B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 

  Escape and Evasion
by James L. McCrory, 444th Bomb Squadron

 

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Next stop-Rome

 

By the middle of March, we had become restless and wanted to work our way south towards Allied lines. Our friends brought us an Italian man who was willing to guide us to Rome. It turned out he had been in contact with Lt. Green! I talked the situation over with Gardner and DeLisle and we decided that I should join Green and try to get to Rome with the help of our friend. If we made it he was to come back and bring them to Rome.

The Italians took me from the cave that night to an old shack in a field and Lt. Green was there waiting for us. We had an emotional reunion as I was not sure he had been able to get out of the plane and I feared he had been killed. Turned out he had cleared the plane only seconds before it exploded.

Another Italian joined us and we caught the night train to Rome. It had been agreed that we would not sit together and if either Green or I were caught we would be, as far as the Germans knew, traveling alone. We were scheduled to arrive in Rome before daylight. All trains traveled at night to avoid the bombers.

About twenty, miles from Rome we came upon a bridge that had been knocked out, the train stopped, and we had to get out and walk across the wreckage to the other side. Confusion and apprehension prevailed. We could not talk to anyone. All we could do was just wait with the other passengers and try to look inconspicuous.

After daylight, another train came "backing in" from Rome and we all got aboard and finished the trip. From the station we walked through Rome to a building where we made contact with a representative of the Vatican. He led us to an area adjacent to Vatican City where we were to stay. We had a choice of sleeping in an open bay-type housing facility or of digging and preparing our own hideout. I chose to dig my own concealed fox hole where I slept alone.

There were nearly twenty other fugitive Allied airmen there, including some who had escaped from POW camps. One day Lt. Stewart walked in and joined us. He too had been helped by friendly Italians.(Continued)


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