Parachutes Are Not Only For Jumping

By Ralph Hall, Tail Gunner, 601st Squadron

On my 29th mission [10 January 1945] as a spare on a strange crew that I had never flown with before, we had the misfortune of being shot down in Eindhoven, Holland, in an apple orchard. Not knowing which side of the lines we were on in the British Sector, the rest of the crew took off like jack rabbits thinking it might be enemy territory. Having a piece of shrapnel in my hip, I could not walk and they left me under some bushes. They scattered and headed south. One of the crew came onto a Canadian fighter base. He told them there was a man in the bushes that was wounded and could not walk. Two Canadian ground crew and the American came back and got me with a truck. I think that lorry had square wheels, the way it felt.

For some reason, one of the Canadians picked up my parachute and threw it in the truck. I was taken to the 8th British Liberation Hospital in Antwerp, Belgium. When they unloaded me they also left the chute. A couple of days later after surgery a British sister (nurse) asked me if she could have the parachute. I said sure, as I was not about to use it. I didn’t know what she had in mind. Later the sister came over and whispered in my ear that they were wonderful. They had not seen nylon in many years. With an old sewing machine they were all making ladies underwear. Very much better than the scratchy knickers that they were issued. A 28-foot chute would make a lot of nylon knickers.

One of the main items of their meal ticket was beef barley soup and to this day I love it. It was a good trade. I got beef barley soup by the bucket full. The U.S. Government was missing one parachute. They could charge it to Lend Lease, but not me. Don’t tell the U.S. Government I traded it for good soup.

See also:

  1. McCarty's Crew - 601st Squadron - 1943
  2. A True Long Shot
  3. How Our Radio Operator Received a DFC by Ralph Hall, Tail Gunner
  4. Roll Call of the McCarty Crew - 1943 to 2005


Personal History Information
  1. Veteran: Ralph Hall
  2. Tail Gunner, 601st Squadron
  3. Date of Personal History: February 2003
  4. Author: Ralph Hall
  5. Submitted to 398th Web Pages by: Wally Blackwell