Lt Peery is seen here after he belly landed his P-47 nearly hitting a farmer who continues to work.

Artist Scott Nelson

The story of 1st Lieutenant Richard Peery as told to his son Mike Peery.

 

It was the weekend and Lt. Peery was not scheduled to fly however since he didn’t have any money to go into town and there was nothing to do, he decided to volunteer for an extra mission. And so it begins…

After escorting bombers and engaging in a dogfight, his P-47D aircraft ran out of fuel over Holland. Fighter pilots would drop their wing tanks for better speed and maneuverability when engaging in a dogfight, this of course shortening their range. My father had done just that and as a result ran out of fuel.

He was looking for a place to land and found a field with a farmer working in it. He said he was watching the farmer work his field as he was bringing his airplane down and he was afraid he was so close to the farmer his wing would hit the farmer. As he passed and near-missed the farmer, the farmer never changed his cadence working the land, which my father thought was pretty interesting, as if the farmer had a job to do and he wasn’t going to let a minor occurrence like an airplane landing next to him interrupt him from his work.

As pilots are instructed to destroy their radio and maps when crash landing over enemy occupied land he triggered the radio explosive and he left the airplane with flight maps bundled in his arms.

He walked back to the farmer still working his field, and in English asked, “Are you Dutch? Are you Dutch?” Thinking Peery had said “Duits” or “Deutsch”, the farmer replied, “no, no, Nederlander”. Peery understood. Townspeople were headed toward the aircraft. He held his maps outward in his arms signaling to the farmer that something had to be done with them. The farmer then hurriedly dug a deep hole in the field and they buried and covered up the maps. The farmer quickly returned to his regular cadence, working his field as before, as if nothing had happened.

Lt Peery than left trying to figure out how to get to the resistance in Rotterdam and on the road met a boy on a bicycle. The boy offered and traded jackets with him and he understood they were trading jackets so he would have a better chance of escaping occupied territory. The townspeople were all very warm and friendly to him, and wanted to help him any way they could.

Shortly thereafter a local policeman did come and arrest him. The policeman seemed unhappy with this arrest, however Lt. Peery understood the policeman expected the Nazis knew of the landing and if he didn’t arrest him the town’s suffering would be great. The police there treated him very well. They seemed to not like doing what they had to do, they seemed ashamed. While being held in jail waiting for the Nazis to come pick him up, the boy that had traded jackets with my him earlier was located and the police allowed them to trade their jackets back. Lt Peery understood that was so that he wouldn’t be out of uniform and therefore shot as a spy.

 

Report of Lt Jack Woertz who flew the mission with Lt. Peery. Woertz died 13 days later when his plane crashed when landing at base Steeple Morden on December 11th 1943.

2nd Lt. Richard A. Peery

A P-47D "Thunderbolt"

After his arrest Richard Peery was taken east to a German POW camp. He remained there for the duration of the war and after libaration in May 1945 he returned to the US where he set up a lumber company. Peery Brothers Lumber began when upon the close of World War II returning fighter pilot Richard “Dick” Peery built a one room office on railroad served land in the city of Commerce, California. He furnished it with a borrowed card table, chair, and a telephone. He purchased an army surplus jeep and bomb carrier, subscribed to the “green sheet”, and was in business.

Dick would purchase carloads of lumber, the sizes and lengths were always mixed in those days, unload them himself; follow up on leads in the green sheet and when he was given an order, load the lumber on the bomb carrier, hook it up to the jeep, lock the office and deliver it.

Six months later he was joined by his brother John “Jack” also a returning fighter pilot, and on September 3rd, 1946, Peery Bros Lumber Company was incorporated in the state of California.

courtesy of Mike Peery

The Peery Brothers