An interview with Jim Stirling

An interview with Jim Stirling

The Evader

This interview was done in 2008 in anticipation of a TV Show Evaders & Escape Lines. Jim gave us a one piece interview, literally; one question and off he went. Oddly he hadn’t talked about this very much. At the time many of those who ran the Escape Lines of MI9 were still alive. Sadly our pitch was turned down by History Channel. A real shame. A great interview.

STIRLING, James (Jim), December 29, 1923 – April 12, 2013

WWII Canadian Forces Army

Passed away peacefully at home with his beloved wife Pauline by his side, on April 12, 2013, at the age of 89. Beloved Husband of 32 years of Pauline Renaud. Devoted father of Dr. Craig Stirling, Marc (Denise), Claudine (Noël), Roland (Louise), André, Pierre (Christine) and Suzanne (Jean). Cherished grandfather of Martin (Marie- France). Adored great grandfather of David- Nicholas and Audrey-Rose. Also survived by many nephews, nieces and friends. Predeceased by one brother Dugald. A Memorial Service will be held in the chapel at Racine, Robert & Gauthier Beauchamp, 105 Greber Boulevard, Gatineau, on Friday, April 19, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers donations to the Canadian Lung Association would be appreciated.

Jim Stirling’s crew;
Date: 18th August 1944
Mission: Daylight Bombing Attack on Forest of L’Isle Adam
Take Off: at 12:04 hours Wade Rodgers (PB344) was the first off the deck.
LM259-F: F/O EP Mitchell
ND412-H: F/O CR Faulkner
PB244-N: F/O AF Kemp RCAF
ME845-Q: F/O EJ Monk
PB344-R: F/L CW Rodgers RAAF

Considerable difficulty was experienced in making up the formation and the planned waves of attackers did not arrive in the correct order. The target area was visually identified and the smoke marker at the last turning point was seen. 630 Squadron’s crews attacked at 14:11/14:12 hours from 9,500 to 10,000 feet. Smoke from bomb bursts soon covered the area but the aiming point was identified from nearby landmarks, the bombing was reported to be well concentrated. Enemy fighters were sighted north of Rouen but they did not engage. One of the squadron’s Lancasters Failed to Return.

Lancaster III, PB244 (Codes LE – N)
Pilot: F/O Arthur Frederick Kemp RCAF. Age, Evaded
Flight Eng: Sgt Reginald Douglas Larritt. Age 26, Evaded
Navigator: F/O William Joseph Shearstone RCAF. Age 21, †
Bomb Aimer: F/O William Francis Jones RCAF. Age, Evaded
Wireless Operator: Sgt Gerald Edward Benson. Age 21, Prisoner Of War
Mid Upper: Sgt George Cameron RCAF. Age 30, †
Rear Gunner: Sgt JW Stirling RCAF. Age 20, Evaded

With thanks to Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre / D Jadot / Morgana.

Having been hit by flak about 14:00 hours, PB244 crashed at Rouvray-Catillon and both of the dead are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial to the missing. Sgt Gerald Benson, a Wholesale Outfitter from Norwich, was captured on landing by parachute and his wounds were treated at Beauvais Hospital and later Amiens Hospital until 26th August when he was transferred to the hospital at Stalag XIIA (Limburg) for three further weeks before undergoing a brief visit to Dulag Luft Interrogation Centre. Benson entered Stalag Luft 7 (Bankau) in the last week of September 1944, and from February 1945 was held at Stalag IIIA (Luckenwalde). F/Sgt JW Stirling RCAF baled out and landed at about 14:05 hours in a wood called Bois Guilbert five kilometres west of Buchy, and he was fortunate to be a fluent French speaker as a former repair man with the Bell Telephone Company based in French speaking Montreal, Quebec. He hid his parachute and clothing and headed south-east stopping to sleep in a haystack. Caught hiding in bushes near a chateau on 19th August, Stirling was dragged into the chateau and interrogated but speaking fluently he bluffed he was way through it and was released to go back to work on a fictitious farm. Aided by the resistance, he hid on a farm until 15th August when SS troopers arrived to requisition food. After five days hiding in the woods, during which time local people fed him, he was able to return to the farm and lay low until the Canadian Army arrived to liberate the district. Eugene Mitchell and crew in LM259 were the last of this flight to return to East Kirkby at 16:22 hours.

A Canadian ‘Mother’s Cross’ or ‘Memorial Cross’, presented to the mothers / widows of RCAF service personnel who gave their lives during WWII.

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