| Flt/Sgt G.L.
Dowling (RAAF) Pilot
F/O W.C. Hawke RAAF Navigator
Sgt W. Todd RAFVR Wireless Operator
Sgt E.J. Anderson RAAF Bomb Aimer
Flt/Sgt F.J. Page RAFVR Rear Gunner
the 23rd September 1943 at 1900 hrs Wellington 111 X3966
took off from Lichfield for a ‘Nickel’ (leaflet dropping) sortie in
the Orleans region SW of Paris.
Extracts from Flt/Sgt Dowling Escape and Evaders Report
"Whilst outbound in the vicinity of Rouen the Crew observed 2 fighters and ten minutes later we were hit by flak. All the leaflets were jettisoned and after much difficulty I managed to turn the aircraft towards home but fuel was being lost at an alarming rate and their was a strong smell of petrol in the fuselage so at 8000ft I gave the order to bale out. After the last man had jumped I realised that my own parachute had been knocked out of the escape hatch so I landed in a field South of Amiens.
I got out of the plane uninjured and on hearing voices I left it alone and walked South for the rest of the night. In the morning I met an old man and a boy and they brought me food, clothing, and an identity card. I gave myself the identity of a butcher and got to La Falaise and then to a suburb of Paris where a woman put me up for the night, next day by train to Bordeaux and on the 28th to Toulouse. Here I got help and was taken and guided to the Spanish frontier over the Pyrenees but was arrested by Police in Spain and imprisoned in Barbastro for 11 days. An American and two English soldiers were also there and the American Consul came to get us out. On the 6th November I left Gibraltar and arrived at Whitchurch (near Bristol) 6 weeks after crash landing in France"
Les Dowling went on to 76 Sqdn (See Web Site of Pauline Gashinski) at Holme on Spalding Moor in Yorkshire to fly Halifax Bombers and flew more than 30 Ops. He married Joan, a WAAF in Pay Accounts and when the War ended they returned to Australia and set up a Hotel business. He never piloted an aircraft again and his activities in the War years left him in poor health and he died recently leaving his widow Joan and two sons.
THE OTHER CREW MEMBERS
Sgt Todd evaded capture and returned to England from Gibraltar on the 20th December 1943.
Sgt Anderson evaded capture and returned to England from Gibraltar on the 6th December 1943. He joined 51 Sqdn at Snaith in Yorkshire flying in Halifax Bombers and was KIA on a raid to Sterkrade-Holland on 19th August 1944. He has no known grave and is remembered at Runnymede.
F/O Hawke was captured and became a POW.
Sgt Page evaded capture and returned to England
My thanks to Pauline Gashinski (Photo) and Joan Dowling who contributed to this page