|T3299||11-01-44||B-17 Flying Fortress|
|Returned Y/N||Evader Fate||Date Captured/Liberated||Place Captured/Liberated||Escape Line|
|No||EVD-Killed||22 Apr 44||Chimay, Belgium||-|
Sgt. John J. Gemborski was the left waist gunner of B-17 42-30782. After bailing out he landed south of Rijssen, wast of the farm of family J.A. Elbersen at the Lichtenbergweg in Holten. The son of the family, Marinus, made contact with Gemborski and took him took the farm. The family hid him in a hiding place under a little shed. Soon after he was brought to Rijssen where he found a hiding place in the house of Albertus J. Meier. On 13 January Jules Haeck and Alphons Gerard picked him up and escorted Gemborski to the house of Stefanie Memelauer in Hengelo. Here he rejoined two crewmembers: 1/Lt. I.E. Glaze (E0251) and T/Sgt. O.G. Owens (E0253). On 17 January Glaze left Hengelo. Escorted by Alphons Gerard he was brought - together with two other crewmembers: S/Sgt. W.W. Cole (E0249) and T/Sgt. C.A. Nichols (E0252), who were hiding also in Hengelo - to Echt. Owens and Gemborski followed two days later on 19 January. They found a hiding place for two weeks in the house of Harry Tummers and in the house of His sister, Hilke Tummers and her husband, Christiaan Ruikes. Nichols, Gemborski and Owens stayed partially in the house of Tummers and partially on the farm ‘de Horst’ of A.H. Peeters near Echt. In the beginning of February 1944, Tummers brought the three to Maastricht and handed them over to Jef Fransen of the ‘groep Sijmons’. The next day they were rejoined by Nichols and Owens. In Eijsden they came in the hands of customs officer Frans Kroeze who helped the five airmen over the Dutch-Belgian border. Via the house of Louis T. van Dommel in Mouland they moved in smaller groups to Riezes, at the French-Belgian border. With other airmen the hid in a hut deep in the woods. After German activity in the area they moved, in March, to another hut in the Bois de la Champagne near the village of Saint Rémy, west of Chimay. Because of the long and boring days, and the small chances to reach Allied territory with a big group of evaders Glaze and Cole decided to leave on their own. After a long and adventurous trip they managed to reach Gibraltar. On 28 June 1944 they were flown back to England. Staying in the refugee camp had fatal consequences for Gemborski, Nichols and Owens. In the morning of 22 April 1944 the SS, the Merlot police and the Garde Wallone surrounded the camp. They had been treated. Together with five other Americans and some helpers they were arrested. This accounted also for thirty civilians of Chimay who were arrested as a retaliation. They were transported to the Gestapo headquarters of Chimay. After they had unclothed themselves and had been interrogated for a few hours, trucks brought them back to the camp. Here all the prisoners were murdered. The next day the victims were buried in a mass grave near the airfield Charleroi-Gosselies.
* H.B. van Helden, De lijst van Haeck. Een overzicht van de hulpverlening aan geallieerde bemanningsleden en ontsnapte krijgsgevangenen tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog (Hardenberg 2017), page 116-118
* M.J.G. Hols and H.J. Steunenberg, Holten in oorlogstijd (Nijverdal 1984), page 276-278