Tom Applewhite was the only member of the crew of “The Wild Hare” to successfully evade capture. But there were other airmen whose own experiences evading capture by the Germans at times coincided with or intersected with Tom’s. They are listed in the order in which Tom met them.
Airmen Who Traveled with Tom Applewhite
Thelma B. “Jockey” Wiggins. Tom met Wiggins at the apartment of Yvonne Bienfait in the Brussels commune of Schaerbeek. The two men traveled together from Brussels to Gibaraltar. Like Tom, Jockey was a Southerner, with his home in Lithonia, Georgia. After the war he worked at a large department store in Atlanta. According to Tom, Jockey never married. To see his escape and evasion report at National Archives II in College Park, MD, click here.
Elton F. Kevil. Although Elton was on the same trains as Tom, from Paris to Bordeaux and then back to Dax, they were in separate compartments and did not meet until they picked up their bicycles at Dax. Another Southerner, he was from Ballinger, Texas. To see his escape and evasion report at National Archives II in College Park, MD, click here.
Stan Munns. Stan, 19, was a tail gunner in the RAF and the son of a former sailor in the Royal Navy. Like Elton Kevil, he was on the trains from Paris to Dax but did not meet Tom or Jockey until they picked up their bikes in Dax. In the crossing of the Pyrenees at the end of December 1943, when they were hiding in the windowless loft of a barn trying to get some sleep, Tom shared his heavy overcoat with Stan. On the third day of the crossing, as a result of a fall in the rocks, Stan injured his leg so badly that he could no longer walk by himself. He made it the rest of the way across the Pyrenees with his right arm around Tom’s shoulders. Stan was from Ashford, Kent, England. (A link to Munn’s story as published by the BBC WW2 People’s War, appears under Links to Other Websites. For part 1 of his story, click here. For part 2, click here.)
John K. Hurst. Hurst’s crossing of the Pyrenees was by way of Perpignan, France, much farther to the east than Tom, then making his way to
Barcelona, and finally Madrid, where he most likely first met Tom, Jockey, Stan, and Elton at the British Embassy. Like the others, he was taken to the port in Seville where he boarded the Norwegian ship, The Lisbeth, and was hidden in the ship’s propeller shaft compartment along with the others. To see his escape and evasion report at National Archives II in College Park, MD, click here.
In my research on the story of Tom’s experiences, I was fortunate to meet and interview, as well as correspond with, Stan Munns. I also have corresponded with members of Elton Kevil’s family and with John K. Hurst, who was kind enough to provide me with a copy of his memoirs, “Autumn Journey.” I would like to correspond with members of the families of Wiggins and Hurst.
Airmen Whose Journeys Intersected with Tom
Lloyd Stanford and Carl Spicer. While Tom Applewhite was staying with Arthur Schrynemakers in Brussels, Schrynemakers took him to meet Yvonne Olders-Pelerin, the wife of his cousin Maurice Olders. Mr. and Mrs. Olders had been active harboring Allied airmen. In the Appendix C to his Escape and Evasion report, Tom mentions the names of other airmen who had been there, including Justice, Spicer, Stanford, Alukonis, and Minnich. Click on the airman’s name to be directed to his escape and evasion report at National Archives II.
Judging from the probable timing of Tom’s visit and the period when Stanford was there (30 Nov.-17 Dec. 1943), it seems likely that Stanford was still there when Tom came by with Schrynemakers and they met. In the transcript of Tom’s debriefing, he specifically mentions meeting Carl Spicer. To see Spicer’s escape and evasion report at National Archives II, click here.
Dwight Fry and Gerald Lorne. Fry (US) and Lorne (RAF) followed a time table that closely matched that of Applewhite and Wiggins.
They appear to have crossed the Belgian-French border in the company of Tom and Jockey, even holing up in the same French cow barn the night of the crossing. Tom remembered meeting them. Later, they would cross the Pyrenees two days behind Tom, Jockey, Stan, and Elton. Some of the adventures of Fry and Lorne were described by Anne Brusselmans in her book, Rendez-Vous 127, and in Yvonne Daley-Brusselmans’ book, Belgium Rendez-Vous 127. To see the escape and evasion report for Fry, click here.
Airmen in Paris. Tom Applewhite spent Christmas at the home of Madame Elizabeth Buffet. It appears that one or more other airmen were present. Madame Buffet’s helper file, in addition to Applewhite and Wiggins, lists the following other airmen present during the period of December 1943 to January 1944: Geoffrey Madgett, George “Terry” Ward, Tom Hesselden, Ken Garvey, and James Kennedy. Kennedy was Canadian and the others British.
Bruce, I marvel at your work. Thank you for sharing this great history.
Thelma Berto Wiggins was my uncle.His brother,Stewart was buried today,and I visited uncle Berto’s grave.I decided to goggle his name and it led to this site.I knew the resistance had helped him get home,but not many details.I was very interested in the escape on the ship.If you know more details,or have suggestions on where to look I would like to hear from you.
A few days ago I added to my website my interview with Bill Bettinson, the 3rd radio officer of the Norwegian ship on which the airmen were hidded in Seville. You will find it at https://wwii-netherlands-escape-lines.com/interviews/interview-with-laurence-w-bill-bettinson-3rd-radio-officer-on-the-lisbeth-2/. I would like to get some photos of your uncle from WWII, if that would be possible.