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Alfie Martin, airman who escaped down Comet Line – obituary

Alfie Martin

Alfie Martin, who has died aged 97, was the bomb aimer of a Halifax bomber shot down over Belgium during the Second World War; with the aid of the Belgian Comet Escape Line, he avoided capture and returned to his base two months later.

On April 16 1943, Martin’s target was the Skoda works at Pilsen in Czechoslovakia. With the experienced pilot Squadron Leader Wally Lashbrook at the controls, the Halifax was on the return flight when it was attacked by a night fighter and set on fire as it crossed the French-Belgian border. The rear gunner was killed but the rest of the        crew bailed out and landed safely.

Martin moved away from the area and in the morning he was discovered by a 12-year-old boy, who took him to his home; there Martin was fed before he headed west. After two days’ walking he met the Coolen, family who looked after him for six weeks. Later he was to write: “Never has anyone...

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