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Sous Lt Bernard Scheidhauer

P/O (Sous Lt) Bernard Scheidhauer and P/O (Sous/Lt) Henri de Bordas of 131 Squadron (Free French Air Forces) departed Westhampnett, England early on the afternoon of November 18, 1942 to undertake a “Rhubarb” into Normandy. Scheidhauer was flying a Spitfire Mk. Vb NX:X (EN830). “Rhubarb” – at times of low cloud and poor visibility, fighters would cross the English Channel, dropping below cloud level in France to search for opportunity targets such as railway locomotives and rolling stock, aircraft on the ground, enemy troops, and vehicles on roads

18th November 1942 Two Rhubarb missions were planned that day. S/Lt de Bordas (FFAF) and his number 2 P/O (Sous Lt) Bernard Scheidhauer depart for Caen & Cherbourg at 14:10. They cross the channel at sea level and first reach St-Aubin-sur-Mer. They Then flew west following the Caen-Cherbourg rail tracks to Carentan, de Bordas attacked three trains along this flightpath. From Carentan they head east and de Bordas lost sight of his number 2 at Écausseville.

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Scheidhauer's Spitifire had been hit by flak that damaged his fuel line and he was losing fuel. His radio was also inoperable. Presumably he became disoriented and headed west instead of north. After crossing a stretch of water he sighted land that he mistook for the Isle of Wight. Picking out a suitable field he placed his aircraft down in a wheels-up landing, coming to rest in a field of turnips. Climbing from the aircraft he was met by several locals who informed him of his navigational error, he was in fact on the German Occupied Isle of Jersey and not the Isle of Wight.

Scheidhauer tried to destroy the aircraft. He attempted to acquire some petrol to set fire to it, but none was available. He smashed the instrument panel as best he could and gave away various items of equipment to the gathering crowd.

The Germans arrived shortly thereafter and he was taken prisoner finally ending up at Stalag Luft 111. (Scheidhauer was eventually an escapee in the event immortalized by the film “The Great Escape” and was one of the prisoners who was recaptured and murdered by the Gestapo on Hitler’s orders.
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