2/Lt Richard Broad's Escape
Account from Churchill's Sacrifice by Saul David
Reproduced, with kind permission, from Saul David's book, Churchill's Sacrifice.
The remarkable story of 2nd Lieutenant Richard Broad's escape from St. Valery.
Unlike most of his fellow officers, Richard Broad decided to go inland rather than make for the coast on the grounds that failure to find a boat would mean inevitable capture. After taking a compass bearing for a point on the Seine, he left heading south, accompanied by a sergeant from his company and five Jocks. A short while after leaving the village, this small band was augmented by one other - Private George Dodd. Being a D Company man, Dodd was amongst strangers at the end. After overhearing a group of reservists, men who had done their time and who he looked up to, saying they were giving up, he had decided to strike out on his own. Like Broad, Dodd also decided to head south, and it was by pure luck that he spotted a man he recognized from the recruits' course, Private Frank Drayton, at the back of Broad's group as it crawled in single-file through the corn. When Dodds made his presence known, Broad, suspecting he was a Fifth-Columnist, drew his revolver. Luckily, Drayton was able to confirm that he was a genuine Seaforth. The group had expanded to eight.
Thus began one of the most remarkable escapes of the Second World War, led by the only unwounded officer of the 1940 2nd Seaforths to avoid capture. Walking by night and hiding by day, Broad and his men reached the Seine at Duclair on 19 June, crossing the following day in a boat lent by a local schoolmaster. Helped by numerous other sympathisers, including the English Mother Superior of the convent at Honfleur and the Prefect of Police in Calvados, who was also head of the fledgling resistance, the men were hidden until February 1941 when they were moved to Marseilles via Paris. Within days, seven of the men had be arrested by the Vichy authorities and sent to the notorious Fort St Hyppolyte near Nimes. Broad, who had evaded capture, soon managed to wangle the release of six of them; Private Osborne, who had been wounded by German sentries while crossing the line between occupied and Vichy France, had to be left in hospital. The remaining seven crossed the Spanish frontier on 16 February only to be arrested again on arrival in Barcelona by Spanish Police.
After languishing for two months In Francos notorious political prisons, Figeuras and Miranda, in indescribably appalling conditions, they were released with the assistance of the British Embassy in Madrid. Two weeks later, they were repatriated by boat via Gibraltar, arriving at Liverpool on 15 May, 1941. Thanks largely to Richard Broad's determination and resource, 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs', as they were known by the French resistance, were the single largest group from the Highland Division to return home through France and Spain. For this incredible feat, Broad was awarded the Military Cross.