Gordon Hand

Gordon Hand

  • May 9th 1944
  • Sgt RAFVR – 432 Sqn – Air Gunner
  • Halifax – LW594 Q0-G
  • RAF East Moor, Nr Helmsley, North Yorkshire
  • Target: Railway yards at Haine-St-Pierre

At 0130 hrs in the early morning of May 9 1944, Gordon Hand took off from East Moor in North Yorkshire to bomb railway yards at Haine-St-Pierre. They were brought down by a night fighter and Halifax LW594QO-G crashed 16km SE of Mons near Grand Reng in the French border area with Belgium.

Gordon was collected in by local people and passed on to the Comète Line. They took him to the home of Phillipe de Albert-Lake in Paris, and from there he was moved on to the Freteval Forest Camp near Chateaudun, south-east of Paris.

Gordon, together with a Canadian airman, was one of the first evaders to arrive at the forest camp, which was still in the process of construction. While the site was being prepared they were accommodated at the safe-house of Rene Jacques.

Originally Gordon was housed in No 1 Camp, but it soon became overcrowded, so he was moved to Number 2 Camp approximately 10km away at a place called Richeray. Gordon considered this to be ‘a better camp’ as it had a clear stream for washing not too far away.

Once again, the camp was still under construction and Gordon and another evader were the first people on the site. Trees had to be cut down and branches used to build shelters, tables and benches. A cookhouse was erected, and whatever timber was left over was used to build fires.

On the liberation of the camp, on the 13 August 1944, Gordon Hand was returned to the Allied Lines.

Gordon was a very quiet natured and unassuming man. It took several years to convince him that he should take his medals out of the regulation War Department package and get them mounted! Gordon Hand died on 6th July 2010 aged 92.