Flight Sergeant Peter Charles Nightingale Green

 

National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3324/40

 

Name: 710092 F/Sgt. Green, Peter Charles Nightingale.

Unit: 266 Squadron, Tactical Air Force, R.A.F.

Captured: Trun, 16th August 1944.

Escaped: Nancy, 7th September 1944.

Left: Ypres, 24th September 1944.

Arrived: U.K., 24th September 1944.

Date of Birth: 15th March 1924.

R.A.F. Service: Since 19th March 1942.

Peacetime Profession: Student.

Private Address: c/o Rhodesia House, 429 Strand, London.

 

1. CAPTURE.

 

I was shot down by Flak while straffing transport in the vicinity of FALAISE (FRANCE, 1:250,000, Sheet 8, U 1536) at about 1500 hours on 9 Aug 44. I landed close to the village of NORREY EN AUGE (U 2838) and lay up for the rest of the day.

 

During the night I walked in a south easterly direction, and on 10 Aug I reached the village of LE MARAIS LA CHAPELLE (U 2634). Here I contacted the head of the resistance movement, and he gave me civilian clothes and arranged for me to hide.

 

On 11 Aug I moved to an empty farm about two miles north of TRUN (U 3129) where we were fed by a farmer and remained for about five days. Here I met the following Allied evaders:- Sgt. PERGATTI, R.C.A.F., Sgt. HUTCHINSON, R.C.A.F. another R.A.F. Sergeant and a Pilot Officer. The three sergeants were from a Canadian Halifax from 6 Group.

 

On 16 Aug the district was searched by a German patrol and we were caught in the farm. The Pilot Officer was carrying photographs, and as soon as these were found, we were arrested, together with a free French pilot who was visiting us, and the farmer who had given us food. He appeared with his face badly beaten up.

 

That day we were taken by truck to BERNAY (N.W. EUROPE, 1:250,000, Sheet 7, Q 87) and were given a brief interrogation. While here we were joined by the following:- Major FELDON, U.S.A.A.F., Capt. HOWARD, U.S. Army, and a free French Lieutenant.

 

On 19 Aug we were marched from BERNAY to ROUEN (Sheet 4, M 21). The whole district was packed with troops and material and at about 1800 hours while we were in the FORET DE LA LONDE (M 00) we were bombed by Marauders. I dived into the ditch, but the whole area was blasted and our party sustained the following casualties:- Major FELDON, U.S.A.A.F., very badly wounded and later reported to have died within four hours; F/Sgt. PERGATTI, R.C.A.F. was badly wounded in the shoulder and chest, Pilot Officer R.A.F. badly wounded in the left leg. Sgt. HUTCHINSON and the other Canadian Sergeant disappeared. I last saw them standing in the woods, and it is possible they managed to escape in the confusion, but it is also possible they were both killed.

 

The remainder of the part Capt. HOWARD; the free French pilot, the French farmer, the French Lieutenant, and myself were unhurt and were taken to ROUEN, where we arrived at 0200 hours on 20 Aug. At this point the French farmer who had helped us was taken away, and we were told later he had been shot.

 

On 21 Aug we were taken to AMIENS (Sheet 5, N 15). We were put in solitary confinement and again interrogated. Considerable emphasis was placed on the fact that we were in civilian clothes, and while at AMIENS we all managed to acquire some khaki shirts and trousers to change into.

 

On 23 Aug we were taken by truck to CHALONS SUR MARNE (Sheet 9, T 54). On the way Capt. HOWARD, U.S. Army managed to cut a hole in the roof and slipped out of the truck. We were going to follow, but had not time before reaching the town. Here we were put in the French barracks, and left without food or amenities of any kind.

 

On 25 Aug we were put into cattle trucks and taken to NANCY (U 81). The journey took four days. There were forty men in each truck, including some wounded and some men with dysentery. The doors were opened once a day and at dusk. We were given one drink of water per day and 1 loaf and a Red Cross parcel to last for the whole journey. The trained was straffed neat VITRY-LE-FRANCOIS (T 61) and we were not allowed out. There were two paratroop sergeants on the train, one American and one British and these men, if genuine, were giving information to the guards about our conversation etc., and the American, who was outside the train on parole, refused to let us out of the truck during the air raid at VITRY. I do not know their names. On 29 Aug we reached NANCY. Here we were put into the old French barracks with a lot of native troops.

 

On 30 Aug all the R.A.F. personnel were moved out of the camp, and on learning of this, I hid inside one of the straw palliasses in the sleeping quarters. The rooms were searched and the palliasses kicked about, but I was not discovered.

 

I then mixed with the native troops. I can speak the native African dialect and so was able to make myself understood. When on 1 Sep these troops were also moved out, I managed to avoid being drafted in the same way.

 

After about four hours I came out and finding no signs of guards I walked over to the sick quarters. I expected the Americans would arrive shortly and so remained in the camp. Unfortunately on 6 Sep the Germans returned.

 

2. ESCAPE.

 

On 7 Sep those who could walk, were marched to the station. On the way there, I managed to slip down a side street and continued running until a Frenchman pulled me into a house. I was given civilian clothes and remained in hiding till the Americans arrived on 14 Sep. On 17 Sep I was sent to PARIS for questioning and after that I rejoined my squadron for a few days near LILLE. I flew to U.K. from YPRES on 24 Sep.

 

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