Born the 5 June 1919. Enginer at Longueuil, Quebec.

Evaded. Interrogation Report dated October 04, 1943 in Gibraltar.

Fabien "Sam" Sansoucy died in Florida USA in August 13, 1991.



Gabrielle, Bernard Sansoucy (brother), Marthe, Fabien "Sam", Lucille, Claire. Her sisters. (1941).

Report of Sgt. Sansoucy, Fabien Joseph Germain.



I took off from Newmarket in a Stirling aircraft on 13 Jun 43 at about 2300 hrs on a mining operation just off Bordeaux.

(Note : The date of departure is taken from Bomber Command Casualty Roturn, Serial N°. FB/92, as P/O Kirby and Sgt. Sansoucy differ in their statements.)


O the outward journey, while over Les Sables d'Olonne (France, 1, 250,000, Sheet 20) we were hit by light flak. We flew several miles out to sea and jettisoned our mines. We then started climbing and turned north.

Somewhere in the vicinity of Rennes we were attacked by an ME 109. I did not see the enemy fighter after the third attack and think we probably shot it down.


At about 0200 hrs (14 Jun) the pilot gave the order to baled out. I came down in an orchard about 15 miles S.E. of Rennes. I cut up my parachute with a knife I had with me and hid it in some undergrowth. I then ran off. I walked all through that night, and early, in the morning, when I was somewhere near Retiers, I approached an old lady far food. She soared very soared and said she was going to fetch a gendarme. I ran off and hid in some fields. Here I opened up my… Here I opened up my aids box and took out compass. I also cut off my sergeant's stripes and all other identifying bades from my tunic. About half an hour later the gendarme found me. I speak French fluently and told him who I was. He went off and returned a little later, bringing with him bread, cider, and a map of district. He also told me that he had tried, unsuccessfully, to get some civilian clothes for me.


I left him and for the best part of the next two days continued walking South-Est. I kept to the fields and sidle roads all the time, and stopped on one or two occasions at isolated farm houses for food and shelter. I found everyone in this district very willing to help.

I spent the night of 17 Jun at a farm at St Julien de Vouvantes, about 10 miles S-E of Chateaubriand, and the farmer gave no some civilian clothes.


I walked on all next day and somewhere near Ancenis I hailed a man a small boat who rowed me across the R. Loire.


For the first time since I had baled out I used the main roads, and that day I passed through Beaupreau (france, 1;250,000, Sheet 20) and slept that night in a field somewhere just North of Cholet.


Next morning I saw many Germans about and therefore decided to skirt Cholet. By the time I reached Chatillon sur Sèvre my knees gave cut and I could walk no further. At about 1700 hrs (19 June) I caught a bus and using the money from my purse I bought a ticket to Echire, about six miles N.E of Niort (Sheet 20). I spent that night in a barn. The following day I had to continue walking, as it was Sunday and there were no buses running. I went as for as Celles-sur-Belle, and at about 1500 hrs (20 Jun) I stopped at a farmhouse, where I remained for six days. From this point my journey was arranged for me.

would like to thank Kathleen for tracduction reports of escapes of Pilot Officer Russell Kirby and Sergeant Joseph Sansoucy.

My Evasion in Europe

(The Summer of '43)

J.G.F Sansoucy

Edited and additional research

By A.V.Webster



When it was first suggested that I relate the story of my evasion in June of '43 my initial reaction was that the event would be of little interest, particularly when compared to the thrilling accounts of the Wooden Horse and other World War II escapes and adventures.

However. Bill Scolley with whom I flew in those eventful times, convinced me that I should attempt it anyway because of the historical interest to 75 (New Zealand) Squadron.



My Evasion in Europe

(The Summer of '43 )


On June l 3, l 945,.at the Newmarket Air Base where I served with the RNZAF Squadron 75. I was assigned to replace a crew member who was not available for the night's operation. As I recall. The crew I was joining had only been on one previous operation It was to be my fourteenth and the mission appeared to hold little risk : night mining off Bordeaux in south western France. To get there of course we had to cross the French coast at two locations - the heavily fortified northern coast of Normandy. and at a point a few miles north of Bordeaux.

The crossing of the northern coast was effected with no incident : there was some flak .but not too heavy. In the middle of June the moonlight made the night very clear and we could see for miles. We could distinguish many lights and flying objects in the distance accompanied by ground flak . and numerous signs of air activity as other aircraft were headed for targets in the Ruhr area of Germany. As we flew further south, activity slowed,which probably stalled us into a false sense of security, and nearing the southern coast we were flying at a very low altitude approaching the drop zone for our mines. Just ahead was a small coastal village with no sign of lights or activity, and we proceeded on our coterie across it with no thought of evasive tactics. Suddenly. All hell broke loose. With machine gun fire from within the village A starboard engine was hit and the starboard aileron badly damaged. We were also losing fuel but did not catch fire. The pilot immediately dove to avoid further damage. I thought my hour had arrived, but we levelled off very low over the water. Our mineswere dropped and we turned. heading home. Needless to say, that

village was carefully avoided on the way back. Meanwhile I was attempting to assess our damages, we had lost the fuel from our outer starboard tank the aileron seemed useless. And although I could see some pieces of engine cowling flapping it appeared to be functioning normally. The pilot complained that the engine was not responding to throttle and controls very heavy.

He had to apply left aileron and left rudder to maintain heading. He called me to assist him in handling the controls. which I did. ln spite of these difficulties we managed to gain altitude to about 8,000 feet and were beginning to think we might make it to a base in England.

Although we were consuming more fuel than usual, I estimated that we had just enough that we might land somewhere in South Wales. Our hopes came to a sudden end with the appearance of an enemy fighter, a ME 109. His first salvo was long and lost somewhere ahead of us Our gunners replied but he was too far away. On approach of the fighter I had taken en my station in the astrodome to direct evasive action. but the pilot could not control adequately due to damages, and his attempt led to a spin. from which he recovered with difficulty I momentarily lost sight of the enemy and his next salvo came from below. hitting the cockpit and navigator's compartment just ahead of me. The pilot :may have been hit at that time. His command on the intercom was yelled. terse and imperative: "Get Out!" -no time for normal RT procedure or terminology. I made my way to the rear escape hatch in complete darkness and tender turbulent conditions. Fortunately I had become familiar enough with the aircraft that I could feel my way - it seemed to take an age, but was probably only a few seconds until I reached it. I found the wireless operator and gunners already there. but being somewhat disoriented and becoming frantic, they were unable to open the hatch in the dark. I lost no time to reach the release handles and was first out. I later heard that the gunners had also escaped but I was not to see any of the crew again. My chute opened with a mighty jerk, which was quite painful. As many will recall. walking with a tight harness was not very comfortable, and like almost everyone. I had disregarded instructions and left my straps loose. I now paid the price, but no permanent damage. as in later years I have been father to three children. As I floated to earth I was aware of a slight pain in my forehead which was probably caused on exit when my head hit the edge of the escape hatch. I could feel blood trickling down my face and was concerned that the wound might require medical care. This proved unfounded: only a minor cut. but like all scalp wounds it bled freely.

It seemed to be taking an age to reach the ground. Probably I should have waited to pull the rip cord. but this was my first jump and I opened my, chute as soon as I cleared the aircraft At such time the instinct of self-preservation takes precedence over reason Looking around I thought I saw our aircraft hit the ground in the distance in a ball of fire, but could not be sure of identification. At about the same time I heard. and then saw an aircraft circling me, which I presumed was the fighter that had shot us down. I was quite alarmed and had visions of being riddled with bullets before I landed. That I had been seen was soon confirmed for a marker flare was dropped about a hundred feet from where I came to earth in soft ploughed ground between apple trees in an orchard.

Apart from the cut on my forehead and the slight discomfort in my lower abdomen. I felt in good condition. My first task was to tear off a few pieces of my chute to stuff inside my battle dress, then hide the chute in the side of a ditch. Next, with a razor blade. I cut all the insignia and identification from my uniform and made sure I had my escape kit. It was my custom to carry a small shaving kit in case we had to land at a strange airport on return from a mission. This happened quite often.

Of course I did not know where I was, but thought I could not be far from the Atlantic coastline which I remembered seeing shortly before we were attacked. I decided that my first move should be to head south-east away from the heavily garrisoned coast. A check of my escape map Me next day indicated that I had landed about 20 miles north-east of Rennes probably in the same area where heavy engagements took place between the Americans and Germans shortly after D Day .

It was certainly l bocage country as I was soon to discover. Decisions and such arrangements made I took a sight with the compass from my escape kit, and started off in a south-easterly direction as fast as my legs could carry me. I estimate the time of my decent at about 2:00 am on the morning of the fourteenth. And from then until 5:00 am. When it became light I never stopped running through thorn hedges which were rather numerous ; through streams and swampy or wet ground : avoiding roads and human habitation.

My legs became quite lacerated and my clothes torn and covered with mud. lt seemed that I could run forever. oblivious to feelings of fatigue and the discomfort of the scrapes and cuts.

When it became light I singled out a barn, well remote from any farmhouses, and headed for it. Luckily there was a loft with some hay and also a water pump nearby to quench my thirst. I swallowed a couple of Horlicks tablets from my escape kit , and climbed into the loft for some rest. and to reflect on what my next move should be. I laid out the map of France from my escape kit and determined my position from a name I had seen on a road sign Feeling very tired. I fell into a sound sleep from which I woke about three in the afternoon.

I had been lucky in my choice of a refuge: a look through the cracks in the wall I showed not a soul in sight I checked my map again and decided that i should cover more miles away from the crash site before approaching any, local inhabitants for help.

I rested in the barn until after sunset about 8:00 p.m, then proceeded in a south-easterly direction. There were fewer hedges and less swampy land. and progress was easier. Soon after midnight I became quite tired and hungry and again began to look for an isolated barn. I selected a structure that seemed suitable although there was a small village in the distance. I was exhausted and had no choice.

Worried about the location. I woke up soon after dawn broke and set out again.

1 Bocage: Thorn thicket underbrush

2 Horlicks : Chocolate


Not more than thirty minutes later I spotted two German soldiers on a country road in the distance. and suppose they saw me at about the same time. I thought the game was up. Reproaching myself that I should not have stayed so close to human habitation: someone had probably spotted me and notified the Germans. etc. At that point flight would have been hopeless and I began to resign myself to life in a prisoner of war camp. Non-the-less I decided to bluff it out. And proceeded at a steady pace with no sign of haste. The German soldiers duly intercepted me and began to ask questions in broken French, I replied fluently in French and soon realized that with my battle dress torn. tattered. and covered with mud. they did not suspect me. They asked if I had seen any British airmen in the vicinity, i shook my head in the negative. Then "Ou habitez-vous?".

My ready reply : "A cette ferme la" while pointing to a farmhouse in the distance, must have been convincing. as they let me go without further ado, much to my amazement and relief. Had they searched me they would have found unmistakeable evidence of my identity : pieces of torn parachute in my jacket, and my escape kit. In retrospect I can only surmise that my ability to speak French did not fit in with their concept of a British airman. Moreover. I certainly did not look the part : I had last shaved and washed two days before. I looked unkempt. and to them, like a backward French peasant.

I continued as before at a measured pace because I did not want to invite their suspicion, but without lingering in case they changed their minds. After about an hour I began to feel the pangs of hunger: the morning incident had boosted my morale a bit and I was emboldened to stop at a farm house to beg for some food..

The farm woman was not unfriendly, and called to her husband. After a short consultation they motioned for me to come in where they were just preparing breakfast . I had three fried eggs a crust of bread.

and a coffee brew made with roasted barley and perhaps other cereals. I could converse with them without any difficulty although they no doubt detected my foreign accent but refrained from asking where I came from and where I was heading...

It was not an affluent home by North American standards: a stone house with cobblestone floor. In the kitchen. A rough unfinished table, about four wooden chairs. A bench. A cupboard (armoire) where they kept their food. And an old iron stove completed their furnishings.

Along one wall was a huge stone fireplace with a cast iron cauldron over the grate and faggots for firewood piled at one side. As far as I could judge. the room had never been painted : all the wails and rough hewn beams were covered with flies and fly dirt - they were everywhere. In fact it was impossible to keep them off my plate. I soon discovered why they were so numerous : a manure pile about thirty feet away, and of course. The windows were open and not screened. I was to see many similar dwellings in the days ahead.

The breakfast lasted about thirty minutes at the end of which I was handed about six hard boiled eggs and invited to proceed on my way. The conversations had been polite but re-strained.. As I recall.

Most of the items discussed had to do with the weather, the state of the crops. The requisition of animals and cereals by the authorities, and when the war would end. They knew of course that I was not from the district, and it was obvious that they did not want to get involved. For my part. I wets happy' not to be questioned too closely, and started on my way. thanking them profusely.

I walked continuously for the next three days. begging my food and sleeping in barns at night. On the third night I could not readily locate a place to sleep except a pile of hay in an open field.

Unfortunately, during the night it started to rain. I awoke from a sound sleep at dawn. soaked and chilled to the bone and set out at once.

About an hour later I found myself on the shore of the Loire River which at that point was a bit too wide and the current too swift for me to swim. I hesitated to cross on a bridge for fear it might be under surveillance. Finally spotting a boat on the shore near a house.

I asked the occupant if he would take me across, and agreed to a price of fifty francs. The first money I had spent from my escape kit The had been, until a short time ago, the demarcation line between occupied and unoccupied territory. Happily the major concentration of troops had left the area. but all of France was now under Nazi domination.

Three days after escaping our mortally damaged aircraft. I felt sufficiently confident to travel along roads in a general southerly direction still avoiding large centres of population. After crossing the Loire I ventured to ride on a bus headed for a town which I had previously identified on my map. My aim was to reach the south of France and then cross over into Spain. The bus was old and fuelled by gas produced by burning wood. a system which could readily be identified by the large steel tank attached to its rear. Wooden blocks were fired in this closed cylinder with a limited supply of oxygen. On top of the bus were bags of blocks along with a number of used spare tires. Tires and conventional fuel were not available for civilian use.

As far as I could ascertain one bag of blocks was sufficient to take the bus about thirty kilometres at a maximum speed of fifty kilometre per hour. Going up a hill was a slow and laborious process : the driver always got out to check his burner before attempting the climb.

I was then travelling along gently rolling country which was quite different from the bocage with its thorny hedges where I had landed The Loire country is reputed to be the garden of France, but during the War there were few signs of affluence. Many buildings showed the signs of neglect, and the farm workers appeared to be middle aged or older. I surmised that most of the young men were either in labour camps or were prisoners of war While riding the bus I became conscious of acute discomfort in my feet, but with all the strange faces around me, I did not want to attract attention, so deferred removal of my shoes until a more appropriate time. About three kilometres out. I decided that it would not be wise to go through the town where many German soldiers might be garrisoned. and left the bus to walk roads and paths around La Haye Descartes. Which was identified by a road sign.

As soon as I reached an area removed from buildings. I took off my shoes and found that both feet were covered. sole and heel, by large blisters. This development prompted me to seek help sooner than I had planned. Infection needing medical attention would almost certainly lead to capture. I headed for the nearest farm house.

It was then late afternoon and the farmer was outside his barn repairing his horse-drawn mower. I explained that I was experiencing difficulty in walking and would like to obtain food and lodgings for a few clay, offering to work for him in return. He seemed a bit apprehensive, and when he asked me where I hailed from. I decided that he appeared to be a hard working, upright individual to whom I could reveal my identity. It was a risk. but in the circumstances it seemed justified. Asked for some proof. I pointed out my clothes and showed him my escape kit and pieces of my parachute. He became quite thoughtful and explained that beyond providing food and lodging for a few days there was little he could do himself.

He then added that he had heard of someone who could probably help me. took me in to his house, and introduced me to his wife and two teen aged children. The reception was warm. tinged with a degree of fear and apprehension. What impressed me most was the expression of ardent patriotism of both the man and his wife ; something which I had never heard in Canada or elsewhere. I suppose this was due to the many wars they had been subject to.

Approximately one for each succeeding generation, whereas in Canada our last conflict on home soil had been in 1812 One was either pro British, pro Quebec. or pro whatever country the immigrant had come from. Prior to 1940, a sense of strong Canadian identity was not evident. To me at any rate.

That evening I was served the first appetising meal that I had eaten in almost a weel : rabbit stew, cheese, vegetables, and the customary 'vin de table' The evening that followed was busy with conversation. I had to tell them where I had lived, what I did, all about my relatives. Family and friends, and what I did in England. In turn they told me about their family ; how relatives and parents had died in former wars ,and of course about food requisitions and the shortage of consumer goods Compared to his neighbours, my host seemed to be relatively well off. The inside of his kitchen had been painted within a few years and the furniture was of a better quality than most I had seen to date. That night I slept on a straw palliasse which was quite an improvement over the accumulation experienced during the past few days.

The next morning I woke up feeling well rested, with some stiffness in the knees which fortunately disappeared after a few steps.

The blisters son my feet were quite uncomfortable. Breakfast with my hosts was eggs, the remains of the rabbit stew. crusted dark bread.

homemade goat cheese, and a brew of the usual roasted cereals. This time the 'coffee' had been fortified with eau de vie. making it quite palat. After breakfast I helped my host finish repairing his mower.

and for the rest of the morning I sat reading the local newspapers. and wandered a bit in the vicinity. The farm was typical of many in the area: all buildings placed in the form of a 'U'. Along one leg, the storage sheds for farm implements, at the base, the stables. and along the other leg, the granary with milling equipment. a small workshop, and at the end. the living quarters. A pile of manure was located in the centre of the 'U'. 1 eau de vie : locally produced alcohol During the morning, my host had gone on his bicycle to inquire how to dispose of me, and had returned in a happy frame of mind just before lunch, with some travel orders. I was to proceed about fifteen kilometres to a small village called Draché to meet the local priest.

Who I was told. Would arrange my flight out of the country. We had lunch, with wine, and conversation was quite lively. Obviously they were glad to help me as a patriotic duty. But I sensed their relief and understandably so, that I would soon be on my way. The penalty for harbouring enemy aliens was only too well known I was grateful for their hospitality, and I offered some of the francs from my escape kit, which they refused. Saying it was their duty to help as best they could.

Just before departing, I exchanged my battle dress blouse for an old civilian jacket which helped my disguise considerably. I said my good- byes and set off accompanied by my host, for the bus stop about two kilometres away. I thanked him again before boarding the bus.

Before going very far, I discovered that the bus was no longer headed for the village of Drache and approached the driver. I was told that since I was the only passenger for that village, he could not afford the fuel and I would have to walk the rest of the way - about five kilometres. I was in no position to argue.

The walk was quite uncomfortable, so I was quite relieved when Drache came into view. Fortunately all roads in France were still marked with weather proof metal signs on a concrete post, so finding the way was not too difficult. Draché was a small village whose population was probably about one hundred, a big old stone church in the centre. A passer-by informed me that the Cure lived in the small stone house adjacent to it. My knock at the door was answered by an elderly woman who turned out to be the Cure's mother. She informed me that the Cure, her son, was out but should return shortly. She invited me to come in and sit down in a room which doubled as a waiting room and dining room. It was then late afternoon and I was glad to rest my feet. The day's walk had not helped my blisters.

The Cur'e whose name was Henri Péan came in about twenty minutes later. He was a man of medium build with very expressive and kindly eyes and his movements gave the impression of boundless energy. After a few words of introduction. it became evident that he know nothing of my coming. I explained that I had been referred to him for assistance in crossing the border into Spain. Related how I had parachuted from a destroyed Allied aircraft, with events of the past few days, and adding that I would appreciate a few day's rest to allow healing of my blistered feet.

I must have been convincing enough for he did not question me further and invited me to share a light supper with him and his mother. Conversation turned to the events of the war and how it was affecting the people of the region. He was quite curious about life in Canada and I tried to enlighten him as best I could. He seemed to be particularly intrigued by the fact that French was still spoken in some parts of Canada, and it appeared that I was the first French speaking Canadian he had come in contact with. After supper he invited me to jump on the back of his motorised bicycle. and a few minutes later.

After winding along the twisting country roads. we arrived in front of an old stone castle, which he identified as the Château de la Roche Ploquin near the village of Sepnes, owned by the Countess de Poix He introduced me by the pseudonym of Henri Gauthier which we had agreed upon earlier. and said no more. She of course, had no idea of my identity and assumed that I was a Belgian student trying to evade the work squads which the Germans were then actively recruiting.

This caused the Cure to chuckle a bit, after which he explained the circumstances of my visit. She was a lady of ready wit. and considerable charm. and she bid me a warm welcome. She and two domestics were the sole occupants of the Château which must have had at least twenty-five rooms. I was lodged in her library where I spent the next five days. To wile away the hours I began to read a number of medical books which had belonged to her physician father, as well as some books of history.

In the days that followed, my movements were limited. and my feet healed rapidly. I had a number of conversations with the Countess, who explained that her husband had died from the effects of gas after world War I, and that she leased a number of farms adjacent to the Chateau, which permitted her to live comfortably. A number of Germans had been quartered in her Chateau while the demarcation line was in effect. The Countess continued with a twinkle in her eye that she had evened the score by helping Abbe Pean guide escapees and other enemies of the Germans to cross to safety.

I was quite interested to hear her philosophy of life. expressions of patriotism. and her pride in her ancestry. She appeared to me as a living symbol of 'nobless oblige' - of a feudal regime which I thought had died with the French revolution. obviously vestiges of that era still lived !

After five days of rest. I became anxious to be on my way again. but the Cure was no longer in touch with an underground organization and had been unable to contact anyone who could facilitate a border crossing. After some discussion, he persuaded me to wait, and it was arranged that I would stay with: one of the tenants of the Countess De Poix with the thought that I would be less likely to attract attention as the farmer's hired help.

During the days I spent in the library. I was photographed and given a false identity card with my new name. I also acquired a pair of trousers and shoes. thus removing any trace of my association with the military. My new host was M. Cathelin, and I remained with him, his wife, and three children for the next two months. The weeks slipped by without any word from the underground. I was, of course.

Anxious to continue as soon as physically possible, but was dissuaded by the Cure and the Countess because they considered that such a trip on my own would be too risky.

All the while the Cure was attempting to find some way to help, but unable to devise a workable scheme. All of these people were ardent patriots prepared to do anything to harass the Germans, but every move had to be carefully planned; even a small error could lead. Not only to their own death, but to the death of their family members and to all who were in any way associated with them.

I know that even then the Cure was active in organizing a cell of the Resistance to procure arms being parachuted by the Allies. He eventually succeeded that fall, but in February he was arrested and tortured to death by the Gestapo after being betrayed by an informer.

As well, M. Cathelin and the Countes de Poix were arrested and sent to concentration camps at about the same time.

After about two months during which I inquired weekly about escape plans. in October I informed my host and the Cure that I could not impose on them any, longer and was determined to be on my way They begged me to remain another week while the Cure made some travel south in the company of a French national who wished to proceed to North Africa a M. de Haviland. of Limoges. (His father was a successful manufacturer and exporter of Limoges china). He spoke English quite well, but his first language was French. We were instructed to go to a location south of Pamiers where we would likely meet an agent who often took people across the border to Spain.

We boarded the train in the town of Chatellerault, bound for Toulouse, Foix, and Pamiers, planning to proceed on foot from there.

There were risks involved. as one was always subject to a security check by the German police. Fortunately everything went smoothly.

There were some anxious moments when our coach was filled with German soldiers at our next stop. It so happened that the day we boarded the train was the day after the Italian surrender, and the Germans were rushing troop reinforcements by every way possible.

As it turned out, we could not have been safer as no one was checking a troop train. At Toulouse, everyone disembarked and we took the next train to Pamiers, a village in the foothills of the Pyranees. It would have been risky to continue, as we were approaching the well guarded border.

We spent the night in a barn, and in the morning made our way to the address given to my companion, where we were told we might find a group of escapees heading for Spain. About mid morning we saw a group approaching, and after speaking to the guide of the party, we joined them. I believe my companion had a certain amount of money which no doubt helped to smooth the way. I gave what I had left which wasn't much. Our goal was Andorra, a small state between France and Spain, jointly administered by them. The guide who was a contraband runner, knew the ground well. and we managed to evade all German patrols. The terrain was rugged and became quite difficult to negotiate, and I could see why patrols would avoid such an area. At one points a member of the group whose turn it was to carry a sack of provisions. lost his footing and in his scramble to avoid falling over a precipice. let the sack fall. We were on very short rations for the next two days until we reached a village in Andorra where we were well fed. Obviously, someone was providing an adequate supply of money, for our accommodations were good. It appears that Andorra was beyond the area patrolled by the Germans. But no one could be sure, so all remained cautious.

After a nights rest. we set out early the next morning and about noon the guide informed us that we were now in Spain.

Everyone was elated. and I, for one, breathed a sigh of relief. Shortly after this we came to a border crossing manned by Spanish officials.

We were asked to sign in and let go on our way. This puzzled me as I expected to be interned, but presume that cash and diplomacy accounted for this unusual procedure. We continued on foot for another two days. The terrain was still rugged but we could now travel openly by road. Which was much easier. There were still some rough detours. Bridges which had been distorted during the Spanish Civil War had not been repaired. Finally we found better roads and a bus which we boarded that took us to the out-skirts of Barcelona where I parted with my travelling companions. Who were continuing to North Africa With two other airmen who had been in the group, I was directed to the British Consulate Building where we were well received.

but I will always remember the look of the blonde receptionist who greeted us with ''Keep away from me until you're deloused"! Not exactly friendly, but quite justified in the circumstances. We looked and were, unkempt to say the least with long hair and dirty clothes. I was still wearing the shirt in which I had left England. We no doubt looked like desperados! I remember that I never again enjoyed a shower as much as I did on that occasion - the first in four months ! After the shower we were instructed to rub ourselves with some oily substance from a bottle with instructions in Spanish which we could not read. The large picture of a bug on the label left no doubt as to its purpose. We were issued with a set of civilian clothes, and I felt like a new man In the clays that followed we were interrogated in detail and at length, and billeted with the family of a member of the consular staff We were well fed. All the food seemed, and probably was, particularly delicious and I could eat anything in any amount. My normal weight had been about l70 pounds, but was then at a low of l 35 pounds.

However I had not starved to the point of adversely affecting my health, so I regained weight quickly. In fact, even after I returned to London I could walk for miles without experiencing any fatigue. After about a week in Barcelona. we were taken by car to Madrid for another week of interrogation. This time we remained on the grounds of the British Embassy with just a few walks in the area.

Then by train, escorted to Gibraltar where we spent another week before being flown back to Britain. It was then about the end of November, and the telegram that I sent from Gibraltar was the first indication to my relatives that I was alive. I had been reported missing, presumed dead.

The summer of '43 was, for me a period of personal hardships, with many times of anxiety, particularly for the first week, after which I adapted to my new environment as best I could. I was particularly impressed by the intense patriotism of some of the people who helped me, particularly the Abbe' Pean, the Countess de Poix and M. Cathelin, to all of whom I am eternally grateful.

To the question frequently asked : ''were you scared at the time you were shot down ?" the answer of course is "Yes", but not as consciously as on some previous missions. In fact there was little time to be scared it happened so quickly. It is another matter when flying in flak, never knowing when the next hit will occur -just waiting, unable to do anything, and sometimes witnessing another aircraft hit nearby, disabled, and sometimes disappearing in a fireball and a cloud of debris, aircraft and human parts. That is the more nerve wracking experience - that is terrors. It is also difficult to describe adequately the feeling of elation and satisfaction experienced on reaching the Consulate at Barcelona.

As mentioned earlier I exercised as much caution as I could to ensure a successful evasion. There were no narrow escapes of the kind described in the story of the Wooden Horse, and other escape tales, with the possible exception of the encounter with the two German soldiers on the second day. My aim was to evade capture by any means possible, an in this I was successful.

J. G. F Sansoucy




Postscript : The following from listing '' RCAF personnel. Honour & Awards 1939-1949 " SANSOUCY Sergeant (Now P.O) . Joseph Germain Fabien (R66953/C86345). Mention in Despatches No. 75 Squadron .

Award effective January l , 1945 as per London Gazette of that date, and AFRO 425/45 dated 9 March 1945. Home in Iberville County, Quebec. Enlisted Montreal , 27 August 1940. ' A.V.W.