I hope Darryl is reading the comment section…

Dear Darryl

during 1941 your great uncle and my father Douglas Barker Crabtree (616 squadron) together with a French Canadian pilot Larry Robillard escaped from France, bringing back secret plans of ammunition and fuel dumps in the Pas de Calais area. The plans were written on a cigarette paper which I still have. The RAF later destroyed all the installations. They escaped via the famous Pat O’Leary line over the Pyrenees and had some very eventful times while on the escape.

Hank’s widow Madeleine is not in good health and lives in sheltered accommodation supported by her family. Let me have your contact details and I will happily give you further information.

Regards

Neil Crabtree

 

Update

Dear Pierre

Please find pictures of the actual cigarette paper which was stored in the lining of a beret, picture blow ups of the same, and aerial photo of the area taken by Hurri Bomber.  I do have the combat report marked SECRET but it is quite faded now.

Hope this is of interest.

Regards

Neil Crabtree

 

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37 thoughts on “I hope Darryl is reading the comment section…

  1. Hi Neil,
    That’s fantastic! What a story. To my knowledge my family(at least my grandmother) never mentioned a widow in England. I was floored when I read the death notice that mentions my great-grandparents and Eileen Madeleine Duval–the widow. To hear she is still alive is remarkable.
    I’ve sent Pierre my contact information so hopefully you can get that from him.
    Best,
    Darryl Hunter

  2. Dear Darryl, I traveled to Seven Oaks, England in 2002, as the Commanding Officer 403 Squadron. I met Madeleine, and stayed at her house overnight. I had the pleasure of meeting all but one of her children, from her second marriage – to Squadron Leader Ken Campbell. Madeleine’s husband Hank Duval, was flying alongside his Commanding Officer Ken Campbell, when they collided. Both went down, Duval died in the ensuing crash, and Campbell was captured by the Germans. Three years later, after being liberated by the Americans at Stalag Luft VIIIB, Campbell traveled home, searched for Duval’s widow, Madeleine, and proposed to her. They lived happily ever after. I have shared a photo of Madeleine and her children, which I took during my visit. Pierre Lagace is authorized to publish the photo, if he so chooses. Failing that, I can send it to you Darryl.

    Dean Black, Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired)

    • I can’t find it Dean.

      Please send it again at my e-mail address and I will post your comment as well as the picture.

      Pierre

    • Hi Dean,

      Thx for this information. This story is incredible. I’ve reached out to an aunt of mine. To my knowledge no one in my family knew of a widow in the UK. This is amazing. Also, my wife had a great-uncle and great-aunt Frank and Isobel Stacey who lived in Sevenoaks for over 40 years. I was married in the UK in 1997 and travelled to Sevenoaks. Presently my mother-in-law lives in Chichester. My family was just there last month for my daughters’ spring break.
      I don’t know what else to say–I’m gobsmacked!
      Thx Dean,
      Best,
      Darryl

      • Hi Darryl,

        I am also gobsmacked* whatever this means.

        Pierre

        * adjective
        British • informal

        Utterly astonished; astounded.

      • It’s a British expression that means astounded…so, yes Pierre, you are gobsmacked as well!

      • I will use it then to gobsmack you again with another story not related to Henry.

      • Hi Darryl,

        I am also gobsmacked* whatever this means.

        Pierre

        * adjective
        British • informal

        Utterly astonished; astounded.

      • Btw-Uncle Harry’s mother(never heard Hank before–must have been the Americans who nicknamed him 😉 )
        In any case, his mother’s maiden name was Helen Campbell Manners and she was born in Scotland(Edinburgh) in June of 1867. Her father died and her mother, Isabel Hislop Manners, emigrated with Helen and her sisters, Harriet and Charlotte along with brother Percy, to Canada settling in St. John’s, Quebec.(St Jean-sur-Richilieu)

  3. Darryl, I would like to publish this in Airforce magazine – the magazine of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association (I am the Editor-in-Chief). How can I get high-resolution images of the cigarette paper map? Can you provide me with all the details/background to the map?

    • Hi Dean,
      I’ve emailed you separately. Neil Crabtree is the gentleman who has those items as well as the information pertaining to their journey. I’d be thrilled to have them published and to have they’re exploits known.

      Best,
      Darryl

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