Escape Aids – Box and Purse

The Appendix D to Tom Applewhite’s Escape and Evasion Report consists of a questionnaire that he completed asking him about his use of the various escape aids provided.

The Aids Box contained the following:

  • Horlicks tablets.
  • Chocolate.
  • Milk (tube).
  • Benzadrine tablets (fatigue).
  • Halazone tablets (water purifier).
  • Matches.
  • Adhesive tape.
  • Chewing gum.
  • Water bottle.
  • Compass.

The Purse held the following:

  • Maps. (See next page of website for Cloth Maps.)
  • Compass.
  • File (hacksaw).
  • Foreign currency.

Issued separately from the above were the Aids to Escape (Gadgets):

  • Compass – The questionnaire lists seven types: Round, Stud, Swinger, Fly-Button, Pencil Clip, Tunic Button, and Pipe.
  • P0uch.
  • Special flying boots (and knife).

Tom Applewhite was determined that if he was shot down, he would escape.  Not only did he have the usual  pocket on one leg of his flight suit containing escape aids, he had had a second pocket with a second set of aids sewn on the other leg as backup.  But while he was being tended by the first Dutch farm family that helped him, their teenage son, trying to be helpful, threw Tom’s flight suit down a well to hide it from the Germans!

However, Tom did have some comments on escape-related matters:

  • Can you suggest any way in which the contents of the aids box might be changed to make it of greater use: “Couldn’t carry things with me for fear of being searched.  If compass could be disguised, it would be of help.  (Tell men to get an aspirin box — keep Bendzedrine for crossing the mountains.)”
  • Did you carry a purse? “Yes.  Lost in descent.”
  • Passport size photos [he had been provided six]: “Worthless!  Wrong size and ill-posed.  You should try to look neat in them, with hair combed and a ‘prim’ look.”
  • Round compass: “Had one but didn’t need to use it.”
  • Pencil clip compass: “Wished I had one.”
  • Can you suggest any improvements, additions, or substitutions? “I am very sorry I didn’t have ‘escape boots’ or pencil clip compass.  Ill-fitting shoes almost occasioned my capture.”
  • Suggestions: “Air crews should be briefed to ask the Dutch people whether they are ‘Netherlanders’ or ‘Nederlander,’ not whether they are ‘Dutch.’  If you ask them whether they are ‘Dutch,’ they think you are saying ‘Deutsch’–meaning Germans.”

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