Early Morning of June 24/25
Air Gunner Sgt. Kenwell's Halifax "Midnight Cocktail" was losing height, attacks by multiple Focke Wulf fighters
left JD214 with bullet and canon damage to control surfaces
and two of its engines out of action.
His pilot Sgt. George Neale was desperately fighting to bring the crew home. As time moved on their chances
of reaching home or even the Channel became slimmer. Instead a choice was made to make a crashed landing in
Holland. The landing of Halifax JD214 is a story on it's own.
For Sergeant Kenwell maybe the only good or lucky thing that occurred that night was during the short time
when bailing out was considered an option. Kenwell had lost the location of his parachute. Reaching down
to his flight boots to retrieve a small flashlight kept in his boot, he found the flashlight had been
smashed by one of the many bullets that had penetrated the fuselage. The flash light may have saved him from
A Quick Capture
The crew had split up into three groups, the gunners Sgt. McLeod and Kenwell headed off together.
The capture of Kenwell and the rest of Sgt. Neale's crew occurred very quickly. Their arrival and movements
had been seen by many of the people of Wageningen. With Sgt. McLachlan needing medical attention the services
of the local doctor were sought. Since a crowd of people had known that several members of the crew were at
the doctor's office. The three crewmen told the doctor it would be best that he call the local police.
For the other three members of the crew who had been brought to the mayor of another small toen nearby.
it was also thought best not to involve the locals and the police were called.
Thirty minutes or so later the German soldiers arrived and the crew were all taken away.
The full story of the events of that night and next day are told by eyewitnesses in "Their Last Flight"
Kenwell was held at the Utrecht Gestapo Head Quarters until June 29th. He gave very little details on what
had occurred during his days with the Gestapo, although others in the crew who all went to the HQ told of
interrogation ranging from subtle conversations leading up to loaded and cocked pistols to the head.
On the 30th of the month Sgt. Kenwell was moved to Amsterdam SS Military Prison. Where he was placed in solitary
confinement for two days.
By July 5th after a three day journey in a crowed boxcar he arrived at a Dulag in Frankfurt. Here he was again
interrogated and held for ten days. Before another boxcar journey of five days took him to Stalag Luft VI.
Wounded While at Stalag Luft VI
There are two versions of how Sgt. Kenwell was shot while at Stalag Luft VI. One mentions that the tension in the
camp was growing as fast as the prisoner count. And that one guard shot Kenwell during one of these tense moments.
Another source may give a better picture of what may have happened, the number of shootings or shots being fired
was increasing, prisoners closed in on the warning wire more and more with reasons such as retrieving items
landing beyond the "warning wire". The crowded camp made the few German guards nervous with
all these activities.
Kenwell was mentioned as completing doing laundry and threw the dirty water over the fence, the guard just
fired hitting Sgt. Kenwell in the upper left arm.
(In a Department of Veterans Affairs document the writer explained it as " he carelessly touched a warning wire"
I wonder if that person was ever a prisoner !)
Kenwell was on the operating table until midnight. Then was forced on to a crowed train with no place to rest
while in severe pain and in a weakened condition with his arm in a make shift sling until arrival at a French
POW Hospital in Poland. ( No mention of why this was necessary, but since it was not until his return
to Canada in 1945
that the bullet fragments were completely removed may point at the reason). For the next three months he was at
the French hospital.
After returning to Stalag Luft VI he later fractured this same arm and waited in severe pain for four days before
under armed guards was walked the five miles to the local doctor. The doctor seemed not to believe his story of having a
fracture and refused to apply bandages and splints. Later an uncomfortable bandage was wrapped around his body
from shoulder to waist.
On July 15th. , Kenwell was again in a crowed boxcar, after one year at Stalag Luft VI he was moved to Thorn,
Poland taking four days to arrive at Stalag 357.
Sgt. David Kenwell's recollections of the journeys by boxcar:
"No washing facilities what so ever, no toilets or time allowed to leave the box car. One meal of barley soup
a day." Left in boxcars in marshalling yards during air raids." Boxcars divided in three sections by barbed wire
(guards in center section) 30 prisoners in each end section."
Forced March from Fallingbostel to Bremen
In August of 1944 Sgt. Kenwell was again loaded into a boxcar with another 60 prisoners and travelled to
Fallingbostel. During a forced march from Fallingbostel to Bremen
on April 6th. he made his first escape.
After six days with very little food he was again captured near the German front lines.
His final escape was on April 21, this time he was successful in making contact with the British Army on April 23rd.
In Kenwell's own words of his experiences and things he saw during the march:
"Forced to march long into the night, jabbed with bayonets if faltered." German's retreated and forced us to march with them
approximately 25 miles until five a.m." Noon that day sent with 2 guards destination unknown. Marched seven days long into
each night finally arriving at Bremen on April 20th." Black bread main item of food on this march"
There is some confusion in the details given in "Their Last Flight" and Neale's own book, regarding the arrival
at Arnhiem. Although they crashed near Arnhiem and eventually ended up back at that city there is a five or six
day difference between the date of being picked up at Wageningen and the crews arrival at the S.S. Military Prison
Found in later official documents is the mention of the missing days with the crew being held at Utrecht Gestapo HQ. Such
confusion may seem out of place, but these men were retelling their stories many decades after the events.