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June 16 , 2009

Halifax Down!

On the run from the Gestapo, 1944


On the night of 22/23rd April 1944 Tom Wingham was the bomb aimer in the crew of a 76 Squadron Halifax shot down while on the way to bomb Düsseldorf. Coming to in a tangle of parachute and harness straps he realized the precariousness of his situation and so, dazed and aching with a painful concussion and navigating by the stars alone, he quickly set off on his long and difficult journey home through occupied territory, constantly depending on the kindness of others who risked their lives to help keep him hidden. Tom made his way from Holland, at the hands of “The Escape” and was then passed via “L’Armée Secrète” a London run organization operating in the east of Belgium, but fell right into the path of the Gestapo. In a deadly game of hide and seek Tom evaded his captors long enough to witness the retreat of German soldiers as he stayed at the house of Madame Schoofs, which became a temporary German HQ. In the 1980s Tom assisted a Dutch air historian with some research and this prompted him to look into the details of his own crash. What he uncovered not only shed more light on his own story but also those of his fellow crew members. He plotted approximately where each person landed that fateful night and slowly their incredible stories emerged.
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