November 30, 2021

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Stanley Booker, English officer, survivor of an accident near Trux: “I must have died in Buchenwald”

Do you feel like you are a hero?
No! I was lucky to have survived. In my group, the real heroes tried to escape from my pilot, my radio, the hunters and then Gunner, Terry Gold, continued firing to keep the hunters at bay until all the survivors went by parachute. Despite all these trials, these dangers and these privileges in fire and blood in Europe, I still feel guilty for being alive.

On the evening of June 2, 1944, what was your mood when you set off to bomb the Trapez sector?
Young pilots, we wanted to liberate Europe from Nazi oppression and prevent the invasion of Great Britain. Always enthusiastic, we have formed a good team, well trained, very professional and very supportive during and outside of work. We accepted the German bombing, believing it would make the Nazi regime surrender. When bombing railroads in France, Belgium or Holland, we did everything we could to avoid hitting civilians. These bombings were necessary in the period prior to the D-Day landing, cutting the supply routes for weapons, ammunition and troops for the protection of the coast.

At St-Georges-Motel, he drinks a glass of champagne after learning about D-Day Landing

What did you think when your plane was hit by German warplanes?
We had an adrenaline rush, we were trained to maneuver and escape beyond the range of predators, but my pilot was killed by artillery fire. When we were ready to jump the radio tried to confirm the flight. It was dark inside, and we moved on, finally finding the escaping chicks and opening them up. I was very concerned about the safety of my team.

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Specifically, you stayed at the Saint-Georges Motel near Dreux. Do you have a specific story?
At a house owned by Mme Lefèvre, I learned the news of the D-Day landing on the morning of June 6, 1944. I was hiding in the gardener’s little house when he was pulled out of bed by the owner. And as his lady-in-waiting entered the room were placed a plate, a bottle of champagne and three glasses. With a big smile, they told me: “Landing has arrived”. We roasted at the liberation of France.

Your recovery proves that there were French people in solidarity and resistance in the Dreux area. Are you indebted to them for your survival?
We, the fleeing youth, are very grateful to all of these members of the local opposition groups. To accommodate us and hide us from the Germans, these people risked their freedom and their lives and the freedom of their families. They gave us civilian clothes and a French ID card in anticipation of the kidnappers passing through the Pyrenees.

But you were condemned …
We were sent to the Gestapo by a Belgian double agent. I was tortured for providing information, imprisoned in Fresno, and then deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp on August 15, 1944.

“We were hungry and after almost a year in prison we were dirty and tired, trembling every day for our lives and for the lives of our comrades there” Photo Family Booker.

“Horror and Dirt of Cow Carts”

What picture do you have about this trip that was the last series for Death Camp?
The horror and dirt of the cow carts we had piled up near the Carre de l’Est from the Bond station. On the platform I saw hundreds of French women of all ages being pushed into a nearby cart. Deserving and courageous. We were angry, but worried that those who accommodated us were also a part of this vehicle series.

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Were you afraid to die in Buchenwald?
Within two days, we had S.S. But on October 19, 1944, we were taken by Luftwaffe from the Buchenwald camp. For our relief, we were locked up in the POW Luftwaffe Stalag 3 in Sagan, Poland.

The path was before independence …
Due to the advance of the Soviet army, we were ordered to evacuate the camp, January 28, 1945. Walking in the cold and snow towards the west, we joined another prison camp at Lacanwalde Camp near Berlin. The camp was overcrowded and poorly maintained. Soviet troops released him on April 21, but held us hostage until our return to the U.S. Army on May 25, 1945. We were not able to celebrate Victory Day or attend organized celebrations.

“It is the duty of the living
To remember the dead “

What did you think when you returned to English soil?

After almost a year in prison we were either hungry, dirty and tired, or we trembled every day for our lives and the lives of our comrades.

Are you afraid that with the disappearance of the witnesses of time, the whole of Europe will forget their sacrifice, the commitment of the liberators and their vital role?
I have a feeling that the memory of World War II is a part of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Memories like Illiers-l’Évêque Memorial Day bring communities together and remember the past, and families’ contributions to the survival and reconstruction of their country.

Final message?
The following motto is engraved on the Buchenwald Memorial: “It is the duty of the living to remember the dead.”

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*Translated from English by Jean-Pierre Curato, who reconstructed the voyage of Lieutenant Booker and his crew. Former Deputy Mayor of Nonangord, who lives in Illiers-LVQ, was one of the performers at the memorial service for British soldiers killed in a plane crash)

Families without news. “The SS treated us very cruelly and did not recognize our status as prisoners of war. Our government and our families were unaware of our plight.
Always haunted by the worst. “I remember the atrocities of Buchenwald throughout my life, and every day, every night, the shadow of this terrible memory haunts me. Dirt, the smell of fire, fear, hunger, disease, and a vision of what one man can do to another. “
Remember death. “I do not forget the brutality of the Kapos, the killing of 31 Special Forces soldiers, who bravely faced their deaths when they were hanged.

Interview with Olivier Bohin