Captured Paris July 14 1944
Escaped August 18 1944

On the evening of July 4/5 1944, 419 squadron was part of an operation to bomb the railway yards at Villeneuve. The night proved costly to the squadron with the loss of three Lancasters and their crews. The downed crews were thankfully saved and became PoWs. Six of the men were to become Evaders and one, F/O Stevenson would become another of the 419 squadron escapers. F/O Joel Stevenson on board Lancaster KB727, which was attacked by a JU88 some time around 0130 just N.E, of Chartainville, just North of Chartres. All the crew were eventally captured, betrayed to the Gestapo by unknown agents.

The Following is from F/O Stevenson's MI9 report

We left Middleton St. George in a Lancaster aircraft about 2000 hours on 4 July 44. All the members of the crew baled out safely, landing in the neighbourhood of Chartes in the early hours of 5 July.
Having buried my parachute in a wheat field, I set off with my tail gunner, Sgt. Gibson, walking N.W. for about 18 miles. As it got light we hid in a wheat field and slept until noon. I got rid of my revolver and ammunition, but was still wearing my uniform. About 1700 hours I approached a French farmer who brought us some food and later took us to his house for a few hours. In the evening this farmer led us to another farm house, where we spent the night.
Next day the first man brought my wireless operator into the farm and provided food and civilian clothes for us.
On 6 July the mid-upper gunner of F/L Yunker’s crew arrived and told us that we were in the care of the underground movement. He advised we to await further instructions, I understand that he had been shot down the same night as we were.
On July 10 we were taken to another farm house where we met F/O Prudhomme, our Navigator, also the Bomb Aimer and the mid-upper gunner from F/L Yunker’s crew. The next day F/O Harvey of F/O Baird’s crew brought in.

July 12/1944 Paris

On July 12 the six of us were taken to Paris in a car driven by the son of a French doctor. We stayed the night in a an empty house with a member of the movement. Next day we were split into groups. Gibson and Head together and Prudhomme with me. We two were taken to a hotel on the outskirts of Paris and there told how we should proceed through Spain.
During the afternoon of July 14th we were visited by an American , who said he had just arrived from Barcelona. He asked questions about our air force and we were immediately suspicious. I had been told by Head and an American, who stated that he came from Pasadena, had tried to get information from him, so I refused to talk.

Taken to Gestapo H Q

Later in the afternoon the four of us were driven to Gestapo Head Quarters by the same driver who had driven us in Paris. Here I was asked questions about my civilian employment, age, religion and my feelings towards the Russians. We were then taken in a police wagon to Fresnes prison outside Paris. F/O Baird and the Bomb Aimer, mid-upper gunner from F/O Yunker’s crew, were also in the wagon with us. In prison were deprived of everything except our underwear, shirts and trousers. While in Fresnes I tried to escape by cutting the bars with my escape saw, but someone reported my attempt to a German officer.
August 15, 1944 Paris
On August 15th we were taken by truck from the prison to the Gare De L’Est and there loaded into box cars, 70 men to a car. In the car were all the people we had previously traveled with, including the wireless operator, engineer and mid-upper gunner from F/L Yunker’s crew, also F/O Harvey, F/O Prudhomme, F/O Shetk, WO I Head, Sgt. Gibson, Sgt. Vinecome and the wireless operator of F/O Vickerman’s crew (432 squadron). On the second day 20 more men were put into the car. We were given one loaf of bread every three days, but the Swiss and the French Red Cross provided us with extra food.

August 18 1944

I sawed a hole through the floor and the morning of 18th I dropped out while the train was traveling at about 25 miles per hour. Two French officers escaped with me and made for the undergrowth. It was about 0240 hours when we left the train and we were about 40 km East of Paris at the time I think.
We walked to …………….. and I spent the next two nights in a house there. The two Frenchmen went back to Paris. The owner of the house fetched a woman who arranged for me to go to Chateau Thierry and I hid above a shop until the Americans arrived on August 28. I was interrogated by IS 9 and returned to the UK on Sept 4th 1944.