View Full Version : Nicholas Alkemade

12-07-2005, 07:12 AM
The story of Nicholas Alkemade. The text has been translated by me from a spanish book Im reading. I felt like translating it although I could have taken it from internet. I practiced my english so good enough for me. The book is by Jesús Hernández
"Hechos insólitos de la Segunda Guerra mundial"
Which means Unusual events of World War II.
Maybe you already know the story but i find it very good to know.

World War II offers a good number of unusual events which can be classified as implausible. But among this it is possible that the one who deserves the adjective of incredible is the one who suffered the British RAF pilot Nicholas Alkemade in the night of March 24th, 1944.

What happened that day is likely to be unbelievable, although it has been rigorous witness and proven. Alkemade jumped from his plane in flames with no parachute, at 6,000 meters altitude, and suffered a small injury in his knee in the landing.

The story begins on March 24th, 1994, when the 115th RAF squadron was traveling to Berlin in a bombing mission. One of the planes was a Lancaster called S for Sugar, carrying with it 6 tons of bombs. In total, 300 heavy bombers were going toward Berlin at 6,000 meters and a velocity close to 400 km/h.

The take off and traveling over the sea went with no problems, but approximating the German city, the scene changed drastically. About a hundred of Luftwaffe fighters went out against the bombers. The reflectors and anti-aircraft defenses were against the Allied planes.

In the interior of the S for Sugar, the crew was ready to defend themselves from the Germans. Nicholas Alkemade aged 21 had the responsibility to manage the 7,7 mm machine guns in the tail of the plane.

Trapped in a small plastic cabin, he had no space to carry his parachute on. If one had to choose one place in the plane that was likely to be the most indicated. Apart from this German planes usually started to attack bombers beginning in the tail, meaning that the tail gunner was the first to receive the greeting.

Berlin was now under them. Every one of the 300 bombers opened its lock gates and bombs started to rain in Berlin. After the bombing the S for Sugar had completed its mission, now turning to return home. The mission was completed.

But a solitary Ju-88 flying in the zone caught sight of the Lancaster. The shots achieved to hit the bomber but the young Sergeant reacted just in time and shot the German plane down. He had made it!

Alkemade took a deep breath but few seconds later he heard the voice of the pilot. “We have to jump!” “Come on, out, out!”

Looking back Alkemade saw the plane in flames. Moving with problems in the cabin Alkemade tried to reach his parachute but this one was in flames. What could he do?

Meanwhile he saw how his 6 crew mates were jumping in parachute, so he assumed it was his end. The plane started to fall, and he started to feel the heat of the flames in his face. The only thing he thought about was to jump. At least there was no doubt that his death would be instant. Later he confessed that what made him jump was that “Better a clean and fast death than being roasted”.

So he jumped from the plane looking towards the stars. In that moment he didn’t suffer fright just calmness. In his later declarations he assured:

I had a sensation similar to be in a cloud in a very comfortable mattress. I really didn’t have the impression of falling. I remembered that it was just a week for me to receive my permit and that I wouldn’t see again my girlfriend Pearl. Any way I thought that if that was death it wasn’t so bad.

Alkemade didn’t remember more. He lost consciousness due to the change of pressure. When he woke up he had no doubt, he was in the afterlife.

He opened his eyes and saw the stared sky again. Confused the first thing to feel was cold. He touched the surface he was lying on and surprised notices it was snow.

He looked at his watch and saw that it marked 3.10 in the morning. Had he survived? He looked around and saw tall trees.

When he had been totally recovered from the unconsciousness he tried to look for a logical reason for this to happen. Probably what saved him was the half meter snow.
Anyway he thought that he probably had a broken bone. He tried to move and noticed that the only injury was a harsh ache in his knee. He had few burnings and a few cuts due to the trees.

He had saved his life but now doubted what to do. The night was cold and the first thing he thought about was to blow his whistle and be captured as a POW because he couldn’t move.

A few moments later a group of armed men appeared there, and found Alkemade smoking a cigarette. With sign language he told them that he had jumped from his plane, but the Germans asked for his parachute. He told the truth, but the Germans thought he was a spy. When he was raised up he lost consciousness again. When he woke up he found himself in a bedroom in a hospital of Berlin. Alkemade told the truth to the doctors but this concluded that he was a spy or suffered consequences from the jump and had a shock.

Once recovered the British sergeant was taken to a prisoner’s camp in Dalag Luft, near Frankfurt. He suffered there interrogation so he told the truth. Spies were killed in Germany, but the threats didn’t make Alkemade to change his story.

Alkemade was conscious that his life was in danger. He was going to be killed by the Germans, but again luck was with him. The Lancaster was found near Berlin. If the Germans wanted to prove his story they had only needed to go and look for the parachute in the tail of the plane. Anyways the probability of finding the parachute burnt he had to try luck. Alkemade insisted in telling the Germans to go and look for the plane but they didn’t want to know anything about him. Fortunately Lieutenant Hans Feidel decided to go and look for the parachute in the RAF plane. To his surprise he found part of the parachute.

Feidel wente back to Dalag Luft and there they compared the belt of the parachute with Alkemades vest. Both coincided so Alkemade was now consideres a hero. His mates in the camp didn’t believe the story but after that they made him a hero. Convinced that Alkemade when he got back to Great Britain, his compatriots would not believe his story they decided to write a certificate were the story was proven:

Dalag Luft, April 25th 1944.

The German authorities have investigated and proved that the declarations of the British sergeant Alkemad, 1.431.537 of the RAF, are true in all aspects. He made a 6,000 meter jump with no parachute after the burning of his plane. He landed in the snow thanks to the cushion of trees and snow suffering just an injury in his knee.

The declaration was signed by Lieutenant H.J Moore, Sergeant R.R Lamb and Sergeant T.A Jones.

Alkemade got back to his country on May 1945 giving a huge press conference in London explaining his luck and story.

Although being a hero Alkemade had to work in a chemical plant. Although this work was going to give him calmness again he faced death but luck was again with him.

Once a 100 kg beam felt on top of his head. They rescued his body of under it, but were surprised to seem that he was unconscious but alive. He only suffered a small injury in his head.

On the following years he had two more accidents. Once he suffered burnings of acid which he managed to survive. But afterwards he passed another trial he suffered an electrical discharge and fell to a chlorine pool. There he breathed for almost quarter of an hour but was rescued just in time.

12-07-2005, 08:23 AM
Not the only person to do that...

12-07-2005, 08:59 AM
A couple more here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_who_became_famous_for_surviving_a_d eadly_event

12-07-2005, 09:21 AM
Another WW2 fall with no parachute here...


Haven't got any references to them but I've read some amazing stories of pilots surviving falls during the First World War when most of those poor souls didnt have parachutes.

Captain WE Johns, the author of the Biggles series once wrote in a forward of one of his books that fact can be more unbelievable than fiction and quoted a true story of a pilot who fell from his plane at a rediculas height and with no parachute managed to grab the rope of the German balloon he had been trying to shoot down and slid all the way to the ground with only minor ropeburn on his hands

12-07-2005, 12:09 PM
Charles- eerie stories! Men that should have died didn't. Fate at work overtime!

12-07-2005, 03:00 PM
Cool story-thanks for sharing.

12-18-2005, 12:17 PM
Lemuel - what film does your avatar come from?

Though about PMing you to ask this but went to Provate Messages but couldn't see how to do it.

12-18-2005, 06:59 PM
Though about PMing you to ask this but went to Provate Messages but couldn't see how to do it.
Try the "PM" icon at the bottom of his post ;)

12-19-2005, 03:43 PM
Lemuel - what film does your avatar come from?

Saving private Ryan.

12-20-2005, 09:15 AM
Lemuel - what film does your avatar come from?

Saving private Ryan.


12-20-2005, 10:39 AM

Might explain why I don't recognise it, have watched the first 15 mins of that film dozens of times on wide screen/5.1/high volume/lights low, but everything after the first 15mins isn't worth watching in my view.