Kenneth, a Canadian, served as a bombardier aboard a Halifax bomber assigned to destroy railroad targets. Like other Canadian and British airmen he flew many missions before the United States entered the war. During his final mission his plane was shot down over Belgium. He was fortunate to be found by local citizens who hid him from German soldiers. They did this at great peril to their own lives. His account demonstrates his appreciation for his fellow airmen and the kindness shown him by his Belgian friends.
As it turned out that night there was no haze and there was the biggest moon I had ever seen. Shortly after the bombing we were attacked by an enemy fighter. Being so low we could take very little evasive action and soon had two engines on fire and fire in the aircraft. At about twelve hundred feet the pilot ordered the crew to bail out. He did not get out and was killed in the crash. In John 15: 13 we read that Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Our pilot did just that when he saved our six lives and lost his own. When we landed, we were scattered over about twenty miles. The wireless air gunner and I were not captured, but the other four were taken prisoner.
When I landed, a Belgian farmer, who had been awakened by the gun battle, came across the field where I was trying to bury my chute. After some conversation in sign language, he took me home. He had a meager house and little food. He had a wife, three daughters, and a son. They took me in as part of their family and shared all they had. They were in constant danger with me there, as the Gestapo was constantly searching for me. These good people would have been shot for harboring me if I had been found. I was with them for four months and came to appreciate and love them dearly. They also were ready to lay down their life for a friend.
To evade the Gestapo I often hid in the attic, where I sat and unstitched my parachute and Mae West (life jacket). The material was stuffed into pillows and after the war was made into dresses for the three daughters.
One day I was in the backyard and heard the father and mother excitedly speaking in loud tones in the front of the house. I immediately headed for the field to hide, as I could not make it to the attic. I realized it was a wide-open area with no hiding spot available. So I immediately entered the goat shed, a small six-by-seven-foot square room in the work shed, where I squeezed myself in the corner near the door. When I entered, the goat had remained quiet, although she had never been a great friend of mine. Since then I hold all goats in high esteem as she, no doubt, saved me and my family from the Gestapo.
When the Canadian Army came through the area, I was able to contact them and was flown back to Britain. I was eventually returned to Canada. Our squadron had taken heavy losses in 1943 and 1944, having lost 72 Halifax bombers, and out of 490 aircrews, 313 had died in action, 54 were missing, 105 had been taken prisoner, and 18 were returned safely after being shot down. I was one of the lucky ones.