were accommodated for a few hours in a stable at a chateau on the outskirts. The officers were separated from the other ranks. I met S/Ldr. STEVENS, R.A.A.F., 2/Lt. O'CONNOR, U.S.A. Infantry and ten other officers (names unknown) at this chateau.

 

At 0800 hours we were taken by lorry to a P/W camp at ALENCON (Z 3403), where we arrived at 1030 hours. There were approximately 500 P/W in this camp.

 

About 1500 hours on 2 Aug Lt. FAHRENWALD posed as a private and left the camp with a working party. It was his intention to attempt to escape.

 

On the morning of 4 Aug we were taken by lorry to a P/W camp at CHARTRES (N.W. EUROPE, 1:250,000, Sheet 7, R 30. Lt. STEVENS U.S.A.A.F. remained behind at ALENCON posing as a private.

 

On arrival at the camp at CHARTRES all aircrew personnel, about 60, were kept separate from the other P/W and later that day we were marched to a school in CHARTRES by Luftwaffe guards. I met Major SMITH, U.S.A.A.F. there. We remained at the school until 8 Aug.

 

On 6 Aug we were informed by the Germans that we were to be moved to GERMANY via PARIS and were asked to give a parole not to attempt to escape during the period of the attack, if the transport should be attacked from the air or the ground. We were told that we would be allowed to take cover during the attack if we would give our parole. We refused to do so.

 

On 8 Aug at 0400 hours we were taken by lorry to PARIS and were accommodated in a room at the Gare de L'Est.

 

At 2000 hours on 9 Aug I climbed out of a window of the room and began to climb down the outside wall. A party of German troops came along the road beneath the window and I had to climb back into the room. I made a similar attempt shortly afterwards but the same thing happened. We were then moved to another room.

 

On 10 Aug at 2200 hours we were put into a railway carriage in the station. Eight men were locked in each compartment and guards patrolled the corridor. There were machine guns in the compartments at each end of the carriages. The carriage was shunted for about an hour and a half before we left the marshalling yards. About 1000 hours on 11 Aug the trained stopped beside a wood and at 1100 hours it was attacked by Lightning aircraft. Just before the attack the air raid alarm sounded and we were ordered to lie on the floor and not to move. Troops and civilians who were travelling in the train and our guards took shelter in the wood.

 

When one of the P/W looked out of a window he was fired at. The guards returned to the train at 1300 hours.

 

The Ps/W held a discussion and it was decided by a majority vote that we ought to give our parole in the event of subsequent attacks from the air. We signed a statement to that effect.

 

At 1400 hours the train resumed its journey but stopped in open country about an hour later. We remained there until 1200 hours on 12 Aug when we again began to move. During this period there were two air raid alarms and we were permitted to leave the train and take cover.

 

We arrived at LAON (Sheet 8, O 01) at 1700 hours and stopped there for about an hour. We then resumed the journey and arrived at REIMS at 2200 hours and remained there until midnight.

 

During the time the train was stopped at REIMS I removed a bar which was across the window of the compartment. There were seven U.S.A.A.F. personnel (names unknown) in the compartment with me. Three of them decided to escape with me and it was arranged that I should go first.

 

At 0500 hours on 13 Aug I jumped out of the railway carriage window near ST SOUPLET-SUR-PY (T 6276). There were woods on either side of the track. I do not think that I was seen leaving the train and I did not see any of the other Ps/W follow me. In accordance with the arrangements made with the others I walked along the railway track following the train for about a mile in order to make contact with those who would follow me out of the window. I then waited for an hour as the other men should have walked towards the place where I jumped. At the end of that time I came to the conclusion that the others had changed their minds, or had been prevented from following me, so I decided to walk across country. I walked S.W. by the sun and at 0800 hours I approached a farm where I was given food, civilian clothes and shelter until 4 Sep.

 

The Allied forces arrived in the vicinity of the farm on 30 Aug and I made contact with them on that day. Owing to transport difficulties I could not be sent back until 4 Sep. On that day I went to an American camp near the farm where I was given medical attention. I was then taken by jeep to REIMS, where I reported to the American Military Police who sent me to the Civil Affairs Officer. I was accommodated in REIMS until 7 Sep when I was taken by a R.A.F. medical officer to DUVY (Sheet 8, S 4582). I was accommodated there until 9 Sep when I was sent to the U.K. by air.

 

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