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Medals and Awards

Mention-in-Dispatches

 

Photo 439 Archivese

CROSBY, F/O Robert Gordon (C22655) - Mention in Despatches - No.438 Squadron - Award effective 1 January 1945 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 379/45 dated 2 March 1945.   Born 11 March 1916 in Vancouver.  A geologist; enlisted in Vancouver, 12 September 1940, and commissioned in December 1942.  Public Records Office Air 2/9229 has recommendation dated 19 July 1944 submitted by S/L A.R. Hall, Commanding Officer of No.56 Squadron:  

CROSBY, F/O Robert Gordon (C22655) - Mention in Despatches - No.438 Squadron - Award effective 1 January 1945 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 379/45 dated 2 March 1945.   Born 11 March 1916 in Vancouver.  A geologist; enlisted in Vancouver, 12 September 1940, and commissioned in December 1942.  Public Records Office Air 2/9229 has recommendation dated 19 July 1944 submitted by S/L A.R. Hall, Commanding Officer of No.56 Squadron:  

Flying Officer R.G. Crosby having been forced to abandon his aircraft whilst on an operational sortie over France near Hucqueliers by his courage and resourcefulness, overcoming difficulties, made his escape back to England.  I consider his efforts merit the award of the Mention in Despatches.  

This is accompanied by a report filed by him with MI.9, having left Gibraltar on 5 May 1944:  

I took off from Martlesham Heath at 1230 hours on 3 January 1944 in a Typhoon aircraft on a "rhubarb" northwest of Hesdin (N.W. Europe 1:250,000, Sheet 1, G 9513) flying number two to Flight Lieutenant Hawkins.  I attacked the target west of Embray (G 9127) and after breaking off the attack due to jammed starboard guns, I found the Glyco vapour was pouring from around the exhaust ports.  I called up number one and told him that I would have to abandon aircraft.  I baled out from approximately 1,000 feet.  

I landed in a clearing in a small wood west of Hucqueliers (G 8835).  I hid my parachute, mae west and harness and ran into another wood nearby, where I hid in the undergrowth until evening. At dusk I began walking in a southeasterly direction and found a jacket on a scarecrow.  At 2100 hours I reached the outskirts of Avesnes (G 933) where I went to a house.  I was given food, a hat and a pitchfork and escorted to a crossroads east of Maninghem (G 9031). I then walked to Radingham (H 0033) where I spent the remainder of the night in a barn.  

In the morning (4 January) I approached one of the farm workers, and he took me to the farm house where I was given food.  After the meal I started walking to Matringhem (H 0631) where I approached a man.  He gave me a meal and took me to a woman who kept me in her home overnight. Her son supplied me with a jacket, trousers, shoes, raincoat, a hat and food.  On the evening of 5 January a man called and escorted me to his home at Verchin (H 0625) where I exchanged some of my clothing.  I stayed there one night.  On 6 January he took me by horse wagon to Renty (G 9937) to the home of a woman friend of his.  I stayed at this house for two nights. This woman communicated with Paris on my behalf.

 On the morning of 8 January Gestapo officers called at the house looking for someone who was in hiding there. The daughter of the house *** roused me out of bed and escorted me across the fields to a farm house. The Gestapo searched the house, but did not discover my aids box, which had been left lying on the table. The woman of the house was arrested.  I hid in a barn at the farm house until the afternoon, being fed by the farmer.  In the afternoon the girl returned with a car accompanied by a driver and an American pilot (2nd Lieutenant Paul Mariot).  I was taken in the car to a house in a village (name unknown) where a doctor was obtained for Mariot, who was injured in a crash landing.  Mariot and I stayed at this house until midnight, when the doctor took us by car to Verchin, where I stayed at the same house as on 5 January. The American was taken to another house. I stayed overnight, and on 9 January I met another American pilot (Lieutenant Neil Lathrop) at the house of a helper.  

Lathrop accompanied me to the house where I was staying, and we remained there until the following day (10 January) when we went to the house where Mariot was staying.  The three of us stayed there until 12 January when we went to another house in the village, where Lathrop and I stayed until 22 January. Mariot was moved to the doctor;s hose on 13 January, and I did not see him again.

 On 22 January Lathrop and I were moved to another house in the village, where we stayed until 18 February.  We were then moved to the house where I had met Lathrop.  During this time I met another two Americans, Sergeant Paul Pearce and Sergeant Bill Hendrickson.  They stayed in the village after out departure.  We stayed at this house for approximately ten days, when we were moved to another house in the village, where we stayed until 10 March; we were then taken by car to Pauquembergues ( 0237). The remainder of our journey was arranged for us.  

For purposes of Air Ministry Honours and Awards Committee, this was edited to the following citation:

Flying Officer Crosby was compelled to abandon his aircraft when on an operational sortie over France on 3rd January 1944. He landed in a small wood near Hucqueliers and, after burying his parachute and life saving jacket, ran off into another wood and hit until evening.  At dusk he moved on and after taking a jacket from a scarecrow, went to a house on the outskirts of Avesnes where he was given a hat and a pitchfork.  Flying Officer Crosby was then escorted to some cross roads and spent the rest of the night in a barn.  Next morning a farm worker took him to a farm house where he was fed.  Continuing his journey he met another man who gave him food and took him to a woman who sheltered him. From this point Flying Officer Crosby's journey home was made with the aid of helpers. He arrived in the United Kingdom, via Gibraltar, on the 6th May 1944.

 

 

*** Webmaster's Notes: In doing additional research on this episode, I came across a website entitled  Conscript Heroes and in particular On Their Way Back which details the heroic efforts of the Fillerin family from Renty, Pas de Calais, who risked everything to help Allied personnel escape back to friendly lines. A very good read.

Acknowledgement 

The information contained in this segment is provided by The Air Force Association of Canada and Hugh A. Halliday who is the author of the RCAF Personnel - Honours & Awards - 1939-1949 which can be found on the Air Force Association of Canada Website. Used with permission and sincere gratitude.

Additional Resources

Canadian Medals and Decorations

Conscript Heroes

 

 

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