|AUS400051||Australian||7 Sep 1913|
|Returned Y/N||Evader Fate||Date Captured/Liberated||Place Captured/Liberated||Escape Line|
|No||EVD-POW||1 May 41||Twello||-|
Sgt. Ronald G. Damman was the pilot of Wellington R1281. During a raid on Emden in the night of April 26 on 27, 1941, flak damaged the aircraft’s fuel tanks. Running out of fuel, he made a belly landing at Arriën, just east of Ommen in the early morning of April 27, 1941. After stowing away their parachutes and harnesses the crew set fire to the ‘Wimpy’. They then split up in little groups. Damman and his WOP/AG, Sgt. Rob Graham (E0003), tried to evade capture together. Their objective was to reach the Dutch coast near Rotterdam. They walked westwards and arrived in Dalfsen. Here they approached priest Bloemers. Damman reported shortly after the war the following about this: ‘We walked cross country avoiding main roads and in the evening we reached a small village not far from DEVENTER. Here we decided to try to make contact with the local priest, so we walked into the church. It was empty at the time but after about 15 minutes a priest came in. He did not speak to us nor did we address him but when he left we followed him out. He went to the vicarage and when we approached the house, he opened the door and let us in. He could speak some English and after we had explained who we were he gave us a meal.’ Later that morning Herman van Reijsen, the GP from Heino, visited the priest and was introduced to both airmen. In this phase of the war, resistance to the Germans was just coming up and pilot escape lines were not yet in being. So, van Reijsen left it to the priest and returned home. In the afternoon, he noticed to his surprise Damman and Graham walking past his house in Heino. He went out and brought them to one of his neighbours, the Willemsen family. Here the men were provided with a meal and Van Reijsen gave them some cigarettes. Thereafter, van Reijsen cycled with the airmen to Willemsen’s brother in law, Bernard van Dam and his wife who lived in the Koestraat in Boerhaar, a hamlet just east of Wijhe. After the airmen had spent the night with van Dam, they left on their own in the direction of Deventer. Damman: ‘We walked through DEVENTER without trouble. I was wearing a dark blue sweater and carrying my tunic, and MACKENZIE-GRAHAM was wearing an overcoat which he had found in a field en route.’ They managed to cross the IJssel bridge. According to Damman they bypassed Apeldoorn and 'lay up for the night in a small wood a few miles South of the town.' They next morning they set off again. Damman: 'Next day we started off again but by this time our feet were in very bad shape as we had walked all the time in flying boots and progress was slow. We had only gone a few miles when we walked into a couple of German soldiers who took us prisoner.' According to Damman all this happened south of Apeldoorn on 30 April. According to other sources the two were arrested in Twello on May 1, 1941. Damman was initially taken to Stalag Luft I Barth and later moved to Stalag Luft VIIIB Lamsdorf, Stalag Luft III Sagan, Stalag Luft VI Heydekrug and finally to Stalag Luft 357 Kopernikus. He was liberated at Fallingbostel by a British armoured unit on 16 April 1945.
|* National Archives, Washington, Helper Files, NAID: 286709961
* The National Archives, London, WO208/3337
* G.J. Veerman, Wijhe, voor en tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog, Wijhe, 1990, page 87