Flight Sergeant Robertson MacNeil


National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3320/81


Name: 620473 F/Sgt. MacNeil, Robertson.

Unit: Middle East Command, R.A.F.

Captured: Near Filicudi Island, 1st June 1942.

Escaped: 14th September 1943.

Left: Casablanca, 9th July 1944.

Arrived: St. Mawgan, 10th July 1944.

Date of Birth: 3rd September 1919.

R.A.F. Service: Since 15th September 1938.

O.T.U.: Nil.

Conversion Unit: Nil.

Post in crew: Wireless operator.

Peacetime Profession: Steelworker.

Private Address: 11 Grange Road, Preston Pans, East Lothian.


Other members of the Crew:

P/O. BANCROFT (pilot);

Sgt. IRVING (navigator);

Sgt. ROBSON (second pilot);

Sgt. HENLEY (second wireless operator); and

Sgt. BELL (rear gunner).


All map references are to ITALY 1:250,000.


1. Capture:


We were ferrying a Wellington aircraft from GIBRALTAR to MALTA on 20 May 42. We ditched near FILICUDI ISLAND (Sheet 51, C 4998) owing to shortage of petrol. We were in the dinghy until 1 Jun when we were rescued by an Italian fishing boat. We were taken to hospital in MESSINA where we remained until 7 Jun when we were taken to ROME. We were kept in an old convent in solitary confinement until 3 Jul. We were interrogated on three occasions.


2. Camps in which imprisoned:


Campo 65 (GRAVINA)   4 Jul 42 - 6 May 43.

Campo 52 (CHIAVARI)  early May - 14 Sep 43.


3. Escape:


On 10 Sep 43 Campo 52 was taken over by the Germans and the S.B.O. instructed us to remain in camp.


On 14 Sep I was one of a party of 500 being moved by train to GERMANY. Sgt. IRVING, S/Sgt. EDWARDS (a cook), and I jumped out of the train window near CREMONA (Sheet 11, K 8824). We walked South, taking approximately the following route:- Near BOLOGNA (Sheet 18, L 95) - FIRENZE (Q 87) - PONTASSIEU (Q 9369) where S/Sgt. EDWARDS left us. We went on to CATENIA a village near SUBRIANO (Sheet 23, R 2845) where I stayed at three different houses until 7 Apr 44. Sgt. IRVING joined the partisans about 15 Mar 44, and I know nothing further about him.


On 7 Apr I started walking with an American, Sgt. Frank DUFFEY, from BROOKLYN, New York. Our route was approximately:- PERUGIA (A 79) - near ASCOLI (B 6572) - M. DELL 'ASCENSIONE (B 6279), where we contacted a guide who told us he was working for the British. The guide brought us to TERAMO (Sheet 29, B 7551) where we were taken over by British Forces on 18 Jun.


I was sent to the Polish Army headquarters, and thence to a transit camp near PESCARA (C 1829). I arrived at NAPLES on 21 Jun and on 8 Jul I left for the U.K. via ALGIERS and CASABLANCA.


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