115 Squadron

Despite the elements

Cope J E Sgt Cope Jack Edward - observer - 1377332
Wellington Mk III - X3675 KO-D

Thornton Heath, Surrey, England.
°1920 Hampstead, London - +

Shot down in the night of 28/29 August 1942 after a raid on Nuremberg by German night fighter Hauptmann Bietmann, 11./NJG1.
Crashed Grand-Hallet, Luik.
Passage of the Pyrenees: September 23, 1942.

Hosts: Heyde, Miedzinsky, Matton, Vogelaers, Marechal, Armendariz

National guides : Heyde, Marechal, De Greef

International Guides: De Jongh, Johnson

Duration: 3 weeks

Crossing of the Pyrenees: September 23, 1942

Report of the escape GSP 869 (incomplete).

The aircraft took off from Marham at 20H30.

Three men lose their lives: the pilot, W/O John George Smith, 23 years of age; gunners Sgt John William Sharpe, age 20 and Sgt Leslie George Carr, age 20. All three are buried at the Heverlee War Cemetery near Leuven.

Sgt Mackenzie N. J., RNZAF was taken prisoner.

The aircraft is hit by Flak anti-aircraft artillery over Liège, and the main body as well as the hydraulic system take fire.
Jack Cope jumps at 6000 m and lands in a field of turnips. He cannot bury his parachute and decides to hide it under a pile of leaves. He walks for three hours in the South-West direction, across fields and alongside railway-trails, avoiding populated areas.

Around 2h00 in the morning of August 29, he rests in a stack of hay at Folx-les-Caves, about ten miles West of Hannut. He wakes up around 5h00 and is spotted by a farmer's wife to whom he says "I am English."
The woman takes him into the farm and feeds him. He asks for the priest’s address, but as the priest is not home, he tries to gather information from other farmers. He is then taken to a more prosperous farm, fed, completely dressed in a civil suit and given the sum of 1500 BEF.
Around 11h00, a member of the family takes him to Brussels where he is brought into contact with an escape organisation.
Cope stays in Brussels for another four days, from the 29th of August to the 2nd of September, he goes from house to house. The first night his companion and host is Emile Heyde, 45 Avenue Thibaut, Etterbeek.
Heyde then takes him to stay with Jacques Miedzinsky a waiter at Tavern Gruber, Place Rogier, then to M. Matton, Chaussée de Mons and to M. Vogelaers, Avenue Croix de Feu.

On the 2nd of September he travels to Antwerp by train and stays there for one week. He is lead into a large store where photographs are taken and where he is given Belgian papers.
Two assistants in Antwerp are Robert "Porece" Poreye and Mr "Scott", Louis Deschodt.

On September 7th Poreye informs Heyde that Cope is ready and an appointment is made at the Tavern Gruber, Place Rogier.

He returns to Brussels on September 9th and stays for a week with the Marechal family, guided by Elsie.
Here he learns about an English native from (Newcastle) hosting two wounded soldiers. On September 16th at 7h00 he leaves for Paris, guided to the station by Elsie. Identity checks are made all the way.

At 18h00 his suitcase is inspected upon his arrival in Paris. He is lead to a place near the Duroc metro station (Boulevard des Invalides) and taken in by “a man who has a reputation for being a good cook". Here he meets Andrée Paul and her father De Jongh.
Three Belgians belonging to the organization.

Another member is Elvira Morelle, a French woman whose brother is in the hands of the Gestapo (Charles Morelle). This man had helped Andrée de Jongh establishing her organization. Cope receives an identity card and leaves Paris on the 2nd of October (? Sic). It is effectively the 20th of September when he leaves Paris in the company of two women, Dedee" and Jeanine De Greef and escapees Van den Bok, Wasiak, and Costello-Bowen.
They receive tickets to Saint-Jean-de-Luz", Bayonne, from the girl's mother (auntie "Tante Go") and an Englishman ("in order not to appear to come from direction Paris”).
They leave for Spain on the evening of the 22nd. They gather in a farm: four airmen, two women (Dédée and Jeanine) and "Bee" Johnson.

Dédée, Johnson and a Basque guide lead them to Spain. A 5h00 they arrive at the farm. They take a rest there while Dédée goes to San Sebastian tofind a car that picks them up at 20h00.
They stay with Federico Armendaris. On the 24th, the consul of Bilbao tells them they will leave for Madrid the next day.
They stay there for three days and then go on to Gibraltar by train, escorted by a Spanish policeman. They remain four days in Gibraltar and are repatriated at the end of October.

He was interrogated in the UK on the 6th of October 1942.

Source: Evasion Comete


Distinguished Flying Medal.

1377332 Flight Sergeant Jack Edward COPE, No. 115 Squadron.
In most hazardous circumstances, during an operational flight, this airman displayed conduct in keeping with, the highest traditions of the Royal Air Force.

Sharpe William John
Smith John George - Pilot

McKenzie N. J. - Observer

Sharpe William John - FG

Carr Leslie George - RG