A young P-51 pilot shot down over France

The arrival of the long range escorts transformed the bomber campaign against occupied Europe. The welcome sight of P-51 escorts seen from an air gunners perspective, probably a B-29 in the Pacific theatre.

The arrival of the long range escorts transformed the bomber campaign against occupied Europe. The welcome sight of P-51 escorts seen from an air gunners perspective.
In this case probably from a B-29 in the Pacific theatre.

On 5th March 1944 20 year old Flight Officer Yeager was fighter escort to bombers on a mission to hit a Luftwaffe airfield in southern France.

Three FW 190s came in from the rear and cut my elevator cables. I snap-rolled with the rudder and jumped at 18,000 feet. I took off my dinghy-pack, oxygen mask, and helmet in the air; and then, as I was whirling on my back and began to feel dizzy, I pulled the ripcord at 8,000 feet. An FW 190 dove at me, but when he was about 2,000 yards from me a P-51 came in on his tail and blew him to pieces.

I landed into a forest-clearing in which there was a solitary sapling about twenty feet tall. I grabbed the top of the sapling as I passed it and swung gently to the ground. My chute was hung up in the tree, however, I hid my mae west and started off to the south-east, for I thought that I was in the forbidden zone. Before I had gone 200 feet half a dozen Frenchmen ran up to me.

Some of them got my chute down, and one of the men took me by the arm and led me to a house some 200 yards away. There I was given food and civilian clothes. A gendarme was seen approaching the house at this moment, and so I was quickly hidden in the barn. When the gendarme left I was brought back into the house where one of the men who had left the group now returned and gave me a note in English telling me to trust the people in whose hands I was. I was then taken to another house about a kilometer away, and from there my journey was arranged.

Original debriefing report written by Yeager on his return to England after evading capture in German occupied France.

Original debriefing report written by Yeager on his return to England after evading capture in German occupied France.

The report continues

The next morning the same guide returned and took him by bicycle to a young couple of 35 years with a son, Jean, five years old who live in a farmhouse off RN133 near the lake at Font Guillem au Pujo between Pompogne and Houeilles. Here Yeager lived for seven days. Then a farmer from Houeilles took him to a house half a km. from Nerac.

This is the house of the regional maquis (French Resistance) chief, Gabriel; and here Dr. Henri -, the doctor of all the maquis in this part of the country, lives when he is in the vicinity. After Yeager had been here a few days, Dr. Henri arrived in the Franbel (the name of a local pencil company) lorry and went after Nahl and the six sergeants with him whom he then brought to the maquis near Nerac. He then went back to Castel Jaloux and from there brought Seidel to the maquis.

National Archives, Escape and Evasion Case File for Flight Officer Charles (Chuck) E. Yeager (338-EECASEFILES-EECASE660-YEAGER). You can read the original documents on Chuck Yeager.com and you can hear him describe the episode when interviewed on Radio Parallax.

In this interview he also describes the first daylight raid on Berlin on 4th March 1944 when he got an Me 109, his first kill, the day before he was shot down. While escaping over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain his companion, another evading pilot, Lt. Patterson, they were discovered in a remote mountain hut. They jumped out the back window but Patterson was shot in the knee. Yeager threw him down an ice slide (used to send trees down the mountain), and followed himself, to evade the Germans. After hauling Patterson out of the icy river at the bottom of the slide, Yeager had to amputate his leg, by cutting off the remaining tendon and muscle below the knee with a pocket knife and apply a tourniquet. He then carried his unconscious companion to safety and internment by the Spanish.

Yeager made it back to England only to be told that the rules forbade ex evaders from combat missions over enemy territory, in case they were captured by the Germans and revealed details about the French Resistance. Yeager “raised hell” about this and eventually ended up in a personal meeting with General Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander. He got himself back flying. His war was not yet over and his aviation adventures were just beginning.

You may be interested in Yeager: An Autobiography

P-51D-20NA Glamorous Glen III, is the aircraft in which the future test pilot achieved most of his 12.5 kills--Chuck Yeagers' plane

P-51D-20NA Glamorous Glen III, is the aircraft in which the future test pilot achieved most of his 12.5 kills–Chuck Yeagers’ plane

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Patrick Hooper March 5, 2014 at 9:42 pm

AWESOME!!!!!!!

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