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Chipping With a Stove Grate

Heroes Remember

Chipping With a Stove Grate

I escaped with three airmen and the airmen were change-overs also, but I didn't know who they were until we reached this place, Patchkell (sp), it was a brick factory. And I didn't know what they were out there for and I was alone, I'd gone alone. I was so desperate because every time I asked somebody, “Well, you know, it's not a good time,” or there were guys doing it all the time, but in my hut, in 21A, “Einundzwanzig A”, 21A, I couldn't find any Dieppe guy that really wanted to go with me. That was that desperate at that particular time. So I went alone. I went alone. But I teamed up with these three airmen and the one fellow could speak German, his name was Gilmore, and they accepted me after I found out who they were. We got to the working party, the brick factory wasn't war work. We refused to do war work, that was categoric. So when I found out who they were, and what they were, they'd all changed over with army guys and they were in army uniforms; two British and one Canadian. We laid our plans and worked there, done all the damage we could. We broke bricks, we jammed machines. We'd done all kinds of sabotage. The day we were going to leave which was a Saturday, we worked until one o'clock. We were going that night. I picked up a screw driver with a steel handle and that's the tool I was going to use to chip the bars out of the windows because the bars weren't in, this was an old building that was stone and concrete, but not good concrete, you know, crumbly concrete and the bars went in on both sides, but they were cut off at the bottom. So that night, I started to chip with a stove grate, they had a stove in there, it wasn't being used, cold stove and a grate, a section of steel, about a foot long and two inches wide and about a half inch thick, something like that. And I started on the bars, and I chipped and I chipped and I chipped. The boys there were all British, from Dunkirk. They had an old wind up radio. The Germans were in the next room and they had one record in Italian. It was, “O Sole Mio” and they played it over and over and over and I chipped and chipped and chipped, and I got the bars out of the, I'll try and cut this short, got the bars out, handed the bars to one of the airmen, they were going, out, bang! There was a 12 foot brick wall with a glass embedded on the top that we had to climb. Jump, go down and there was a paved road on the other side that was patrolled by a German, a German sentry. So I made a lot of friends, I left a good, these guys with a good impression of a Canadian soldier. Absolute, absolute and they loved me. They respected me. And so, I'm the last guy out and I'm shaking hands with a raw hand, the palm of my hand with no skin on, just raw. And I'm shaking hands and they're wishing me good luck. And as I went out the window, the one guy was up on the wall, Gilmore, the one airman laying on his stomach because of the glass, bringing the other guys up. Then you had to drop down on the other side and turn your face around when you heard the guard coming, the German guard coming, and take your boots off. It was raining, so you just hunched down there and you're unlacing your boots because we had the steel shod boots, you couldn't run across a paved road. So we took our boots off, this was all done at intervals and you couldn't rehearse this, you know, this was spontaneous, spontaneous.

After escaping to a brick factory, Mr. Poolton describes his continued efforts in getting free after teaming up with three airmen.

John (Jack) Poolton

John (Jack) Abernethy Poolton was born in Toronto, Ontario on January 9, 1918. He was one of seven children. His father farmed 100 acres near Kapuskasing, Ontario. Mr. Poolton enlisted in the Royal Regiment of Canada and provides vivid, clear details of the allied landing at Dieppe, France on August 19, 1942.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
John (Jack) Poolton
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Regiment of Canada

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