"The outstanding feature of my experience was seeing the incredible bravery of the French people who helped Allied flyers."
I'm Lorne Frame and I joined the RCAF during WWII in 1942, at the age of 18, completed pilot training in 1943, and proceeded overseas.
After further training in Britain, I joined 419 Canadian Bomber Squadron, Flying Lancasters, just before the Allied invasion of Europe in June of 1944. Bomber Command targets then were largely in support of the Allied land invasion.
On my thirteenth trip, we were attacked by German Night Fighters, shortly after bombing our target, which was a large railway marshalling yard south of Paris. Our two engines and main fuel tank on the port side were set on fire, the aircraft became uncontrollable, and I ordered the crew to parachute. Our altitude at the time was about seven thousand feet.
I came down, luckily uninjured, on the edge of Fontainebleau Forest, not far from my crashed and burning aircraft, about 1:30 in the morning. After walking all night, alone, I took refuge at dawn in a small woods just outside the village of Barbizon, and slept for two or three hours. Upon awakening I heard French-speaking voices, and saw people at work in the adjoining farm fields. It was a lovely blue sky and sunny morning.
An elderly man out checking his rabbit snares spotted me. I engaged him in conversation trying to determine where I was. I only knew the nearest Allied troops were about 300 kilometres to the west.
He offered to fetch help from someone who could speak English, and returned with a twenty-six year old girl from Yorkshire England, a mother of two children, who had married a Frenchman just before the War. She took me to the house of another woman, who turned out to be an American, Drue Tartiére a former stage and screen actor, who had also married a Frenchman, a fellow actor, at the outbreak of the War.
She had decided to stay on in France after her husband was called up in the French Army, and became a keen member of the French Underground. After the War she related her wartime experiences in a book called _The House Near Paris_.
I stayed at Drue's small house in Barbizon, six houses away from the local French Commander for the next seven weeks. During that time I was joined by my Navigator, my Flight Engineer and the Pilot and Navigator of another crew from our Squadron that was shot down on the same raid as us.
Barbizon was liberated by American Army troops late in August of 1944.
The outstanding feature of my experience was seeing the incredible bravery of the French people who helped Allied flyers. If caught, they faced severe punishment, including death, from the German occupying forces. At incredible personal risk for themselves, their families and friends, they hid and clothed and fed air crew like myself until liberation arrived. And when it did, hundreds of Allied Air Forces personnel emerged from all over France, especially in Paris, and were returned to England.
It all left indelible impressions on young twenty year old minds.