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A Successful Evasion

DAYTON, Ohio - In the photo: members of the French Resistance created these false identification papers for 2nd Lt. Ralph K. Patton. German occupation forces required all French citizens to carry an identity card. This paper was required specifically for travel in the coastal region of France. French citizens carried this certificate of work to prevent removal to forced labor camps in Germany. The War Department sent these telegrams to Lt Patton's mother. The first reported he was missing in action, and the second reported his return to active duty. Lt. Patton, like many other successful USAAF evaders in Europe, bought his custom-made "Winged Boot" at Hobson and Sons in London shortly after he arrived back in England. USAAF airmen normally wore this prized symbol under the left-hand coat lapel since it was not an authorized uniform item. These items are in display in the "Winged Boot: Escape and Evasion in World War II" exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - In the photo: members of the French Resistance created these false identification papers for 2nd Lt. Ralph K. Patton. German occupation forces required all French citizens to carry an identity card. This paper was required specifically for travel in the coastal region of France. French citizens carried this certificate of work to prevent removal to forced labor camps in Germany. The War Department sent these telegrams to Lt Patton's mother. The first reported he was missing in action, and the second reported his return to active duty. Lt. Patton, like many other successful USAAF evaders in Europe, bought his custom-made "Winged Boot" at Hobson and Sons in London shortly after he arrived back in England. USAAF airmen normally wore this prized symbol under the left-hand coat lapel since it was not an authorized uniform item. These items are in display in the "Winged Boot: Escape and Evasion in World War II" exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Members of the French Resistance created these false identification papers for Lt Patton. German occupation forces required all French citizens to carry an identity card. (U.S. Air Force)

Members of the French Resistance created these false identification papers for Lt Patton. German occupation forces required all French citizens to carry an identity card. (U.S. Air Force)

Members of the French Resistance created these false identification papers for Lt Patton. This paper (front) was required specifically for travel in the coastal region of France (U.S. Air Force)

Members of the French Resistance created these false identification papers for Lt Patton. This paper (front) was required specifically for travel in the coastal region of France (U.S. Air Force)

Members of the French Resistance created these false identification papers for Lt Patton. This paper (back) was required specifically for travel in the coastal region of France (U.S. Air Force)

Members of the French Resistance created these false identification papers for Lt Patton. This paper (back) was required specifically for travel in the coastal region of France (U.S. Air Force)

Members of the French Resistance created these false identification papers for Lt Patton. French citizens carried this certificate of work to prevent removal to forced labor camps in Germany. (U.S. Air Force)

Members of the French Resistance created these false identification papers for Lt Patton. French citizens carried this certificate of work to prevent removal to forced labor camps in Germany. (U.S. Air Force)

The War Department sent this telegram to Lt. Patton's mother. The first reported he was missing in action. (U.S. Air Force)

The War Department sent this telegram to Lt. Patton's mother. The first reported he was missing in action. (U.S. Air Force)

The War Department sent this telegram to Lt. Patton's mother reporting his return to active duty. (U.S. Air Force)

The War Department sent this telegram to Lt. Patton's mother reporting his return to active duty. (U.S. Air Force)

Second Lt. Ralph K. Patton, a B-17 copilot, was one of thousands to evade capture with the help of the citizens and the Allied intelligence network in western Europe. Shot down by enemy fighters and anti-aircraft fire over western France on Jan. 5, 1944, he evaded for three days until picked up by the Resistance. After being shuffled from one safe house to another along the Shelburne Line for 59 days, a British gunboat picked him up and he returned to England.

Click here to return to Winged Boot: Escape and Evasion in World War II.

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