The War Log of Bill Allen – part 3

If the shoe fits…..

“I was awakened by the boys at six o’clock which I considered to be the middle of the night, but was apparently quite normal for them. They were all dressed ready for work, in very poor clothes I noted. With them was another man, obviously older than the others, and decidedly more cautious. He asked me to produce papers or some means of identification – I produced my discs and these along with my uniform more or less satisfied him. After the interrogation, we all trooped out of the cowshed, and walked very silently through the village until we came to a wood with a narrow pathway running through it. We walked along here for about 500 yards, and came out into a small glade with a shed in one corner. The older of the boys, whom, I had learned the evening before, had been evacuated along with the other boys from Paris, indicated by signs and the aid of my watch, that he wished me to stay in the shed until 9 o’clock that evening. I did not relish waiting all that time alone but I had placed myself in their hands and naturally I abided by their arrangements. One of the boys produced four French loaves, a piece of cooked veal, and a bottle of wine, these they gave to me and then left to go to work.

That day the sun was very hot, and I lay outside the shed sunbathing, but the time dragged very slowly. I was getting a little impatient to move on, and was very worried as I thought of the shock my Mother was to receive that morning when she received notification of my plane failing to return.

The greater part of the afternoon I spent planning my course, and the routes I was to take to make my escape. Luckily on bailing out of the plane I had managed to retain my escape kit complete with maps and money, so with the aid of these I decided to make my way to the lines, and try to reach the British troops at a place called Troarn.

The evening passed slower than the rest of the day, but at last the boys came at half past nine, and with them bought a suit of clothes, a shirt and a pair of shoes, also a bag containing food and more wine.

I took off my uniform and put on the civilian suit which strangely enough fitted me almost perfectly, the shoes were a bit large but were better for walking in than my heavy flying boots. The clothes incidentally, were better than those the boys themselves were wearing so I offered to pay for them but they wouldn’t hear of my doing so. After shaking hands and saying goodbye, I set off walking in the direction of the battlefront. I walked through the night and the next day averaging about twenty miles. The following night I slept in a barn, rather fatigued, and then set off again early in the morning and kept walking until eight o’clock the next morning. In the course of my walking, I had not seen any Germans except for a few cars and lorries that were going towards the front. On the morning of the fourth day I came to a small town by the name of Mileobois. In the centre of the town was a large chateau situated in it’s own park. I approached the chateau with a view to getting food and probably sleep. I received a very pleasant surprise on reaching the door, for it was opened by a young man, who, after I had explained who I was answered in perfect English, and invited me inside. The house was very large and must have contained at least 80 rooms, to one of these the Frenchman directed me and later brought me food and wine. I slept the whole of that day, and in the evening, I took a hot bath which was very welcome, then I was introduced to the Frenchman’s Father and Mother, who much to my great delight could also speak fluent English. We had dinner, and then a very interesting conversation, during which I learnt that the son had spent three years in a Gestapo prison in Germany. Hence their eagerness to help me. He had been an officer in the French Artillery until the fall of France. About ten o’clock the same evening I prepared to leave these very good people and proceeded on my way to the front line. The lady of the house packed me some more food and wine so that I would not have to ask for any for at least three days…..”

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