|1321173||British||11 Oct 1922|
|Returned Y/N||Evader Fate||Date Captured/Liberated||Place Captured/Liberated||Escape Line|
|Yes||EVD||15 Nov 1944||Leveroij||-|
Sgt. Charles Raymond (Joe) Francis was the wireless operator of Lancaster ME722 that was shot down by a German night fighter, just past midnight on May 22, 1944. Francis bailed out in time and landed near Zwollerkerspel, north of Zwolle. After his landing, he met fellow crewmember Sgt. Dennis Sharpe (E0498) and somehow they got in touch with the ‘De Groene’ resistance group from Zwolle. Both airmen were taken to the house boat of Jan Graver that was moored in the Vecht River close to where it joins the ‘Zwarte Water’. Much is unclear about their further travels but by mid July 1944, both airmen appear at the ‘Eijkhof’ farm of the van Staveren family in Veulen where they joined Americans 2/Lt. John Fullerton (E0585) and Sgt. Frank Peichoto (E0587). Two other Americans arrived there as well, S/Sgt. Frank Garofalo (E0569) and 2/Lt. Richard Tracy (E0600). On July 19, these six men travelled to Oostrom and from there it went by train to Jos Ronden (alias ‘De Witte’) in Sittard. Ronden delivered the airmen to policeman F. Buding in Hoensbroek. Another source indicates that Garofalo and Tracy joined the other four airmen in Nuth near Hoensbroek. The plan to cross the Dutch-Belgian border near Maastricht had to be abandoned and after two weeks in Hoensbroek, the six airmen were put on the train to Roermond. From the station there, they were taken to the ‘De Bedelaer’ estate near Haelen where they could hide in the woods around the estate. In case of danger, they could go to the ‘De Spikkerhof’, an isolated farm near the estate. Early in September they moved to the farm of the Mooren family in Kelpen and from there to a barn in Leveroij. Their hiding place there became anxiously close to the front line in the aftermath of Operation Constellation. Early November, Fullerton returned to Kelpen to find help for his fellow evaders who stayed in Leveroij. Francis and his fellow evaders were liberated on November 15, 1944, when the 51st Scottish Division arrived in Leveroij. Francis died only a few months later, on 30 July 1945, near Thanbaung in Burma in an air crash with a Dakota. He was then only 23 years old.
|* National Archives, Washington, EE-2678 and EE-2679