Name Ernest James GILLMAN Rank W/O
Number 573532 Date of Birth 13 July 1922
Squadron 97 Squadron, Bomber Command, RAF    
Aircraft Lancaster Mark 3 #JA707 Crew position Engineer
Based at Bourn, Cambridgeshire, UK    
Target Nuremburg,, Germany Failed to return 28 August 1943
Escape Networks Possum Line Capture Dax, France - 10 March 1944
Liberated Near Celle, Germany - 17 April 1945 Reference UKNA:SPG/LIB/1678 - James Gillman
UKNA:SPG/LIB/770 - Joseph Kenny
NARA:RG498/290/55/27/2 Box 96 - Awards' file - Louise Culot
NARA:RG498/290/55/27/2 Box 344 - Awards' file - Zelie Recoule
NARA:RG498/290/55/27/2 Box 62 - Awards' file - Marie Louise Campion
NARA:RG498/290/55/27/2 Box 20 - Awards' file - Suzanne Bastin
NARA:RG498/290/55/27/2 Box 380 - Awards' file - Emile Thirion
Michael Leblanc's notes  

« « Home page

Last updated on 20 March, 2015


28 Aug 1943

Crashed close to Sibret (~10kms SW of Bastogne) in the Belgian Ardennes.
Two crewmen did not survive.
Bert Pond went off on his own.

Oscar Ramsden & Jim Rainsford set off together.
Gillman & Joseph Kenny set off north, walking through the night.

29 Aug 1943
Met up again with crewmen Ramsden & Rainsford.
The four walked through Champs (~5kms NW of Bastogne, and got food & water at last house.
Owner hid them in a nearby wood and went for medical assistance.
Mme. Mons, who spoke English, came & took them to the Mayor's house in Bastogne.
Sheltered in an outhouse until ...
31 Aug 1943
Left at 23:00 & walked for 2 hours through woods.
Spent the night in a shed.
1 Sep 1943
Left in the evening & walked to the outskirts of Libramont.
Spent night in another shed.
2 Sep 1943

Taken to meet a British agent, a Belgian who spoke English. He took them to an empty house on the outskirts of Libramont.
Stayed until ...

16 Sep 1943
Taken to a caravan by M. & Mme. Lambert of Libramont.
Sheltered until ...
18 Sep 1943
Taken to the home of Baron Vikerslouth, Chateau Ranfay, Libramont.
Sheltered until ...
21 Sep 1943
Taken to railway station. Met same British agent who gave them tickets for Bruxelles. Escorted by a woman (name unknown).
Met in Bruxelles by
Mme. Pauli, 30 rue de Naples, who housed & fed them.
Photos taken for ID cards.
Stayed there until ...
9 Oct 1943

The four travelled by train to Mons & then by tramcar to Erquennes (~20kms SW of Mons & ~1km from the frontier).
Stayed for one night at the home of either M. & Mme. (Georgette) Dieu or Francois Bourlard, a frontier guard

10 Oct 1943

Helped by Bourlard, the four crossed into France. Train from Valenciennes to Paris.
Met by 2 men who could speak English. One of them took Gillman & Kenny to a flat at 20 Rue de Chile.
In the late afternoon Kenny was taken to another house.
Gillman stayed for two days.

12 Oct 1943
Gillman & Kenny met up again.Taken to another flat by Suzanne Bastin. Later they are joined by Ian Robb (RAF) & Carl Darling (USAAF).
14 Oct 1943
Four more airmen arrived & stayed for one night.
18 Oct 1943
Gillman & Kenny taken by Bastin & Dominique Edgard Potier to Fismes.
Spent the night at the farmhouse of Emile Thirion, in Prin (just SW of Savigny).
Note: Ian Robb (RAF), Carl Darling, Arthur Whalen & Herbert Browning (USAAF) were also there.
19 Oct 1943
The local parson (Abbé Fontaine) moved them all to a cave three kms away, as the Germans were making a house-to-house search.
Sheltered there until ...
21 Oct 1943
Gillman & Kenny taken by Abbé Fontaine to the home of Count Savigny.
Note: Gillman might have meant Comte Joseph de Bury (near Savigny).
28 Oct 1943
Moved on to the home of M. & Mme. Prevost of Crugny (~10 kms SE of Fismes).
Stayed until ...
23 Dec 1943
Taken back to Paris by Bastin.
Francis Guyot took Gillman to stay at the home of Louise Culot in Vanves, a suburb of Paris, until ...
10 Feb 1944
Gillman & Kenny taken back to Bastin's flat, but were quickly moved by Robert Rocher to the home of the Campion family, as the Gestapo were searching houses.
They sheltered there until ...
3 Mar 1944

Taken to the home of the Recoule family, where they stayed until ...

9 Mar 1944

Left for Pau (near the Spanish frontier) by train, escorted by the Recoule's son, Edmond, & Mme.Campion.
After leaving Bordeaux, the Gestapo did an ID check and Gillman, Kenny & the Recoule's son were arrested near Dax.



[Note: this report was OCRed from the original and then edited]

Members of the crew

Pilot F/Sgt Bert POND Got out of aircraft
Navigator Sgt James RAINSFORD Got out of aircraft UKNA:SPG/1562
Engineer Sgt Ernest GILLMAN Narrator UKNA:SPG/LIB/1678
Bomb aimer F/O Victor PETERS Believed dead in aircraft
Wireless operator Sgt Joseph KENNY Got out of aircraft UKNA:SPG/LIB/770
Rear gunner F/Sgt Thomas McGRATH Probably killed in fighter attack
Mid upper gunner Sgt Oscar RAMSDEN Wounded, got out of aircraft UKNA:SPG/1563


We took off from BOURN in a Lancaster aircraft at 2200 hrs on 28 Aug 43 to bomb NUREMBURG. We successfully bombed the target, but on the way back after flying for approximately 1/2 hr the aircraft was attacked by a J.U. 88. The rear/gun turret was hit killing the rear gunner and the fuselage was damaged. We dived from 16,000 ft to 9,000 ft and were attacked again. This time the port inner engine was hit and caught fire. The pilot feathered the motor and came down to 2,000 ft. The altimeter registered a false reading which resulted in the aircraft crashing into an electric pylon, catching fire and finally hitting the ground.
The bomb aimer was killed and the Navigator, mid-upper gunner and W/Op sustained cuts. The Pilot, W/Op, Mid/Upper gunner and I got out and dragged the Navigator clear of the wreckage. The Pilot, F/Sgt POND, RNZAF, went off on his own and the four of us walked due North all through the night until about 0730 hrs. After walking for 1/2 hr. we separated into pairs. Sgt. KENNY came with me. We met a man on a bicycle (name unknown) and asked him where we were. He told us we were about 8 kms from MARCHE. He advised us to keep clear of BASTOGNE, as there was a German garrison there and to walk through the village of SIBRET where we might meet someone who would help us.
Soon after our encounter with these men we met the other two members of the crew who had left us earlier on. They joined us and walked through the village of SIBRET. We called at the last house and asked, for food and water. The owner (name unknown) gave us some lemonade and then requested us to leave. While walking along the road he overtook us on a bicycle, we followed him and he led us into a wood and then stopped. We explained to him that medical aid was needed for the other members of the crew. He told us to wait in the wood while he went for a doctor. From then on my journey was arranged for me.
I was captured at DAX on 10 Nov 44 [Note: should be 10 Mar 44] by the Gestapo, when travelling by train from BORDEAUX to the Spanish frontier. Sgt. KENNY was with me and was also captured. They took us to BAYONNE where we were interrogated at the military prison. Here we stayed for 8 days. On the 8th day we were taken by train to PARIS. We were met by the Gestapo on arrival in PARIS and then taken by car to Fresnes prison, Whilst in Fresnes prison I contacted verbally S/Ldr. Yeo THOMAS, a British agent, also Capt BLUE (?) and Lieut DENAND. I remained there for 5 weeks, during which time I was interrogated once by the Luftwaffe.
On 22 Apr we were taken by train to the Gestapo prison at FRANKFURT on MAIN, where we were interrogated. We were kept there for 18 days and on 10 May 44 were taken to Dulag Luft (OBERURSEL).


Dulag Luft OBERURSEL 10 May 44 - 18 May 44
Stalag Luft VI HEYDEKRUG 19 May 44 - 17 Jul 44
Stalag 357 THORN Jul 44 - 19 Aug 44
Stalag 357 FALLINGBOSTEL 20 Aug 44 - 8 Apr 45






I was liberated by British forces on 17 Apr 45, nr. CELLE. I flew from NIENBURG to TILBURG and from there to the U.K. arriving on 22 Apr 45.




Name & Address
29 Aug 43 - 1 Sep 43
M. et Mme. MONS
(N.W.Surope 1:250,000 Sheet 6 P 55)
Food and shelter for 3 days
16 - 18 Sep 43
(N.W.Europe 1:250,000 Sheet 6 P 34)
Food and shelter for 2 days.
18 - 21 Sep 43
Chateau Ranfay
Food and shelter for 3 days.
Personal friend of Gordon SELFRIDGE
21 Sep - ~9 Oct 43
30 Rue de Naples
Food, clothes and shelter for 3 weeks.
Identity papers.
~12 Oct 43
also 10 Feb to 9 Mar 44
Name unknown
44 20 Rue de Chille
PARIS, France
Food and shelter for 2 days.
~18 Oct 43
Farmer (name unknown)
(France 1;250,000 Sheet B.8. T 08)
Food and shelter for 1 day.
21 - 28 Oct 43
Food and shelter for a week.
28 Oct - 22 Dec 43
(France 1:250,000 Sh 8 T08)
Food and shelter for 55 days.
23 Dec 43 - 10 Feb 44
(Note: original report gives the date as
23 Dec 43 - 10 Dec 44
which is wrong)
111 Rue Sadilarnot,
VANVES, Seine.
(France 1:250,000 Sh 3.7. 303.)
Food and shelter for 49 days.




We waited an hour in the wood, when a lady named Mme. MONS came and took us to the house of the mayor of BASTOGNE. She spoke English and told us we could live in an outhouse in the grounds of the Mayor's residence. She gave us food and arranged medical attention for the 3 other members of the crew. She also gave us some civilian clothes.
Next day 30 Aug at about 1100 hrs a man (name unknown) called at the outhouse and said he would arrange for us to fly home and would return at 1300hrs.When Mme. MONS heard that he had visited us she became suspicious and we hid in the woods until 1700 hours. By this time the man had not returned and Mme. MONS told us it was safe to return to the outhouse. She also informed us that this man was a member of the Underground Movement.
On 31 Aug another man (name unknown) came to the outhouse at 2300 hrs and together we set off through the woods. We walked for about 2 hours and were then contacted by another man (name unknown) who took us to a shed in the woods where we spent the night. He collected us on 1 Sep in the evening| and we walked through the woods. By this time we had reached the outskirts of LIBREMONT. We spent the night of 1 Sep in another shed and the local Cure (name unknown) told us to remain in the shed until 1300 hrs on 2 Sep when a man would come along whistling "Tipperary". We were to reply singing the same refrain.
At 1300 hrs the above mentioned man (name unknown) arrived with instructions how to contact the next guide. We did this successfully and were taken to another wood nearby, where we met a British Intelligence Agent (name unknown). He took us to an empty house about 10 kms from LIBREMONT where he supplied us with food and cigarettes etc. We stayed in this house for 14 days.
On the 18 Sep at about 0600 hrs, M and Mme LAMBERT took us to a caravan where we met the other two members of the crew again. We stayed the night in the caravan and the next evening another man (name unknown) collected us and we started walking in the direction of BRUSSELS. We only walked for the duration of an hour. We spent three days in the house of Baron VIKERSLOUTH, who is a personal friend of Gordon SELFRIDGE. He gave us food, shelter and new clothes. On the third morning we were taken into LIBREMONT and were met again by the British agent. He gave us railway tickets for BRUSSELS. Our guide was a woman (name unknown). We left LIBREMONT at 0900hrs. and arrived at BRUSSELS at noon. We carried no papers. We were met at BRUSSELS by Mme. PAULIE, of 30 Rue des Naples. She looked after us for about for about three weeks. Whilst staying with her we had our photographs taken for identity cards.
On the morning of 9 Oct, we were taken to BRUSSELS East station by M. PAULIE, and given railway tickets to MONS. I travelled with navigator (W/O RAINSFORD) and we had a woman guide (name unknown). We arrived at MONS at 1030 hrs and travelled by tramcar to within 1/2 mile of the Belgian French frontier, We were taken to a house in this area owned by a Belgian Frontier Guard (name unknown). We stayed there the night and crossed the frontier at 0600 hrs the next day.
We boarded a train at VALENCIENNES. This time we were accompagnied by 2 different guides (names unknown). After changing twice we caught the PARIS express. We arrived in PARIS at 1430 hrs. We were met by 2 men (names unknown) who could speak English, one of whom took Sgt. KENNY and I to a flat, 20 Rue de Chile, PARIS. We remained there together until late that afternoon when KENNY was taken to another house. I remained in this flat for 2 days.
On the second day at approximately 12 Oct I was taken to a nearly park where I met Sgt. KENNY again. We were taken to the EGLISE SACRE COEUR. We waited there about 1 1/2 hrs when we were told to follow a girl (name unknown) who took us to another flat in PARIS (address unknown). She left us there for 1/2 hr and returned with an American flier (name unknown) and another RAF person (name forgotten). Two days later she brought 4 more airmen (names unknown) to the flat making 8 in all, but these were taken away the following day.
On about 18 Oct Sgt. KENNY and I were taken by train to FISMES by the woman who owned the flat in PARIS and also with a man who called himself "The Big Chief". We stayed one night in the house of a farmer (name unknown) at FISMES. During the night the local parson (name unknown} told us that the Gestapo were on our track and we hid in a cave a few yards away. The next night the same parson called for us and took us to the house of Count SAVIGNY. We stayed in this house for a week. By this time rumours had been heard that the Gestapo were still on our track, so Sgt, KENNY and I volunteered to move on and we stayed with M and Mme PREVOST, CRUGNY, Marne from 28 Oct until 22 Dec.
On the morning of 23 Dec, a man (name unknown) who had brought us from PARIS to FISMES earlier on, accompanied by the lady from the flat, took us back to PARIS. I stayed with M. CULOT, 111 Rue Sadicarnet, VANVERS, Seine, until 10 Feb 44. On the 10 Feb the lady of the flat took us back to her flat in PARIS. We stayed there until 9 Mar. On 9 Mar we were given railway tickets to PAU on the Spanish frontier. A young boy of 18 and his sister (names unknown) were to accompany us. We had nearly reached BORDEAUX when we heard whispers of Gestapo but weren't unduly worried. Just after the train had pulled out of BORDEAUX station, members of the Gestapo boarded the train, examined my papers and arrested me. KENNY was arrested a few minutes later.

Taken from Suzanne Bastin's declaration, dated 1st December 1944:

Joseph Kenny and James Gillman (RAF) had been staying at Suzanne Bastin's home, but were quickly moved, by M. Rocher, when the Gestapo started conducting house searches. They were then sheltered by the Recoule family in Paris. It was decided to try and get them to Spain, and on 17th [sic] March they left for Pau, to the home of some friends of the Recoule family, accompagnied by their 20 year old son and an escort, Mme. Campion. After leaving Bordeaux, the Gestapo did an ID check and Kenny, Gillman and the Recoule's son were arrested. Mme. Campion survived the ID check and was able to relate what had happened. The whole Recoule family was arrested by the Gestapo on the following Sunday morning.

Note: Kenny's report states that they left Paris on 9th March and were arrested on 10th March.