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Thread: F/Sgt Robert Davidson & Sgt. T.P. Starling, survivors aircraft LL782, 622 Squadron

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    Default F/Sgt Robert Davidson & Sgt. T.P. Starling, survivors aircraft LL782, 622 Squadron

    Hello,

    hoping somebody can help regarding these two airmen.

    On June 1, 1944, an RAF Avro Lancaster bomber of 622 Squadron was shot down during an air raid on rail marshalling yards in the Paris region. Three of the seven-man crew died—two of whom (wing officer Samual Norris and flt. sgt. Douglas Bernhardt) were buried in the cemetery at Poigny-la-Foręt, near Rambouillet. But two men survived and escaped—flight sergeant Robert Davidson and the Sgt. T.P. Starling, a Canadian.

    I would be interested in knowing whether anybody has come across any account of their escape from capture. An article some years ago in an Irish newspaper said the two airmen were helped by a Dublin woman called Elizabeth “Lilly” Hannigan (1919 – 1992). Lilly Hannigan was working at the time as a governess for the wealthy Le Bret family at their mansion at Poigny-la-Foręt. According to the newspaper account, Lilly supplied food to the surviving members of the crew of the Avro Lancaster and helped organise their escape south to Spain. Lilly had already helped downed airmen escape on several previous occasions.

    Unfortunately, there seems to have been some confusion in the filing of the escape report that Davidson supposedly wrote once he got back to England. In any case, I have made many fruitless attempts to obtain it from the National Archives, so any information on the story of their escape in June 1944 would be gratefully received.

    Regards,
    Isadore Ryan, Paris

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    Hello

    Welcome to the board.

    Robert Davidson's evasion report is available at The National Archives, in Kew, London. It's in WO 208/3323, report 2459. Either you can access it (but I see you are in Paris), so you can order it online for a small fee.

    http://discovery.nationalarchives.go...?uri=C14084360


    Can't see an evasion report for Starling. I'm away from my books (especially Bill Chorley Bomber Command Losses volume 1944) so can't be sure. He may have evaded capture initially, and then was taken prisoner. A PoW questionnaire would be found in WO 344 series.
    As such, it's likely that he filed later a "liberation report", which would also be found in WO 208 (but not in the online catalogue).

    Hope this helps

    Joss

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    Hello Joss,

    thank you for the Davidson reference and pointer toward Starling one. I will try to ferret out reports at the National Archives.

    best regards,
    Isadore

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    Joss

    Chorley's BCL 1944 lists Sgt T P Starling as 'evaded', if that's any help.

    Regards

    Simon

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    Hello

    Yes, I've seen that, but he doesn't show up in the list of evasion (MI9) reports in the WO 208 series, contrary to Davidson. I have many reports from the WO 208/3323 volume, but not that one, otherwise I would have gladly sent it to Isadore. None is listed in the name index of Oliver Clutton-Brock's "evader", and Starling isn't listed either in this author's "Footprints in the Sands of time", which shows Cloran in camp L7 (from memory, I perused through the book last night).

    As I said, Starling may have filed instead a "liberation report", but these are not indexed in the catalogue. I've checked my hard disk and the name didn't show up.

    Joss

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    Default 622 Sqn

    Hi Isadore,
    It may be well worth your time to contact the 622 sqn Historian, Howard Sandall. You can get him at enroute62ATaol.com, substituting AT with @.
    Good luck

    Alan F
    Last edited by 149Nut; 28th January 2014 at 18:19. Reason: Spl

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    Hello Joss, Simon and Alan,

    thanks for your help on these two airmen. I will certainly contact Mr. Sandall regarding the mysterious TP Starling. The aircraft had a mixed crew of RAF and RCAF men. Starling was a Canadian: would that explain why his escape report isn't in the National Archives? Perhaps I should be looking for the Canadian equivalent?

    Thanks again to all,
    Isadore

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    Hello Isadore,

    No the fact there's no evasion report for Starling has nothing to do with the fact he was R.C.A.F.. There are evasion reports for soldiers, sailors and airmen, and from any "allied" countries. I've even seen a report from a russian soldier who was a prisoner / salve worker in the west, who evaded capture and joined the allied lines, from memory.

    Joss

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    Default Tedder Certificate

    Thanks for that, Joss. One final question: have you ever heard of the "Tedder certificate" (named after the air marshal), which was awarded to people who helped crash allied pilots. If so, would you know whether there exist centralised records for this award? If not, I'll make a new thread and throw the question out to the forum at large.

    Thanks again,
    Isadore

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    Hello

    Yes, I've seen such certificates. There were similar ones for the helpers of U.S. evaders, signed by Eisenhower. I don't know if there's a listing of those. These certificates are just duplicates of look-alike diplomas, with just the name of helper written in the middle, in an empty space left for it. It doesn't give any details, like the IDs of the airman/airmen helped.

    The evasion reports usually don't have any names of helpers listed in them, only dates and locations, and some wordings like "a farmer", etc... Names of helpers are usually given in the appendix 'C', when this document still exists. These are separately kept, in two large volumes in WO 208/5582 and /5583, but I didn't find any for Davidson.

    There is also another document which can be interesting when it exists : it's called the "K report", which was filled with the witnessings of the evaders, when they were back in U.K.. Some can be found in the AIR 14 series at Kew. The late Derek Sadler had compiled some of the available documents here : http://www.rafcommands.com/kfile.html

    Joss

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