Peter Knox in Belgium
June — September 1944
June 21 1944 was a very busy night over the skies of Belgium. It was the shortest night of the year and many lives were to change. This was true of the many casualties that night but it was also true for the crew of Lancaster ME846 when at 01.20 BST it was hit by ground fire. Peter Knox wrote,

"The starboard engine was on fire and Captain Davis said in a calm, clipped voice "abandon aircraft-----emergency jump jump."We each had to confirm over the inter-com that we were jumping. As I had to lift up the escape hatch I responded first "air-bomber jumping”. There was no shouting, no calls for help. In a numbed state, I moved into the escape routine…all this time the pilot was holding the plane steady."

Captain Davis must have known his fate, in the face of death he made the greatest of all sacrifices; he kept the plane steady so that his crew could bail out. It is certainly one thing to be trained to do this but it takes the greatest act of heroism to make a life and death decision so that others can be saved.

Captain Davis must never be forgotten by those who owe him their existence. For Sgt. Peter Knox, RAAF, it was also going to become one of the most defining moments of his life because in facing the pulsating reality of death powerful forces are at work. As Peter Knox was to write fifty years later of his experience immediately on leaving the aircraft. "This was an environment for which there had been no rehearsal. I was no longer responding like a robot to in-built commands. The disaster which had hit us struck me…then I recollect thanking God I had escaped and rather desperately willing that my mother and father should somehow know I was alive. Within a very short space of time I saw the explosion as our plane plummeted into the ground. I wondered if the others had got out and I shouted out the name of "George"(Moggridge). My voice seemed to be lost in the vast dark space around me and I realised there was no possibility of making any form of human contact.”…it took some 15 minutes to reach the ground…I passed through some clouds and hit the ground on the fringe of a pine forest. My parachute was snagged on a small tree. Luck was on my side. I was unhurt. The weather was fine. It was dark and I was in an isolated area."

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