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Churchill declassified

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Class of '42, May 8, 2020.

  1. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    Came across this story recently on one of my military sites...never heard of this one before...interesting.

    Churchill told French Resistance to shoot RAF hero shot down over France

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    Air Commodore Sir Ronald Ivelaw-Chapman was one of the few people who knew the details of the upcoming D-Day invasion in Normandy when he was shot down over France by the Nazis during World War II.

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    British leader Winston Churchill issued orders for the French Resistance to rescue and keep Ivelaw-Chapman safe at all costs. But if there was any chance that he might fall into the hands of the Third Reich, he was to be assassinated rather than risk having the Germans learn of the Allies' plans.

    But when Ivelaw-Chapman's minder was killed, he was indeed captured by the Germans and handed over to the Gestapo to be tortured.

    Formerly classified documents have been released which show that Churchill needn't have been so concerned. Ivelaw-Chapman did not reveal anything to his captors.

    According to the records, even though men of his rank rarely flew on operations missions, Ivelaw-Chapman insisted on flying with his crew during a May 1944 airstrike against a large German ammunition dump at Aubigne Racan.

    On the return flight, his Lancaster bomber was engaged by an enemy fighter pilot and the plane crashed in France, Churchill couldn't take the risk of him breaking under torture.

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    Ivelaw-Chapman and Sergeant Joe Ford survived the crash and were hidden in a farmhouse. They were somehow betrayed which led to the death of the French minder and to Ivelaw-Chapman's interrogation by the Gestapo at their Chambray headquarters.

    Ivelaw-Chapman refused to tell the Gestapo anything other than his name, rank, and serial number. He recalled being slapped, beaten with a rubber whip, and other torture methods for approximately twelve hours. After being beaten, he was placed in an unventilated dungeon in the Gestapo headquarters in Tours with his hands cuffed behind his back. This was particularly painful as his shoulder was dislocated.

    The Germans finally sent him to a prisoner-of-war camp after he convinced them he was just a regular airman with no special information.

    Ivelaw-Chapman survived the war and retired from the RAF as the vice chief of the Air Staff in 1953. He then became a civil servant working with the Ministry of Defense Research Staff and later with the Directing Staff of the Imperial Defense College. He passed away in 1978.

    He had been born in British Guinea in 1899. His father was a self-made successful merchant. In 1903 his family moved to Britain.

    At the age of 18, he enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps. He flew during World War I and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and was promoted to Acting Captain.

    Near the beginning of WWII, Ivelaw-Chapman was promoted to Acting Group Captain and he became station commander of the Linton-on-Ouse No 4 Bomber Group. At the time of his capture, he was the commander of the Elsham Wolds bomber base in North Lincolnshire.

    He was heavily involved in intelligence and planning work, including Operation Overlord (the codename for the D-Day landings), and had worked on the plans for two-and-a-half years before his capture. He was one of the very few people to know the dates and locations of the landings.
     
  2. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    He should not have been flying. It's commendable to want to be with his men, lead from the front, etc., but it was a deplorable lapse of judgement. Probably also against orders; if there wasn't a prohibition on people like him exposing themselves to capture, there should have been.

    Suppose one of the Resistance members who were told to kill him if necessary had been captured, or been a collaborator, which was not uncommon? That would tip the Germans that he was more important than his mere rank would suggest.
     
  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Station Commander is a non flying post. 45 year old men were not trained as pilots and must have been a passenger and he should never have been over France. He could have been court martialed on his return. I am surprised be made VCAS.
     
  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Didn't the Germans lose a set of plans over "enemy" territory before they invaded France and the Low Countries?
     
  5. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    They did, supposedly a officer stayed late at a party and did't have time to drive his copy of the plans, so got a flight against regulations.
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    That would call for a good hard rap on the knuckles. And job on the Eastern Front.
     
  7. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    Sgt Joe Ford, who was aboard the same Lancaster bomber, recalled: “This pre-mission briefing news was greeted with a roar of disapproval by the members of the crew. Very few aircrew cared to fly with a passenger on board.

    “All they knew about the Air Commodore was that he often attended briefings and occasional parades and he was an RAF regular officer with a distinguished career in the First World War...it was almost unheard of for an officer of his rank to fly on ops but his squadrons had been badly knocked about during his six months as their CO".

    “He felt it would be good for the men’s morale if he was seen to share the risk with them, if only once, even as a passenger."

    But that one time came very close to being a huge costly mistake to the Allies to say the least..when Sir Winston found out about it, Churchill was stunned to learn that he had pulled rank to go on a bombing raid and was missing behind enemy lines and ordered for him to be killed if he was to be captured by the Gestapo.
     
  8. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The Germans got alot of chances to get Officers that knew about the Overlord which sounds they did not. Had Canaris already. Changed his mind?
     
  9. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The Germans got alot of chances to get Officers that knew about the Overlord which sounds they did not. Had Canaris already. Changed his mind?
     
  10. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    A senior USAAF officer (Doolittle) also risked capture by over flying German controlled territory, despite knowing about ULTRA (breaking of ENIGMA code)
     
  11. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Operation Tiger was the one where the Allied were afraid that Officers aware of the invaasion beaches and details had been captured.
     
  12. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    You can look at it two different ways...the Allies were extremely lucky at times or the Axis missed opportunities to score some secrets.
     

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