Kenneth C. HOLCOMB
T/Sgt US Army Air Force
Service #: 16115164
Duty: radio operator
Unit: 458 BG 752 BS
Born: 18 December 1923
POW: on 17 August 1944, Brussels.
Awards: Air Medal
Kenneth Holcomb left the aircraft through the bombay.
He landed near Schaffen - Meldert.
A farmer disposed of his parachute and Mae West.
He saw how Monahan (?) and Morehead were taken prisoner by the Germans.
Someone brought him to a Russian camp.
The next day they brought him to a farm where he also met Baer and Spence.
Later he was sheltered on many places.
Three of these places were: George Manhein (Lemahieu), 33 Varode, Tessenderlo
René Guldentops, Geetbets
Hubert Vandersypen, Hulsbeekstraat, Geetbets.
Hubert Vanderseypen (Picture from François Vanderseypen)
Finally he comes with Spence in Brussels to the false safe house at 16 rue Forestière, the 'Dog House'. where Germans infiltrated in the escape lines.
They had to take a car that brought them to the prison of Sint Gilles, Brussels
He was taken prisoner on 17 August.
At the beginning of September he was on the Nazi Ghost Train.
The train itself was a line of 30 or so goods wagons formed up by the German SS troops at Bruxelles Midi Railway Station. It was filled with 1,370 political prisoners and 41 Allied airmen from Saint-Gilles prison, and destined for prison camps in Germany.
The train had been scheduled to leave in the early morning of Saturday 2 September 1944 but was delayed by railway workers until nearly five o'clock in the afternoon.
Further delaying tactics resulted in the train only getting as far at Mechelin/Malines that evening and then diverting to Muizen for water replenishment.
On leaving Muizen station next morning, further problems (mostly due to sabotage) were encountered and the train eventually returned to Klein-Eiland/La Petite-Ile at 10:15 Sunday morning.
More (deliberate) confusion resulted in the locomotive for the train being detached and no suitable replacement being found.
Following negotiations with various officials, including the Red Cross, the political prisoners were released from the train at 12.30 and the Germans took the train over for their own troops that afternoon.
The train only got as far as Schaerbeek that evening before it was shunted into the railway yards there.
In the confusion, several wagons, including the one holding the POWs, were derailed and abandoned.
The POWs escaped in small groups throughout the night.
Kenneth was back on his base on 9 September 1944.
Documents from the resistance groep General Sabotag G93
Report written by Felix Vandevenne and his wife Maria Juchtmans
USA number: 16115164
Take off: 6:00 hour on 20 July 1944
Aircraft number B 24 H – 117
Shot down in the vicinity of Leopoldsburg
Civil address: 631 West Pleasant St. Freeport Illinois
Came down at Schaffen, Zwarte Ring.
Hiding Russians took him away.
Joseph Briers from Baalberg, Tessenderlo came to take him to George Lemahieu from Boshuis, Tessenderlo.
From there Felix Vandevenne from Begijnenstraat 31, Diest took Holcomb with him and brought him to Alfons Snijers who was living at Heze, Schaffen (where he met Spence and Baer)
Alfons gave him new clothes and something to eat.
Felix Vandevenne guided him to his house in the Begijnenstraat 31, Diest.
From here, Holcomb, Spence and Baer went to Graulus, Waanrode.
Here 3 persons took Holcomb with them to family Vanderseypen, Geetbets.
These 3 persons were Paul Goossens, Sabine Strauven and Joseph Meers all from Kortenaken.
After 4 weeks Paul Goossens, Schepers August and Strauven Sabine took Spence and Holcomb again to Prosper Graulus at Waanrode.
From there they went to an appointed place at a little chapel at Glabbeek.
Joseph De Crock from Brussels came to Alfons Omloop at Glabbeek and took Holcomb and Spence with him to Brussels.
Papers were made by Felix Vandevenne, Begijnenstraat 31, Diest and brought by his son Severin to Maria Claes, Stationstraat 22, Diest who brought those papers to Joseph De Crock, Vandenbroeckstraat 52, Brussels.
Papers for departure, place and date were handed over by Maria Juchtmans, Begijnenstraat 31, Diest.
E&E Report (Escape and Evasive)