Veteran Stories:
Arthur Paul Anderson

Air Force

  • POW Identity card with German insignia, September, 1944.

    Arthur Anderson
  • Crew having a beer at the Canada House in Cairo, Egypt, November, 1943.

    Arthur Anderson
  • Crew in Biskra, North Africa, October, 1943.

    Arthur Anderson
  • Medical Record, November 15, 1944.

    Arthur Anderson
  • "We were hidden here, by members of the underground. This was our home for 2 months before being captured by the Germans." Arthur Anderson.

    Arthur Anderson
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"We covered the cave with a canvas and we stayed there for two months. And he came every day, once a day, came and fed us, in the evening. And this is how we operated for two months."

Transcript

Our second trip into Arnhem [Netherlands], we were shot down on a resupply mission. We were at 500 feet, we just crash landed, we didn’t catch on fire. When we crash landed, we were all okay and Germans were shooting at us from the north, so we ran south, and we laid out there for the afternoon. Then at nightfall, then we headed up north again because we knew we were in no man’s land, so to speak, because we knew we were in between the German defense forces in the Arnhem area, plus our airborne division. So figure, well, if we’re in the middle, we’re going to be shot by both sides. So we headed up north and we made a good contact with this fellow and he said he would take care of us and he did. He fed us for two months.

We didn’t know. We were in country that we’d never been there before. We had no idea who was what or where. We just took a chance that we would make a contact. And we were hoping that, of course, if our paratroops had expanded the drop zone and then reinforcement had come up from the south, our troops would be coming right through the area. Well, this never happened. The Market Garden Operation failed.

My pilot said, “Okay fellows,” he said, “here’s a house here, I’ll go in and if not, if I’m not back in ten minutes, take off.” So we said, “Okay.” So the three of us, we stayed in the garden at the back of the house and he went in, and ten minutes later, he come out and he said, “We got help.” The farmer, he was the gamekeeper for this estate and, of course, he knew the area quite well. And he said he would take care of us, so we stayed in a barn for a few days, but he said this was too risky. So he moved us in this wooded area and we dug a hole in the ground and he got a canvas and we covered the cave with a canvas and we stayed there for two months. And he came every day, once a day, came and fed us, in the evening. And this is how we operated for two months.

In the meantime, the Dutch Resistance were setting up plans to bring airborne troops that had been on the loose in Caen [France] plus any air crews that had been shot down in Holland, and that is British and American. The first operation called Pegasus I, in October, was very successful. They managed to get over 130 fellows back across the Rhine River into Allied landing area. The second operation, which we were involved with was Pegasus II and that was in November 19th of 1944. It fell apart because in the meantime, the Germans had upped their patrols and we ran into an ambush and we were shot at, but I was not hit. And I headed up north and three days later, I stumbled into a patrol and I was captured and I spent the rest of the time as a POW [Prisoner of War].

The biggest problem as a POW was when we were evacuated from the camp, this was on January the 19th, 1945, the Russian invasion has moved westward. So they decided to evacuate our camp, which is in southeastern Germany. We were on the road for at least three weeks. We marched for about 150 miles, or trekked I would say, it was more than marching, we were trekking, and living in barns and stuff like that. And we got to a camp just south of Berlin called Luckenwalde, and that was Stalag III-A, a large POW camp. And we were there and the Russians came through eventually in late March or early April, and we were liberated by the Russians. But we stayed in the camp and eventually we were moved out of the camp to the Elbe River and to the American side of the Elbe River. So that was the demarcation line between East and West Germany for the Russians and for the Americans and British. So we were taken by transport to Elbe, to Halle [Germany] and the Elbe River. And we were flown by American transport to Brussels and British transport from Brussels to England.

And then we stayed in Bournemouth for several weeks, they fattened us up a little bit, make us presentable, and we went by transport back to Canada. That was by ship, on the [SS] Isle de France. And I was back home about the middle of June 1945.

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