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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 52164
Last updated: 10 November 2020
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Date:10-FEB-1943
Time:10:58
Type:Silhouette image of generic SPIT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk IV
Owner/operator:541 Squadron Royal Air Force (541 Sqn RAF)
Registration: AB125
C/n / msn: 2304
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:between Heinkenszand and Ovezande, Zeeland -   Netherlands
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF St Eval
Destination airport:
Narrative:
In the morning of 10 February 1943 at 0940 hours Sgt Francis Job Evans of 541 Sqn RAF took off for a photo-recce sortie to the Netherlands (depending of sources, to Rotterdam or to Vlissingen). A Rotte of Fw 190 A-4s of the 6./JG 1 which had taken off at 1018 hrs from Woensdrecht intercepted the aircraft. They bounced Evans from the sun and his Spifire PR.IV AB125 was shot down in flames. Uffz. Rudolf Rauhaus claimed it as his second victory, logging a claim for a Spitfire at 1058 hrs 10 km southwest of Goes.

Evans bailed out safely. His Spitfire crashed between Heinkenszand and Ovezande, near the limit of the Oude Kamerpolder and Nieuwe Kamerpolder, on Walcheren Island, Netherlands. The Germans saw Evans come down and also on the ground. Evans had not time to hide his parachute, was fired upon and escaped by running over a dike (an earthen wall about 10 feet high with sloping sides). About 20 minutes afterwards the first civilian he met, a middle-aged sailor passing by an orchard on a bicycle, hailed him in English and told him to wait for him in a small hut in the orchard.

Some time later a peasant and his son discovered him in the orchard independently of the sailor and they brought him food and his flying map, which he had picked up, and also a large-scale map of the island torn from a school atlas. That evening the sailor came back and brought food and a raincoat. He told Evans that it was pretty hopeless to get away, as all the little ports and also the causeway were guarded and about 300 Germans with dogs were scouring the place for him. The sailor could not do anymore for him and left, wishing him the best of luck.

At about 0700 hrs the next morning Evans made it off in an easterly direction for the causeway to the mainland but his compass was inaccurate and he landed at a place called Hoedekenskerke, a small port for Terneuzen! He was accosted by a young lad on a bicycle who told him his name was Pieter. He took him to a hut and told him to stay there which Evans did for the whole day.

In the meantime Pieter and his friends had been going round the village collecting civilian clothing for him. That night he took Evans home and he dressed in civilian clothes. He was then taken on the rearcarrier of a push-bike to a farm at Gravenpolder, where he stayed that night and the following day. Word went round that the Germans were searching all farms, so Evans was taken into the village itself to an old lady who lived by herself, and stayed with her until 25 February 1943.

When German vigilance subsided to normal Evans was helped over to the mainland and an English speaking steward on the ferryboat took care of him. He was taken to the chief steward’s home where he stayed three days. He was introduced to a smuggler who took him by bus to the Belgian frontier at Sas van Gent. He took him through some barbed wire across the frontier and they got on the train to Gent. He bought Evans a ticket for Coutrai and then he left him. Evans gave him the remainder of his Dutch and Belgian money.

Evans’ goal was to reach Spain. From Courtrai he started to walk across the frontier, where he was challenged by a German sentry who searched him for arms but who made no comment whatsoever about his escape equipment. He walked to within 9 km of Lille, where he was so exhausted that he entered a barn and fell asleep. Next morning he called at the farmhouse and asked for some food. The people were very frightened but asked him in and fed him. Evans was only there about half an hour. He was beginning to suffer from sore feet and when he got to Lille he boarded a train to take him to the other side of the town. He thumbed a lorry and got a lift to the southside of Lille aerodrome.

Evans called at a cottage to get his feet dressed and stayed about half an hour. He then went to Douai by bus and walked for 7 km to Cantin, where he stayed with peasants for the night. They took him to the station and bought him a ticket to Saint-Quentin. The wife introduced Evans to a young Frenchman, who accompanied him to Chambrai. He walked from Saint-Quentin to La Fere and stayed the night with a peasant and family. He proceeded by foot, bus and rail via Retis, Chalons-sur-Marne, Troyes, to the village of Malay-Le-Petit about 3 km east of Sens, where he was sheltered for six days on account of my badly blistered feet, by the Carroze family. These people only lived there for a short period and knew nobody who could help him, but they sent their son to warm a doctor, Dr Bonnecaze. Contact was established with the Comete evasion network though Dr Jean de Larebeyrette, at Sens.

About 21 March 1943 two members of the organisation, Robert Ayre and Catherine Janot, protected by a local man, Mr Alexandre, came to a rendezvous with Evans in the country and interrogated him. Everything went well and Evans was taken by car to Sens, in de Larebeyette’s house, where Ayre made a false identity card for him. Evans stayed the night at Sens and the next day went by train to Paris with Ayre and Janot. Evans stayed in the home of Catherine Janot, 11 Boulevard d’Eylau until 12 April 1943. At some time during this period Evans wrote a letter to his family saying that he was "making well and not imprisoning by the Germans." His family received it in June 1943.

Various other RAF, American and military bodies passed through this house during the time he was there but the family did not seem in a hurry to send him on to a different lodging. One of the men he met was Jean Pradat, a Gestapo spy. On 5 April 1943 an American, Gilbert Wright of one of the Eagle squadrons, left Janot’s home to go to Spain but was betrayed and caught by the Gestapo at the Gare d’Austerlitz.

One week later, Evans was taken to the Gare d’Austerlitz with a guide, Jean-François Nothomb, and a Free French pilot, Pierre Schloessing. On leaving, the train was stopped before it had fully left the platform and the Gestapo searched it. Evans’ false identity card beared the same name as the one used by Gilbert Wright and as soon as the Germans saw it he was arrested. Nothomb and Schloessing had identification papers different to him and got through. The Gestapo had received information, that a pilot of the RAF was to be passed. After these events, Ayre warned Catherine Janot to immediately leave his home, as two airmen had been captured after leaving it. She went into hiding and was not arrested.

Evans spent the remaining of the war in POW camps in Germany, first in Stalag L6, then in L3.

Note: several sources say Evans belonged to 543 Sqn, but there is no trace of him in the 543 Sqn history booklet. It is possible that Evans, a 541 Sqn pilot, was flying an aircraft belonging to 543 Sqn. According to the Spitfire production list, AB125 was allocated to 543 Sqn on 22 January 1943 and had 23.35 flying hours when it was lost.

Sources:

http://wingstovictory.nl/database/pdf/225-story.pdf
http://www.cometeline.org/ficheC117.html
http://www.dovergrammar.co.uk/archives/pharosians/1944june.html
"Die Jagdfliegerverbände der deutschen Luftwaffe 1934 bis 1945. Teil 10/II: Reichsverteidigung 1943", by Jochen Prien & co. ISBN 978-3-923457-85-4
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14080657
http://www.airhistory.org.uk/spitfire/p017.html
https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinkenszand
http://mapcarta.com/17846294
https://verliesregister.studiegroepluchtoorlog.nl/rs.php?aircraft=&sglo=T2051&date=&location=&pn=&unit=&name=&cemetry=&airforce=&target=&area=&airfield=


Images:


The Spit crashed approximately here.

Related books:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
17-Dec-2008 11:45 ASN archive Added
08-Sep-2011 04:40 angels one five Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Operator, Total occupants, Location, Phase, Narrative]
21-Oct-2011 21:00 angels one five Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Operator, Location, Narrative]
01-Jan-2012 10:57 Nepa Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Operator, Departure airport]
03-Jun-2014 09:09 angels one five Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Narrative]
06-Jun-2015 16:06 Angel dot comma Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Narrative]
10-Feb-2016 13:02 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Total fatalities, Location, Source, Narrative]
09-Feb-2018 10:34 TigerTimon Updated [Operator, Location, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative, Photo, ]
13-Feb-2018 18:48 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]

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