|T3496||06-03-44||B-17 Flying Fortress|
|O1286559||American||6 Dec 1918|
|Returned Y/N||Evader Fate||Date Captured/Liberated||Place Captured/Liberated||Escape Line|
|Yes||EVD||Sep 44||Liege area, Belgium||-|
2/Lt. Elton Andrew Skinner was the navigator of B-17 Flying Fortress 42-31299 'Junior'. During a raid on Berlin the bomber was shot down by German fighters and crashed northeast of Hoogersmilde. The whole crew survived. Four of them managed to stay out of the hands of the Germans for some time. Eventually only one, managed to evade capture. The whole crew bailed out of the crippled bomber near Hijken/Oranje. Three of them, including Gillmor, landed near the farm of Tjeerd van der Kooy at the Vorrelveenscheweg at Beilervaart. The spouse of Tjeerd, Jantje van der Kooy-Pekel, was home alone when the three airmen descended at their parachutes. She went out and first found an injured airman. This was 2/Lt. R.P. Allman, the bombardier. He was he was entangled in the wires of his parachute. Kooy-Pekel started cutting the wires with a knife to free him. She then took the 'pilot' to the farm. Allman had been shot through his right hand shortly before arriving over the target. Van der Kooy-Pekel went out again and found another airman in the field behind the farm, T/Sgt. Gillmor (E0340). She took him also back to the farm. At that time Tjeerd van der Kooy arrived home and he also had picked up an airman. This was 2/Lt. Skinner. While Gillmor and Skinner received a meal, Jantje van der Kooy-Pekel treated and washed the wound of Allman. The couple also made a temporary bed in the kitchen so he could rest a bit. Meanwhile a local doctor was asked to examine his hand. It was so badly wounded, that Allman had to go to a hospital because he already lost a lot a blood. Van der Kooy-Pekel ripped a sheet into pieces to bandage the hand with it. Eventually Allman was handed over to the Germans and became a PoW. At a later moment his hand had to be amputated. Van der Kooy wrote shortly the war: 'We regretted that the wounded man had to be handed over to the Germans, but there was simply no other way.' Because the Germans would pick up Allman at the farm of Van der Kooy, it was likely that they would also search in the immediate neighborhood. Skinner and Gillmor therefore had to leave the farmhouse of Van der Kooy as soon as possible. Van der Kooy asked Lambertus Zwanenburg (Prins Hendrikstraat 11 at Beilen), a colleague farmer at Beilervaart and who had already had helped allied pilots, to assist (he would be executed by the Germans at concentration camp Westerbork on 19 October 1944). He agreed. They hid Skinner in some bushes in a field, while Gillmor was hidden at a nearby farm. The Germans visited also this farm to look for downed airmen, but Gillmor, who was moved to the barn of the farmhouse, wasn't found. After nightfall, when the Germans had moved out of the area, they moved Gillmor and Skinner to Zwanenburg his farmhouse. The two Americans remained for about fourteen days with the Zwanenburg family (until 20 March 1944). Zwanenburg was in contact with the resistance in Hoogeveen, which was led by the cousins Johannes and Albert van Aalderen. They were prepared to take over the two Americans. Nicolaus Gerhardus Vietor (Julianastraat 12 at Beilen), a policeman from Beilen, brought Gillmor and Skinner to Hoogeveen and delivered them to the house of Gerardus Lambertus Hendriksen at Blankenslaan 61. Here they received a fake identity papers. After a five day stay here, Hilda Dekker (Hoofdstraat 160 at Hoogeveen) escorted the two on 25 March 1944 from Hoogeveen by train to Arnhem. At the station of Arnhem the two airmen were handed over to Henri Anton Engelbert Burgers (Jansbinnensingel 23 at Arnhem), who himself was arrested in May 1944 and died in Oranienburg shortly before the end of the war, in February 1945. It's unknown if the two airmen hid in Arhem for a short while, before H. Martens from Huissen escorted them by train from Arnhem to Roermond. From there it went to the house of family Joseph Simmelink at Dorpsstraat 19 in nearby Nunhem. After a one day stay two daughters of this large family (man, wife and ten children) brought Gillmor and Skinner on foot to Heythuizen. Via family M. Gubbels at Dorpsstraat 124 at Heythuizen they were handed over to Ed van Wegberg (Dorp 83 at Heyhuizen) who at his turn handed them over to Gerard H. Roumen at Dorpsstraat 65 at Haelen. It must be on the same day or shortly after that the two moved on 27 March they moved to ‘De Bedelaer’ estate near Haelen. Here they came in the hands of Mrs. M.E. Hooyer-Dubois. They remained here until 4 April. On this date the two and another airman, S/Sgt. Roy A. Cheek (E0311) moved to Heythuijzen. Cheek: 'The other two were taken to one house, and I to another, where I stayed about six weeks. Around the beginning of May Cheek and Gillmor moved back to 'their’ estate at Horn. Skinner did not and went another way. Very little is known of the next phase of his flee (from Heythuijzen). It's certain that he crossed the border into Belgium early in April. On 6 april he was handed over by the Belgian resistance worker Joseph Drion to Joseph Etienne. Probably together with another airman, 2/Lt. Kenneth Griesel (E0350), he stayed shortly at a house at Rue Vincent Bonnechère 8 at Kemexhe to be interrogated. Afterwards the two were turned over to Drion again (according to other sources Griesel crossed the Dutch-Belgian border only in May). In May members of the Belgian secret army - under command of Georges Matton - handed Skinner over to Joseph Daigneux, the mayor of the village of Bellaire, east of Liege (Rue de Voie de Liege 64, Bellaire). At that moment he probably was part of a group that consisted of 2/Lt. F.W. Babcock (E0244), 2/Lt. P.F. Chavez, F/O. J.A. De Luca (E0313), 2/Lt. R.L. Garrett (E0410), S/Sgt. M. Hargrove (E0335), S/Sgt. H.B. King (E0411), a certain MacDonald, Sgt. J.S. Munro (E0418), S/Sgt R.H. Murray and S/Sgt. Howard A. Witherow. They were housed at different addresses from June until the end of August 1944. Apparantly Skinner and another airman, F/O. J.A. De Luca, were handed over to Louis M. Brouwers. It seems that in August 1944 Joseph Daigneux took them 'back' and returned them, via Jacques Michel Henri Jungers (22 Quai des Ardennes at Liege), to Georges Matton. Although still much is unclear of the period April-September 1944, it can be concluded that Skinner managed to evade capture until the liberation of the Liege area and was freed here early September 1944. Elton Skinner passed away on 12 June 2013 at the age of 94. He is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas.
|* National Archives, Washington, EE-1969
* National Archives, Washington, Helper Files, NAID: 286702288 - NAID: 286721498 - NAID: 286715265 - NAID: 286659760 - NAID: 286696240 - NAID: 286696223 - NAID: 286647516 - NAID: 286643204 - NAID: 286688682 - NAID: 286712011 - NAID: 286661987 - NAID: 286682986 - NAID: 286682972 - NAID: 262458411 - NAID: 262465359 - NAID: 262460429
* NIOD, 896, Willemsen, W.J.M, inv.nr. 2, 'E.A. Skinner'