Studiegroep Luchtoorlog 1939-1945


Evader chart: E0136
SGLO Date crash Aircraft
T2886 16-09-43 Lancaster
MilRank First Name(s) Name
P/O. Robert George Thomas Kellow
Milregnr. Nationality Born
AUS411453 Australian
Returned Y/N Evader Fate Date Captured/Liberated Place Captured/Liberated Escape Line
Yes EVD 3 Dec 43 St. Mawgan, England Comet Line
Evader Story
						P/O. Robert George Thomas (Bob) Kellow was the wireless operator/air gunner of Lancaster JB144. He joined the RAAF early in the war. After his training he served first with 50 Squadron in the crew of F/Lt. Les Knight. In 1943 he transferred to 617 Squadron. During the famous Dambusters Raid he was one of the crew members of Lancaster AJ-N piloted by Knight. During that raid they first attacked the Mohne Dam and then went on to attack and actually breach the Eder Dam. In the night of 15/16 September 1943 the crew of Knight - including Kellow - took part in a raid on the Dortmund-Ems Canal. On this mission they were ordered to bomb from very low level with a 12000-pounder. Due to a change of the wind direction and intense flak the Lancaster had to fly at higher level and flew through some trees on the top of a hill. This damaged both port engines and the elevator rudder. Knight managed to gain some height but shortly after he couldn’t control the aircraft anymore and ordered to bail out. Les Knight was the only one who didn’t survive.

After bailing out Kellow landed near Eerde, in a field just behind Castle Eerde. He first hid his parachute and harness under some bushes. He also removed his distinctives from his uniform. From there he walked south and then along the water in westerly direction. Kellow soon decided to walk only by night and to hide himself during the day. After two days he reached the Raalte area. Here he appraoched an eldery couple that sat before their little old farmhouse. When he indicated that he desperately wanted an apple from the orchard they took him in and gave him a meal. He was allowed to stay for the night in a little shed behind the barn where he met a Dutchman who hid there. He suggested Kellow to walk to Deventer and from there to Zutphen. Here he could take a train to the southern part of Holland. After practicing the whole evening with the Dutchman, Kellow could perfectly say 'Een enkele reis Tilburg'. The next day he stayed at the farm until darkness and then left. Early in the morning he reached the outskirts of Zutphen. He walked to the station and bought without problems a ticket to Arnhem. From There he travelled to Nijmegen. Here he took accidentally the train to Roermond. Here he was helped by railway personnel who advised him not to go to Tilburg, but to Eindhoven and walk from there to the border. 

When he arrived at Eindhoven it was around midnight. He hid himself in the city until the morning. As there were hardly signposts, he used his compass to find the right direction. By now his feet were swollen and he could hardly walk anymore because the pain was hardly bearable anymore. While he was giving his feet some relief in a little river, two uniformed cyclists stopped. According to some sources these were Johannes Friesen and Emmanuel Vanthoor, both living in Bladel. Kellow thought he would be arrested now. He wrote 'RAAF' on the ground. The two men laughed and ordered him to stay put. He hid himself in a forest. During the night they returned with a meal. In the morning of 23 September Kellow was helped over the Dutch-Belgian border near Reusel by the two. They pointed Kellow a track that he had to follow in the direction of the abbey of Postel, a few kilometers north of Mol. Although he had difficulty in finding it, he eventually managed to reach it. Here he contacted padre Hubert(us) but he spoke only English rudimentary. Possibly Cees van Turenhout (who lived at Emmalaan 20 in Breda) who hid in the abbey for the Germans. He gave Kellow civilian clothes and contacted someone out of his network. This man, Ludo van Eeckhout from Veldstraat 55 in Mol arrived in the morning of 25 September at the abbey with two bicycles. Together they rode to Mol where he hid at nr. 75 in Donk-Mol. Kellow stayed here until 9 October. On this day Albert Soeten escorted Kellow to the house of Gustave Wouters at Elisabethlei 51 in Turnhout. Aline Dumont picked him up at the same day and took Kellow to the station, but they were too late to take a train. After a night at the house of (another) resistance worker, they left for Antwerp the following morning (10 October). Here they changed trains for Brussels. In the Belgian capital Kellow housed for about ten days with Miss Hélène Camusel at Rue Marie Christine 160 in Laken. 

On 18 or 19 October Kellow and three other airman - F/O. William G. Williams and two Americans - left Brussels, escorted by two Belgian guides. First, they passed Doornik. In a village close to the Belgian-French border they two Americans were left behind while Kellow and Williams moved into France. where they spent the night in the house of a Gendarme. On 20 or 21 October a guide took the two by foot to Cysoing, from where the boarded a train to Lille. From here they travelled, also by train, to Paris. Here they hid in the apartment of Mrs. Hochepied at the Rue Descombes 11 in Paris XVII. After two and a half day Kellow and Williams were probably separated. Kellow left Paris with another airmen: William Catley and two Americans - probably Robert Muir and Mike Fleszar - by train to Bordeaux. From here they travelled, also by train, to Dax. From Dax the group, minus one American who couldn't cycle, rode by bike to Saint-Jean de Luz. The other American joined them later after travelling this last stretch by train. They spent the night in a hotel outside the city.

On 23 October Kellow, Catley and the two Americans started their crossing of the Pyrenees. Escorted by guides, they arrived in Spain (probably) on 24 October (other sources state that this was on 20 October). Via Irun, Villa Casablanca, Lecumberri, Saragossa, the ended up in Alhama de Aragon. After being released, Kellow went to Madrid (24 November) and from there to Gibraltar (26 November). On 2 December he left Gibraltar by plane and arrived the next day at St Mawgan. In May 1944 he returned to Australia. He was demobilized as F/Lt. on 23 April 1946. He returned to his job as a shop assistant in Australia, and in 1946 married Doreen Smith, a Canadian who he had met while training there in 1941. In 1952 he and his wife and two children emigrated to Winnipeg, Canada, where Kellow worked for the Manitoba Power Commission. He wrote a book about his wartime experiences: Paths to Freedom. Robert Kellow didn't survive until the release of the book. He passed away on 12 February 1988. He is buried in Winnipeg, Canada.

* NIOD, 896, Willemsen, W.J.M, 2, 'R.G.T. Kellow'
* Bob Kellow, Paths to Freedom (Winnipeg 1992)
* P.C. Meijer, Luchtoorlog rondom Den Ham (Den Ham 1995)