Escape and Evasion Instructions

The following extract, taken from a 12th Air Force E&E Bulletin dated 21 July 1944, appeared in It’s the Little Things, Evasion and Escape during World War II, Arctic, Desert, Tropic Information Center, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, July 1950.  For the full report, click here.  See also the M.I.S.-X Manual on Evasion, Escape, and Survival.

1. Go on every mission armed with pistol, equipped with G.I. shoes, escape purse, aid box, hidden escape aids, and anything else that is not too cumbersome.  Make sure you can not lose them in descent.  Remember that “It can happen to you.”  Do not, however, carry a pistol while wearing civilian clothing.

2. If bailing out, delay opening the chute as long as possible, thus adding to the time one will have to hide before an enemy patrol appears to search the area.

3. During descent, try to guide your chute away from any buildings, roads, or railways.  Enemy patrols must use roads to reach your area.

4. Remember your jumping instructions to avoid injury on landing.

5. Immediately upon landing, roll up your chute, put it under your arm and run like hell further away from habitations, roads, and railways.

6. When you have reached temporary cover, hide your parachute well: in bushes, weighted with rocks in a stream or pond, or under the roots of trees.  Remember that the Germans frequently send over low-flying aircraft looking for open, abandoned parachutes, as such a thing is sure indication of a successful descent.

7. Having disposed of your chute, remove badges and anything that marks you too obviously as an airman.  Then move on as rapidly as possible to a better hiding place.  Put as many miles as possible between you and the place at which you descended.  Obviously, if your aircraft has crashed, you should avoid its vicinity.

8. Having found a hiding place, curl up, have a long rest, and wait for the search to die down.  If you feel a bid “done in,” take a Benzedrine tablet.  Do not be in a hurry to move on unless you feel that you are in a dangerous area.  If you are in friendly territory, it is probable that before long a boy or someone else will come looking for you.  If he is in uniform, study him carefully as he approaches, particularly his badges.  If you believe, but are not sure, that he is a Partisan or a member of a Resistance group, have your pistol in your hand when you make your presence known.  This should not be necessary for a small boy or a civilian providing he is not armed.  If the stranger appears friendly and recognizes you as an Allied airman and indicates that he wants to take you to a better hiding place, go with him.  It is at this stage that most of the element of luck enters into the evasion.  If he is a bona fide helper, your worries are largely over.  If he is not a helper and guides you to an enemy patrol, think fast and act accordingly – this part is up to you.

9. It is probable that after hiding you, your helper will appear with civilian clothes or ask you for money to buy them.  Put on the civvies but give your gun to your helper.  If he does not want it, bury it as it is of no further use to you and its possession while you are in civilian clothes may be a matter of grave danger to you.  DO NOT CARRY A PISTOL IF WEARING CIVILIAN CLOTHES.

10. If a helper does not come looking for you, you should make for the hills or other isolated areas.  Use your escape map for this purpose.  It is intended as a guide only and will not show every minor topographical detail.  Avoid roads, villages, and railways and take advantage of all available cover.  After a day or two, approach a lone shepherd, a lone charcoal burner, or a poor farmer.  Make known the fact that you are an Allied airman and ask for help.  If you are refused assistance, get away from there and try again.

11. If you are in enemy territory, travel only at night.  If in enemy-occupied territory under proper guidance and dressed in civilian clothes, it is probably safe to travel by day.  Your helpers will know.

12. When you are in the custody of helpers, it is essential that you follow all instructions they give you.  Remember that they know the form and you do not.  Give chits to helpers, signed with you name, rank, and number only.  Show the name of the helper and some indication of what he has done for you and whether you have rewarded him in any way.

13. Never write down and have in your possession any names of helpers.  If you are caught and such names are found on you, it is an absolute certainty that your helpers will be shot as soon as the enemy can lay hands on them.

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