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“Shot Down!!!” Part 5 of 8

Heroes Remember

“Shot Down!!!” Part 5 of 8

And then Frans, the owner of this guy who had 26 people with him, he came over and he said, "I've had word from Rotterdam, from headquarters, and they said that you have to get off the island right away because the search, the search parties are all over the place." He says, "It's just a matter of time that they're gonna locate you." So the three of us, we, we had a plan, we decided we'd cross the bridge. There were only two ways to get on and off the island. One was the Spijkenisse Bridge and the other was through the water, over the water. And they had patrols along the water all the time. So this Frans used to, he was, he was what they called a bo, bo, <inaudible >. He was a waterworks engineer, and he used to do work on the mainland and on the island, so he always had access over the bridge, eh. He always had a pass. So he said, "I'm going to let you have this pass." And he says, "The three of you, get on your bikes and try to get over that bridge." He says, "I'll stay in the background." So, the three of us got on the bridge, got on the, on the, on our bikes and we were gonna go across; this was Christmas Eve, we were gonna go across the bridge. There was a guard at the bridge, standing at the bridge. And just before we got to the, to the guard, two soldiers came up and approached Frans, who's standing back a ways. And they thought, the other two guys thought they were detected. They panicked a bit, you know. So they just kept on pedalling and they went into the bush. And I was left alone. I was standing on the road. I was left alone. So I didn't know what the hell was gonna happen. If I had been I guess if I had been sharper, I'd have gone with them, but I didn't. So, I stood on the road. The two soldiers were lost and they were looking for directions, and they thought that they had detected them, that they were looking for them, you see. And so that they had kept on going, and they went into the woods. So, he told them where they had to go, he gave the directions, and then he came to me and he said, "They were looking for directions," he says. He says, "We'll modify our plan a little bit, but you'll still go." So, he went to a chap who lived there, Jan VanMeer, and he said "Look, get your gun, go to the, the, the bridge." He says, "You're gonna take this guy up to the bridge because he won't be able to speak to the German." He says, "You'll take him up to the bridge." And he says, "You speak to the German and tell him that he's got a job on the other side of the bridge, that he has, that he has to, to go to with this pass." So he said, "Don't worry, I'll do that." He was a young guy, he was, young happy-go-lucky, and he was, he was anti- Nazi. So he said, he, he took me, he brought me. And the guard, the German guard, was drunk. He put his arms around, and there was a B2 going over the yard, he put his arms around me and said <inaudible> and I kept on saying "Ja, ja, ja." That's all I knew, you know. I didn't know a hell of a lot of Dutch, and, but VanMeer was trying to detract him, trying, he, he kept saying, "Look, we gotta, we gotta be there at such and such a time." So, the guard wouldn't let me go, he just kept a one-sided conversation. Eventually, VanMeer, and I could see his hand in his, in his, in his tunic where he had the gun, eh. Because the guy told him, he says if, if, if worst comes to worst, the guy will have to be eliminated. We just have to take care of him and... because I, we gotta get across the bridge. So, eventually, the guard says "Oh <inaudible>." And away I went. And I went across the bridge and I went into the boat, and there was a guy waiting for me in, in the boat. Right on the, on the, on the waterbank. So I went in there and I heard a whisper, and he said, "Is that you Hank?" My name was Hank Polterwurth, you know. They gave me a name, and it wasn't Phil Pochailo. At the time I was Hank Polterwurth. He says, "Are you Hank?" And I said, "Yeah." He said, "Ok," he says, "I'm timing." He says, "There's a patrol out there," and he says, "I'm timing them, it takes them so long to get to the quay and back." He says, "When they, when we're..." he says, "when the time comes and they're at the quay, we'll get on our bikes and head for Rhoon if we can." So, we waited there, we were there for about three-quarters of an hour, I guess, and then the patrol went by and went to the quay, and he says, "Ok, now's the time!"

Mr. Pochailo describes his escape to the mainland of Holland

Philip Pochailo

Philip Pochailo was born in Rainy River, Ontario, on November 19, 1920. After finishing his education, he worked several years in lumber camps, and finally enlisted in the RCAF in 1942. He went overseas in 1943. After advanced training as a bomb aimer in Great Britain, he was assigned to a British crew in No.1 Bomber Command in April 1944. His aircraft was shot down over the Netherlands and only he and the aircraft's pilot survived. Mr. Pochailo evaded capture and joined the Dutch Resistance Movement where he lived and worked for the next 12 months. He was liberated by Canadian troops in Rotterdam in 1945. Mr. Pochailo returned to Canada after the war and now resides in Ottawa, Ontario.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Philip Pochailo
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Bomber Command
Air Force
#1 Bomber Command
AC2 / Flying Officer
Bomb Aimer

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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