Studiegroep Luchtoorlog 1939-1945


Evader chart: E0343
SGLO Date crash Aircraft
T3496 06-03-44 B-17 Flying Fortress
MilRank First Name(s) Name
2/Lt. Elton Andrew Skinner
Milregnr. Nationality Born
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 -
Evader Story
						2/Lt. Elton Andrew Skinner was the navigator of B-17 Flying Fortress 42-31299 'Junior' that crashed along the Oranjekanaal, about 1,5 kilometres to the northeast of Hoogersmilde on March 6, 1944. The whole crew bailed out in time and Skinner descended a few kilometres to the west of Hijken. After his landing he was accosted by Tjeerd van der Kooy who then took the airman to his farm at the Vorrelveenscheweg at Beilen. When he arrived home, he found out that his wife had meanwhile collected two other American ‘pilots’. These were T/Sgt. Marion Gillmor (E0340), the engineer of the Fortress, and 2/Lt. R.P. Allman, the bombardier, who had been shot through his right hand shortly before the bomber arrived over the target Berlin.

While Skinner and Gillmor received a meal, Jantje van der Kooy-Pekel treated and washed the wound of Allman. The couple then made a temporary bed in the kitchen so he could rest a bit. Meanwhile, a local doctor had been sent for and after examining Allman’s hand, he decided to get the airman to a hospital. 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 and eventually his hand had to be amputated. Shortly after the war, van der Kooy wrote: “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 for other crewmembers in the immediate neighbourhood of the farm. Therefore, Skinner and Gillmor had to leave the farmhouse as soon as possible. Van der Kooy asked Lambertus Zwanenburg from the Prins Hendrikstraat 11 in Beilen and who had already helped allied pilots, to assist. (Zwanenburg would be executed by the Germans at the Westerbork concentration camp on October 19, 1944, for his help to Allied aircrew). He agreed and Skinner was hidden in some bushes in a field while Gillmor went in hiding at a nearby farm. The Germans searched this farm as well but Gillmor, who had been moved to the barn of the farmhouse, wasn't found. After nightfall, when the Germans had left the area, Skinner and Gillmor moved to the address of the Zwanenburg family and they would stay there for about fourteen days.

Zwanenburg was in contact with the resistance in Hoogeveen, that was led by the cousins Johannes and Albert van Aalderen and they were willing to take over the two Americans. On March 20, Nicolaus Vietor, a policeman from Beilen, brought Skinner and Gillmor to Hoogeveen and delivered them to the house of Gerard Hendriksen at the Blankenslaan 61 in this town. Here they received fake identity papers and after a five day stay, Hilda Dekker escorted the two airmen by train from Hoogeveen to Arnhem. At the train station there, the two airmen were handed over to Henri Burgers who lived at the Jansbinnensingel 23 in Arnhem. Burgers himself was arrested by the Germans in May 1944 and died in the Oranienburg concentration camp in February 1945.

From Arnhem. H. Martens from Huissen escorted the two airmen by train to Roermond. From the train station in Roermond, they went to the house of the Simmelink family at the Dorpstraat 19 in nearby Nunhem. After a one day stay with this large family (man, wife and ten children), two daughters of Simmelink brought Skinner and Gillmor on foot to Heythuizen. Via the Gubbels family who lived at the Dorpsstraat 124 in this village, they were taken to Ed van Wegberg in Heythuizen as well who in turn handed the Americans over to Gerard Roumen at the Dorpsstraat 65 in Haelen. According to the records, Skinner and Gillmor arrived on the ‘De Bedelaer’ estate near Haelen on March 27, 1944. This estate belonged to Mrs. M.E. Hooyer-Dubois and quite some Allied aircrew hid at this estate for some time. The Americans remained at the estate until April 4 and on this date, they returned to Heythuizen, together with another American, S/Sgt. Roy A. Cheek (E0311). For some reason, the three men split up here with Gillmor and Cheek returning to the estate by mid May while Skinner crossed the border into Belgium early in April. On April 6, Belgian resistance member Joseph Drion handed the airman over to Joseph Etienne. Possibly he joined 2/Lt. Kenneth Griesel (E0350) at the Rue Vincent Bonnechère 8 at Kemexhe but the records are not consistent about this. Other records state that Griesel only crossed the Dutch-Belgian border in May. After interrogation by Etienne, both airmen returned to Joseph Drion. 

In May, members of the Belgian secret army under the command of Georges Matton, handed Skinner over to Joseph Daigneux, the mayor of the village of Bellaire, east of Liege. 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. Deluca (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 in the Liege area from June until the end of August 1944. Apparently, Skinner and Deluca were handed over to Louis M. Brouwers. It seems that in August 1944 Joseph Daigneux took them 'back' and returned them, via Jacques Jungers from 22 Quai des Ardennes at Liege to Georges Matton. Much is unclear about the period from April till September 1944 but it is safe to assume that Skinner, like Deluca, was liberated by a unit of the US 3rd Division on September 7. They were taken to Paris and left for the UK on September 10.

Elton Skinner passed away on June 12, 2013, at the age of 94. He is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas.						
* National Archives, Washington, E&E-1969, NAID: 5556599
* National Archives, Washington, E&E-1943, NAID: 5556573
* National Archives, Washington. MACR 2999 NAID: 90934197
* National Archives, Washington, Dutch Helper Files. NAID: 286702288, 286721498, 286696240, 286696223, 286715265, 286659760, 286647516, 286643204, 286688682, 286712011, 286661987, 262460429, 262458411, 262465359
* NIOD, 896, Willemsen, W.J.M, 2, 'E.A. Skinner'