Douglas Baines

"We were 20 men in an old sterling bomber on June 6th," recalls Douglas Baines who was 19 years old when he served with the 12th Yorkshire Parachute Regiment on that fateful day".
Douglas came very close to death after being dropped 12 miles from the intended drop zone into the River Dives. He landed in a flooded field and a local farmer rescued about 20 servicemen before sheltering them in a barn. When the Germans arrived, they shot the farmer and his men, imprisoned his wife and blew up the farm. Douglas himself was later taken prisoner by the Nazis.
Baines, who managed to escape, said:
"I've been very lucky. Lucky on all of the operations I went on, but the chap who more or less saved my life when I hid in the farms is buried here. He was shot for sheltering me. He, (the farmer) saved my life. I have been coming back here every year for 37 years to pay my respects and see his family. It’s important because I like to pay my respects in the cemetery to my old friends and people who got killed."
With three others however he stole a knife and cut a hole in the bottom of the train taking them to the POW camp and escaped to briefly join the French Resistance as he made his way back to Yorkshire.
His story did not end there however as he returned to the frontline on a final mission to the Rhine where the glider he was on was shot down killing everyone accept Douglas. He was however seriously wounded in the leg.
"I was in hospital for two years where they tried to save my leg, but on November 5th 1947 they had to amputate my leg".
Douglas who went on to work in the textile industry after leaving the Army, married and had five children".


I met Douglas Baines, then 84, at Café Gondreé enjoying a cup of tea.
Bénouville, Normandy, France, June 7, 2009