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Crash Site British Spitfire ML358 WX-H Wernhout

Wernhout (probably Broadschot) 14 October 1944 Spitfire
On Saturday, October 14, 1944 at 9:30 a.m., the Polish F/Lt. Eugeniusz Ebenrytter with his Spitfire ML358 WX-H for a reconnaissance flight north and south of Geertruidenberg. Ebenrytter was part of 302 Squadron PAF (Polish Air Force).

At Geertruidenberg his aircraft was hit by FlaK and it lost coolant quickly. The engine temperature rose and Ebenrytter was forced to make an emergency landing east of Rijsbergen around 11:00 am. He took off quickly after landing but was shot at by the Germans. He returned the enemy fire with his revolver. After the Germans deployed automatic weapons, Ebenrytter surrendered. Ebenrytter was taken away and interrogated in what he described as the "Gestapo headquarters" in Rijsbergen. After a three-night stay at the local Feldgendarmerie, Ebenrytter was taken to Breda and from there, together with other prisoners, on foot to Dordrecht. From there it went by truck to a camp in Amersfoort. During the transport by train to Apeldoorn, Ebenrytter jumped from the train with the Canadian pilot Norman Bertrand. After a day-long hike, during which they kept asking farmers for food, they made contact with the resistance around 27 October near Voorthuizen, who helped them further. Ebenrytter and Bertrand were joined by a group of approximately 100 other allied soldiers to be transferred by the resistance across the Rhine to liberated territory on the night of 18 November. This second mass breakout across the Rhine was staged by the resistance with the Allies and went down in history as Operation Pegasus II.

Divided into three groups, they moved to the Rhine. They were shot at while crossing the Ede-Arnhem road and the large group fell apart because of the German patrols. Ebenrytter's group still consisted of an English RAF Sergeant and three Dutchmen. When they arrived near Renkum near the Rhine, Ebenrytter could find only one man of his group; the Dutchman Johan Doorn. At 04:30 on the morning of November 19, Ebenrytter tried to make contact with the Americans on the other side with his flashlight according to an agreed code, but there was no response. Ebenrytter and Doorn remained hidden on the banks of the Rhine for the rest of the day. On the night of November 20, Doorn was the first to cross with a raft built by them, but he did not return. Ebenrytter then built a new raft. During his attempt to cross the Rhine, he had to turn back because of the strong current. After the second attempt he heard shouting and was later picked up by the Americans. Ebenrytter was interrogated on 21 November 1944 by the British intelligence service I.S.9 in Nijmegen.

Johan Doorn was a member of the Council of Resistance and was instructed to cross to liberated territory on November 17 to inform the Dutch government. Ebenrytter is the last to see him on the night of November 20; after that every trace of Johan Doorn is missing. He probably drowned during the crossing of the Rhine described by Ebenrytter. Ebenrytter was awarded the Military Cross (MC) for his actions during his captivity and escape. The Canadian pilot Bertrand was captured by the Germans.

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  • Text: http://www.militairhistorischmuseumachtmaal.nl/
  • Photos: TracesOfWar.com

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