2/Lt. Frederick W. West
338th FS - February 1943 - 24 March 1944 (Missing in Action - Evaded)
338th FS - 17 June 1944 (Returned) - 06 July 1944
Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, 1 July 1915.
"Several hours passed before I heard two men whistling. I could not see them however, and therefore kept still. They worked back and forth for a long time without ever getting very near and I decided to answer their whistles. I did so for over half an hour before one of them came in view. He was wearing a beret and finally came to a spot directly back of me. I could not see them without disturbing the branches, so I kept my hand on my throwing knife in case they were collaborators. A hand grabbed my foot. I turned and saw a peasant sitting on his haunches, grinning. We had a long argument because he said, 'camarade' which I had always thought of as a German surrender term. He finally said, 'camarade - ami' and we shook hands. The man with the beret joined us. He had bread, sausage and whiskey. The whiskey had a peculiar smell and I again became suspicious. I made them each drink some before I would take any. I was glad when it turned out to be good, for the hole in which I had been sitting was a third full of water and I was pretty chilled. I asked about the Germans and learned that they had already stopped searching the woods because they were too few to risk being there long. I told them about the girls I had seen previously and found that one had acted so swiftly that the rest of my journey was already arranged."
Lt. West was provided with identification and travel
papers by the French and paid a Frenchman 10,000 francs, ($200.) to guide
him through the Pyrenees Mountains. During this period he had his maps and
compass stolen by a Spanish shepherd. He arrived in Spain, 15 May 1944,
and Gibraltar, 13th of June. Flown from Gibraltar, 14 June, he landed at
Bristol, England, 15 June 1944.
17 June 1944
- Returned to the 338th Fighter Squadron
|Memories||During Lt. West's interrogation by USAAF
intelligence he discussed what he thought about the Escape Kit which was
provided all American airmen .... "I ate Horlicks while hiding in the
woods and later in the mountains, they were very useful. I found the
peanut bar difficult to ration as the paper covering is so skimpy that the
bar cannot be kept dean unless a lot is eaten at once. I used the adhesive
tape for another man in the Pyrenees but there was not enough to do much
good. The Benzedrine was very helpful in the mountains. The compass,
chewing gum and matches were also used. I carried a red purse but the maps
were the old type and did not have enough detail to be helpful. I carried
two photographs and used one temporarily, but the background was too white
and the face too large. I was lectured on evasion in the States, at
Atcham, and Nuthampstead (England). The lectures taught me to have
confidence in the French, as they could find help for me, and they did."
Reproduced with kind permission of Mr. Robert M. Littlefield from the author's book Double Nickel - Double Trouble
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