George was a Typhoon pilot with 245 Squadron RAF.
He was born on the 8th of July 1923 in Kempsey, New South Wales and enlisted into the RAAF on the 11th October 1941 in Sydney.
George was flying a Hawker Typhoon (see photo of an early Hawker Typhoon) in the European theatre towards the end of the War. His wing was the first RAF Unit to operate from a base inside Germany, and George was on his 50th sortie when he was shot down.
His mission was to do some damage to the Germans on the ground, specifically the railway networks and any vehicles using the roads bringing in supplies to the enemy. The operations consisted of flying in low and strafing with cannon fire anything that moved. On that fateful day, George was flying over Holland on a strafing mission and was hit by flack. His engine started running rough and he had to take action to bail out.
George indicated that he had no practice in jumping with a parachute, and in fact this was the first time. He unstrapped himself, disconnected all necessary items and slammed back the canopy cover.
With a Typhoon you cannot just jump out, otherwise you can get hit by the tail. The procedure is to put the aircraft into a dive and flick yourself out. In no time this was accomplished and he found himself falling. He smilingly said that the most wonderful thing happened when he pulled the rip cord and his chute popped open. The photo is of Hawker Typhoons launching on a mission in 1944.
On landing in a field, due to no practice, he must have come down too fast and did not roll properly as he hurt his knees and could not easily run and escape. In no time he found himself with some German troops standing over him, bailing him up with their machine pistols.
He was taken to a nearby rail station for the trip back to Germany, where he and his fellow Allied prisoners would be incarcerated in a Stalag. He found himself on a rail station on the Rheine-Munster line, which had been his wing’s favourite hunting ground for shooting up German trains. He was being prodded up the cattle truck ramps by the German guards and noted that the station was packed with Allied prisoners of War. English, Canadians, Poles, and Americans, you name it.
Just before he was to set foot on the ramp, George noticed high in the sky a number of aircraft circling. He knew that this is what Typhoons did just before they came in for a strafing run. Without further ado George threw himself off the station and scrambled under the platform.
Before his guards could shoot him, for seemingly trying to escape, the Allied planes struck. The noise was terrific and after, when all seemed to be quieter, George emerged from his place of sanctuary. What he saw lives with him now. All before him were Allied prisoners lying all over the place, but luckily, although the train was destroyed, there were none killed, but nine were injured. He had a lucky escape.
He was eventually rounded up to be taken back into Germany, but he escaped and with the help of some friendly Dutch. He managed to spend a night in their barn, and he eventually made his way back to Allied lines. George was a prisoner for only three weeks, however he managed to lose a stone and a half in weight (almost 10 kilos).
George was repatriated back home and was discharged from No 2 Medical Rehabilitation Unit on the 17th October 1945. The photo is of George in his Typhoon.
Editors Note: George later found out that it was his own Squadron that hit that station that morning. When George half heartedly complained to his CO, his comments were met with a laugh and a sheepish, “Sorry old chap.”
George’s son Stephen wrote, “Dads was in 245 Typhoon Squadron. It was made up of all nationalities; Australians, Canadians etc. When he was shot down and he returned after escaping, he was not permitted to go on any missions after that. As far as I know he was sent back to England until the end of the war.”
The copies are of the paperwork (two pages) that was required to be completed by George when he returned to England. Incredibly, they were basically for the “loss” of his aircraft.
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association