John Damian CARMICHAEL

CARMICHAEL, John Damian

Service Number: 414991
Enlisted: 7 December 1941, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Flight Sergeant
Last Unit: No. 453 Squadron (RAAF)
Born: Brisbane, Queensland, 11 July 1923
Home Town: Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
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World War 2 Service

7 Dec 1941: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Sergeant, SN 414991, No. 453 Squadron (RAAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45
7 Dec 1941: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Brisbane, Queensland

Crashed and hidden in Holland, testimonies by resistance members

During WOII, Koos Jonkman, who lived in Oude Wetering, a town in South Holland, was a member of the Dutch Resistance. He and his wife Jans van Veen kept John hidden for about 3 weeks in their house. Afterwards, he had to move to another family where it was safer to stay.
During that time, the resistance got a message that there were German pilots on the move who pretended to be English. The resistance trusted John so they wanted to use him as an interrogator for those so-called Englishmen. William Clark Gadd, who was in the same squadron as John and his friend, had also crashed above Holland and had to be questioned. By coicidence, the resistance sent John to him and so reunited them.
According to the book "Wacht binnen de dijken", written by Cor van Stam who was the leader of the Dutch resistance movement in the area of the Haarlemmermeer, John and William (Bill) got the opportunity shortly after the liberation of Holland to fly back to their station in England. As a souvenir from the Haarlemmermeer, they brought with them fresh strawberries,a famous product from the area of the Haarlemmermeer with them which they presented to King George and Winston Churchill. With their plane, they also flew three honorary rounds above the town of Roelofarendsveen, to thank everyone who helped keeping them away from the Germans. Apparently they left around 11 AM and by 1 PM the resistance already got the message that the king had received the strawberries.

Jans Jonkman mentions John in het diary on February 23rd 1945. This is the translated extract;

Wednesday afternoon, a plane crashed and the pilot saved himself through his parachute. This Englishman is now at our home, waiting until he can go back to England.
This afternoon John and I played two games of checkers. We like taking care of him and in this way saving him from the Germans. At this moment, Koos is with him to mister Couperus, who speaks English. So he can make himself understood.
The whole day he's not even able to have a nice conversation which is such a shame.

Jans her brother, Piet van Veen, was a hairdresser and tailor but also a member of the Dutch resistance. He too had his memories written down. From the book “Een leven lang – tachtig jaar uit het leven in Leimuiden” ("a whole life – eighty years out of a life in Leimuiden") I got an extract about John:
Sometimes I got the request to go to the doctor’s house where a few Australian pilots were visiting, to cut their hair.
One of these pilots, John Carmichael, I had met already several times when he was staying with my brother in law Koos Jonkman.
My sister came to see me once and asked if maybe I had something good to smoke for him, because he hadn’t had a good cigarette in days.
I went to the Googstraat (Googstreet) in Oude Wetering because I wanted to meet this man who was in my eyes a hero. He landed some days earlier by parachute from his Spitfire.
I brought a package of Three Castle with me for him. He had the first cigarette quickly between his lips. He told me that he had 20 more packages in his locker in England. When I went home, already 4 cigarettes had vanished, something I couldn’t stand.
In these times, we mostly smoked our own cultivation, but the butts we used for a next self-rolled cigarette. He had left bigger butts than we normally had, but his weren’t re-used again.
I brought him a second package at another time, but it was impossible to get more, so he also needed to change over to our own cultivation, Consi brand or Belgian tobacco.
John went from here to the family Van der Meer in Roelofarendsveen, where also his friend, who crashed near Reeuwijk and came down with his parachute, joined him.
The first time I cut John’s hair at doctor Stapensea (because he was at that time placed together with Bill in the house of the family Van der Kamp at the Burgemeester Bakhuizenstreet), he had already managed himself to learn so many Dutch words that he could say “jouw zuster is Koos Jonkman’s vrouw” (“Your sister is Koos Jonkman’s wife”).




(written by C. van Kampen)

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Biography

414991 Flight Sergeant John Damian Carmichael, a pilot of 453 (Spitfire) Squadron RAAF. On 21 February 1944, Carmichael's plane was shot down over Holland and he was hidden by members of the Dutch Resistance until the end of the war.