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S/Sgt. Everett Allen, evasion in Pajama House

Jim Paugh
vertelde op 27 december 2021
bijgewerkt op 28 december 2021
On June 29, 1944, 24-year-old Staff Sergeant Everett Allen, 754th Bomb Squadron, 458th bomb group, 8th army Air Force, flew his 13th mission as tail gunner of the b-24 Liberator bomber. 42-51095. The goal that day was the Junkers aircraft factory in Aschersleben (Germany).

Colorized portrait of Everett S. Allen
Colorized portrait of Everett S. Allen

During the bombing, the plane was hit by flak, damaging all four engines and ailerons. In his attempt to bring the stricken aircraft to liberated territory, the pilot had half of the ten-man crew jump from 11,000 feet around a quarter past eleven when they reached the Netherlands. Due to the lighter load, the plane managed to stay in the air until it finally crashed near Zorgdijk (near Hulst, province of Zeeland). The remaining four crew members survived the crash, but three civilians were killed.

In the pilot line

Everett and his five fellow crew members ended up in various wheat fields near Vollenhove. A ten-year-old boy came to warn them to stay hidden. In the evening they were picked up to be transported to liberated territory by the resistance from Vollenhove via Meppel and Amsterdam, staying in safe houses along the route. And so four men ended up in the village of Erp on 7 July, in the house where Harrie Otten, together with his sisters Antoinette and Thea and his brother Gerard, received 51 Allied airmen during the war and helped them on their journey. In hidden rooms, each newly arrived pilot was provided with pajamas on his bed, hence the hiding place was referred to as Pajama House (Pyjama House in Dutch). Here and in all other safe houses the airmen were well fed and well equipped. The Dutch not only endangered their own freedom and security, they also gave most of their food and rations to the airmen. There are pictures of the airmen in plain clothes. They also noted their personal data, thoughts of their stay and drawings or poems. Imagine this additional risk for the Otten’s! After the war Harrie received several awards for their efforts.

Partial crew of the B24 at the Otten's residence (from the personal collection of E.S. Allen)
Partial crew of the B24 at the Otten's residence (from the personal collection of E.S. Allen)

Connection missed

On July 8, 1944, members of the resistance came to Otten's house to take the group further to the liberated area. However, both Everett and his fellow crew member Billy Davis had climbed into a cherry tree in the backyard to pick the fruit. Only when they came down did they discover that two members of their group, second lieutenant John Fullerton and sergeant Frank Piechoto, had both been whisked away by the underground. Those two finally reached safety in November, when they were liberated by British troops in Kelpen (province of Limburg).

Betrayed

Everett Allen and Billy Davis were brought to the Belgian border via other safe houses on 10 July. Resistance operatives would always walk or bike ahead of the escaping airmen. Airmen could watch any German questioning of the Dutch resistance at a distance and detour accordingly. This provided safety for both groups. But for Everett and Billy as they sat on the side of the road enjoying a smoke, the resistance operative, now turned collaborator, flagged down a German sidecar and told the soldiers about her bounty. They turned around and came back with a truck to bring them in for questioning.  Two of the three escape lines that the resistance had set up turned out to be compromised. 

Apart from Everett Allen and Billy Davis, the woman betrayed 24 airmen. After the war she was sentenced to 15 years in prison. After her release, she was killed by the former resistance.

Prisoners of war

Allen and Davis were now P.O.W.’s. After intensive interrogation, they ended up in the Stalag Luft Transient Camp on July 29 and in Stalag Luft IV in Gross Tychow (now Tychowo, Poland) on August 14 1944. As the Russian army approached this camp, the 8,000 P.O.W.’s were sent on a 380 miles degrading march to Stalag XI A near Alten Grabow on February 6 1945. Cold, illness and hardship claimed many victims, but Everett survived the journey, which is called the death March, the black March or the long March. Dysentery, however, had sapped a lot of his strength, so he was admitted to a hospital in Annaburg on April 19, 1945. Five days later, the Russians captured the place.

Escaped from the Russians

Everett remained in the hospital for two more days. This was followed by another escape. The Russians had liberated him, but they also blocked the passage across the River Elbe, back to the lines of the Western allies. With two British and another American soldier, Allen roamed through the territory occupied by the Russians, before he managed to cross the pontoon bridge over the Elbe at Pulswerda by bicycle on May 5th. At Torgau he reached the American lines. His travel companions were picked up by truck.

Everett Allen held no grudge against his enemies or the woman who betrayed him. Indeed, his war experiences helped sharpen Everett’s compassion and respect for others and proved to him that belief in goodness overcomes evil. He passed away on September 8, 2021, aged 100.

 

This story is a partial summary of James J Paugh, III, It's enough for any man, 100 Stories: Allied POWs in NAZI Germany, Volume 3 : Excerpt: Story 20 : S/Sgt Everett S. Allen.

To the FiftyReferences

James J Paugh, III, It's enough for any man, 100 Stories: Allied POWs in NAZI Germany, Volume 3 : Excerpt: Story 20 : S/Sgt Everett S. Allen, s.l. (To the Fifty) s.a. (accessed: 20 December 2021)

Dutch Airwar Studygroup 1939-1945 Loss Chart on: T3853 (accessed: 22 December 2021)

Editor's note: This story is a translation of a Dutch version.

Noot van de redactie: Dit verhaal is een vertaling van een Nederlandstalige versie. Het is hier opgenomen, omdat we verwachten dat er ook Engelstalige belangstellenden zijn.

Further reading

Pyjama House (in Dutch)

Reacties (1)

Mariët Bruggeman
Mariët Bruggeman bhic zei op 29 december 2021 om 13:02
Thanks Jim, for sharing with us the life of Everett Allen. What a great man he must have been, by bearing no grudge against his betrayer.

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