On September 6, 1943, 22-year-old Oscar Klass Hamblin (T/SGT.) and crew were flying over northern France when they were raked by fire from a German Fw 190, necessitating an evacuation from their plane.

Typewritten escape and evasion report form with handwritten details
Typewritten escape and evasion report with handwritten narrative

Hamblin, Oscar Klass (T/SGT.) Escape and Evasion Reports, 1942 - 1945. National Archives Identifier 5554850.

According to Hamblin’s report, "I made a free fall for about 10000 feet and then opened my chute. I saw three lakes with woods and a field nearby. I tried to drift to the field, but a south wind blew me to the middle of the lake and I went 10 to 12 feet under water. When I began swimming, I became entangled in the shrouds of my chute. Just when I had released myself from the chute, a Frenchman and woman came out in a boat, helped me into it, and pulled the chute in after me. When we reached the shore, they hid my chute, and flying boots under the boat. They took me to their house, there they dressed my wounds, fed me, and gave me some civilian clothes."

On September 3, 1943, 25-year-old Sebron Andrew McQueen, Jr. (2nd Lt) and crew were flying east of Paris when their aircraft was attacked, and the pilot gave the order to evacuate.

Handwritten narrative in escape and evasion report
Typewritten escape and evasion report with handwritten details. Form also shows a drawing of a flying formation

McQueen, Sebron Andrew Jr. (2 L.t) Escape and Evasion Reports, 1942 - 1945. National Archives Identifier 5554889.

McQueen details what happened next in his report:

"I landed in an oat field and wrapped my flying equipment in the chute before covering it with oats. About twenty Frenchmen were watching me quietly, waiting to see what I would do... I could tell they weren't sure of me so I concentrated on a boy who knew a few words of English. Finally when I showed him my dog tags he motioned me to follow him... My friend and I were joined by two Frenchmen who ran with us about two miles. We stopped near a house and while I waited in some bushes the Frenchmen were gone into the house for several minutes before calling me. Inside the house I was treated politely, fed and questioned in great detail. Then I was told by an English-speaking man to go back in the bushes and stay until dark."

On September 6, 1943, 23-year old Allan Johnston (2nd Lt.) and crew were flying over France when their aircraft received heavy damage from a fighter attack.

Typewritten escape and evasion report with handwritten details
Handwritten narrative contained within escape and evasion report

Johnston, Allan G (2nd Lt.) Escape and Evasion Reports, 1942 - 1945. National Archives Identifier 5554852.

According to Johnston’s report: "The order to bale [sic] out was given by the pilot and acknowledged by all crew members. Because the bombardier's arm was injured, I helped him with his chute and watched him leave. Then I crawled forward and set fire to the maps. The pilot and co-pilot were still in their seats. I saw the radio operator go out through the bomb-bay before I jumped at 7500 feet, from the nose.

I think the best way to leave the nose is on the knees, tumbling head-first. Before I fell I unhooked my chute from the chest hooks and hugged it to my chest so that before pulling the rip-cord I could hold the chute over my head and not risk face injury when the straps went up. Leaving the aircraft I seemed to fall first at terrific speed and then more slowly… Touching the ground I hit the release on my chute and it fell away with the silk draped over the limbs of a tree. My flying pants fell off and I remember grabbing them in my hands before running.... I ran in the opposite direction from the soldiers I could still see in the field, I heard the sound of motorcycles. I had a glimpse through an opening in the trees of three chutes coming down in the fields. I stuck to the ridge for several minutes, running hard, before crawling into some blackberry bushes.”

Citizen Archivist Transcription Mission

Hamblin, McQueen, and Johnston’s reports, along with nearly 3,000 others, are part of a series containing information on escape and evasion activities and training of U.S. soldiers serving in the European theater during World War II, and are available to view and download in the National Archives Catalog. You can help make these records more searchable in our Catalog! Escape and Evasion Reports are the focus of a new transcription mission for our citizen archivists.

Within these records, you will find dramatic and gripping first hand accounts of survival from U.S. soldiers in Europe during World War II. (Including the Escape and Evasion case file for Flight Officer Charles (Chuck) Yeager.) The records typically include questionnaires about the use of escape and evasion (E&E) training and equipment; a listing of crew members; dates; locations, as well as a typed or handwritten narrative documenting the escape and evasion experience of the escapee or evader. These reports were maintained by the Administration Branch of the Escape and Evasion Section of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff (G-2) of the European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army, of the War Department.

We hope you will explore these records and help transcribe them to make them more searchable and discoverable. Transcribing these records will bring history to life and ensure the stories of the soldiers will not be forgotten.

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Memorial Day
Photograph of Air Force Airman in uniform saluting a wreath. Onlookers stand behind him.

U.S. Air Force SENIOR AIRMAN Patrick Hunt, Honor Guard, salutes after a wreath laying ceremony during a Prisoner of War/Missing In Action tribute at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.(U.S. Air Force PHOTO by AIRMAN Shawn Wells), 9/14/2004. National Archives Identifier 6687663.

Memorial Day, initially referred to as Decoration Day, began as a way to honor those who died in the Civil War and has become a day to honor all American veterans who gave their lives in sacrifice to our nation. Learn more about its history on our website and in the Pieces of History blog. This Memorial Day, we remember and honor those who have died in service to the United States during peace and war.

Blueprint detailing the location of American soldier battlefield grave sites during World War I.

Initial Burial Plats for World War I Soldiers, National Archives Identifier 12007376. This series consists of blueprint and plane table survey maps and field maps detailing the location of American soldier battlefield grave sites during World War I. Soldiers are identified by name, serial number and unit, if known.

Black and white photograph of the crew of a B-24 standing beside the plane, posing for a photograph

Crew of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator "Goon". Left to right, back row: T/Sgt. Archie L. Fleharty, Cozad Neb; Capt. Samuel J. Skousen, Thatcher, Ariz; T/Sgt. Robert M. Kirk, Alpha, Ill; T/Sgt. Arthur J. Benko, Bisbee, Ariz; (now missing in action) (U.S. Air Force Number 53334AC). National Archives Identifier 204829567.

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