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The Oaktree Line

An account of the men helped by the MI9 escape line known as Oaktree – and some of the people who made it possible

This page first posted 18 June 2020
 
On the night of 19-20 March 1943, MI9 agent Val Williams and his radio operator Ray Labrosse were parachuted into France from a 161 Special Duties Halifax bomber to set up the Oaktree escape line. Unfortunately, their landing into the Forêt de Rambouillet didn't go quite according to plan, with both of Labrosse's radios and one of their two bicycles being damaged beyond repair in the drop.
“Leaving Labrosse at Rambouillet, Williams took the only usable bicycle to Paris to find Yvonne Le Rossignol, a woman he had known earlier in the war. She took him to see their mutual friend Elisabeth Barbier at 72 rue Vaneau (in Montparnasse) where he was surprised to meet an agent who had been on the same aircraft when he had been parachuted in. This was "Armand", who directed the Alençon sector of the BCRA Mithridate intelligence network. Despite security rules which required separation between the networks, especially when they were of a different nature, Armand suggested that Williams contact Jean Lanlo at Saint-Quay-Portrieux. Jean Lanlo then put Williams in touch with Jean Camard, son of the maire at Etables and who, in addition to convoying, specialised in producing identity cards. Williams asked Jean Lanlo to organize the departures of the airmen from the Saint-Quay-Portrieux - Plouha – Paimpol area. Lanlo also sent Camard to Carhaix to contact a local group, known as "Pen Called" (Breton for hard heads) who were isolated with their military evaders following the arrest of Louis Nouveau in February. Jean Camard went to Geo Jouanjean to announce the visit of Guillaume (Val Williams) and Williams suggested that Jouanjean handled the airmen and arranged hiding them in the neighbourhood. He also asked Jouanjean to organise their departure to Paris and direct them on to Spain if a sea link was not possible. Ray Labrosse (aka Paul) also came to Brittany, but without a radio, Williams could only contact London through Mithridate. Meanwhile, Williams organized a base near the coast. After staying for a while with Jean Lanlo's parents at the Villa Soleil, Williams and Labrosse rented a house in Saint-Quay-Portrieux, and Andrée Leveque, who had avoided arrest at her parents flat in Paris, joined them there - Williams says that he set Labrosse and Mlle Leveque up as man and wife. More airmen continued to arrive and it was necessary to find new shelterers for them. Geo Jouanjean asked his friend Jean Guivarc'h to help and he introduced Jouanjean to Doctor Meynard, maire and general advisor, who gave him the address of an American friend who lived at Plourivo, la comtesse Betty de Mauduit. Agreement was quickly reached and the airmen were moved from La Pie (Job Le Bec), Carhaix (Mlle Correc and Mlle Marchais) and Saint-Quay-Portrieux, to the Chateau du Bourblanc where the airmen were pleasantly surprised to find a charming hostess who spoke their language perfectly. When Williams visited them on 10 April 1943 they were thirty-four (sic) evaders hidden in the attic of the chateau. Georges Jouanjean also had the huge problem of supplying them with food and soon acquired a solid reputation as a black-marketeer, particularly for meat. He was helped in this by Job le Bec, the miller at La Pie, and Bob Pennec, a butcher at Rostrenen.” (translated from Huguen 1976 “Par les nuits les plus longues”, with some additions)
Val Williams (born Vladimir Bouryschkine on 30 August 1911 in Moscow) emigrated from Russia with his parents, first to France and then to the United States. He says in his report that he was in the United States when Germany invaded Poland and promptly took a ship to France where he volunteered for the French army. He was due to join the army in June 1940 but events overtook him and he became involved with sending food supplies to French POWs.
In 1942, Williams was working in Monte Carlo as a basket-ball coach when he came into contact with the Allied detainees of “Détachement W” held at Fort de la Rivère in the hills above Monaco. He also came into contact with local police inspector, Australian-born Anthony Friend, when they both helped the Pat O'Leary organisation with the mass escape from Fort de la Rivère on 5 September 1942. Williams was evacuated with many of the escapers from the beach at Canet Plage the night of 21-22 September by the felucca Seawolf on Operation Titania, and taken to Gibraltar.
On his arrival in London, and after extensive interrogation at the Victoria Patriotic School, Williams was recruited into MI9 by Airey Neave to be sent back to France to establish the Oaktree escape line.
Williams says that he trained with a man called George Goodwin who was being sent as a radio operator for Pat O'Leary – this was Tom Groome, who was landed at Port Miou near Marseille by the felucca Seadog on the night of 3-4 November 1942. Williams was scheduled to be delivered by Lysander the following month but both attempted operations were aborted, and before the next moon period came around, Groome was captured in Montauban on 11 January 1943. It was decided that Williams should wait for a radio operator of his own, and at the end of February, a Canadian army signalman named Raymond Joseph Marcel Labrosse (born Ottawa in November 1920) was selected to join him. On 20 March 1943, Williams and Labrosse were parachuted into France where, after some delay, they contacted Paul Campinchi in Paris.
The only contacts that Williams was given in Paris were Pat Line logeur Armand Leveque, and Paul Campinchi, whose name was known in London after he helped Sgt Reginald Smith RAF (1074) to return to England in February 1943. The Leveque apartment at 19 avenue d'Orleans was sealed (following a raid on 4 March 1943) and so Williams went to find a pre-war friend, Leotitia Bréauté, in her shop at 26 rue Paradis. Through her and other friends, Williams was put in touch with Elisabeth Barbier a t 72 rue Vaneau, and it was her group of contacts that sheltered subsequent Oaktree evaders in Paris. Having left Ray Labrosse with Paul Campinchi, Williams says that he went to Brittany to build on contacts made by Louis Nouveau of the Pat Line, where he appointed Georges Jouanjean (of Carhaix) as head of his Brittany sector.
Elisabeth Barbier (aka Babette) was a thirty-one year old divorcée (born Jan 1912) living with her mother Camille (born June 1889) at 72 rue Vaneau, Paris VII. She had been involved with resistance activities earlier in the war and in 1940, through Yvonne de Rossignal, had met Val Williams (who was helping to send food to the internees held at Besançon). She worked with Natacha Boeg, Jean Albert-Sorel and Tiphaine de Boisboissel collecting intelligence for réseau Mithridate to be sent to the BCRA in London but a visit from the German police in 1941 had curbed her activities.
In August 1942, Elisabeth met Robert Aylé (who lived nearby on rue Babylone) who introduced her to Frederick De Jongh and she became involved with the Comète organisation, sheltering various evaders at her apartment, and with friends like Natacha Boeg at rue de Saussure, until the chaos of infiltrations and multiple arrests in early 1943.
When Val Williams arrived in Paris in March 1943 to establish contacts for the new Oaktree escape line, and found the Leveque family home at 19 Avenue d'Orleans had Gestapo seals on the door, he went to Yvonne de Rossignal who introduced him to Daniel de Thomas of Mithridate who took him to Elisabeth's apartment. At the apartment, Williams met a BCRA agent who had been on the same aircraft as he and Labrosse when they had parachuted, and he (against all the normal rules of security) suggested that Williams contact Mithridite agent Jean Lanlo at Saint-Quay-Portrieux - and it was Jean Lanlo, who introduced Williams to Jean Camard, son of the maire of Etables.
Williams says that he appointed Elisabeth as his “responsable” in Paris and it was through "her innumerable contacts" that he met (amongst others) Paul Maury, who had previously worked with Louis Nouveau, and Jean Albert Sorel, both of whom were sheltering evaders, and it was through Jean Sorel (who also had connections with the Pat line) that Williams was able to send messages to London. Elisabeth also introduced Williams to Frederic de Jongh and Robert Aylé.
Sometime in May, two more important links were made: Loetitia Bréauté (who Elisabeth also knew) introduced Val Williams to a M. Bourgoin, a trafiquant who could arrange for the evaders' passage across the mountains from Pau at a cost of 20,000 francs per man; and Hélène de Suzannet introduced Elisabeth to Gabrielle Wiame (aka Mme Marie) of 46 rue Poliveau who, in addition to guiding and sheltering evaders, had the contacts (via Marguerite Bohn of 116 Boulevard Raspail, who also sheltered evaders) to arrange a parachute drop of money to her brother's farm near Epieds (Aisne) for Williams to cover the organisation's expenses.
Mme Loetitia Beatrice Bréauté (born Oct 1890) lived at 1 rue Ordener, Paris XVIII and had a shop at 26 rue Paradis, Paris X. Not mentioned by any of the evaders, she sheltered Ray Labrosse at various times, both at her home and her shop on rue Paradis.
Gabrielle Wiame (aka Marie Wiame) was a 33-year-old (born May 1910) blonde haired Belgian woman married (in 1927) to Frenchman Charles Wiame and with a 16 year-old son named Robert. She was introduced to Robert Aylé and recruited into Comète in 1942. She also worked briefly with Val Williams and Ray Labrosse (and seems to have assumed them to be part of Comète) before joining Bourgogne where she continued using her numerous contacts to guide, shelter and feed evaders until the end of the year when her position was taken over by Genevieve Soulie.
Jean Francois Lanlo (born Jan 1909) was the son of Jean Marie Lanlo (born Jan 1878) and his wife Virginia (born May 1884), who sheltered numerous evaders for Oaktree at their Villa Soleil in Saint-Quay-Portrieux. Jean Marie Lanlo was arrested on 11 September 1943 and deported – he died at Neuengamme on 25 December 1944.
Jean Jerome Marie Camard (born October 1923) – the son of Jerome Paul Marie Camard and his wife Josephine, of rue de la Gare, Etables (see later) - began his resistance activites in March 1941 when he joined a local intelligence group (Mithridite), and according to IS9, in October of that year, also joined an evasion group, working with them as a guide until November 1942. Following a period of espionage work in Rouen, in March 1943, he joined Oaktree, with whom he worked until his arrest on 20 June (see later).
The story of Oaktree is, like that of any escape line, complicated, and so to try and help the reader understand the evaders' stories better, I have divided the men brought back into groups. Oaktree was intended to bring men direct to England from the north Brittany coast by RN Motor Gun Boats but that didn't happen, and instead, they were taken across the Pyrenees to the relative safety of Spain. They crossed in various parties, and the story will be told in the order that those parties left Paris for the Pyrenees.
Most of the men landed and evaded in Brittany, where the Oaktree organisation was based but some of the RAF airmen were shot down on operations to Germany and landed in northern France – they were brought to Paris by various routes to be passed to Elisabeth Barbier, the centre of Oaktree's Paris organisation.
The first group (of ten men) were all British or Canadian airmen, who left Paris on 28 May 1943, soon followed by a group of nine British, Canadian and Americans, who left four days later, on 1 June. Then came news of Val Williams' arrest ..
But the story begins with a man who, while not actually helped by Oaktree, evaded with a number of other men who were.
 
F/O Gordon Henry Francis Carter (1155) was the 19-year-old navigator of 35 Sqn Halifax W7885 (Thomas), which was on an operation to Lorient on the evening of 13 February 1943 when they were hit by flak from the target area and at about 2045 hrs, the crew baled out.
“All landed safely, except (tail-gunner) F/O Freeman, whose parachute stuck as he was leaving the aircraft. He struck the ground and died 20 minutes later. The rest of us came down within 500 yards of one another in the region of Spézet, about 10 miles S.W. of Carhaix (Brittany).” (Carter WO208/3312-1155)
Carter landed in a field about 15 yards from a house in Kerlescoat (about half way between Spézet and Saint-Hernin), where a group of some thirty people were gathered. He was taken into the house where he was soon joined by his mid-upper gunner, F/Sgt John Napoleon Barry (1299). Barry was given civilian clothes – Carter already had his own underneath his uniform – and the people of the house took their uniforms, parachutes and Mae Wests. Both airmen spoke fluent French (Carter was born in France, to English parents, where he lived until the family moved to New York whilst he was in his teens) and they discussed their plans with their helpers, deciding to head south-east through Gourin where they were told there were no Germans.
They left Kerlescoat early next morning, walking along secondary roads through Gourin to Pont Rouge. Carter had his own map and they used that and the maps from their escape kits to navigate. They spent that night in a farmhouse at Pont Rouge (between Priziac and Le Croisty) and next day, walked to Guéméné-sur-Scorff where they took a bus to Pontivy. Carter told the conductor on the bus who he and Barry were, and a man who overheard him took the two airmen to the Grand Café in Pontivy where the owner, Pierre Valy, sheltered them for two days and a night and from where they were able to contact an organisation.
A man in the café showed them an RAF button-compass and told them that their pilot (F/O James C Thomas) was in the hands of on organisation. He also introduced them to Guy Dubreuil who was in charge of an organisation receiving arms and ammunition by aircraft (this was BCRA agent Guy Lenfant, who had been parachuted, along with his radio operator André Rapin, from a 138 SD Halifax in December 1942 – both returned to the UK by Lysander in July), and Dubreuil took Carter and Barry back to his house in Saint-Méen where they stayed from 16 February until 8 March posing as refugees from Lorient. Dubreuil sent ther details to London, and on about 4 March they received the news that they were to be taken off by boat when the BBC broadcast a certain message on the evening “Les Français parlent aux Français” programme.
On 5 March, they were joined by American evader T/Sgt Claiborne Wilson (#46), who had been picked up by a farmer near Josselin, and on the following Monday, Dubreuil took the three airmen by taxi to Plouégat-Moysan - which was as far as the taxi driver would take them without authorisation to enter the coastal zone - from where they walked to Morlaix. From Morlaix, they took a train to Saint-Pol-de-Léon where they met an agent known as R10 (this was BOA agent Julien Le Port), and stayed overnight at the local Hotel des Voyageurs. Next day (9 March) they heard the relevant message on the BBC and set out for a beach some 13 kms away. They went to a point just short of Cléder and then turned north to the shore 600 metres NW of the village of Brogourouan. They stayed until three o'clock in the morning but did not see any sign of the expcted boat (Carter says in his report that the rendezvous point was actually north-east of the village) and so returned to Saint-Pol-de-Léon. That afternoon, R10 took the three airmen back to Cléder, where they stayed in a café, visiting one of Dubreuil's army friends to listen for another radio message.
SOE (DF) Operation Mirfield was a reconnaissance mission by MGB 324 to the beach at Clogourouan (sic) on the night of 9 March, with the collection of evaders organised through BCRA and the Breton section of the Pat Line as an additional task.
After three days of waiting, and not hearing anything on the radio, Carter, Barry and Wilson returned by train to Pontivy where they stayed overnight (14-15 March) at the Pontivy Hotel des Voyagers with owner André Weinzaepflen. While they had been at Cléder, Dubreuil had contacted the “Pen Called” organisation that had helped their pilot, James Thomas, and two men from that organisation, the Pontivy chief of police (Henri Loch, who had been recruited by Louis Nouveau of the Pat Line in January) and Henri Clement (Loch's neighbour and director of Autocarbone) took them to the Abbaye-de-Thymadeuc, a Trappist monastery (l'Abbaye Notre-Dame de Timadeuc) at Bréhan, about 20 kms east of Pontivy.
They were joined at the abbaye by another American, 1/Lt Robert Biggs (#41), and two days later, Georges Jouanjean (aka Joe) took the four airmen to La Pie where another American, 2/Lt Robert Kylius (#45) joined the party. Next morning, Joe took the five airmen to Carhaix where they stayed overnight with his aunt. Then it was on to Morlaix (again) where they spent the afternoon with Joe's mother Marcelle before taking the eight-thirty evening train to Paris.
Georges Jouanjean (born May 1917), a tailor who lived in the centre of Carhaix at 1 rue Fontaine Blanche (now rue des Martyrs), is described (presumably by Gordon Carter) as being a good looking young man, with chestnut brown hair and blue eyes; his face always lit up by a half smile.
The first airman who I know to have been helped by Jouanjean was T/Sgt Miles B Jones (#29), the radio operator of B-17 41-24603 Green Hornet (shot down on 23 January 1943), who was sheltered in Gourin by his sister Lucette and her husband Raymond Cougard at rue de Quimper (see also below).
Carter, Barry, Wilson, Biggs and Kylius arrived in Paris on the morning of Friday 19 March, and Joe took them to a café in the Denfert-Rochereau district while he went to an apartment at 19 rue d'Orleans (now avenue du General Leclerc). Carter says this was the Paris headquarters of Joe's organisation but Joe found the apartment sealed following a raid the previous week, and learned that three members of the organisation had been arrested. They left Paris that evening, apparently intending to stay with the comtesse Genevieve de Poulpiquet at the Chateau de Trefy near Quemeneven, who had already sheltered five airmen that she had passed to Jouanjean in January, but went instead back to La Pie where the five airmen were sheltered with Job Le Bec at the Moulin de La Pie while Jouanjean returned to his home in Carhaix.
Job Le Bec (born June 1895) and his wife Anna (born October 1894) lived in the Moulin de La Pie, where Job was a miller – their home at La Pie being a large house rather than an actual mill. They first became involved in resistance activities at the beginning of 1942, when Job became a founding member of the “Pen Called” group in Carhaix, and helped his first evading airman in January 1943.
Sgt Robert M Kidd (1207) was the only survivor of 75 Sqn Stirling R9248 which crashed near Saint-Thégonnec, Brittany on the night of 23-24 January 1943, and he was picked up near Quéhélan (La Pie) by Job Le Bec three days later. Le Bec brought Georges Jouanjean (aka Joe) and a woman, described as being about forty, and speaking good English, along with a butcher from Rostrenen (Bob Pennec), who contacted a friend in Paris. On 31 January, Joe collected Kidd from Job Le Bec's house and took him back to Carhaix where he was sheltered with Mlle Correc, a dentist who lived on Place d'Auguillon. Early on the morning of 2 February, Joe moved Kidd to the house on rue de Quimper in Gourin where his sister and her husband, Raymond Cougard, were sheltering T/Sgt Miles Jones (#29). That night, Joe brought Louis Nouveau (known to them as Saint-Jean) and it was Kidd and Le Bec who persuaded Raymond Cougard that Nouveau was genuine after Kidd found that Nouveau had sheltered men at his home in Marseille that Kidd knew. After that, it was agreed that Joe would take charge of the Breton end of the Pat Line.
Unfortunately, it was this link between Brittany and the rest of the Pat Line that introduced the French traitor and German infiltration agent Roger Leneveu into the Breton group. He had been accepted by Nouveau in Paris (over the objections of Norbert Fillerin) at a time when the organisation was desperate for a new guide, and Leneveu came with authentic credentials.
About four days later, with Jouanjean and Le Bec unable to arrange their onward journeys (they knew by then that Louis Nouveau had been arrested but not that Roger Leneveu was responsible), the airmen were split up with Barry being sheltered by Mlle Madeleine Marchais of 14 rue de l'Eglise and Biggs with dentist Mlle Correc of Place d'Auguillon, both in Carhaix, while Wilson and Kylius were taken just outside Carhaix to stay with brothers Louis and Jean Manach, flour dealers at the Minoterie de Kerniguez en Plouguer. Carter was given special treatment, he was taken to the town of Gourin to be sheltered with Joe's brother-in-law, Raymond Cougard, grain merchant at rue de Quimper - Raymond's wife Lucette was the older sister of Janine Jouanjean who Carter returned after the war to marry in June 1945.
While Carter was staying in Gourin, he often visited Carhaix, passing himself off as a university friend of Raymond Cougard. He also went back to Spézet to visit his first helpers where he was told that James Thomas, Edward Turenne (1314), Richard Martin (1315) and engineer Daniel Young (LIB/1290) from his crew were in the hands of an organisation and on their way to Toulouse.
On 3 April, Jouanjean discussed a plan with Carter to steal a German torpedo boat for the voyage to England as an alternative to waiting for a French fishing vessel two weeks later, and on the evening of 5 April, Jouanjean arrived with two other Frenchmen. Joe told Carter that Barry would probably leave on a fishing boat that another man was buying in order to send his son to England, and Carter went with Joe and the other two men by car to a rendezvous at Douarnenez, on the west Breton coast. They stayed overnight with Claude Hernandez (of 4 rue Jean Bart), and next morning were picked up by Louis Marec (of Treboul), who was the captain of the boat, the Dalc'h Mad – described by Carter as a 36 foot pinnance with a 30 hp engine. Each of the eighteen passengers was charged 4,000 francs – Carter's fare and that of two of the Frenchmen being paid by the abbé Carriou (of Plogonnec) who had been forbidden to join them by his bishop.
They set off at 0845 on 7 April from the harbour at Treboul, just NW of Douarnenez with five of the party on deck dressed as fishermen, and the rest hidden in the hold, and after fairly uneventfull voyage, came ashore north of Penzance in Cornwall on the morning of 9 April.
 
Oaktree Evaders
On 28 May 1943, Edward Turenne (1314), Richard Martin (1315), Elmer Bulman (1326), Peter Lefevre (1301), Borden Dennison (1325), George Howard (1329), Brian Barker (1298), Douglas Cox (1328), Charles McDonald (1316) and John Napoleon Barry (1299) left Paris with their guide Jacques Bonneron on an early morning train to Dax, where they changed for Pau.
Sgt Edward Roland Turenne RCAF (1314), from Saint-Boniface in Manitoba, was the 27-year-old wireless operator/air gunner, and Sgt Richard Martin (1315), from St-Anne's-on-Sea in Lancashire, the 28-year-old bombardier of 35 Sqn Halifax W7885 (Thomas) (see Gordon Carter (1155) earlier), which was on an operation to Lorient on the evening of 13 February 1943 when they were hit by flak from the target area and the aircraft abandoned.
Turenne landed in a field near Spézet, and after burying his parachute, set off walking towards a road which he then followed until he saw a man standing outside a house. Being a fluent French speaker, Turenne decided to approach the man for assistance, and was rewarded by being taken into the house where he was given food and a suit of civilian clothes. He was then sheltered by Jean Canevet and his family until the following evening when he was taken to a house in Chateauneuf-du-Faou where he joined Richard Martin and their engineer, Sgt Daniel C Young (LIB/1290).
Martin landed about half a mile from Chateauneuf-du-Faou, which is about 8 kms west of Spézet, on the bank of a canal. He hid his parachute and Mae West in a hedge and then heard some girls calling to him in English. They asked him if he wanted to escape, and when he replyed in the affirmative, told him to wait and that they would fetch someone to help him. A little while later, two men arrived who took Martin to a house in Chateauneuf-du-Faou, and said they would look for other members of his crew. Next day, he was told about the death of his tail-gunner (F/O William J Freeman RCAF), and at about six that evening, he was joined by Daniel Young, and two hours later, by Turenne.
Early next morning, Georges Jouanjean, a member of the local “Pen Called” resistance group arrived, and he took the three airmen to Carhaix where Young's injured ankle was treated by a doctor. Turenne remained in Carhaix, spending the first night at Jouanjean's house at 1 rue Fontaine Blanche, and the following night with dentist Mlle Correc of Place d'Auguillon, while Martin and Young were taken to La Pie, where they were sheltered by miller Job Le Bec at his house, the Moulin de La Pie.
On the evening of 17 February, the three airmen were taken to Carhaix station where they joined their pilot (James Thomas), and Georges Jouanjean took them all by overnight train to Paris, arriving in the capital at about six-thirty the following morning. They went to an apartment in the Denfert-Rochereau area at 19 avenue d'Orleans, home of Pat Line logeur Amand Leveque, his wife Marcelle and their daughter Andrée. That evening, Thomas was taken to stay with Mme Leveque's sister, Mme Julienne Lassouquere at 20 rue St Ferdinand, Paris XVII, Martin to a restaurant at 58 boulevard Saint-Jacques, owned by a Mme Lescure (assume Mme Anne Lescure of 9 boulevard Arago), and Turenne to be sheltered by Gaston Maillard at 34 rue Alphonse Bertillon, Paris XV where he stayed (with some days spent west of Paris at Maule with a M. Jutteau) until 23 April.
Daniel Young returned to stay at 19 avenue d'Orleans and was captured there on 4 March (see also Frank Greene (#51) later), along with Mme Marcelle Leveque, when the apartment was raided – probably as a result of information from Roger Leneveu. Mme Lassouquere's apartment was also raided that day but her niece Andrée Leveque had telephoned a warning and Thomas was able to escape, making his way to Switzerland where he remained until September 1944.
Following these raids, Richard Martin was taken to join Turenne at rue Alphonse Bertillon until 20 March, when he was moved to 13 rue des Muriers, Paris XX where he was sheltered by Emil Bollinger. On 31 March, he was moved once more, this time to an address in Paris XIV to stay with an organisation member called Louis. On 10 April, he was taken to stay with Henri Auble (nf) in his house opposite a cemetery in Paris XIV, and then on 22 April to be sheltered overnight by the comtesse Hélène de Suzannet at 20 rue Greuze, Paris XVII. Early the following morning, Martin was taken to a small café near Montparnasse station where he rejoined Turenne.
On 23 April, Turenne and Martin were given new identity cards and taken (probably by Jean Camard) by overnight train to Saint-Brieuc, where they say there was a control but had no problem getting through, before taking the small local (CdN) train to Etables-sur-Mer. They arrived in Etables at about nine-thirty that morning and went to rue de la Gare to be sheltered by the maire of Etables, Jerome Camard, and his wife Josephine, “whose son Jean was an active organisation member”, where they waited to be evacuated by sea.
Jerome Paul Marie Camard (born August 1888) lived with his wife Josephine (born March 1894) and son Jean (see earlier) on rue de la Gare in Etables, where Jerome was a builder, and also the maire. He first became involved with helping evaders in April 1943 when his son Jean brought six evaders to be hidden in his home. Jerome and Josephine continued sheltering evaders until Jerome was arrested on 29 September 1943. He was finally released for lack of evidence on 25 June 1944, and by the time the Germans revisited his home the following month, had left with his wife “to a safer area”.
The train which took the evaders from Saint-Brieuc to Etables and Saint-Quay-Portrieux was the one-metre-gauge Chemin de Fer des Côtes-du-Nord (CdN) – aka “Le Petit Train” or “Le Tortillard”. There were numerous CdN routes but this particular line ran to Paimpol from Saint-Brieuc gare Centrale (which is now a university building at boulevard Waldeck Rousseau) and just a few hundred metres from the main-line Saint-Brieuc Ouest station. Note that the train that Turenne and Barry (and later Kylius, Biggs and Wilson) took from Paimpol to Guingamp (see later) was a standard gauge line that ran from Paimpol to Carhaix.
On 12 May, “Due to the failure of the evacuation plan” - confirmation of which was the BBC radio message “Yvette, ta soeur est morte” from London on 7 May - Jacques Bonneron took Martin, along with Brian Barker (1298) and Reginald Adams (1321) (see both later), on a morning train back to Paris, arriving there at six-thirty that evening.
I am not certain of the actual wording - Neave (in Saturday at MI9) says the radio message was “Denise est morte” – which seems a little harsh - and that it was sent on 29 May but that date has to be wrong, otherwise why would Lefevre et al be taken back to Paris in mid-May in time to leave the capital for Pau on 28 May.
Turenne took a different route. On 25 April, Jean Tromelin (aka Yannec) took him from Etables to Brest where they were told they would join another group of airmen. However, they found the airmen had gone and so they stayed at Tromelin's house in Saint-Pabu. They then received instructions to go to Saint-Nic (near Plomodiern, Finistère, where Christiane Magne (née Scheidhauer) had a country home, although no mention is made in Turenne's report of this) but again, there was no sign of the airmen, and so they returned to Etables. Turenne and Yannec spent one night with maire Jerome Camard at rue de la Gare before being moved to Saint-Quay-Portrieux where Turenne says they were sheltered with a M. Leveque - this was Ray Labrosse, who was posing as the husband of Andrée Leveque, and living in rented house near the Lanlo family.
On 27 May, Georges Jouanjean took Turenne to the Chateau du Bourblanc at Plourivo where they collected Turenne's mid-upper gunner Sgt Barry (1299), before taking a train from Paimpol to Guingamp, and then an overnight express to Paris that evening.
F/Sgt Elmer Leigh Bulman RCAF (1326), from Rustico, Prince Edward Island, was the 25-year-old navigator of 405 Sqn Halifax BB250 (Dennison) which was returning from an operation to Stuttgart in the early hours of 12 March 1943 when they were attacked by fighters which set the aircraft on fire, and it was abandoned near Hirson (Aisne). Four other crew also evaded successfully: second pilot S/Ldr Emerson Lloyd Logan RCAF (1174) and wireless operator F/Sgt Harold J Jennings RCAF (1175) who crossed the western Pyrenees together on 24 March, and pilot P/O Borden Dennison (1325) and air bomber F/Sgt Gordon Spencer (1345) - see both later.
Bulman was the first man to bale out, and he landed in a field near Mondrepuis. Having removed his name and number from his parachute, he hid it and his Mae West under a tree before heading west, away from the burning wreckage of his aircraft. He walked through the rest of the night until six-thirty in the morning when he hid himself in the corner of a field. At this point he opened his aids-box, ate some of the Horlicks tablets and chocolate and tried (without success) to locate his position on his escape-kit map. He set off again that evening, and at about eight-thirty, came to a small farm where Maurice Podevin and his family lived (Bulman says at Luzoir but IS9 says at La Capelle, which is a few miles NW of Luzoir). A girl came to the door, and while Bulman was unable to speak much French, he managed to get the message across that he was an RAF airman in need of assistance, and he was taken in and given a meal and some civilian clothes (he was already wearing civilian shoes). Bulman stayed with the Podevin family until the evening of 14 March when Maurice, accompanied by a number of children, took Bulman about five miles along the road to Gergny. Bulman's only plan at the time was to somehow reach Spain, walking by night and hiding up during the day.
By the early morning of 19 March, Bulman had reached Epieds, about 18 miles SW of Fismes (and about half-way between Reims and Paris) and approached a farm near the hameau de Trugny, home of Belgian Emile Debouche and his family. Emile took Bulman in, gave him food, a new pair of trousers and repaired his shoes. Bulman stayed on the farm until the evening of 21 March when Emile took him by bicycle to Chateau-Thierry, and from there by train to Paris.
Emile Debouche took Bulman to his sister, Gabrielle Wiame, at 46 rue Poliveau, where Bulman stayed for a week, meeting some of her friends, including several gendarmes (her estranged husband was a gendarme). Six days later, on 28 March, Mme Wiame took him to be sheltered by the comtesse Hélène de Suzannet at 20 rue Greuze. Whilst staying at rue Greuze, Bulman met an American woman named Elizabeth Carmichael, a Canadian Jewish doctor named Reuben Rabinovitz, and a number of members from Val's organisation, including a Mlle Abeille (also mentioned by Dennison as apparently having considered murdering Williams but been dissuaded by a message from London saying they should all have complete confidence in him), and on 8 April, Bulman was joined by American evader Allen Fitzgerald (#60).
On 26 April, Elisabeth Barbier and Ray Labrosse took Bulman, Fitzgerald and two Polish airmen, Sgts Rech Urbanski and Leszek Zaborowski, by overnight train to Saint-Brieuc, and on to Saint-Quay-Portrieux.
Sgt Rech Urbanski (LIB/1208) was the 23-year-old bomb aimer, and Sgt Leszek Zaborowski (LIB/1006) the 21-year-old rear-gunner, of 138 SD Halifax BB340 on an SOE mission to a pin-point north of Aix-en-Provence on the evening of 12 April 1943 when they were hit by flak about 5 miles north-west of Caen, and because they were flying too low to bale out, F/O Korpowski crash-landed his aircraft near Douvres-la-Délivrande.
Wireless operator Sgt Plutonowy Lesniewicz PAF was killed, and F/Lt J Izycki (captain and navigator) and second pilot W/O S Jensen, who were both badly burned, were captured, as were the two agents on board, Claude Jummeau and Lee Graham but F/O Boleslaw Korpowski (1232), flight engineer Sgt Allen N Dent (1233) and despatcher Sgt Glyndwr Evans (1234) evaded successfully – they spent eight days making their way to Esvres (near Tours) from where their journey was arranged, finally crossing the Pyrenees from Elne on the night of 14-15 May.
They don't give many details in their reports but from the crash-site, the crew split into groups, with Urbanski and Zaborowski leaving together and walking into Caen. They were helped by several people (none named in their reports but (according to Jean Michel Dozier) including Mme Germaine Raymonde Lelievre, hotelière at 60 rue d'Auge) until a French girl (this was Genevieve de Poulpiquet) arrived and took them by train to Paris and a private house (Huguen says they were sheltered by Marguerite Larue at 1 rue Dante until being taken to Saint-Brieuc) where they met a number of other Allied airmen.
On their arrival in Saint-Quay on 27 April, Bulman, Fitzgerald, Urbanski and Zaborowski were taken to stay with Jean and Virginia Lanlo at their Villa Soleil. According to Fitzgerald, the four men stayed with the Lanlos for three days before being moved to nearby Tréveneuc to be sheltered by Emilia Cellarié, where they joined Dennison (1325), Spencer (1345), Howard (1329), Greene (#51) and Kononenko (1455), who had arrived there the previous day, and where Bulman (at least) stayed until leaving for Paris on 12 May.
Mme Emilia Cellarié (born April 1889) was a retired military nurse who lived with her seriously ill husband (he died in 1944) at 25 Rue des Dalliots in the villa La Chimère, a large detached house on the southern outskirts of Tréveneuc, about 4 kms north of Saint-Quay-Portrieux. Mme Cellerié describes herself as a hoteliere, and some of the evader reports describe the house as being a hotel, which Louis Haltom and William Martin (see later) refer to as the Hotel Pennington (but which MIS-X confirm as an error). Note that Dennison (1325) (and so IS9) says she lived at Lein ar Lan (which is just south-west of Plouzec) but Spencer (1345) corrects him.
Mme Cellarié says that she first became involved with sheltering evaders when Mme Peillat (of rue Jeanne d'Arc, Saint-Quay) told her that there were five airmen who had been hidden with Mme Hervé for three days, and that they needed someone who could speak English. The men were brought to her two days later, and the following day, they were joined by nine more, who remained for 12 days in all because “the sea was too rough for them to leave”. Mme Cellarié was later denounced and left the area on 13 October 1943.
Sqn/Ldr Peter William Lefevre (1301), from Whitstable in Kent, was the 25-year-old pilot of 616 Sq n Spitfire BS114 flying close escort to a force of Liberators attacking the docks at Brest on 16 April 1943. As he left the target area, his aircraft was hit by flak, and Lefevre baled out at about 12,000 feet.
Lefevre landed in a field just south of Plouguin, spraining his ankle, and as he picked himself up, was surrounded by a large group of civilians. Lefevre understood enough French to know that he was being offered assistance but on seeing a gendarme in the crowd, tried to leave the area. Lefevre spent the rest of the day hiding in some bushes but that evening, approached a farmhouse. The farmer was reluctant to help, and Lefevre retreated back to his previous hiding place but later the farmer and another man found him and gave him some food and cold tea before leaving him for the night. Next morning, the other man returned, bringing more food and some civilian clothes, and once Lefevre had changed, took his photograph. Shortly after the man left, the farmer returned to tell Lefevre that the Germans had taken several hostages from the crowd that had seen him land, and asked Lefevre to leave the area. Lefevre agreed to leave but asked that the farmer's friend come to see him before he did so. At about eleven that evening, the friend came and took Lefevre to a house in a nearby village. Lefevre was given a complete civilian suit (in grey herring-bone with a red thread – apparantly the uniform of a local school) and Lefevre spent the rest of the night at the house. Next day he was moved to another house some distance way, the Minoterie Pont Ours, just outside Plouguin, home of Jean Tromelin.
Lefevre describes Jean Tromelin as a miller who had lost a leg in the previous war - he was fanatically pro-Ally and had some arms and ammunition concealed in his house. Jean lived with his wife, three daughters and a son. The son was also named Jean (born June 1924) but referred to by Lefevre as Janic (actually Yannec, the diminutive, familiar form for Yann, the Breton form of Jean).
Very early on the morning of 18 April, Yannec and his 15-year-old sister Paule, took Lefevre by bicycle to the south bank of the Aber-Benoit estuary, which they crossed in Jean Tromelin's motor launch. On the other side, they went to an oyster farm where a woman bandaged Lefevre's injured leg and gave him some food. They left at about six that afternoon, returning by bicycle for Plouguerneau, crossing the Aber-Brach river by a bridge. They went to the home of Mme Got, whose daughters were Yannec's aunts. Mme Got gave Lefevre shaving tackle and food, and told him that she had previously sheltered F/Lt Gilbert Wright, the 133 Eagle Squadron pilot of Spitfire BS138 who was shot down on 26 September 1942. Yannec had passed him to Comète in Paris the previous month, and Lefevre later heard that Wright was captured in Paris whilst trying to board a train. Lefevre stayed with the Got family while Yannec went to Paris to contact “Paul's organisation” (Comète).
On 29 April, Yannec took Lefevre by bus to Brest, arriving at ten-thirty that morning only to find the train to Saint-Brieuc had been cancelled and so went to a soap factory owned by his uncle. They had a meal and then took the two o'clock afternoon train to Saint-Brieuc. From there, they took a steam tram (Le Tortillard) to Etables-sur-Mer, and the home of the maire, Jerome Camard, a builder who lived on rue de la Gare, where Lefevre met several more evading airmen, including Brian Barker (1298), Edward Turenne (1314), Richard Martin (1315), Reginald Adams (1321) and an American named Allen Robinson (#103). As there wasn't enough room for all of them at rue de la Gare, Yannec and Lefevre spent the night in a local hotel. On 1 May, Yannec and Lefevre were taken to Saint-Quay-Portrieux where they stayed with an unnamed helper and met two members of the organisation, Val Williams and Andrée Leveque. Two days later, Yannec and Lefevre were moved to Tréveneuc, about 4 kms north of Saint-Quay, to be sheltered by Mme Cellarié, where Lefevre stayed until leaving for Paris on 12 May.
P/O Borden Carrick Dennison RCAF (1325), from Cardale in Manitoba, was the 31-year-old pilot of 405 Sqn Halifax BB250 which was returning from an operation to Stuttgart in the early hours of 12 March 1943 when they were attacked by fighters which set the aircraft on fire, and it was abandoned near Hirson (Aisne) – see Bulman (1326) earlier.
Dennison, who was the last man to bale out, landed in a field close to the village of Mondrepuis, not far from his burning aircraft, breaking two ribs in the process. This doesn't seem to have slowed him down very much though, and by daybreak, Dennison was somewhere east of the little village of Blissy (which is just east of Hirson), and by evening, had reached the outskirts of Leuze, where he asked a man for a doctor. The man gave Dennison some wine and water, and told him about a Doctor Bontemps, who lived about a mile outside the village – and Dennison then slept overnight in a barn. Early on the morning of 13 March, Dennison walked into Leuze, heading for the church in the hope of finding a friendly priest. Opposite the church he approached a farmer, told him the name of the doctor he had been given and said he wanted to see him. The farmer seemed very scared but his wife came out, and after an argument between the two, Dennison was taken into their house and given some food.
Dennison was able to locate himself on his escape-kit map, and his helpers brought several people to see him, and he was given civilian clothes, although not shoes and so had to keep his canvas-topped flying boots. His helpers also fetched Doctor Bontemps who bandaged up his broken ribs. Once the farmer saw his ID discs, he became more friendly and Dennison was allowed to sleep overnight in the house. Next day, he was taken by car to a house in another village (where Emile Fontaine of Aubenton arranged for him to stay with a young couple). While he was there, Doctor Bontemps met a doctor from Mondrepuis who told him that his bomb-aimer Gordon Spencer was staying with a farmer nearby. On 16 March, Dennison was taken to another house on the outskirts of Aubenton where he was sheltered by an elderly woman whose husband was a professor, and three nights later, Bontemps and the doctor from Mondrepuis brought Spencer to join him.
F/Sgt Gordon Lewis Spencer RCAF (1345) from Winnipeg, was the 20-year-old bomb-aimer of Halifax BB250 (see also Bulman (1326) earlier), and he landed in a wood a few miles north-east of Mondrepuis. Not knowing where he was at the time, and having been warned in intelligence lectures not to shelter in wooded areas, he hid his parachute and Mae West and began to leave the area. He says that he found some fragments of paper with French writing, which although not being a fluent French speaker, he could understand, suggesting that he was in fact in France. He used his escape-kit compass to head south, away from the glow of his burning aircraft (he could hear ammunition cooking off) but whilst watching an isolated farmhouse that morning and examing the contents of his escape kit, was surprised by a douanier (customs officer) with a pistol. Spencer was about to try and escape when the man asked if he was a parachutist, and when he said yes, the man came to attention and saluted him. The man showed him where he was on his escape map and told him to wait until nightfall when he could safely ask for help from the people in the farmhouse.
Spencer duly approached the farmhouse that evening, and when he told the farmer he was a Canadian, was taken into the house and given a meal. The farmer (whose name Spencer never knew) explained that it was too dangerous for Spencer to stay in the house but he could sleep in his hayloft, and Spencer stayed there for the next two nights. He was visited by the maire of Mondrepuis, Georges Clement, and his schoolteacher son who supplied him with a complete set of civilian clothes, and told him that Sgt Emanuel Lacina and F/Sgt Robert McDonald from his crew had been killed and given a funeral at Mondrepuis, and that his tail-gunner F/Sgt Kennett had been captured. On 15 March, Spencer was taken into the house and allowed to spend the night in a proper bed. Next morning, another man (a doctor from Mondrepuis who had visited the previous day) took Spencer by car to Aubenton, where they collected a Doctor Bontemps, and then to another house where the two doctors left him and he met his pilot, P/O Dennison, and his helper, Emile Fontaine.
Early on the morning of 23 March, Emile Fontaine took Dennison and Spencer by car to Aubenton and then by train to Charleville (now Charleville-Mèzières), where they went to the mairie. They met a woman that Fontaine knew, who left her work and took them back to her apartment, and shortly afterwards, a man called André took charge of Spencer. While they were Charleville, they met Stefan Brice (IS9 has Etienne Brice), aged about twenty-six, who spoke some English. He told them he had worked for an organisation in Lille, and had a crew-list of airmen from 7 Sqn Stirling R9149, including Sgts Cox (1328) and Howard (1329). Brice seemed suspicious of Howard and asked Dennison to confirm their identities but he was unable to do so. A few days later, Brice took Dennison and Spencer to the home of André Fainot where they were photographed, and met Howard, who was staying in another house nearby.
Sgt George Reginald Howard (1329), from West Didsbury, Manchester was the 22-year-old bombardier of 7 Sqn Stirling R9149 (Tomlinson) which on the way to Munich the evening of 9 March 1943, and still west of Luxembourg when they were attacked head-on by a fighter. With the bomber rapidly losing height, Tomlinson ordered his crew to bale out. 20-year-old P/O Frank M Tomlinson was killed and three crew captured but navigator Sgt Douglas Cox (1328) (see later) and engineer Sgt Leonard Marsh (1754) also evaded successfully. Marsh was sheltered at Rethel (Ardennes) for five days before being moved to the village of Ville-sur-Retourne where he was sheltered for almost six months by Jean Louis Deguerne and his wife. On 20 September, Marsh was taken to Fismes and the MI9 Possum organisation, and crossed the Pyrenees to Spain in January 1944.
Howard landed in a tree with his parachute so entangled that he was unable to dislodge it. He set off to the south-west, walking for about three hours before stopping in a wood to use his escape kit map and decide that he was south of Charleville, somewhere near the little village of Elan (Ardennes). He then carried on walking until dawn when he stopped to rest under a hedge. He woke about two hours later to find a man standing nearby, watching him. Howard used his limited French to ask the man, a M. Chopin, his nationality and after telling Howard that he was French, took him back to his house in Bâalons. Howard was given some food and drink and allowed to spend the night but told next day he should go into Charleville to get proper help. Chopin gave Howard a coat, a beret and a packet of food, and at about nine o'clock that evening, put him on the road to Charleville. After following the main road for a while, Howard decided to strike off across some fields but then became hopelessly lost in the darkness and decided to lay up until dawn. At about nine o'clock next morning he was “accosted” near the village of Boulzicourt by two wood-cutters, who on being assured he was not a German, said they would help him.
The wood-cutters took Howard to a copse near Boulzicourt where the brother of one of the men brought him food, wine, a pair of overalls and a pair of boots, and that afternoon, Howard followed him into Charleville. They went to a hotel opposite the main Post Office but the proprietor, on learning that Howard had no papers, refused to keep him. Howard's helper then took him to a café where the proprietress fetched her brother. He questioned Howard and then contacted a member of an organisation based near the town who told them to keep Howard until the next day. On the morning of 13 March, the organisation member, Robert Quespigne, took Howard into Charleville and his room above a café - where I think Howard stayed until 7 April. Next morning, he was visited by a man that he was told had come from Paris, and who despite being described as an interpretor, actually spoke only a few words of English. On 18 March, two more Frenchmen arrived with F/Sgt Spencer, who interrogated him before going away and then returned that afternoon with P/O Dennison.
On 7 April, Stefan Brice took Dennison, Spencer and Howard (along with Mme Fainot and a woman friend of hers) by train to Paris, and delivered them to Frederic De Jongh's third floor flat at 28 rue Vaneau, where they stayed for the next month. They met F/Lt Moire Pierre (1171) there, and learned that De Jongh (known to them as Paul) had paid all of Brice's expenses.
On 27 April, they were given new identity cards and Paul (De Jongh) handed them over to Val's organisation. That same day, a comtesse whose husband had been arrested by the Germans (this was Genevieve de Poulpiquet) took Dennison, Spencer, and Howard, along with Sgt Frank Greene USAAF (#51) and Sgt Kononenko (1455) of the Russian Air Force, by overnight train to Saint-Brieuc, and then the local (CdN) train to Saint-Quay-Portrieux. Another organisation member (Ray Labrosse) then took them to a farm near Saint-Quay-Portrieux, where they were sheltered by Mme Suzanne Hervé (IS9 gives her address as rue du Commerce). They stayed on the farm until 3 May when they were moved to Tréveneuc, where they were the first group of evaders to be sheltered by Mme Cellarié.
Genevieve de Poulpiquet was Mme Vve la comtesse Genevieve de Poulpiquet de Brescanvel (aka Gilberte) (born February 1905). She and her husband, le comte Césaire, had sheltered six evaders in their home at the Chateau de Trefy near Quéménéven, Finistere before Cesaire's arrest on 29 March 1943 – he was deported to Germany where he died. Genevieve, who was fortunate to avoid the same fate, contacted Georges Jouanjean (to whom she had passed the five American airmen mentioned below) and Job le Bec of the Breton “Pen Called” group. She later acquired the address of Paul Campinchi in Paris (given to her, along with the password, by Val Williams), and moved to the capital where she stayed with the Campinchis at rue des Ursins and continued her escape line work with Oaktree, and later François-Shelburn.
The six men sheltered at the Chateau de Trefy were F/Sgt Albert Wright (895) (who stayed for 65 days, February-April 1943), and five evaders from the B-17 41-24584 SUSFU, which was shot down over Brittany on 23 January 1943. The five Americans were passed to Georges Jouanjean, who handed them over to the Pat line, but they were captured at Tours when Louis Nouveau and Mme Suzanne Gérard were betrayed by Roger Leneveu in early February. The other two evaders from SUSFU - 2/Lt Mark McDermott (#12) and S/Sgt Sebastian Vogel (#13) - were evacuated on board the fishing vessel Yvonne with Sgt Reginald Smith RAF (1074), the first evader to be helped by Paul and Thérèse Campinchi – and the man who gave Campinchi's name to MI9 when he was returned to England at the beginning of February 1943 - which is how Campinchi became a contact for Val Williams when he arrived in Paris in March to set up Oaktree.
On 12 May, Dennison was in a party of eight men taken to Paris - he says that his bomb- aimer Gordon Spencer stayed behind in Brittany because he could speak French and had been asked to help Val Williams – see later.
F/Lt Brian Desmond Barker (1298) from Cambridge, was the 21-year-old navigator of 77 Sqn Halifax DT734 (Sage) which was on an operation to Munich the night of 10-11 March 1943. They had to turn back just short of their target due to engine problems, and were over Belgium when they were hit by flak, and the aircraft was abandoned close to the French border. Flight engineer Bernard J I Walker (1208) and bomb aimer Sgt Crabtree (no info) also evaded successfully – Walker crossed the Pyrenees from Saint-Girons in April, and Crabtree to Switzerland. Mid-upper gunner W/O Dennis L Morris (LIB/1293) almost made it but he was captured (by Belgian traitor and German agent Prosper Dezitter) at Bordeaux on 21 May.
Barker landed in a field near the Ath to Mons railway line, and after burying his parachute and Mae West, set off walking. He followed the Mons to Tournai road towards Tournai until, at about four-thirty, he approached a house that was showing several lights. The woman of the house took him in and gave him a coat, plus a pair of shoes in exchange for his flying boots. Barker tried to ask for directions towards the French border but as he didn't speak much French, the woman had to call her son to direct him, the boy taking Barker to the Condé area (Condé-sur-l'Escaut – query) before leaving Barker to cross the frontier at about eight o'clock that morning. Despite using his escape-kit compass, Barker managed to get himself completely lost at this point, until arriving at north bank of Condé canal, and back in Belgium. Barker finally found his way back into France, and after asking directions, made his way to Valenciennes. He went into a café for a meal and asked the proprietress if he could spend the night there. She said no but she knew someone who might be able to help him. Two hours later, Robert Armstrong, an Irishman who worked for the British War Graves Commission, arrived – he questioned Barker carefully before putting him in the hands of an organisation. Armstrong also told Barker that two bodies had been found near the burnt-out wreckage of his aircraft, and that his pilot had been betrayed to the Germans by a Polish man he had approached for help – adding that the Pole was now dangerously ill in hospital.
Armstrong took Barker to be sheltered by M. and Mme Louise Singier at 10 Place d'armes in Valenciennes. While he was with the Singiers, Armstrong brought a M. Leclerc (query), a member of the organisation, to visit him, and on 19 March, M. Leclerc and another man took Barker by train to Arras. They went just south of the town to Achicourt and the home of tabac proprietress Mme Rosine Witton (a Frenchwoman married to an Englishman who had been interned) at 6 rue Bapaume.
While he was staying with Mme Witton, Eugene D'Hallendre (an SNCF Technical Controller who lived at La Madeleine) brought Barker an identity card, and on 4 April, D'Hallendre and Mme Witton took Barker by train to Paris. They stopped at the Café Curveur near the gare du Nord where Barker met several members of the Comète organisation, including Robert (Robert Aylé) and Paul (Frederic De Jongh). Robert then took Barker to be sheltered by a man called Jacques Ponty at 24 rue Ampere, with Pierre Grappin supplying him with food tickets.
On 23 April, Barker was moved to address he did not recall to stay with an unnamed helper – Barker commenting that they continually questioned him about his squadron and operations, and that he did not think they were very discreet. On 27 April, Val Williams moved Barker to 20 rue Greuze, where the comtesse Hélène de Suzannet sheltered him overnight, and next day (at Val's request) Barker went to Chateau-Thierry (Aisne) with a woman he describes as being the comtesse's maid, and known to him as Mme Marie – this was Gabrielle Wiame. They were met at the station by Mme Wiame's brother, Emile Debouche, who took Barker by bicycle to the American monument. The reason for the trip was an auxiliary aerodrome about two miles north of the monument which Williams had asked Barker to pace out and measure to see if it was large enough for a twin-engine Hudson aircraft to land there. Having completed the task, Barker was returned to Emile Debouche's house (at Trugny par Epieds) where he stayed the night. Next morning, he was given a new identity card, valid for the Etables district in Brittany, before returning to Paris with Mme Wiame, and spending another night at rue Grueze.
The following evening (30 April) Val Williams and Andrée Leveque took Barker – along with Douglas Cox (1328), Henry Riley (1359) and Jack Luehrs (#40) - by overnight train to Saint-Brieuc. Arriving early next morning, they took a taxi to Etables-sur-Mer, and the home on rue de la Gare of maire Jerome Camard.
Barker says that he was sheltered at a number of addresses over the next few days while they waited for the boat that was supposed to evacuate them but on 12 May, Jacques Bonneron took Barker, along with Richard Martin (1315) and Reginald Adams (1321), back to Paris. They took a ten-thirty morning train from Saint-Brieuc and arrived in the capital at about four o'clock that afternoon.
Sgt Douglas Maxwell Cox RCAF (1328) from Halifax, Nova Scotia was the 23-year-old navigater of 7 Sqn Stirling R9149 (Tomlinson) which on the way to Munich the evening of 9 March 1943, and still west of Luxembourg when they were attacked head-on by a night-fighter. With the bomber rapidly losing height, Tomlinson ordered his crew to bale out – see Howard (1329) earlier.
Cox was the last man to leave the stricken aircraft, landing in a tree somewhere north of Charleville. After walking around in a circle for a while, he began heading west before settling down in some undergrowth. He set off again early the following morning, and at about two o'clock that afternoon, came to a disused mill. He found an old coat, a beret and some boots which he put on in place of his uniform and then rested until dusk. That evening, he was spotted by an elderly woman who gave him some food and drink, and showed him a calendar with a map of the district on the back. After taking notes, Cox returned to the mill. That night he set off towards Charleville, reaching Mezières at about two in the morning and carrying on until six when he went into a barn to sleep. Later that day, he found a roll of wire to carry as a disguise and continued along the main road (south-west) towards Boulzicourt. During the afternoon he stopped at an isolated house where he was given coffee and bread, and at about five o'clock, came to another village where again he found a barn sleep in. He woke at nine the following morning and walked into Poix-Terron where he approached a man working in a blacksmith's shop and asked him for some food. While they were talking, an elderly man passed by and the shop-keeper called him in. The man gave Cox 200 francs and told him that he would send someone to help him get to Paris.
On 12 March, a friend of the elderly man took Cox by car to Attigny and a café opposite the station where they had a drink and some food. At ten that evening, Cox was taken onto the platform and placed in a wagon on a goods train which he was told was due to arrive in Paris at six the next morning. On arrival at the gare de l'Est in Paris, Cox had been instructed to wait to be collected but after waiting for two hours, decided see if he could fend for himself. He asked a young man he saw loading goods onto a train if he would help but he said no – he did however give Cox the packet of food he had with him.
Cox left the station, and realising just how unkempt he looked, went into the nearest barbers for a shave, and then to a boot repairers to get some polish for his boots. As there was no-one else in the shop, Cox asked the man behind the counter if he could help but again he could not. He did however give Cox some bread and ten francs and explained that Cox would not be safe in the capital without papers. Cox therefore set off east, out of the city, and by about six o'clock, had reached the suburb of Bobigny where he went into a café-restaurant at 155 rue de Bobigny called Le Papillon Bleu (run by Abel Martin) and asked for a glass of beer. He declared himself to the proprietress and asked for help and she called to a man standing nearby who she said was a tailor. The man spoke good English and said that Cox could have a bed at the café and that they would help him.
Cox stayed at the café until 15 March, by which time his helpers had contacted a resistance group in Coubron-Montfermeil, and it was through them that garage owner (and Comète hébergeur) Leon Lucien Fouard came to see him. After careful questioning, Leon Fouard said he would take Cox to the nearby suburb of Montfermeil where Cox was sheltered with Leon and his wife Yvonne at 111 avenue des Sciences.
According to his MI9 report, Cox was taken to Aimable Fouquerel's apartment at 10 rue Oudinot, Paris VII on 2 April where he met his bombardier George Howard, and they were together at rue Oudinot until Howard left for Saint-Brieuc on 9 May, with Cox following him three days later. However, Howard makes no mention of meeting Cox in Paris before he left for Brittany on 6 May, while Brian Barker (see earlier) says that Cox was on the train to Saint-Brieuc with him (and others) on 30 April.
Leon Lucien Fouard (born March 1897) was arrested on 9 June 1943 and deported - he died at Mauthausen on 4 March 1945. Aimable Fouquerel (born June 1903) was arrested on 7 June 1943, and shot at Mont-Valérien on 28 March 1944, along with Frédéric De Jongh and Robert Aylé.
Sgt Charles Edward McDonald RCAF (1316) from Shreveport, Louisiana (he had joined the RCAFVR in September 1940), was the 22-year-old pilot of 403 (Canadian) Sqn Spitfire R7279 flying escort to a group of bombers heading for Saint-Omer on 21 August 1941 when both he and his squadron leader, Sqn/Ldr B G Morris (LIB/874), were shot down by enemy fighters. McDonald, whose face and hands were badly burned, baled out and landed in a field. He was helped by some local people who gave him civilian clothing and washed his injuries before hiding him in a nearby field but he was found there by a German patrol later that same afternoon.
McDonald was taken straight to a local hospital, where his wounds were dressed, and then to a hospital in Lille. On about 20 September, McDonald was taken to Dulag Luft at Oberursel (the transit camp for captured airmen), and three days later, to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in Russian Silesia. McDonald was held at Lamsdorf until April 1942 when he and about 800 other RAF POWs were sent to the newly opened Stalag Luft III (Sagan). McDonald soon decided that escaping from Sagan was next to impossible and in July 1942, volunteered to be returned to Lamsdorf where he was placed on a working party near Gleiwitz, the main task being to look after the gardens of German air force officers. He was joined three days later by Sgt Kenneth B Chisholm RAAF (2245) and Sgt Geoffrey P Hickman RAFVR, along with W/Cdr Douglas Bader and Sqn/Ldr Roberts who were disguised as army privates but soon discovered and sent back to Lamsdorf.
On 11 August 1942, McDonald, Chisholm, Hickman and a Polish Jew called Edwin Carter (aka Nick) escaped from Gleiwitz through a hole in the roof of their hut, and down into the boiler room before passing through the unlocked gate of their compound. After four days of walking, they reached Katowice (in southern Poland), and with Nick as their interpreter, befriended two boys who took them to a farm near Myslowice where they were sheltered for the next five weeks. On about 22 September, they were moved to another farm where they stayed for a further four weeks, cared for by the former mayor of a neighbouring village, before a group of Poles took them to Krakow where they were given civilian clothes, and hidden in a series of flats for the next week.
On 24 October, L/Cpl Ronald Jeffery (1822), an evading British soldier, arrived with two women, and they took the three airmen by train to Warsaw. Identity papers were provided and they were sheltered separately, being moved around from time to time to different addresses.
On 23 March 1943, McDonald, along with two British soldiers - Pte John Grant and Dvr George Newton (3027), who had escaped from a work camp at Leslau in April 1941 – were taken by train, via Krakow and Berlin (where they went sightseeing), to Metz, arriving there on 28 March, and next day, on to Paris.
McDonald was separated from Grant and Newton the day after their arrival in Paris and sheltered for about a month in the capital, his French helpers being a lot more cautious than the Poles (excessively so in McDonald's opinion) and not allowing him out until the end of April, when he was sent to Saint-Brieuc.
I've not found any details of McDonald's time in Paris, nor who arranged for him to be taken to Brittany, and the first mention I've found of him in Brittany is on 3 May when Peter Lefevre (1301) reports meeting him (and others) being sheltered by Mme Cellarié at Tréveneuc, where he stayed until being taken back to Paris on 12 May.
Accommodation in Paris until 28 May
As mentioned earlier, on the morning of 12 May, Jacques Bonneron took Brian Barker, Richard Martin and Reginald Adams by train from Saint-Brieuc, arriving in Paris late that afternoon. They were met at the station by Val Williams and Elisabeth Barbier, and Bonneron took Barker to Vincennes and his house at 14 avenue Georges Clemenceau for a meal. Later that evening, Robert Bonnet arrived to take Barker to his home at 7 rue Henri Poincaré, Paris XX. Barker stayed at rue Henri Poincaré until the evening of 28 May, when Bonnet took him to gare Montparnasse, where he rejoined Richard Martin, and met Peter Lefevre and the rest of the party.
Martin was taken to Asnieres-sur-Seine and sheltered by Lucien Demongogin at 18 rue Victor Hugo, where he stayed until 26 May when he was moved to Gabrielle Wiame's apartment at 46 rue Poliveau. He says that he met Sgt Bulman - although I don't think Bulman was staying there (see later) - and on 28 May, joined the other evaders at gare Montparnasse.
Adams was taken to 45 rue Poliveau and sheltered with Mme Wiame's neighbour, Odette Carabelli, until he rejoined the other four men from his crew, and left Paris with them on the morning of 1 June – see later.
It was probably the evening of 12 May when Peter Lefevre, Charles McDonald, Borden Dennison, Elmer Bulman, Douglas Cox, George Howard, Rech Urbanski and Leszek Zaborowski left Saint-Brieuc and travelled overnight by train to Paris.
On arrival in the capital, Val Williams took Lefevre and Dennison to stay with Hélène de Suzannet at 20 rue Greuze, where they met several members of the organisation. Lefevre comments that the comtesse was extremely kind but seemed somewhat indiscreet. On 24 May, the comtesse told them that her sister-in-law, the editoress of Mairie Claire magazine, had been arrested and it was unsafe for her to shelter them any longer, and so next day , they were moved to Elisabeth Barbier's apartment at rue Vaneau. McDonald was taken to stay with Gabrielle Wiame's friend Madeleine Melot at 11 bis rue Larrey, and while neither of the Poles give any details, Bulman says that he, Cox and one of the Poles were taken to stay with an unnamed woman at 69 rue du Moulin Vert, where they remained until 28 May, and Howard says he was with Cox.
F/Sgt John Napoleon Barry RCAF (1299) was the 24-year-old mid-upper gunner of 35 Sqn Halifax W7885 (Thomas). Giving his peacetime address as Montreal, and speaking fluent French, Barry's MI9 report simply states that his experiences were the same as those described by F/O Carter (1155) in his report (see earlier) until they (along with Kylius, Biggs and Wilson) returned to La Pie from Paris on 20 March.
On about 24 March, Barry was taken to Carhaix where he was sheltered by Mlle Madeleine Marchais, a nurse who lived at 14 rue de l'Eglise, for more than six weeks, and towards the end of his stay, met Val Wiiliams (aka Guillaume) who said that he would get Barry through to Spain. On 6 May, Val took Barry, along with Kylius, Biggs and Wilson, via La Pie and Rostrenen to Saint-Brieuc. From Saint-Brieuc, they took the local train to Etables-sur-Mer before being moved to Saint-Quay-Portrieux where they stayed with Val's wireless operator, Ray Labrosse, and Val supplied Barry with a new identity card.
When the promised boat failed to materialise, Georges Jouanjean and Jean Camard decided to move the airmen out of Etables and Saint-Quay (which they no longer believed to be safe) and Jouanjean and Barry took a train to Plouezec (12 miles NW of Etables) where they contacted Doctor Meynard (address not known) and told him their story. Although not able to help them himself, Dr Meynard took Jouanjean and Barry to the Chateau du Bourblanc at Plourivo where they met the comtesse Betty de Maudit, an Englishwoman who had spent most of her life in America. They told Betty that they had left most of their party at Saint-Quay-Portrieux, including some Americans, and when she said that she would like to meet them, Dr Meynard and Jouanjean took her to Saint-Quay while Barry spent that night in a hotel in Plouézec.
The following day, Barry returned to Plourivo, and later that same day, Georges Jouanjean arrived at the chateau with “about ten other members of the party”, and while he was staying at the chateau, Barry reports daily visits from Mme Jeannine Guillaume and Mme Gorgau of Paimpol who brought them food.
Note that while none of the evader reports are to be trusted with precise names, dates and numbers, I am pretty confident that on about 9 May, Jouanjean and Jean Camard brought David James (1317), William Grove (1318), James Smith (1319), James Hall (1320), Robert Kylius (#45), Claiborne Wilson (#46), Robert Biggs (#41), Allen Fitzgerald (#60), Allen Robinson (#103) and Marcus Davis to be sheltered at the Chateau du Bourblanc - see all later.
S/Sgt Marcus K Davis was the ball-turret gunner of B-17 42-24609 Holy Mackerel (Eyster), which was shot down on 4 April 1943. I have no details of his evasion apart from the occasional mention by others – and his capture on 20 June (see later).
Betty de Mauduit was Mme la comtesse Roberta de Mauduit. Betty (as she was always known) was born in Polwarth, Scotland in September 1891 but her father was American and Betty, who grew up in America, retained her American citizenship. She was married to le comte Henry de Mauduit, six years her junior, who was serving with the Free French Forces in England at this time, while Betty lived in the beautiful Chateau du Bourblanc at Plourivo. Betty was arrested on 12 June 1943 (see later) and deported to Ravensbruck concentration camp, later transferred to hard labour in a munitions factory at Leipzig until being liberated in April 1945. Betty was described as being a very beautiful, elegant woman of average build, with ash blonde hair and bright blue eyes. She died in 1975 and is buried at Plourivo.
On 27 May, Georges Jouanjean brought Barry's wireless operator, Edward Turenne to the chateau, and the three men then walked to Paimpol, where they took a local train to Guingamp, and then an express (overnight) train to Paris. Their first destination was Elisabeth Barbier's apartment at 72 rue Vaneau, and then back to gare Montparnasse, where a rear gate had been left open by a railway official so they could avoid the ticket check at the main entrance.
On 28 May, 19-year-old Jacques Bonneron took Brian Barker, Napoleon Barry, Peter Lefevre, Edward Turenne, Richard Martin, Charles McDonald, Borden Dennison, Elmer Bulman, Douglas Cox and George Howard - along with a number of French officers – on the 0830 train to Dax, arriving at eight that evening, where they changed for Pau.
They arrived at Pau at about midnight, and were assembled in a hotel before being taken to various addresses in the town where they stayed for the next two days. They left Pau at three o'clock on the afternoon of 31 May in a small lorry, picking up their first Basque guide just outside the town. A total of four Basque guides were employed on the journey (which Lefevre describes as being very hard), crossing into Spain just after dawn on 3 June. They burned all their papers at the frontier, and their guides left them to continue down to Isaba. As instructed, they gave themselves up to the first Guardia Civil they encountered, who promptly put them in the local gaol. Next day, they were taken to a prison in Pamplona where they were held until 11 June, when they were transferred to a hotel at Balascoain (Navarra). On 22 June, they were taken by car to the British Embassy in Madrid, and on 26 June, left by train for Gibraltar, arriving there the following day.
Barker, Barry and Lefevre left Gibraltar by air for Whitchurch (Bristol) on 13 July 1942. Turenne, Martin, McDonald, Dennison, Bulman, Cox and Howard left Gibraltar by sea for Liverpool on 17 July.
On 1 June 1943, David James (1317), George Grove (1318), James Smith (1319), James Hall (1320), Reginald Adams (1321), Jack Luehrs (#40), Robert Biggs (#41), Robert Kylius (#45) and Claiborne Wilson (#46) left Paris by train for Pau.
F/O David Eric James RCAF (1317) from Calgary, Alberta, was the 29-year-old pilot, Sgt William George Grove (1318) from Swansea, the 20-year-old second pilot, F/Sgt James Arthur Smith (1319) from Derby the 21-year-old navigator, Sgt James Hall (1320) from Manchester, the 26-year-old flight engineer and Sgt Reginald Walter Adams (1321) from south-east London, the 22-year-old wireless operator/air gunner of 214 Sqn Stirling BK653. They were on their way to Mannheim on the night of 16-17 April 1943 and still over France when they were attacked by fighters which set the aircraft on fire, and James ordered his crew to bale out at just past midnight. Sgt Eric M Lee, the 22-year-old tail gunner, was killed (no details), and the other two crewmen captured.
James landed in a ploughed field about three miles east of Croissy-sur-Celle (Oise), about half-way between Beauvais and Amiens. After 40 minutes walking, he met two local men and told them he was RAF, and one of them, a farmer named André (André Lepaitre – query), lent James his coat before taking James to his house in Croissy-sur-Celle. He was given a meal and some civilian clothes but as he was about to leave, some women arrived to tell the man that Germans were searching the area. James stayed at the house for three days until two-thirty in the afternoon of 20 April when he was taken by two men (Georges Doucet and a M. Croussey) in a covered wagon, a few miles south to the house of a baker in Crèvecoeur-le-Grand (assume Marc Hanniet on rue de Presbytere). That evening, the baker took James to the nearby village of Lihus where he found Sgts Grove, Smith, Hall and Adams from his crew at the home of Mme Vve Adeline Mortier.
Sgts Grove and Smith landed close to one another in another ploughed field, this one a couple of miles north of Fontaine-Bonneleau, not far from where their pilot landed at Croissy. After hiding their parachutes and Mae Wests in a wood, they headed south-west, bypassing Fontaine to the village of Catheux where they hid in an empty house by the side of a railway line. They stayed in the house all day, and that evening were spotted by a small boy who brought some other children to inspect them. They then left the house and followed the railway line before settling on some higher ground, overlooking the village. When an older woman came near, Grove used his knowledge of the French language to explain who they were, and she told them if they came into the village after dark, she would give them some food. About ten minutes later, an elderly man arrived with his two sons and some food for the airmen before taking them back to his house where they spent the night.
Next morning, their helper woke them to say there were no trains to Beauvais that day (they had planned to get to Paris) and so they spent the rest of the day hiding in a nearby culvert. That evening some more people came over, and after Grove explained they were English airmen, they were taken to a house in Catheux. Later that evening, Doctor Pezet (of Crèvecoeur-le-Grand) arrived to take them by car to Lihus where they found Sgts Hall and Adams.
Hall and Adams had landed close to one another in a ploughed field north of Cormeilles, which is about 10 kms north-east of Crèvecoeur-le-Grand, and south-east of Fontaine-Bonneleau. Both were uninjured in the jump but Hall had lost his flying boots and so protected his feet with strips torn from his parachute, with his socks pulled over the top. They set off walking, away from their burning aircraft, and at about one-thirty in the morning, reached Cormeilles. They carried on through Fontaine to Catheux where they encountered two gendarmes. Neither airmen spoke any French but apparently the magic phrase “RAF” was enough to get them through. They carried on over the railway line and approached the village from the south where they found a hay-loft. They tried to get some sleep there but a few hours later decided to declare themselves to a woman they saw milking cattle (a Mme De Ware), and she and her husband took them into their house and gave them some food. Hall was also given a pair of shoes but they were too small for him and so the two airmen exchanged footware. That evening, Doctor Pezet took them by car to the nearby village of Lihus where they were sheltered by Adeline Mortier, and later James, Grove and Smith joined them there.
Adeline Mortier was widow, aged about 65, with a son aged about 45 who worked at an aluminium works in Paris. All five airmen stayed at her house until 2 May when Doctor Pezet took them to his house in Crèvecoeur-le-Grand. They had new photographs taken at a local shop and then spent that night in the Hotel du Commerce where they met Elisabeth Barbier and Olga Pontremoli. The two women took the five airmen back to Paris by train early the following morning, arriving at the gare du Nord at a quarter past ten. They went to Elisabeth's apartment at 72 rue Vaneau, where they met Val Williams, and then the party were split up – James and Grove were sheltered with Hélène de Suzannet at 20 rue Greuze, Hall and Smith in a house near Montparnasse where Richard Martin (1315) had previously stayed (with Mme Lescure at 58 boulevard Saint-Jacques), while Adams stayed with the same Mme Maillard who had sheltered Edward Turenne (1314) at 34 rue Alphonse Bertillon (see earlier) .
On 7 May, Elisabeth, Val Williams, Jacques Bonneron and another helper (assume Jean Camard) took the five airmen by train to Saint-Brieuc and on to Etables where they met several other evaders, and stayed at various addresses.
Whilst the other four don't give any details, Reginald Adams was sheltered by Etables maire Jerome Camard on rue de la Gare until (as mentioned earlier) 12 May, when Jacques Bonneron took him, Brian Barker (1298) and Richard Martin (1315) back to Paris, where Adams was shelterd with Odette Carabelli at 45 rue Poliveau until leaving Paris on 1 June.
Meanwhile, on about 9 May, James, Grove, Smith and Hall were taken (with others) to the Chateau du Bourblanc at Plourivo – their report says taken by the comtesse Betty de Mauduit but I think they were in the group of airmen that Georges Jouanjean and Jean Camard took – see earlier. They only seem to have stayed at the chateau for a couple of days though because “on or about” 12 May, the four airmen report being returned to Paris where they were moved about among various people, with none of the airmen being sure of any of their names. Wherever they all stayed, on the morning of 1 June, they were gathered in Elisabeth Barbier's apartment at 72 rue Vaneau where they rejoined Adams and met four American evaders – Jack Luehrs, Robert Biggs, Robert Kylius and Claiborne Wilson – to be taken by train to Pau.
T/Sgt Jack Orcutt Luehrs (#40) from Ontario in Oregon, was the 23-year-old radio operator of B-17 42-5232 Available Jones (305BG/364BS) (Jones). They were returning from a morning raid to the Renault works in Paris on 4 April 1943 when they were attacked by fighters, and the aircraft was abandoned to crash between Le Cave and Le Vaudreuil (Eure). The only other successful evader from Available Jones (named for a popular character in the Li'l Abner comic strip rather than their pilot) was waist-gunner Sgt Allen Fitzgerald (#60) (see later).
Luehrs jumped straight after Fitzgerald at about 14,000 feet, and (against the advice he should have been given) pulled his rip-cord almost immediately, eventually landing in a field near a village, with his parachute caught in an apple tree. A small crowd had gathered (presumably they had watched as he drifted down) and seeing that Luehrs was bleeding from a cut under his left eye, one of the men asked, in English, if he wanted a doctor. Luehrs answered no and started to run down the main road, narrowly avoiding being spotted by German troops patrolling the road in cars, before stopping to hide behind another apple tree. About an hour later, a man carrying a large sack came along, and gave Luehrs some food and wine, trousers and a jacket, and told him to stay where he was until dark. Later that afternoon a woman dropped off a package of food, and that night, the man returned with more clothes, which Luehrs put on over his uniform. He was taken to a nearby farmhouse from where the man took Luehrs by bicycle to an old deserted stone mansion where Luehrs spent his first night in enemy occupied France. The following night, the man returned once more, and took Luehrs to a farm where he was allowed to sleep in the barn. The next night, the man returned again, this time to ask Luehrs for a photograph, and on getting one, returned the following morning with an ID card.
Luehrs was taken to the local station and handed over to a tall dark Frenchman who took him by train to Paris, arriving in the capital at about eight-thirty that morning. They walked to a Metro station, and after a fifteen minute ride, went into an electrical store where the guide spoke to the owner. Then they walked, Luehrs says for about an hour, to an apartment occupied by the wife of the man who owned the electrical store. Luehrs was given a meal and then taken up two floors to another apartment, this one occupied by a girl that Luehrs says worked in a department store, and Luehrs stayed there overnight.
At about ten the next morning, a “young and very beautiful girl” who spoke good English arrived – this was 18- year-old Anne Catherine Thierry-Mieg. She took Luehrs to the basement of a Bon Marché store to have his picture taken, and then by Metro to an apartment at 27 rue Benjamin Franklin, which Luehrs also describes as being beautiful. Allen Fitzgerald (#60), one of the waist-gunners from his aircraft, was there and Luehrs stayed overnight. The following afternoon, another girl, Claude Thierry-Mieg (Anne Catherine's older sister), took him to an apartment at 9 Place des Ternes, Paris XVII, where he was sheltered by Dr Georges and Mme Nicole Smagghe. Luehrs stayed with the Smagghes for ten days, never going out, until Claude Thierry-Mieg took him back to the apartment at 27 rue Benjamin Franklin where she lived with her sister Anne Catherine, brother Robert and their widowed mother, Marcelle Thierry-Mieg - Luehrs again, never going out.
On 30 April, a man that Luehrs says was supposed to be one of the chiefs (small, thin, grey hair, 48 years old, could not speak English) – I think this was Frederic De Jongh – handed him over to Val Williams who took him to a café where he met RAF evaders Brian Barker, Henry Riley and Douglas Cox, and three ladies. Luehrs describes one of the ladies as being about 21 years old, and wanted by the Gestapo. Her apartment had been raided, her mother sent to prison, and her father was in hiding - this was obviously Andrée Leveque. Williams and Andrée Leveque then took the four airmen on a 10.45 train to Saint-Brieuc, and then by taxi to Etables.
They went to Jean Camard's house, where his father Jerome, the maire of Etables, lived with his wife Josephine on rue de la Gare, and joined Turenne, Martin, Fitzgerald, Zaborowski and Urbanski. They stayed with the Camard family, waiting to hear news about a boat coming to collect them but on the following Monday (3 May), six of them (query), including Luehrs and Riley, were moved to what Luehrs describes as a hotel run by Mme Cellarié, three or four kilometres from Etables (at Tréveneuc). Luehrs reports fourteen of them staying there for two weeks, “the party consisted of 2 Poles, 1 Russian, Douglas Cox, Dennison, Harry Riley, Howard, Peter (RAF Spitfire), Sgt Fitzgerald, McDonald and three who I do not remember.”
Luehrs says that Val Williams went to Paris to try and find out about the boat, and while he was away, Fitzgerald was taken to the Chateau du Bourblanc (on 9 May), and on 13 May, Luehrs and Riley, along with a Canadian (Spencer) and Kononenko, were moved to a farmhouse (with Jean René Quilien of rue des Roches Olives), where they stayed for the next four days.
When Val Williams returned from Paris (by which time he would have known the MGB plan had been abandoned), he moved Luehrs, Riley, Spencer and Kononenko (Riley says this was on 20 May) to the house in Saint-Quay-Portrieux where Labrosse and Andrée Leveque were living. Luehrs says that he met fellow American Frank Greene (#51) there, and that they saw the B-17 Lady Godiva crash into the sea (on 29 May). Later, the organisation picked up some of the crew and brought the pilot Theodore Peterson (#69), engineer John Scott (#70) and waist-gunner William Ayres to Paul's house.
Luehrs left Saint-Quay on the night of 31 May, taken by Jean Camard and Jon (sic) – a red haired man who wore glasses (assume Jean Lanlo) by bicycle to Saint-Brieuc, where they took an overnight train to Paris. They were met at Montparnasse station early next morning by Val Williams and two tall dark Frenchmen – one was Jacques Bonneron and the other was Yannec (Jean Tromelin) who Luehrs says was posing as American pilot Gilbert Wright (see earlier). The three men took Luehrs to Elisabeth Barbier's apartment at rue Vaneau where he joined Robert Biggs, Robert Kylius, Claiborne Wilson and the five crewmen from Stirling BK653.
1/Lt Robert Edward Biggs (#41) from Gordon in Texas, was the 23-year-co-pilot of B-17 42-5378 Skylark (367BS/306BG) which was the way to Lorient on the morning of 6 March 1943 when their #3 engine stopped. They were close to their target when they saw three enemy fighters, and as they fell behind their formation, the #4 engine stopped as well. As the fighters began their attack, their pilot (1/Lt Earl C Tunnell) ordered his crew to bail out. Three of the crew were killed, and six captured – Biggs was the only successful evader.
Biggs bailed out at about 22,000 feet but delayed opening his parachute until about 10,000 feet, and landed in a field close to a large irrigation ditch. He lost his shoes in the jump and so was in just his socks when he hid his parachute in the ditch and set off walking along the path next to it. He soon met two Frenchmen but with no language in common, they soon went their separate way. Biggs left the path to walk across the fields before crawling into a large gully where he hid until sundown.
He set off walking again as it got dark, heading north-east because he was sure that he was south-east of Lorient, and would have go north to avoid it. After several hours on the road, he found himself heading into Lorient itself, and realising there probably a curfew, went into an empty house where he found a second-floor room with a bed and a few blankets where he slept until quite late the following morning. He managed to find a pair of felt slippers and set off again that night but got rather lost and so returned to the empty house where he had spent the previous night. This time he found a coat and hat, and after being disturbed by a man who came into the room but then ran away, Biggs walked out through the town, and that evening reached a small settlement where he stopped a man who was driving a cart. He said that he was an American and mimed being hungry but the man just kept answering “Nicht, nicht” so Biggs moved on.
Later that same evening, Biggs got himself trapped in a park with high walls, and while trying to find a way out, there were a series loud explosions in Lorient and while he was distracted, a man came up behind hm. The man seemed quite frightened but when Biggs told him that he was an American, took him into the house, gave him food and cigarettes, and let him stay the night. Next day, the man led Biggs several miles from Lorient and showed him where to cross a river to find a road south. He suggested that Biggs go (north-east) to Languidic and buy a ticket for Nantes. Biggs walked all that day but never found Languidic, and that evening approached a farmhouse where he was given food and allowed to spend the night in their hayloft. Next morning, the woman of the house gave Biggs a pair of wooden shoes to replace the felt ones he had arrived in but he found them hard going and was soon tired enough to try some of the Benzadrine tablets from his escape kit, which proved to be a great help with his fatigue. On the outskirts of a small village (Pluméliau, Morbihan), Biggs stopped to talk to a man who was chopping wood in a yard. He took Biggs in and gave him some food before sending for some friends from the village (two teenage boys, Antoine and Ernest Leroy, who spoke English, and their friend André Cadoux) to talk with Biggs, and from that point his journey was arranged.
Biggs spent the night in first man's the house but had to move out again early next morning to the woods. They arranged to meet at the church in the village at nine o'clock that evening when the boys took him back to their home (presumably for a meal) and he slept at André Cadoux's house. He stayed at the Cadoux home for the next two nights - André Cadoux was a cordonnier, a shoe-maker, which seems particularly fortuitous as Biggs was in dire need of a decent pair of shoes at this point. Next day, Biggs was told that the French wife of an American naval officer would come to see him – the plan being for her to take Biggs to Vichy to see if he could get some help from the consulate there, and they were going to go by bus to Vannes next day. However, that night Ernest Leroy told Biggs that he had contacted an organisation and they would send someone to see him.
The following day, police commissioner Henri Loch arrived from Pontivy, bringing RAF evader Gordon Carter and businessman Henri Clement with him, and Carter questioned Biggs. Loch took away anything that would identify the American before he was taken in their car, stopping off at Pontivy to collect Napoleon Barry and Claiborne Wilson, to Bréhan, about 20 kms east of Pontivy, where they were left at l'Abbaye Notre-Dame de Timadeuc. The following Tuesday (16 March), Henri Loch came back, bringing Georges Jouanjean and Job Le Bec, and they took the airmen to Le Bec's house at La Pie, and it was while they were at the Moulin de La Pie that Robert Kylius arrived.
2/Lt Robert E Kylius (#45) from Yankton in South Dakota, was the 26-year-old bombardier of B-17 42-5717 (306BG/423BS) on a morning operation to Saint-Nazaire on 16 February 1943. They bombed the target at about eleven-thirty and were turning away, with their aircraft leading the second element of the group but made a mistake on the turn and became exposed to a fighter attack, which shot out the intercom, hit their #4 engine, and probably killed the pilot, 1/Lt William H Warner. The aircraft nosed down and almost collided with another B-17, forcing the co-pilot, 2/Lt Arnold R Carlson, to peel away from the formation. Losing altitude fast, and suffering from continued fighter attacks, Carlson and Kylius decided it was time to abandon ship. Engineer T/Sgt Claiborne W Wilson (see below) was the only other successful evader.
After struggling to get out of the stricken aircraft, and Carlson finally having to kick him through the escape hatch, Kylius opened his parachute at very low altitude, seeing just one more chute behind him. He landed close to a group of Frenchmen, who shook his hand and took his parachute, and another group, one of whom handed Kylius a pair of civilian trousers, and he ran to some bushes where he took off his flying overalls and heated suit, keeping just his OD uniform and flying shoes. He then set off walking, firstly beside a canal and then a main road, and at seven that evening had reached the outskirts small village (assume La Madeleine, just outside Malestroit). As he walked by, two young boys called out to him, asking if he were “RAF or American”, and learning that he was a hungry American, took Kylius back to their home (a café – query) for a meal. As soon as he arrived, the father of the house left, returning a few minutes later with a man named Gaston Lapierre who spoke some English, and Kylius was sheltered in his house at La Madeleine for the next three weeks.
While he was staying with Gaston Lapierre, Kylius received several visits from a priest who told him about a plan to take Americans by boat to rendezvous with a submarine but nothing came of it (rumours like this were common), and a gendarme brought a camera to take Kylius photograph for an ID card. Then on about 8 March, a woman came to tell them the Germans knew Kylius was there, and next day he was taken to a gendarme's house and stayed in an attic room (where he received excellent care) for three days. Then Lapierre brought Kylius back to his own house for the night before taking him on a twenty-minute walk to a clinic where Kylius was turned over to a group of nuns. He says that only about four of the nuns knew he was there, staying in the Bishop's suite and being allowed short periods in the afternoons in the garden. He stayed at the clinic for four days, during which time the Mother Superior told him that six of his crew had been killed and that the French had made coffins for them. On 16 March, Kylius was told that he was leaving immediately, taken out of a side door where a man on a motorcycle was waiting to take him to Pontivy. They went to a café in Pontivy, and the man telephoned a friend who came and took Kylius out into the country, and then at five o'clock, they returned to the café where Kylius met two Frenchmen, one a commissionaire of police (Henri Loch), who took Kylius to a mill south-east of Carhaix where he met Job Le Bec, Gordon Carter, Napoleon Barry, Robert Biggs, and a crewman from his own aircraft, Claiborne Wilson.
T/Sgt Claiborne W Wilson (#46) from Holly Springs in North Carolina, was the 25-year-old engineer of B-17 42-5717. He reports that as the fighters came in, their aircraft went into a dive and he could hear the sound of bullets striking the fuselage. He also heard the co-pilot (2/Lt Arnold R Carlson) calling the navigator (1/Lt Lewis H Utley) and bombardier (Kylius) to say that their pilot, Lt William H Warner had been hit. Wilson could see from his position that he was badly wounded, and shortly after that, the intercom went dead. He says that the crew fought for fifteen minutes, with their aircraft rapidly losing altitude. He could see that one of the waist-gunners, S/Sgt Colon E Neeley, had been killed and the other, S/Sgt Robert D Kisling, was seriously wounded. After struggling to open the escape hatch, Wilson followed radio operator T/Sgt Eddie F Espitallier out, with Kisling and ball-turret gunner, S/Sgt Walter C Morgan, just behind him as he left.
Wilson made a slightly delayed jump from about 6,000 feet, and had time to see his burning aircraft hit the ground and disintegrate before making a good landing himself, just missing some trees. He cut a two-foot square of silk from his parachute before hiding the remainder and his Mae West under some leaves, and set off running, following ditches and underbrush to a canal, which he followed until he reached a road. About four kilometres later he tried to hide from a Frenchman but he was spotted and the man, obviously recognising him as an airman, gave him four apples. Wilson stayed in the ditch until nightfall, eating some of the malted milk tablets from his escape kit, and some Benzedrine tablets to relieve his tiredness. He walked all through that night, looking for a barn to hide in but it wasn't until about eight o'clock the next morning that he found a farmhouse he was prepared to approach. He watched the house for time until a woman came out and he spoke to her, telling her that he was an American in need of help. The woman immediately took him into the house and gave him a meal, and an hour later, she and her son took him through the woods to a large chateau, and a room on the third floor where he met an elderly woman (assume Mme du Boisbaudry at Le Roc-Saint-André) and two young women. About two hours later, one of the young women brought a man who spoke a little English (mostly via a dictionary) to question him – this was Emile Guimard. Wilson was given some blue denim work clothes and told he could sleep there at night but should hide in the forest during the day, and he spent the next eight days (17 to 25 Feb) doing just that until Guimard took Wilson back to his own house near Lizio, where he was sheltered in an upstairs room. On 3 March, he was visited by a gendarme (almost certainly Raymond Goux) and his son, who brought a cake.
Emile Guimard (born June 1915) of La Grée aux Moines, Lizio, was living with Marie-Therese Jouan (born Sept 1921), and had a daughter, Raymonde (born 1932) who was away at school. Emile, who had been wounded whilst serving as an officer in the French army and had only partial use of his right arm, was the local resistance leader. He lists numerous people in his NARA file that he worked with whilst helping evaders (including his brother Joseph, their 62-year-old widowed mother, chauffeur Henri Tanguy and gendarme Raymond Gloux) but only names the very first airman that he helped in February 1943, T/Sgt Claiborne W Wilson – brought from Mme du Boisbaudry at Le Roc-Saint-André and sheltered by Guimard until he took him to Ploermel and passed him on to BCRA agent Guy Lenfant (aka Dubreuil) - and 1/Lt Wayne Bogard (arrested at Toulouse station on 3 Feb 44), as he did not keep written records.
Next day, Emile Guimard took Wilson to a café in Ploermel, Morbihan – probably the Café Cherel (Hervé Fagot) - where Wilson spent the night. He was collected early next morning by a young man who gave Wilson two of the four pistols he was carrying, and took him by a slow evening train to Saint-Méen, Finistère. They went to a house on the outskirts of the town, home of Guy Dubreuil, where he met Gordon Carter and Napoleon Barry (see earlier). Wilson says that he arrived at Saint-Méen on the Saturday (5 March) where he stayed until the Monday, Guy keeping in contact with London by radio.
See Gordon Carter earlier for details of Wilson's trip with Carter and Barry to Saint-Pol-de-Léon on 8 March, being joined by Robert Biggs on 13 March, and Robert Kylius on 16 March, and then all four airmen going to Paris on 19 March before returning to La Pie next day.
On about 24 March (as mentioned earlier), with Jouanjean and Le Bec unable to arrange their onward journeys, Carter was taken to stay with Joe Jouanjean's sister Lucette and her husband Raymond Cougard, and Barry to Madeleine Marchais of 14 rue de l'Eglise, while Biggs was sheltered by dentist Mlle Correc on Place d'Auguillon. Wilson and Kylius stayed on with Job Le Bec at La Pie for another week until 26 March, when they were moved to another mill on the other side of Carhaix to be sheltered by flour merchants Louis and Jean Manach and their elderly lady caretaker at the Minoterie de Kerniguez. Some time over the next six weeks, they heard about an Intelligence Officer coming over from England to get them out and take care of the work done by the people who had been arrested, and about a boat that was supposed to come and pick them up from the Brittany coast.
It was about 6 May when Job Le Bec brought Kylius and Wilson new identity cards and work papers, and after collecting Barry and Biggs from Carhaix, took them all to Rostrenen from where, Joe Jouanjean and Jean Lanlo took the four airmen on a bus (driven by another member of the organisation) to Saint-Brieuc, and then by train to Etaples, where Jouanjean signed them into a hotel.
An hour or so later, a French-Canadian boy from an intelligence organisation (this was Ray Labrosse) came and told them they were going to Saint-Quay-Portrieux to stay at his house, where they waited to hear a message on the BBC to say that a boat was coming for them. Instead, they heard a message saying that the boat operation was postponed indefinitely.
Next day (Saturday 8 May), Dr Meynard brought the countess Roberta de Maudit to see them, and Betty said they could stay with her for a while, so the following day Georges Jouanjean and Jean Camard took them (and others) on the local train to Paimpol, and then walked the four kilometres to Plourivo and the Chateau du Bourblanc.
Kylius says that he (along with Biggs and Wilson) stayed at the Chateau du Bourblanc for exactly three weeks, leaving on 31 May, taking a train from Paimpol to Guingamp and then an overnight express to Paris, where they arrived at eight o'clock the following morning. They were met at Montparnasse station by Val Williams and Joe Jouanjean who took them to an apartment run by two women, a girl and her mother (Elisabeth Barbier and her mother Camille at 72 rue Vaneau). After having some tea, they were taken back to gare Montparnasse and took the eleven o'clock morning train to Bayonne, along with Jack Luehrs, who they had picked up in Paris (at Elisabeth's apartment), Yannec, who was travelling as Gilbert Wright (see earlier) and the five men from Stirling BK653, with their guide, Jacques Bonneron. They changed trains at Bayonne, arriving at Pau at ten o'clock that evening.
The RAF men give no details of their trip to the Pyrenees, simply saying that the remainder of their story was similar to that told by members of the previous party, and neither do Biggs or Wilson, so it is left to Luehrs (Kylius tells a similar story) to describe their journey. Note that both Luehrs and Kylius say they changed trains at Bayonne but I think this is an error, and that they went via Dax like the group before them, and Williams a few days later.
“We all had breakfast and then went to the station to take a train to Bayonne. At the station, the station-master allowed us to go behind the station and get on the train before it pulled in. This gave us the opportunity to find our seats. Four of us went first class, the rest went second class. There was no check on the train or at Bayonne.
While we were walking around Bayonne, a Gestapo agent grabbed Yannec and checked his papers, but finding everything was in order, turned him loose. We took a train from Bayonne to Pau. The train was topped at Orthez and all papers were checked. The Germans had a list of names, and seemed to be looking for certain people. We arrived at Pau and spent that night and next day in a flat. That night we left by truck and rode to the foothills of the Pyrenees.
When we left the truck, we joined another group; 31 of us started over the mountains. We walked in the rain from 20.00 hrs until 05.00 hrs. We stopped and rested at an old deserted farm until 22.00 hrs. Then we walked until 09.00 hrs and stopped at a shepherd's cabin where we were fed and stayed until 18.00 hrs. We crossed the border at about 06.00 hrs [5 June] and the guides left us. We destroyed all of our papers and followed the river until about 1100 hrs when we were picked up by the Guardia Civil and taken to Isaba. We were searched, and all money, knives etc. were taken away from us. The next morning, we were taken to Pamplona prison, where we stayed 6 days. We were then confined in a hotel for two weeks, and on 24 June, we started for Gibraltar with Major Clark.” (Luehrs MIS-X #40)
Like Turenne, Martin, McDonald, Dennison, Bulman, Cox and Howard (see previous chapter), James, Grove, Smith, Hall and Adams also left Gibraltar by sea for Liverpool on 17 July 1943. Luehrs, Biggs, Kylius and Wilson returned to the UK by air, their reports saying they arrived at Gibraltar on 26 June (presumably with the five Sterling crew) but then left almost immediately, flown overnight in a C-47, and landing at Bristol on the morning of 29 June.
The arrests of Val Williams, Elisabeth Barbier, Georges Jouanjean, Jean Camard and Jacques Bonneron
Val Williams wanted Ray Labrosse to take the next party south but when the B-17 Lady Godiva crashed off Saint-Quay-Portrieux on 29 May, Labrosse decided to stay, and so Williams went himself. He took the two Polish evaders, Leszek Zaborowski and Rech Urbanski with him – along with an American he names as Buckley and who Elisabeth Barbier says was a First Lieutenant from Alabama - but they were picked up on 4 June, probably in a routine ticket check, on a train outside Dax, and Williams was captured.
With nineteen airmen safely across the Pyrenees, Oaktree still had four evaders being sheltered at various addresses in Paris – Spencer (1345), Greene (#51), Riley (1359) and Kononenko (1455) had just arrived from Saint-Quay, and Spevak (#59), Fitzgerald (#60), Nichols (#75), Robinson (#103), Donald Parks and Marcus Davis were about to follow (see later).
That left nine Americans still in Brittany: Boot Hill crewmen Marshall (#74), Wells (#79) and Roy Martin (#77) were at the Chateau du Bourblanc, Haltom (#76), William Martin (#78) and Loudenslager (#80) with Mme Cellarié at Tréveneuc, while Peterson (#69), Scott (#70) and William Ayres from the Lady Godiva were with French fighter pilot evader Claude Raoul-Duval (1471) at Mme Charneau's house (see later).
On 18 June, the apartment at 72 rue Vaneau was raided, and Elisabeth Barbier and her mother Camille were arrested, along with Elisabeth's friend, Natacha Boeg. Jacques Desoubrie (aka Jean Masson), the Belgian-born traitor and German infiltration agent responsible for her arrest, says that after the arrest of Robert Aylé (on 7 June), Mme Barbier's name was included on a list found at Aylé's home.
That same day, Ray Labrosse and Georges Jouanjean came to see Elisabeth but when Jouanjean telephoned her apartment, a man answered. They suspected a trap but having escaped one before (at the Leveque apartment in February) Jouanjean decided to go up anyway, and was promptly arrested. Two days later, Jean Camard and Jacques Bonneron, who had just returned from checking out the situation at Pau, were caught in the same souricière.
Williams escaped from Jacques-Cartier prison in Rennes on 20 December, and was taken back to the UK by MGB 503 on the first Shelburn Operation Bonaparte the night of 28-29 January 1944. Elisabeth Barbier and her mother were deported to Ravensbruck, which they survived to be repatriated back to France in April 1945. Georges Jouanjean and Jacques Bonneron were also deported, both also surviving to be repatriated in 1945. Jean Camard escaped from the transport taking him Germany on 6 March 1944, and (according to IS9) joined the FFI at Saint-Quay and Paimpol until the Liberation.
With the demise of Oaktree, Spencer, Riley, Greene and Kononenko were left stranded in Paris, while those men still in Brittany would also have to be brought to the capital and sheltered until alternative routes could be found – all of them (except Allen Robinson) being passed to Georges Broussine's reseau Bourgogne the following month.
On 8 July 1943, Gordon Spencer (1345) and Frank Greene (#51) - along with Lester Brown (#52) and John Houghton (#53) - left Paris by train for Toulouse and Foix with their 20-year-old guide, Jacques Niepceron.
F/Sgt Gordon Spencer says that he has no idea why he was asked to stay behind when Dennison (1325) and Howard (1329) left for Paris (see earlier), certainly not because of his French, which he describes as far from perfect, but whatever the reason, on 12 May, Spencer says that he was in a house in Saint-Quay-Portrieux with Henry Riley, Abram Kononenko and Jack Luehrs (although this doesn't seem to agree with the other evader reports). On 20 May, the four men were moved to where Andrée Leveque was living with Ray Labrosse in Saint-Quay-Portrieux, where they met Frank Greene (#51) (who had arrived there on about 24 May), and Val Williams assured them that if they stayed then they would be taken back to England by boat. On 29 May, the B-17 Lady Godiva crashed into the sea off Saint-Quay, and three of the crew, Peterson (#69), Scott (#70) and engineer William Ayres, were brought in, and shortly afterwards (probably on 30 May) all eight evaders, were moved to another house in Saint-Quay to be sheltered with Mme Marie Charneau.
The dates on the various reports don't agree with one another but I am fairly confident that Luehrs left for Paris on 31 May (see earlier), and that it was the following day when Andrée Leveque told Spencer, Riley, Kononenko and Greene they would leave for the capital that night. However, when she took them to Saint-Brieuc, they were unable to get tickets for Paris and so spent the night in a room belonging to a dress-maker (Greene says with Claude Raoul-Duval's aunt, his mother's sister). The following morning they did get tickets, and Andrée took them to the capital, and Elisabeth Barbier's apartment at 72 rue Vaneau. That afternoon, the party was split, with Spencer being taken to stay overnight with an elderly couple whose name he did not know, Greene with Gabrielle Wiame at 46 rue Poliveau, and Riley and Kononenko with Mme Wiame's friend, Madeleine Melot at 11 bis rue Larrey, Paris V.
Next day (3 June), Gabrielle Wiame arranged for Spencer to be sheltered with her neighbour, Albert Calonne at 42 bis rue Poliveau, where he was given more civilian clothes. About two days later, Spencer met Greene who told him that Val Williams had been arrested – later confirmed by Elisabeth as being on a train to Pau where he was caught with the two Polish aircrew. Then on 18 June, Mme Wiame told Spencer that Elisabeth had been arrested - which meant the organisation had lost their contacts for money and ID cards for the evaders - and she took Spencer and Greene to be sheltered by two English ladies, Maud Couve and Alice Brouard at 25 rue Madrid, Paris VIII. While they were staying at rue Madrid, Ray Labrosse visited and told them about he and Joe Jouanjean going to Elisabeth's apartment, where Joe was arrested.
Maud Couve was of French descent but born in 1905 on the British colony of Mauritius, and married to Englishman Edward Couve, who was with the RAF in England at this time. They had two children – Jimmy aged ten and Betty, aged about three, who was physically handicapped. Alice Brouard was also British (born 1904 on Jersey), and married to John Brouard, a British citizen of French descent from Guernsey, who was interned at La Grande Caserne, just north of Paris at Saint Denis. They also had two children – Christine, aged thirteen, who was staying with her grandparents in Normandy, and fifteen-year-old Marguerite. The two-bedroom, third-floor apartment at 25 rue de Madrid belonged to Maud Couve but Alice and Marguerite joined her there after both families were released from the internment camp at Besançon in March 1941. The following year, Maud was asked by her dentist if she would consider sheltering downed airmen in her apartment, and after discussion with Alice, she agreed. They were visited by Robert Guillet and Gabrielle Wiame but were never told which organisation they were working with. Both women were bilingual in French and English, and Maud had a library with many books in English – a real luxury for evaders with time on their hands (they weren't allowed to leave the apartment) and little or no knowledge of French. Evaders stayed in the larger of the two bedrooms while Maud, Alice and their children slept in the living-room.
S/Sgt Frank W Greene (#51) from Maywood in Illinios, was the 26-year-old assistant radio-operator of B-17 41-24603 Green Hornet (303BG/359BS) (Sanderson) which was returning from Lorient on 23 January 1943 when it was damaged by flak and shot down by fighters. The crew bailed out and the aircraft crashed near Plouray in Brittany. Three other Green Hornet crewmen also evaded successfully: navigator 2/Lt John W Spence (#16) and engineer Sgt Sidney Devers (#17) were taken across the western Pyrenees by the Comète line in February, and radio-operator T/Sgt Miles B Jones (#29), mentioned earlier as being helped by Jouanjean and Le Bec, was passed to the Pat O'Leary organisation and crossed the Pyrenees to Spain at the end of March.
Greene landed close to a village near the crash-site and was met on the ground by a crowd of Frenchmen. He ran to a nearby farmhouse where the farmer's wife hid his parachute and tended to his numerous facial injuries. The following day, Greene was moved to another house where he was sheltered by schoolteacher Mme Antoinette Piriou of Plouray until 24 February when a man came to see him and arrange his subsequent journey.
Greene was taken to Paris that night and sheltered by Simone Levavasseur. Mlle Levavasseur lived at 6 rue Mouton-Duvernet, Paris XIV and owned a chocolate shop called “La Petite Chocolatiere”, around the corner at 19 Avenue d'Orleans, the same building complex (Villa Adrienne) as Pat Line logeur Armand Leveque. Greene stayed in a room above the shop, just across a garden from the Leveque's first-floor apartment where Sgt Daniel Young (LIB/1290) was being sheltered.
Simone Levavasseur (born December 1895) is credited with sheltering numerous evaders, often several at a time, either in her apartment or above her shop, La Petite Chocolatiere. Mlle Levavasseur had been recruited by Armand Leveque the previous November when he asked her to shelter Norwegian Spitfire pilot Thor Waerner (1056). She is described by Robert Giles (#333) and Carroll Haarup (#334), who stayed five weeks with her in late 1943, as a well dressed, attractive woman, about 35 (sic) years old, 5 ft 4 inches tall, with grey-streaked dark hair.
Greene would visit Young and play cards with him, and Armand's daughter Andrée had Greene's photograph taken for a new ID card. On the morning of 4 March, Armand Leveque telephoned to warn them to be extra careful and shortly afterwards, Greene saw five men in plain-clothes come and arrest Mme Marcelle Leveque, her sister Mme Julienne Lassouquere and Sgt Young.
Mme Reine Merovitz (a Swiss woman who was hiding with Mlle Levavasseur) moved Greene to a sixth-floor apartment at 4 rue Edouard Quenu where he was sheltered by Paul and Olga Christol. Greene stayed with the Christols until 9 April, when Andrée Leveque told him about a new organisation. Andrée took Greene to Elisabeth Barbier's apartment at 72 rue Vaneau where he was introduced to Frederic De Jongh of Comète, and De Jongh took him to be sheltered by Henri Dufermont and his wife at 42 rue Jeanne d'Arc, Paris XIII. On 27 April, Frederic De Jongh turned Greene over to Oaktree boss Val Williams who gave him - along with Dennison, Spencer, Howard and Kononenko - new ID papers, and (as mentioned earlier) Genevieve de Poulpiquet, known as the countess, took them by train to Saint-Brieuc where they changed to the local Cotes du Nord “petit train” for Saint-Quay-Portrieux.
They were met by Ray Labrosse who took them to a farm near Saint-Quay (with Mme Suzanne Hervé) while they waited for news of a boat. The five evaders stayed at the farm for a little over a week until hearing that the boat deal was off, and on 11 May, were moved to Tréveneuc to be sheltered by Mme Cellarié, who Greene says ran a small hotel with rooms upstairs.
Greene seems to say that nine of them were taken to Paris on 19 May by Labrosse, Andrée Leveque and Jean Camard. They were met by Val Williams (who talked too much in English in crowded places) and Elisabeth Barbier, and Greene says that he stayed for five days in a house on rue Saint-Jacques (assume with Anne Lescure) before Andrée Leveque brought him back to Brittany on 24 May. Note that while dates given in the evader reports cannot be guaranteed, none of the other evaders mention this trip to Paris - and I think that on about 20 May, Andrée Leveque (and Joe Jouanjean) took Marshall (#74), Wells (#79) and Roy Martin (#77) to the Chateau du Bourblanc – see later .
Greene was taken to stay with Andrée and Ray Labrosse at their house in Saint-Quay where he joined Spencer, Riley, Kononenko and Jack Luehrs. He comments on a broken radio transmitter, and Janic (the name that Greene uses for Jean Camard) bringing a replacement valve from Paris, and says that after Labrosse attracted attention with his Canadian style of playing basket-ball, they had to move out of the house completely. Greene, Spencer, Riley and Kononenko were taken to the house where Claude Raoul-Duval and his wife were living with Marie Charneau (see later), where they stayed until 3 June, when Andrée Leveque took them all back to Paris.
Greene says that the plan was for Val Williams to give them papers and take them to Pau but after they were delayed at Saint-Brieuc (see earlier) they reached Paris too late for Elisabeth Barbier to get them tickets for that night, and anyway, Williams had already left with Urbanski and Zaborowski. It's not clear where Greene spent that night but in the morning, a girl (in dark glasses and smoking Portuguese cigarettes) brought him back to Elisabeth's apartment where he was told that Williams had been arrested, along with the two Poles and an American airman.
Greene was taken to be sheltered with Gabrielle Wiame at 46 rue Poliveau, and Spencer with her neighbour Albert Calonne, and then when Mme Wiame heard that Elisabeth had been arrested (on 18 June), she moved both airmen to 25 rue de Madrid where they were sheltered with Maud Couve and Alice Brouard. They stayed in the rue de Madrid apartment until Ray Labrosse (either through Paul Campinchi or Gabrielle Wiame - both of whom knew Georges Broussine personally) made contact with the Bourgogne organisation, and on 8 July, Labrosse took the two airmen to meet Broussine at a Presbyterian church.
Broussine handed Spencer and Greene over to 20-year-old Jacques Niepceron who took them, a French airman called Jean Bataille, and S/Sgts Lester Brown (#52) and John Houghton (#53) – the radio-operator and ball-turret gunner of B-17 42-30058 (Rosio) which was shot down on 26 June - to gare d'Austerlitz and an overnight train to Toulouse where they changed for Foix.
From Foix they walked south until collected by a small Renault pick-up (at which point Jacques left them and was replaced by two Spanish mountain guides) and driven further south before starting their trek across the Pyrenees. They reached Andorra the following day (10 July) where they stayed for three days at the Hotel Coma in Ordino before being driven to the Spanish border. They crossed into Spain in the late evening of 14 July and set off on the long walk to the Catalan town of Manresa, arriving at about three in the morning of 21 July, where they took a train to Barcelona, and reached the British Consulate that same morning.
Two days later, the four evaders were driven to the British Embassy in Madrid, where they stayed until 3 August, when they left by train for Gibraltar. The Americans report arriving at Gibraltar on 5 August 1943, and being back in the UK next day. Spencer left Gibraltar on 9 August on an overnight flight to Prestwick.
On 13 July 1943, Henry Riley (1359) and Abram Kononenko (1455) - along with Frank Perrica (#64) and Salvadore Tafoya (#72) - left Paris by train for Toulouse and Foix with Ray Labrosse.
Sgt Henry Riley (1359) from Thornton-on-Tees in Yorkshire, was the 24-year-old navigator of 51 Sqn Halifax DT670 (Inch) which was returning from Pilsen (Czechoslovakia) in the early hours of 17 April 1943. They had already been hit by flak near Mannheim on the way out that had stopped their port-inner engine and on the return leg, near Chalons-sur-Marne, there was a series of explosions, probably from a night-fighter attack, and Sgt Douglas F Inch gave the order to bale out. Five crew were killed (including 20-year-old Inch) and one captured - Riley was the only successful evader.
Riley landed close to his burning aircraft, in open country just east of Chaintrix-Bierges (west of Chalons-sur-Marne) (now Chalons-en-Champagne) and after hiding his parachute, headed west. Riley walked to the tiny village of Trécon and approached the first farm he came to, declaring himself to the farmer who gave him food, some wine and civilian clothing. The farmer then contacted a garage owner in Vertus, who contacted someone in Epernay who was connected to an organistion, and the following afternoon, a man arrived with a tandem bicycle, and took Riley to Epernay. Riley never knew the name of his helper in Epernay but the man's brother-in-law was a doctor, and he arranged to have Riley's photograph taken. He also gave Riley another set of civilian clothes, and returned the first set to Riley's first helper in Trécon. Riley spent the night at the man's house, and next morning, was taken to a café in the centre of town where he was given an identity card by one of the town clerks before returning once more to the the man's house.
On 22 April, a man called Francois took Riley from Epernay to Paris, arriving at about eight o'clock that evening, then by Metro to Denfert-Rochereau (Paris XIV). Riley was sheltered near the Metro station by an elderly businessman (who had four or five daughters) for five days, during which time Riley says that he met American evader Frank Greene (Greene was being sheltered with Henri Dufermont and his wife at 42 rue Jeanne d'Arc at this time – see earlier). On 27 April, Riley was taken to stay with one of the daughters and her husband who lived nearby, and on 30 April, to meet Val Williams and Andrée Leveque.
Williams gave Riley a new ID card and then took him, Brian Barker, Douglas Cox and Jack Luehrs to Montparnasse station where they took a train to Saint-Brieuc. That afternoon they went by taxi to Etables and the home of maire, Jerome Camard on rue de la Gare, where they met Peter Lefevre. Later that same afternoon, the four airmen were taken to stay with Jean Marie Lanlo and his wife Virginia at their Villa Soleil in Saint-Quay-Portrieux, where Riley met Allen Fitzgerald USAAF (#60).
On 3 May, Riley, Barker, Cox and Luehrs were moved to Tréveneuc to sheltered by Mme Cellarié, where they met Gordon Spencer. Riley says there 14 others in her house - including Charles McDonald, Borden Dennison, Elmer Bulman - and Riley stayed with Mme Cellarié for ten days, during which time, most of the others were taken to Paris.
On 13 May, Riley says that he, Spencer, Luehrs and Abram Kononenko were moved to a house on rue d'Olive (with Jean René Quilien of rue des Roches Olives) at Saint-Quay-Portrieux where they stayed for another week. On 20 May, they were moved to another house, near the Lanlo's, where they joined Frank Greene and met a French Canadian, Ray Labrosse, and were generally looked after by Andrée Leveque, who was posing as Labrosse's wife.
On 3 June, Andrée Leveque took Riley, Spencer, Kononenko and Greene by overnight train from Saint-Brieuc to Paris. They went to Elisabeth Barbier's apartment for about an hour before Madeleine Melot took the Riley and Kononenko to her home at 11 bis rue Larrey. Kononenko left the next day (no details found) but Riley stayed until 11 June when Mme Melot took him to a friend's house in the commune of Vanves for a week before moving him again, this time to the Denfert-Rochereau district to stay with Simone Levavasseur, and Riley was sheltered above Mlle Levavasseur's shop, La Petite Chocolatiere at 19 Avenue d'Orleans where Frank Greene had stayed previously. On 3 July, Mme Melot took Riley back to her apartment where he stayed for another ten days until “she handed him over to an organisation”. Riley was taken that afternoon (13 July) to the Jardins des Plantes where he rejoined Kononenko, and met 2/Lt Frank Perrica (#64) and S/Sgt Salvadore Tafoya (#72) – plus four or five Frenchmen.
Abram S Kononenko (1455) was either a sergeant or a private. He claimed to be serving in the Russian air force but attached to an army unit retreating from the Germans when he was captured in September 1941 near Peryateno, near Kiev.
Kononenko says that he was sent to a POW camp at Proskurov, near the Polish border, from where he escaped on 17 December 1941. Kononenko made his way to the village near Kiev where his mother lived and where he was recaptured in May 1942. For some reason, he was then sent through Poland, Germany and Belgium to a work camp in France near Valenciennes. On 15 October 1942, Kononenko and another Russian (first name Gregory) escaped and made their way into Belgium where they made contact with an organisation in a village near Mons. Kononenko stayed four months near Mons before being put in contact with the organisation that arranged his journey.
2/Lt Frank R Perrica (#64) and S/Sgt Salvadore Tafoya (#72) were the 24-year-old bombardier and 20-year-old tail-gunner of B-17 42-29531 (305BG/422BS) (Peterson) which was hit by flak over Saint-Nazaire on 29 May 1943 and abandoned. Two other crew also evaded successfully : co-pilot 2/Lt Harold E Bentz (#1716) who, after being sheltered in Paris by Tiphaine de Boisboissel, evaded to Switzerland in July, and ball-turret gunner S/Sgt Peter P Milasius (#73) – see later.
Perrica, Tafoya and most of the rest of the crew landed a few miles south of Quintin in Brittany. A crowd of Frenchmen came to help them and Perrica and Tafoya paired off together. On 2 June, they were near the village of Guignen (south-west of Rennes) where they approached a farmer named Raymond Yrvon who invited them into his farmhouse. A few days later he took them to his home in Paris at 52 Ave d'Italie, Paris XIII and called in two of his neighbours, M. Desire of 52 (or 54) Place d'Italie and Andre Douette of 147 Avenue de Choisy, and it was decided that they should stay with M. Douette until contact was made with an organisation. They slept at Avenue de Choisy – and took their meals at Raymond Yrvon's home – being taken around the city where they “saw all the sights”. They had “a good time” for just over a week until Elisabeth Barbier and Irish-born Elsa Janie MacCarthy came to interview them and took the two Americans back to Elisabeth's apartment at 72 rue Vaneau. They were only in the apartment for about an hour before a large blonde lady called Hélène (assume Hélène de Suzannet) took them to stay overnight with an actor and singer named Maurice Laporte at 32 rue Poliveau. Next day, Kitty (Mme Hina Zipine) took Perrica and Tafoya to 68 Boulevard Auguste-Blanqui where they were sheltered by nurse Suzanne Guelat (one of Gabrielle Wiame's many contacts) for a month and a half during which time they were told that Elisabeth had been arrested. On 13 July, Ray Labrosse brought new ID papers and took them to the Jardin des Plantes.
Mme Suzanne Guelat (aka Aline) (born November 1912 in Lille) was a supervisor at l'Hospital Sainte Anne in Paris. Her IS9 recommendation for an award says that after the capitulation of France, she took an active part in resistance activities and in early 1943, joined an evasion group. She (and husband Olivier) sheltered about twenty Allied evaders at her home and found safe lodgings for many others.
On 13 July, Ray Labrosse took Riley, Kononenko, Perrica, Tafoya and a small group of Frenchmen by overnight train to Toulouse and on to Foix, where Labrosse left them. One of the Frenchmen arranged to take them by car to rendezvous with a Belgian member of the Bourgogne organisation and two mountain guides, and they set off at six o'clock that evening for Andorra.
The group arrived in Andorra on 17 July, and stayed in a hotel until 20 July, during which time they were joined by Sgt Joseph Milne (1360) (see below), four (sic) American evaders, a Spaniard and two women. The whole group left Andorra on 20 July and walked to Manresa, arriving there on 26 July, and took a 12.30 train to Barcelona. They stayed in accommodation arranged by the British Consulate, and on 29 July, Riley, Milne and the Americans (no mention of Kononenko) were taken by car to Madrid, arriving there next day. At the Embassy, Riley reports meeting F/Sgt Spencer (1345) (see earlier), and Comète evaders F/O Basil Robert Murphy (1356) and P/O Robert Edward Barckley (1361). On 10 August, Riley, Milne and Barcklay were taken by car to Seville, and next day, put on board a ship called “Esneh”. They sailed to the mouth of the river Guadalquivir, and at about twelve o'clock the following night, joined a convoy bound for Gibraltar, arriving there in the afternoon of 13 August.
Riley (and Barckley) left Gibraltar on 16 August 1943 by overnight flight to Hendon – Murphy having left two days earlier. Kononenko's report says that he spent about six days in Barcelona, and then nine days in Madrid, where he was given a Spanish passport, and a Spanish guide took him by train to a station near the Portuguese border. He was handed over to another guide, who took him across the frontier, and then by car to Lisbon. Kononenko was kept at a pension in a village near Lisbon for about six weeks until being flown to the UK on 5 October. Perrica and Tafoya seem to have separated at Madrid, Perrica arriving at Gibraltar on 9 August and flown to the UK arriving on 12 August while Tafoya reached Gibraltar on 12 August, and arrived in the UK on 16 August.
On 15 July 1943, Edward Spevak (#59) and Allen Fitzgerald (#60) – along with Joseph Milne (1360) and Anthony Cucinotta (#71) - left Paris by train for Toulouse and Foix with their guide Yves Allain, Georges Broussine's deputy at reseau Bourgogne.
1/Lt Edward J Spevak (#59) from Rupert in Idaho, was the 23 -year-old pilot of B-17 42-29627 Midnight (94BG/410BS) which was returning from Lorient on 17 May 1943 when it was attacked by fighters. With two engines already out of action due to flak damage over the target, they started to fall behind their formation, and it was only a matter of time before Spevak was forced to order his crew to bail out, leaving the aircraft to crash at Le Cloitre-Saint-Thegonnec, about 15 kms south of Morlaix in Brittany.
Three other crew from Midnight evaded successfully: navigator 2/Lt Homer (NMI) Contopidis (#42) and tail-gunner Sgt Walter E Minor (#43) were helped in Paris by a woman they refer to as the Countess B, who passed them on to contacts in Lyon, and they crossed the Pyrenees together in June, and co-pilot 2/Lt Donald Nichols (#75) - see below and later.
Spevak says that waist-gunner S/Sgt Joseph C Melaun was killed but everone else had jumped before he and his co-pilot, 2/Lt Donald Nichols, went through the escape hatch – Spevak getting caught and needing Nichols to push him through at about 13,000 feet. Spevak pulled his rip-cord immediately, and was able to count seven parachutes in the air before landing in the street of a small village a few miles south of Morlaix. He gathered up his parachute and ran out of the village with some of the villagers following him. Three of them took Spevak to hide in a clump of trees where he stayed until night-fall, when he was collected and taken to a house where he joined his co-pilot Nichols and waist-gunner S/Sgt Donald C Parks, who had serious shrapnel wounds. They stayed in the house overnight, leaving early next morning to hide in a wheatfield while Germans on bicycles searched the area. The process was repeated next day, and that night, the three airmen set off walking. They passed through Callac during the third night and later stopped in Plourin-les-Morlaix where their journey was arranged.
Their helper was the maire of Plourin-lès-Morlaix who sheltered them for three days while he contacted Job Le Bec who in turn contacted Georges Jouanjean. The three airmen walked through the night of 23-24 May to the Moulin de La Pie where they stayed for two nights with Job Le Bec and his wife Anna, and then on to a butcher's shop in Carhaix where they met Georges Jouanjean.
On 30 May, Jouanjean took Spevak, Nichols and Parks to be sheltered by Betty de Mauduit at the Chateau du Bourblanc near Plourivo where Spevak says they met Biggs (#41), Kylius (# 45), Fitzgerald (#60), Marshall (#74), (Roy) Martin (#77), Wells (#79), Robinson (#103) and Marcus Davis. His report also says that they met some RAF and RCAF men there but I think they had all left the chateau by the time Spevak arrived.
On 5 June, Spevak, Nichols and Parks, along with Fitzgerald, Robinson and Marcus Davis, left Brittany for Paris, leaving just three Americans – Marshall, Wells and Roy Martin from the B-17 Boot Hill (see later) - at the chateau. Georges Jouanjean and Ray Labrosse took them by overnight train to the capital where Elisabeth Barbier met them at the station with the news that Val Williams had been captured.
They went first to Elisabeth's apartment on rue Vaneau, and then Gabrielle Wiame took Spevak and Fitzgerald to stay with a lady in the Red Cross, Tiphaine de Boisboissel (the 48-year-old widow of Richard MacDonald Lucas) and her daughter Suzanne Legrand, at 4 Avenue de Nancy, just across the Seine in the wealthy western suburb of Saint-Cloud. A week later, they were returned briefly to Elisabeth's apartment, and Mme Wiame took Spevak to 4 rue Nicolas Roret, Paris XIII where he was sheltered by Hina Zipine (aka Kitty), and Fitzgerald to 101 Avenue Philippe Auguste, Paris XI where he was sheltered by Dr Nestor and Mme Armadine Firpi .
Tiphaine de Boisboissel (born July 1884) had only recently been recruited into Comète by Robert Aylé when she sheltered her first two evaders in January 1943, after her elder sister, la comtesse Marie-Thérèse-Simone de Keranflech, brought two US airmen - 2/Lt John Spence (#16) and Sgt Sidney Devers (#17) - from her chateau de Quellenec (near Mur-de-Bretagne in Brittany). Tiphaine and her daughter Suzanne Legrand (by her first husband, Franz Legrand, who died in 1915) also sheltered 2/Lt Harold Bentz (#1716), again sent by her sister in Brittany, and who stayed for four days in April before being passed to Robert Aylé.
Suzanne Legrand (born May 1913) and her mothert were arrested on 1 November 1943, shortly after two (unnamed) evaders sent to them by Marie-Christine Bodin, were passed to Doctor René Morat at 10 rue Coutureau, Saint-Cloud, and captured with him when he was arrested. Both women survived Ravensbruck concentration camp.
Sgt Allen Michael Fitzgerald (#60) from Long Island, New York was the 26-year-old right waist-gunner of B-17 42-5232 Available Jones (305BG/364BS) – the same aircraft as Jack Luehrs (see earlier) which was abandoned to crash between Le Cave and Le Vaudreuil on 4 April - and he describes how, having released their bombs on target, they were returning to England, and about forty miles south of Rouen, when they encountered multiple German fighters making a frontal attack out of the sun. Both left engines and the nose of the aircraft were hit immediately, and they began to fall behind their formation. He says that he shot down one fighter, and Jack Luehrs another before a shell exploded in the waist of the bomber, throwing him against the armour plating, and cutting off his oxygen and intercom. With a third engine smoking, and their aircraft rapidly losing altitude, Fitzgerald kicked out the escape hatch and he and Luehrs bailed out at about 16,000 feet.
Like Luehrs, Fitzgerald pulled his rip-cord almost immediately but in his case, the parachute failed to deploy until about 10,000 feet. He landed in an open field where several Frenchmen had already gathered and were waiting for him. They grabbed his parachute and gestured that he should run to a nearby wood. When he got there, he found a young French farmer, and using his limited knowledge of the French language explained that he was an American airman and was told to follow him. The man took Fitzgerald back to his house and he was put in a barn while civilian clothes were brought. The man's wife gave Fitzgerald some food before the man took him by bicycle to another house, the chateau of a wealthy Frenchman, about five miles away. They received something of a hostile reception at this first house and so cycled another five miles to a second house, a large chateau near Le Vaudreuil. This was home to the Raoul-Duval family, where I think Edgar Raoul-Duval (father of evader Claude Raoul-Duval) was living with his wife, Christianne.
Fitzgerald was immediately befriended and hidden well enough to evade a search by German troops that afternoon. Next day, M. and Mme Raoul-Duval took Fitzgerald by bicycle to the railway station at Saint-Pierre-de-Vaudray. They took a train to a main station where he met his pilot, 1/Lt Morris M Jones, and two French girls, and all six of them (seated separately) went by train to Paris.
On arrival at gare Saint-Lazare, the Raoul-Duvals led the way to their apartment off the Champs Elysée at 43 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris VIII, just across from the German Air Force headquarters. M. Raoul-Duval used the telephone to call two women, one of whom took Jones, while the other, Claude Thierry-Mieg, took Fitzgerald to her home, an apartment at 27 rue Benjamin Franklin, from where her younger sister, Anne Catherine Thierry-Mieg, took Fitzgerald to have his photograph taken at a Bon Marché department store. After he was returned to the Thierry-Mieg apartment (where the sisters lived with their mother Marcelle and brother Robert), a man that Fitzgerald refers to as M. Robert, head of the organisation (Robert Aylé of Comète), came and questioned him.
Historic Note
In 1857, Edgar Raoul-Duval (1832-1887) married Catherine Foerster (1834-1922), and they had four children - including Valentine (1860-1932) and Edmond (1862-1932).
In 1882, Valentine Raoul-Duval married Maurice Hervey (1855-1936), and one of their daughters was Marcelle Catherine (1855-1945).
In 1904, Marcelle Catherine Hervey married Gustave Adolphe Thierry-Mieg (1879-1938), and they had five children, including oldest son Robert (born 1905) and daughters Claude Antoinette Emma (born Aug 1917) and Anne Catherine (born Sept 1924).
Meanwhile, in 1890, Edmond Raoul-Duval married Valentine Julia Johnston (1865-1956), and they named one of their five children Edgar (1892-1968).
In 1918, Edgar Raoul-Duval married Renée Gerda Vautier (1898-1991), and they had two children – Claude (born 1919) (who went on to become a fighter pilot) and Nadine (born 1927) - before their divorce in March 1931. In 1933, Edgar married Claire Borst (born 1904) but they were divorced in 1939, and the following year he married Christiane Bornand (born Aug 1909), previous wife of Robert Thierry-Mieg, the eldest brother of Claude Antoinette and Anne Catherine.
Three days later, his radio operator, Jack Luehrs, was brought to the apartment (see earlier), and Fitzgerald was moved to nearby 20 rue Greuze to stay with the comtesse Hélène de Suzannet, where he joined Canadian Elmer Bulman. He was also visited by Val Williams who told him about a boat, and an American girl named Elizabeth Carmichael (from New York and Charleston, South Carolina) who apparently tried to arrange to have Fitzgerald flown back to England.
On 26 April, after “three weeks and two days” at rue Greuze, Fitzgerald and Bulman were taken to gare Montparnasse where they met Elisabeth Barbier, Paul (Labrosse) and two Poles (Urbanski and Zaborowski), and (as mentioned earlier), Elisabeth and Labrosse took them all by train to Saint-Brieuc and on to Saint-Quay-Portrieux where they stayed with Jean and Virginia Lanlo at their Villa Soleil.
Fitzgerald says that three days later, he (along with Bulman, Urbanski and Zaborowski) was moved to Saint-Brieuc. He means Tréveneuc, where he says there were 14 men staying, including Jack Luehrs. He goes on to say that he had been in Saint-Brieuc (sic) for a week when they were told that the organisation wanted an American to go to a chateau in Paimpol, and after cutting cards to see who should go, it was Fitzgerald who went (presumably on 7 or 8 May – although this doesn't seem agree with anyone else's account) to see the comtesse Betty de Maudit at her Chateau du Bourblanc near Plourivo. I only mention this for the benefit of any reader who decides to check the original reports for themselves.
Fitzgerald stayed at the chateau for three weeks before hearing that the boat deal was off, and was returned to Paris on 5 June - Ray Labrosse and Georges Jouanjean taking him, Spevak, Donald Nichols, Allen Robinson, Marcus Davis and Donald Parks. Elisabeth Barbier met them at the station next morning and took them back to her apartment at 72 rue Vaneau - where they met Peterson (#69), Scott (#70) and William Ayres from the B-17 Lady Godiva - and learned that Val Williams had been captured.
From rue Vaneau, Gabrielle Wiame (as mentioned earlier) took Fitzgerald and Spevak to Saint-Cloud where they stayed for a week at 4 Avenue de Nancy with Tiphaine de Boisboissel and her daughter Suzanne Legrand, and then while Spevak was taken to stay with Kitty Zipine, Fitzgerald was sheltered with Dr Nestor and Mme Armadine Firpi at 101 Avenue Philippe Auguste, Paris XI until he left Paris .
On 15 July, Gabrielle Wiame took Spevak and Fitzgerald to the Jardin des Plantes where they met Joseph Milne (1360), Anthony Cucinotta (#71), two French guides and two other young Frenchmen.
Sgt Joseph Reid Milne (1360) from Aberdeen, was the 26-year-old second pilot of 429 Sqn Wellington BK162 (Holmes) which was returning from Mannheim in the early hours of 17 April 1943. Already damaged by flak, they were attacked by a night-fighter near Soissons and the bomber was immediately set on fire. Although Sqn/Ldr Frederick A Holmes DFC gave the order to bale out, Milne was the only man to leave the doomed aircraft.
Milne landed in a potato field somewhere south of Soissons and after burying his parachute, set off walking north. That night, Milne met Theodore Mansart who took him back to his house in Acy (Aisne) and the following morning, the wife of the local maire came to visit. She told Milne that he should give himself up to the Germans and when he refused, said she would not inform on him if he left immediately. M. Mansart took Milne to stay overnight with an electrician friend who also gave Milne a jacket, a pair of trousers and some shoes. Next morning, he took Milne by bicycle to a hospital in Soissons where the surgeon was a member of an organisation.
On 22 April, Mlle Jeanne Jauquet (who owned a dispensary) took Milne back to her house at 2 rue Gustave Alliaume where he stayed for the next five weeks, followed by another week with a friend of hers. During this time, Mlle Jauquet made several journeys to Laon to try and get help for Milne and on one of those visits, obtained an ID card for him. She also provided more civilian clothes for Milne and returned those he had been wearing to the electrician. On 4 June, a man took Milne by car to Laon where he stayed overnight with a French pilot (name unknown) and next day, he was driven to see a surgeon at the hospital in Hirson who took Milne to stay with his parents. On 8 June, Milne was taken by car to stay with Mme Cornelis Vant'Westeinde on her farm at Auge, near Aubenton – Sgt William Laws RAF (1215) had also been sheltered there in April. On 1 July, Dr Alain Josso from Aubenton took Milne to a farm at Liart where he stayed overnight with Emile Fontaine (apparently their eighteenth evader – Dr Josso had also brought Laws to his house) and next day, a railway-worker took him to Charleville where Milne was met by several people and taken to the house of another electrician.
On 8 July, a young girl from Paris took Milne by train back to the capital and the Trocodero district to stay in the same house at 20 rue Greuze where Allen Fitzgerald (#60) had been sheltered by Hélène de Suzannet for three days in April. That evening, Milne was taken to stay with a French ex-officer at 6 Square la Fontaine, Paris XVI for two nights. Then he spent two days at a house opposite the Oxford and Cambridge Hotel (query) belonging to a dressmaker, and the following night in a scout's hut. On 13 July, Milne was taken to stay with Madeleine Melot at 11 bis rue Larray for two nights before being taken to the Jardin des Plantes near the Gare d'Austerlitz where he joined three American airmen, Edward Spevak, Allen Fitzgerald - and Anthony Cucinotta.
S/Sgt Anthony F Cucinotta (#71) from Trenton, New Jersey was the 26-year-old left waist-gunner of B-17 42-30058 (384BG/546BS) (Rosio) which was shot down by fighters while returning from Villacoublay aerodrome on 26 June 1943 – the same aircraft as Lester Brown (#52) and John Houghton (#53) - mentioned earlier.
Cucinotta, along with Brown, Houghton and three other members of their crew were taken to Paris and sheltered at various addresses around the city, and on 3 July, Cucinotta, his co-pilot 1/Lt George Evans (#55) and waist-gunner S/Sgt John Kuberski (#56) were being sheltered with Susanne Bosniere at 56 rue de Bois (now rue Pierre Brossolette) in the western suburb of Reuil-Malmaison. On 9 July, Mme Bosniere took Evans and Kuberski back into Paris where they joined their pilot their pilot, 1/Lt Joseph Rosio (#54), at the gare d'Austerlitz but because he was still recovering from injuries sustained in the aircraft, Cucinotta was taken to be sheltered for another week with Georges Broussine's friend, Dr Jacques Cahen-Delabre at 21 rue Gazan. On 15 July, the doctor's wife took Cucinotta to the Jardins des Plantes where she handed him over to the Frenchman who would be his guide, and he joined Joseph Milne, Edward Spevak and Allen Fitzgerald.
On 15 July, Spevak, Fitzgerald, Milne and Cucinotta left the gare d'Austerlitz on an overnight train to Toulouse with a man said to work for the Cook's agency, and at Toulouse, they changed for Foix. Each evader was given two sandwiches which they thought was for the rail journey but later found were intended for the mountains. They reached Foix at about two o'clock in the afternoon and were taken by truck to a rendezvous outside town where they hid in a wood. They were joined by their mountain guides and at nine o'clock that evening, set off for the mountains, reaching Andorra on 18 July. After two days resting in Andorra, they joined another group of evaders - Henry Riley, Abram Kononenko, Frank Perrica and Salvadore Tafoya (see earlier) - for the long walk to Manresa in Spain.
Spevak and Fitzgerald (like Perrica) arrived at Gibraltar on 9 August 1943, Fitzgerald reaching the UK on 11 August and Spevak the following day. Milne (like Riley and Barckley – see earlier) left Gibraltar on 16 August by overnight flight to Hendon. Cucinotta (like Tafoya) arrived at Gibraltar on 12 August, and landed in the UK on 16 August.
On 20 July 1943, Theodore Peterson (#69), John Scott (#70) and Roy Martin (#77) – along with William Hughes (1365) and Alfred Mansford (1385) - left Paris by train for Toulouse and Foix.
1/Lt Theodore M Peterson (#69) from Woods Cross in Utah, was the 24-year-old pilot, and T/Sgt John M Scott (#70) from Pueblo in Colorado, the 23-year-old radio operator of B-17 42-29878 Lady Godiva (379BG/526BS) which was returning from Saint-Nazaire on the afternoon of 29 May 1943. They were attacked by fighters, which damaged their #1 engine and set fire to engines #2 and #4, and as they approached the coast at Saint-Quay-Portrieux, Peterson turned on the AFCES (autopilot) to hold the aircraft steady, although losing altitude, and gave the order to bail-out. Once he had checked that all his crew had left the aircraft, Peterson jumped at about 2,000 feet.
Peterson landed in an open field near a hedge, his parachute dragging him into the hedge until he cut himself free with his knife. Before he could get his flying gear off, he was surround by a group of Frenchmen, and within just a few minutes of landing, two young boys led him to a nearby ravine. Peterson stayed in the ravine for about two hours until the boys came back (at eight o'clock) with some civilian clothes which they swapped for Peterson's uniform. They then took him to a wheat field where he hid until ten o'clock, when Paul (Labrosse) came to take him back to the house in Saint-Quay-Portrieux where he was living with Andrée Leveque. The following night (30 May), Labrosse brought his radio operator Scott, and waist-gunner Sgt William T Ayres, to join him.
Scott, whose back had been injured by a flak burst, landed in a field near Kergrain (about 2 kilometres west of Plourhan) where he was greeted by a group of local people, including a woman who spoke English. She had brought a shovel so they could bury Scott's parachute and flying equipment, and two boys (Eugène Le Doré and 21-year-old Roger Daniel) bandaged Scott's injuries before taking him to a house in nearby Pont Es Marais, where he stayed overnight with Marcel Jaffrot. For some reason, Marcel (who also spoke some English) already had Scott's name, presumably from ball-turret gunner S/Sgt William H Bluebaugh, who Scott understood had landed 50 metres from the house and left his heated suit there. Next day, the two boys took Scott to a field where he met an Englishman from Guersey, and through him and Marcel, they found Bill Ayres. They went to the house at Saint-Barnabé where Ayres had spent the night with Louis Minguy, his wife and daughter Louisiane, and that evening, Paul (Labrosse) came to take them back to his house in Saint-Quay.
Peterson reports meeting other evaders at the house in Saint-Quay where Labrosse and Andrée Leveque were living - Luehrs, Greene, Spencer, Riley and Joe the Russian – their food provided by Jean Lanlo with a girl called Marielle (query writing) helping with the cooking. Peterson's report says they stayed there until Wednesday 2 June but I think it more likely to have been 30 May when the eight evaders were moved to the house where Claude Raoul-Duval (1471) was staying with Mme Charneau (at Allée de Martouret). Luehrs left for Paris on 31 May, and Greene, Spencer, Riley and Kononenko the following day, with just Peterson, Scott and Ayres staying until the following Saturday night when Jean Camard took them to Saint-Brieuc, and then by train to Paris, arriving the morning of Sunday 6 June.
They were met at the station by Ray Labrosse and Elisabeth Barbier who took them to Elisabeth's apartment at 72 rue Vaneau, and then to a hotel where they spent the night. Next morning, Andrée Leveque returned Peterson, Scott and Ayres to Elisabeth's apartment for the day before taking them out to a restaurant where they met Henri Figuamont. M. Figuamont took them and Andrée to his country house on avenue de Bois at Draveil where they stayed for two weeks in the care of Lucien Dalicieux. On 20 June, Andrée tried to telephone Elisabeth and learned that she had been arrested so Lucien drove them to a sanatorium (Preventorium Minoret) at nearby Champrosay – an address not connected with the organisation. On 4 July, Ayres left without telling anyone and so Lucien moved the airmen out that evening in case Ayres was arrested – which I believe he was. Lucien took Peterson and Scott to a deserted chateau for the night and then on to a nearby house for another three nights before taking them to an unnamed helper in Juvisy-sur-Orge. On 12 July, Suzanne Guelat and a blonde lady (Gabrielle Wiame) collected them from Juvisy and took them back to Mme Guelat's apartment at 68 Boulevard Auguste-Blanqui, Paris XIII where they met 2/Lt Frank Perrica (#64) and S/Sgt Salvadore Tafoya (#72) (see earlier) who left the next day, and Peterson and Scott stayed with Mme Guelat until being taken to gare d'Austerlitz on 20 July.
S/Sgt Roy Andrew Martin (#77), who gives his private address as a Post Box in Rizon, Arkansas, was the 23-year-old ball-turret gunner of B-17 42-29767 Boot Hill (96BG/338BS) (Haltom) which was damaged by flak over Lorient on the morning of 17 May 1943 and attacked by fighters. The bail-out order was given and the aircraft abandoned a few miles north-west of Carhaix. Martin was one of the six crewmen from Boot Hill who evaded successfully, first with Oaktree and then with Bourgogne.
Martin had discovered a problem with the oxygen supply in his turret as they crossed the French coast (the valve had frozen) and since the walk-about bottles wouldn't have lasted long enough to be much use to him, was sitting over his turret, rotating it purely for the benefit of any enemy fighters, when they were attacked. S/Sgt William C Martin (#78) (apparently no relation although they both came from Arkansas) was wounded and Roy took his place at the waist-gun while William turned the ball-turret. As the aircraft went into its final dive, the survivors in the rear of the plane (the two Martins and S/Sgt Niles G Loudenslager (#80) - it's thought that tail-gunner S/Sgt Andrew L Jorinscay had already been killed) were trapped and it was only after the tail broke away that they managed to get out.
Martin landed in the next field to his pilot Louis Haltom (#76) and quickly joined him, and a crowd of people ran over and took their flying equipment before leading them to a patch of scrub where food and some items of clothing were brought. Neither of the Americans spoke any French but they got directions from the locals, and set off walking south. They didn't get far before an English-speaking French boy joined them, and took them to a farmhouse. However it seemed the occupants weren't too impressed with the idea, and so the boy took them into a field where he hid them and said he would return that night. Then a young girl arrived who moved them a short distance to another hiding place – she returned later with a woman who told them that the boy worked for the Germans and had intended to turn them in. She also said that she knew a man who could help them, and two hours later, brought him to their hiding place. The man took them to a wood where they found waist-gunner S/Sgt Niles Loudenslager (#80), whose leg had been broken by a flak burst in the aircraft, and later that same night, top-turret gunner T/Sgt Herman Marshall (#74) and radio operator T/Sgt Glen Wells (#79) were brought to join them.
Martin, Haltom, Marshall and Wells were taken on foot, with Loudenslager riding on a horse, to a car to be driven to Landeleau and a house where they spent the rest of the night in a single room. The next morning, Louis and Jean Manach, took them by truck (camionnette) to Carhaix, where Marshall left the others to stay overnight in the town, while Martin, Haltom, Loudenslager and Wells joined their injured waist-gunner William Martin (#78), who already being sheltered by the Manach brothers. Next day, Marshall was brought back to join them, and while Haltom stayed with his two wounded gunners, Job Le Bec and Joe Jouanjean took Roy Martin, Marshall and Wells by truck to Saint-Quay-Portrieux. They met Andrée Leveque there, and Joe and Andrée took them by bus to Paimpol, and the Chateau du Bourblanc at Plourivo, where they joined Barry, Kylius, Wilson, Biggs, Fitzgerald, Robinson and Marcus Davis.
As detailed earlier, various other men arrived and left over the next few days until 5 June, when it was just the three Boot Hill crewmen at the chateau, and on 9 June they were joined by their pilot Louis Haltom and waist-gunner William Martin.
Early on the morning of Saturday 12 June, the five Americans were still in bed when two Germans arrived at the chateau. The airmen promptly hid in prearranged hiding places between the floor and the ceiling below, where they stayed until eight o'clock that evening. They heard the Germans coming and going in and out of the chateau throughout the day, Haltom reporting that they even stood right over them at one time, and on their third visit, took the comtesse Betty de Mauduit away.
Whilst the airmen were carefully hidden, they had made the mistake of leaving their shoes in one of the rooms, all of which except Haltom's (which had been wrapped in paper) were taken away and hidden elsewhere by Betty's friend and part-time cook, Yvonne Guillou. After the Germans left that evening, the Americans crept from under the floors and made their out the back of the chateau and over the high stone wall which still surrounds the property to this day.
While Haltom, Wm Martin, Marshall and Wells headed for Saint-Quay one way, Roy went another. He found his way to Plouha where he went to a farm for food, and the owners contacted local resistance leader François Le Cornec. Two nights later, Ray Labrosse arrived and took him to join Haltom and Wm Martin, who had been moved from Tréveneuc to be sheltered by Mme Charneau in Saint-Quay, where they had joined Claude Raoul-Duval.
On 15 July, Josette Raoul-Duval took Roy and William Martin by train to Paris. They were met at the station by Ray Labrosse, and Josette and Labrosse took them by Metro to a park where the two Martins separated. Labrosse took Roy to 11 bis rue Larrey, where he was sheltered by Madeleine Melot until 20 July, when he was taken to gare d'Austerlitz and joined Peterson and Scott from the Lady Godiva, and two RAF evaders - William Hughes and Alfred Mansford.
Sgt William Hughes (1365) from Bolden Colliery in County Durham, was the 22-year-old flight engineer, and Sgt Alfred Reginald Mansford (1385) from Stepney in East London, the 21-year-old bomb-aimer of 102 Sqn Halifax JB840 (Hibben) which was on the way to Nuremburg on 8 March 1943 and about twenty miles west of Verdun when it was attacked by a night-fighter. The aircraft was set on fire and the captain ordered his crew to bale out. Hughes and Mansford were the only ones to evade successfully.
Hughes landed in the Foret d'Argonne, and Mansford on the southern edge of the forest, in a grass field near the village of Brizeaux (Lorraine). Both men were helped separately and taken to Paris where they were reunited on 17 March at the home of a de Gaulist organisation member, Mme Marion (query) at 26 rue de Constantinople, Paris VIII. Hughes and Mansford were sheltered for more than three months at rue de Constantinople, until the end of June when they were told that the Gestapo were looking for Mme Marion, and a young girl moved them to another house for the night. Next morning an English-speaking Frenchman took them to stay with Mme Pauline Cornu-Thenard at 6 Place Saint-Sulpice, Paris VI – Mme Thenard said she could contact a French Intelligence Service, and later brought an American woman to see them. The American woman questioned them and two days later, brought an unnamed Englishman to see them.
In mid-July, Mme Thenard took Hughes and Mansford to 51 rue de Miromesnil, Paris VIII where they stayed with Bourgogne logeurs Doctor Alice Willm on the fifth floor, and electrical engineer Jean De Traz and his wife Laure, on the sixth floor. On 20 July, an unidentified French helper took Hughes and Mansford to the Jardin des Plantes where they met American evaders Theodore Peterson, John Scott and Roy Martin.
The five airmen were taken on the eight o'clock evening train from the Gare d'Austerlitz to Toulouse, arriving there at eight o'clock the following morning where they changed for Foix. They arrived in Foix at three in the afternoon and were met at the station before being taken to a field where they were picked up by car and driven to a wood to meet their mountain guide.
They set off at about five o'clock that afternoon but after two nights of walking, Mansford found his leg muscles were hurting and early on the morning of 23 July, said he couldn't continue. The guide told Hughes that they should carry on and that he would return for Mansford later, so Hughes gave Mansford what little food he had before leaving him close to the Andorran border. The rest of the group reached Ordino in Andorra at about five o'clock that afternoon, where they had a meal (which Peterson paid for in French francs) before continuing to Andorra la Vieja where they stayed in a hotel. Hughes notes that they were not required to pay their hotel bill but were asked to sign it instead. On 25 July, they moved to another hotel and the following day, walked with a new guide and two Frenchmen to Sant Julia de Loria. After another meal, they began the long cross-country walk to Manresa. They reached Manresa on the morning of 30 July where they caught a train to Barcelona and then took a taxi to the British Consulate.
It's not clear whether their first guide did return for Mansford but he was driven down into Ordino by Julian (Julià) Reig, a local cigarette manufacturer (and smuggler) who lived near Andorra la Vieja. He put Mansford into a hotel – where he stayed in bed for the first four days - and sent for a doctor, telling Mansford not to be concerned about money. Mansford left Ordino by car for Sant Julia two weeks later, along with a Frenchman, three Poles and a man called Luis (aka Carlos – he was the Barcelona contact for a Polish organisation). They stayed overnight in an apartment at Sant Julia with a man who provided their papers and next day were taken by car across the frontier into Spain. They stayed at a hotel in La Seo d'Urgell until collected by a Spaniard who drove them to Barcelona and the British Consulate.
Peterson and Scott reached Gibraltar on 12 August 1943, and arrived back in the UK on 16 August. Roy Martin reached Gibraltar on 19 August, and arrived back in the UK on 21 August. Hughes left Gibraltar by overnight flight to Portreath on 20 August, and Mansford left Gibraltar by overnight flight to Whitchurch on 1 September.
On 22 July 1943, Donald Nichols (#75), Herman Marshall (#74), Glen Wells (#79) and Peter Milasius (#73) left Paris by train for Toulouse and Foix.
2/Lt Donald Lee Nichols (#75) from Perkins, Oklahoma, was the 21-year-old co-pilot of B-17 42-29627 Midnight. After being brought to Elisabeth Barbier's apartment at rue Vaneau on 6 June with his pilot Edward Spevak (#59) and waist-gunner Donald Parks (see earlier), Nichols was taken to be sheltered by Dominique and Odette Carabelli at 45 rue Poliveau, Paris V. On 20 June, he was moved to La Varenne Saint Hilaire (Saint-Maur-des-Fossés) where he stayed with blind masseur Felix Jolivot at 17 avenue de la Concorde until 22 July when he was returned to Mme Carabelli, who took him to the gare d'Austerlitz.
T/Sgt Herman Lawrence Marshall (#74) from Redind, Massachusetts, was the 25-year-old top- turret gunner of B-17 42-29767 Boot Hill (96BG/338BS) (Haltom) which was damaged by flak over Lorient on 17 May 1943 and abandoned a few miles north-west of Carhaix – see Roy Martin (#77) earlier.
On hearing the bail-out order, Marshall came down from his turret and opened the bomb-bay doors. He could see the pilots still at the controls, and the waist-gunners trying to open the waist door but with Captain William C Carnahan (who was flying as an observer) right behind him ready to jump, Marshall left the aircraft at about 19,000 feet. He pulled his rip-cord immediately after jumping, and landed near Chateauneuf-du-Faou, and while he was unbuckling his harness, two Frenchmen came out of a house to help him. Marshall understood they were warning him about Germans but when he started to run towards a wood, they indicated that he should go the other way. He crossed several fields before seeing two Frenchmen and a girl, and tried to hide himself but they had already spotted him. They shook his hand and asked if he was American before leadung him to a farmhouse, being joined by another Frenchman along the way who had brought some civilian clothes which Marshall put on immediately. Marshall was hidden in a shed on the farm, meeting Glen Wells from his crew there, and when it got dark, the farmer took them both to a wood where they joined their pilot Louis Haltom, and two injured gunners, Roy Martin and Niles Loudenslager.
T/Sgt Glen Wells (#79) from Lexington, Kentucky, was the the 20-year-old radio operator of B-17 42-29767 Boot Hill (96BG/338BS) (Haltom), and he describes how flak had taken off their right horizontal stabiliser before they were attacked by fighters which fired 20mm cannon shells through their wings, and damaged two of their engines. As their speed dropped, they were attacked again, with a cannon shell coming through the fuselge and knocking over right waist-gunner Niles Loudenslager (#80), and machine gun fire hitting his left leg - although that didn't stop him from continuing to fire back. When Haltom rang the alarm bell (three short rings) and told everyone to get ready to bail out, Wells went to the back of the aircraft to pass on the order. Then the bail-out signal sounded (continuous ring) and Wells and Loudenslager tried to get out through the waist door they found it had been damaged by the gunfire, and it was only when Loudenslager pushed him through the hatch that Wells was finally able to leave the doomed bomber, with Loudenslager right behind him.
Wells says that he bailed out at about 18,000 feet, and that when he landed, there was a woman waiting for him. The woman took him back to her house and gave him enough drink to “stimulate” him, before fetching a man who could speak a little English – this was François L'Hostis of 11 rue du Général Lambert, Carhaix. They hid all of Wells flying gear, and François gave him his coat before taking Wells to his house where he joined his engineer, Herman Marshall. They ate supper together while other people were looking for the rest of their crew, and when it got dark, François took Wells and Marshall to the corner of a field where they joined their pilot, Louis Haltom, ball-turret gunner Roy Martin and waist-gunner Niles Loudenslager, whose leg had been broken.
They were told that one of their crew was in hospital and three officers had been captured but one man (tail-gunner S/Sgt Andrew J Jorinsay) had been killed - shot through the head as he came down. Co-pilot F/O George Ernest Forsland was unaccounted for.
As already mentioned, the five airmen were taken to Landelau, where they stayed overnight, and then next morning, the Manach brothers drove them to Carhaix. Marshall was taken by bicycle down into the town to spend the night at the home of a young man and his wife and child. Next morning, a man with glasses took Marshall to a farm (sic) about 6 kms from Carhaix where he rejoined Wells, Haltom, Roy Martin and Loudenslager, who had spent the night with the Manach brothers at the Minoterie de Kerniguez, along with their left-waist gunner, William Martin (#78). The following day, while Haltom stayed with his two wounded gunners, Job Le Bec and Joe Jouanjean took Marshall, Wells and Roy Martin by truck to Saint-Quay-Portrieux, where they met Andrée Leveque, and Joe and Andrée took them by bus to Paimpol, and the Chateau du Bourblanc at Plourivo.
Haltom and William Martin joined them on 9 June, and Marshall describes how on 12 June, “someone saw two Germans coming into yard”. The five Americans crawled into hiding while the Germans took the countess. They came back with her at eight o'clock that evening but then took her away again. About an hour later, the Americans decided to go and they started walking to Saint-Quay. Roy Martin went separately (see earlier) while the other four men slept for part of the night in a haystack, and then because he had papers (and shoes) Haltom went by road while Marshall, Wells and Wm Martin followed the railway line and found their way to Mme Cellarié's house at Tréveneuc, where Haltom and Wm Martin had stayed just days earlier, and rejoined Loudenslager.
They spent that night and the next at Tréveneuc, and then while Haltom, Wm Martin and Loudenslager went to join Claude Raoul-Duval at Mme Charneau's house, Wells and Marshall were taken to stay with the elderly Ligeron couple at their Hotel de la Plage in Saint Quay, where they were sheltered until leaving for Paris on 13 July.
S/Sgt Peter P Milasius (#73) from Chicago, was the 31-year-old ball-turret gunner of B-17 42-29531 (305BG/422BS) (Peterson) which was damaged by flak over Saint-Nazaire on 29 May 1943 and abandoned - the same aircraft as 2/Lt Frank Perrica (#64) and S/Sgt Salvadore Tafoya (#72) (see earlier).
Milasius landed by the church in Le Vieux-Bourg, a few kilometres west of Quintin (about 20 kms SW of Saint-Brieuc). Local people took his parachute and equipment before he ran out of the village and found his radio-operator T/Sgt Joseph P Freeborn in a field with multiple injuries, including a broken leg - Freeborn was later taken to a hospital where he was captured. Milasius spent the first night in a ditch and then the next few days in a barn. On 5 June, he was taken to Saint-Brieuc where he stayed with a man called Marcel Bretagne. Milasius stayed at Saint-Brieuc until 28 June when three men came with bicycles to take him to Saint-Quay-Portrieux. He was passed on to Jean Lanlo who took him to stay with widow Pauline Bringuet at la Ville d'en Haut, 25 rue des Trois Freres Salaun.
On the first day, he was visited by French pilot evader Lt Claude Raoul-Duval, and on 13 July, a blonde woman (assume Josette Raoul-Duval) took Milasius - along with Boot Hill crewmen Herman Marshall and Glen Wells - by train back to Saint-Brieuc and then overnight to Paris where they met Ray Labrosse in a park.
Milasius was taken to the home of another blonde woman, this one called Rosie, where his bombardier Frank Perrica and tail-gunner Salvadore Tafoya were being sheltered by nurse Suzanne Guelat at 68 Boulevard Auguste-Blanqui, along with Theodore Peterson and John Scott from the Lady Godiva. As mentioned earlier, Perrica and Tafoya left that same day, and Milasius, Peterson and Scott were joined the following evening by Boot Hill waist-gunner William Martin, and on 19 July by Boot Hill pilot Louis Haltom and the other waist-gunner, Niles Loudenslager. Peterson and Scott left on 20 July, and Milasius two days later.
On 22 July, Marshall, Wells, Nichols and Milasius were taken, along with three Frenchmen, by train via Toulouse to Foix. Their guides from Paris led them to some woods where their Spanish mountain guides met them that evening. They crossed the border to Andorra on 27 July where they stayed in a hotel – and briefly met Theodore Peterson, John Scott and Roy Martin – before walking across the Spanish border to La Seu d'Urgell where they were met and driven to the British Consulate in Barcelona, arriving there on Saturday 31 July.
Marshall and Milasius left Gibraltar on 16 August on an overnight flight to Hendon, and Wells and Nichols left Gibraltar on 20 August on an overnight flight to Bristol.
On 28 July 1943, Louis Haltom (76), William Martin (#78) and Niles Loudenslager (#80) – along with Gerard Bartley (1386), Sidney Hughes (1387) and John Duncan (1388) - left Paris for Toulouse and Foix.
1/Lt Louis Layafette Haltom (#76) from Nacogdoches in Texas, was the 24-year-old pilot of B-17 42-29767 Boot Hill (96BG/338BS) on an early morning operation to Lorient on 17 May 1943. They were hit by flak over the target which hit both their inner engines, and then the right stabiliser was shot away, and they began to lose touch with their formation. They fell back and joined another group below them, which reduced speed to allow them to keep up but attacks by fighters caused more damage, and they were about fifteen miles north-west of Carhaix when Haltom ordered his crew to bail out.
Haltom made a hard landing in a ploughed field, spraining his ankle, and by the time he'd taken off his parachute and Mae West, his ball-turret gunner S/Sgt Roy Martin, who had landed in the next field, joined him.
Haltom describes how the locals brought a great deal of food and drinks for him, Loudenslager and Roy Martin, and then Marshall and Wells arrived. At about half past eleven, they were taken – Loudenslager being carried on a door while Marshal and Wells helped him – about half a mile to a car and driven to a house in Landelau, where they spent the night. The following afternoon, they were put into a truck, covered with branches and taken to a large house near Carhaix, home of the Manach brothers, where they joined the wounded William Martin. Haltom says a doctor (Dr Leon Le Janne from Morlaix, and his nurse Mlle Kerréneur) attended to them – Haltom (who had sprained his ankle), William Martin and Loudenslager all needed medical attention – and they stayed overnight at the Minoterie de Kerniguez. Next day, civilian clothing was provided for Roy Martin, Marshall and Wells, and they left for Saint-Quay and the Chateau du Bourblanc. Later that afternoon, an English-speaking lady came and took Haltom back to her home in Carhaix – he seems to refer to her as Lady Denise. She told him that she belonged to an organisation, and that as soon as they were all well enough, they would be moved.
Haltom stayed at Carhaix, and Loudenslager and Willliam Martin at the Minoterie de Kerniguez for eleven days until they were taken by truck (again covered with branches) to the “Hotel Pennington in Saint-Quay-Portrieux”, where they met Ray Labrosse, and had their pictures taken by Jean Camard for ID cards and work-permits.
Louis Manach (born May 1920), and his brother Jean (born February 1925), were denounced and arrested on 11 June 1943. Louis was held at Angouleme, from where he escaped in January 1944. He joined the maquis in the Charente area, participating in their resistance activities until the liberation. Jean was also held at Angouleme but after six months, “succeeded in foiling his interrogators and was finally released on medical grounds, being judged as unsound of mind”. He then “joined the ranks of the maquis in Brittany, and participated in their activities until the liberation”. (IS9 recommendations for King's Medals for Courage for both brothers)
While Haltom, Loudenslager and William Martin were being sheltered with Mme Cellarié at Tréveneuc, the B-17 Lady Godiva crashed into the sea off Saint-Quay, and on 9 June, Claude Raoul-Duval took Haltom and Martin to the Chateau du Bourblanc, where they joined Marshall, Wells and Roy Martin.
On 12 June, the chateau was raided and Betty de Mauduit arrested. The five Americans escaped that night, made their way back to Saint-Quay and rejoined Loudenslager at Tréveneuc. Next day, Marshall and Wells were taken to be sheltered by Mme Ligeron at the Hotel de la Plage, and Haltom, Wm Martin and Loudenslager to Mme Charneau (where they were joined by Roy Martin), although Loudenslager was soon moved to another house.
By this time Ray Labrosse had left – I think he had moved back to Paris where he was sheltered with Paul Campinchi's friend and colleague, Marguerite Larue at 1 rue Dante. They had also lost contact with the organisation, and Haltom says they spent much of their time listening to the radio. On 13 July, Marshall and Wells left for Paris (see earlier), followed by the two Martins on 15 July, and on about 18 July, it was turn of Haltom and Loudenslager. A man and woman arrived and gave them new papers before taking them by car to Saint-Brieuc - M. Etienne (who lived at the mairie in Saint-Quay) says he took Haltom and Loudenslager (from Mme Cellarié's) to the station at Saint-Brieuc – where they were handed over to a blonde woman (probably Gabrielle Wiame) who took them by train to Paris.
S/Sgt William C Martin ( #78 ) from Texarkana, Arkansas, was the left waist-gunner of Boot Hill. The 23-year-old had been wounded, hit three times in his left side and once on the left arm, and ball-turret gunner Roy Martin (apparently no relation although they both came from Arkansas), who had found a problem with his oxygen system in his turret, had taken over William's waist-gun position. When he saw Sgts Wells and Loudenslager go the waist door to bail out, he crawled after them, trying to fit his parachute harness on at the same time, and when Roy Martin saw the trouble he was having, he came back to help. Then the tail section of their aircraft twisted off, almost taking both Martins with it before William was thrown free. His parachute was only partially fitted, and as he fell, he struggled to reach the rip-cord, his chute opening just before he hit the ground, close to the wreckage of his burning aircraft. He managed to get out of his parachute harness and Mae West before a group of local people arrived, one of them a woman who had brought a bicycle. Martin gave the lady some money from his escape purse before taking the bicycle and riding away but he didn't get far before a young boy caught up with him and directed him to a nearby house. Martin was helped out of his flying clothes and put to bed, and later that afternoon, some men brought him civilian clothing. He was then taken by truck to the Manach brothers mill just outside Carhaix where he was carried in, given some food and put to bed. That night, five of his crew (Haltom, Roy Martin, Loudenslager, Marshall and Wells) were brought to the house, Loudenslager with a broken leg, and he and Loudenslager were given medical attention.
Martin and Loudenslager stayed with Louis and Jean Manach for eleven days until he, Loudenslager and their pilot Louis Haltom were taken to Saint-Quay-Portrieux, where they stayed at the Hotel Pennington (sic), and from this point, Martin was with Haltom (see above) until 15 July, when Josette Raoul-Duval took him and Roy Martin to Paris.
On their arrival in the capital, while Ray Labrosse took Roy to stay with Madeleine Melot, Josette passed William over to a blonde girl (probably Gabrielle Wiame) who took him to 68 Boulevard Auguste-Blanqui where Peterson, Scott and Peter Milasius were being sheltered by Suzanne Guelat.
S/Sgt Miles D Loudenslager (#80) was the right waist-gunner of Boot Hill, and like William Martin, the 27-year-old had also been hit by cannon and machine gun fire, which had broken his leg, so when radio operator Glen Wells came to tell him to bail out, he could only limp to the waist door where he helped Wells to force it open, and then followed him out.
Loudenslager landed close to a village and was immediately surround by a group of people, including a man who was in the organisation that helped him. Somebody bandaged Loudenslager's leg and two men then carried him on a gate, Loudenslager hugging his broken leg to his chest, to be hidden in a hole in the ground, where he was given and some food and wine, and then covered with branches. The men returned later and took him to a house where he joined Haltom, Roy Martin, Marshall and Wells, and then went with them to the Manach brothers mill, where they joined William Martin (see earlier).
After eleven days at the Minoterie de Kerniguez, Loudenslager, William Martin and their pilot Haltom, were taken by truck to a hotel on the coast near Saint-Quay-Portrieux where Loudenslager says he stayed (with Mme Cellarié) for the next 50 to 60 days (sic). He reports that Haltom and William Martin also stayed there until they were taken to the Chateau du Bourblanc but Haltom returned (with Roy Martin, Marshall and Wells) on foot on about 14 June. Loudenslager, Haltom and Wm Martin were then moved to Mme Charneau's house, while Marshall and Wells were taken to stay with Mme Ligeron. Loudenslager only stayed for a day or so with Mme Charneau before being moved to another lady's house in Saint-Quay. He doesn't say who she was or how long he stayed there but on about 18 July, a Frenchman in a pick-up truck took him back to join Haltom, and they were both taken by car to Saint-Brieuc, where they were handed over to a blonde woman (probably Gabrielle Wiame) who took them by train to Paris.
On their arrival in Paris, the blonde woman took Haltom and Loudenslager to Suzanne Guelat's apartment at 68 Boulevard Auguste-Blanqui, where they joined their left waist-gunner, William Martin, who was being sheltered there with Peterson and Scott from the Lady Godiva, and Peter Milasius.
Peterson and Scott left Paris on 20 July, and Milasius on 22 July but Haltom, Loudenslager and Wm Martin stayed on with Mme Guelat (having being joined there on 21 July by 20-year-old Lancaster pilot John Duncan) until 28 July, when the four airmen were taken to the Jardins des Plantes where they met Georges Broussine, head of the Bourgogne escape line. From the park, they walked to the gare d'Austerlitz where they joined two of Duncan's crew - Gerard Bartley and Sidney Hughes - and the 17-year-old French boy who was their guide, and took a train, travelling second class to Toulouse.
Sgt Gerard Bartley (1386), Sgt Sidney Hughes (1387) and Sgt John D Duncan (1388) were the bomb aimer, wireless operator and pilot of 9 Sqn Lancaster ED480, which was on the way to Gelsenkirchen in the early hours of 10 July 1943 when they were hit by flak and the aircraft abandoned near Cambrai. They were helped by the Chauny-Dromas organisation and brought to Paris on 20 July.
Their young French guide took the six airmen by train to Toulouse and on to Foix where they were handed over to two Spanish mountain guides who led them on a three-day walk to Andorra. They stayed three nights in a hotel before leaving for a seven-day trek to Manresa in Spain.
After five nights of hard walking, Hughes' ankle was giving him so much trouble that he was forced to drop out, and Bartley and Martin stayed with him. The rest of the party reached Manresa safely where they took a train to Barcelona, arriving at the British Consulate on the morning of 10 August.
Hughes, Bartley and Martin found two guides at a farmhouse who took them the rest of the way to Manresa, although at least one of the guides must have regretted the arrangement as he was arrested there by the Guardia Civil. The other guide, after hiding them in a cornfield, disappeared. The three airmen spent the night in the cornfield and next morning went to a house where they were given food and shelter while the owner sent someone to Barcelona. That evening, a consular car collected them and delivered them to the British Consulate in Barcelona, just twelve hours after Haltom, Loudenslager and Duncan.
Haltom, Martin and Loudenslager left Gibraltar on 20 August 1943 on an overnight flight to Bristol. Bartley, Hughes and Duncan left Gibraltar on 1 September on an overnight flight to Whitchurch.
Claude Raoul-Duval
Lt Claude Edouard Raoul-Duval (1471) was the 23-year-old pilot of 341 (FF) Sq Spitfire BS548 on an afternoon fighter sweep operation over Triqueville (about 50 kms west of Rouen) on 17 April 1943 when he was shot down over Tancarville (Seine-Maritime) on the north side of the Seine estuary.
Raoul-Duval landed in a wood with his parachute caught in a tree, and as he had seen German soldiers in an armoured train watching his descent, threw away his Mae West and started running. He planned to make his way to Saint-Wandrille-Rançon, an area he knew well from peacetime, and got as far as a farm just north of Tancarville that evening. The farmer he approached was not prepared to shelter him but did take him to another farm further north, where Raoul-Duval stayed the night. The following day, Raoul-Duval walked to Saint-Wandrille-Rançon, arriving there in time for lunch, and staying with friends for the rest of the day and that night. Next morning, on the advice of his friends, he went to see Charles Dubosc, the maire of Mont de l'If. M. Dubosc was initially suspicious of Raoul-Duval, having heard that two Germans, posing as Allied evaders, had been helped by a farmer who was subsequently shot, but once satisfied as to his identity, gave Raoul-Duval civilian clothes and an ID card and took him to a farm at La Folletiere. Raoul-Duval doesn't say how long he stayed at La Folletiere before Charles Dubosc arranged to have him moved to Darmetal, where he was put in touch a Frenchwoman called Minou who was working in Rouen with two men in British Intelligence. Mme Minou said that she would put Raoul-Duval in touch with an organisation, and meanwhile sent him to another farm at Saint-Denis-le-Thiboult where he stayed for two weeks. Mme Minou contacted Elisabeth Barbier, and on 22 or 23 May, Raoul-Duval went to Paris. He had already been in contact with his father Edgar in Paris, and on arrival at the capital, telephoned him (at 43 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré). His father was apparently working with another organisation but assured his son that he could trust Elisabeth, and that if anything went wrong, he was to contact him again.
It's not clear where Raoul-Duval stayed (he says with personal friends) but while he was there, he sent a telegram to his fiancée (Josette Bort) and told her to come to Paris, where they were married on 27 May. Claude says that Josette already knew Val Williams, and was working for his organisation, and Claude met him the day after his wedding when Williams said that he would send the newly-weds to England through Brittany. They were given new ID cards, supplied by Jean Camard at Etables, and on 29 May, went to Saint-Quay-Portrieux where they lived with Mme Marie Louise Charneau, who had looked after Claude as a child, at her home on Allée du Martouret.
The B-17 Lady Godiva crashed into the sea off Saint-Quay-Portrieux on the day they arrived, and some of the crew (Peterson, Scott and Ayres) were sent to Mme Charneau's house – Claude says that at the time, there were twelve evaders living there, including one Russian but within a week, “this crowd” were sent to Paris “under Val's organisation”, while he and Josette remained to be got away by boat.
On 9 June, they heard that Val had been arrested. There were still some of the crew from a B-17 (Boot Hill) shot down over Brittany on 17 May in Saint-Quay, with others at the Chateau du Bourblanc and the rest with Mme Cellarié (at Tréveneuc) – and Claude was told to take the rest of the crew (Haltom and William Martin) to the chateau. Two days after he had done so, he says that the Gestapo started investigating “as a result of the denunciations of Roger” – Roger Leneveu. The fortress crew made their way, bare-foot and half-clothed, back to Mme Cellarié but she still had one wounded American (Loudenslager) there and so Raoul-Duval found accommodation for them elsewhere, including three (Haltom and the two Martins) with him and Josette at Mme Charneau's.
On 28 June, Josette went back to Paris to see if she could help the organisation there, and on 1 July, Claude joined his wife in Paris, where they stayed with friends. He says that Josette had contacted another organisation but they were unable to help them, and he contacted the BOA (Bureau des operations aeriennes) to see if they could help the Americans but again with no success, although they did ask Claude to work for them.
At about the same time, Claude's father told him that there was a man in Paris who claimed to have been sent from London to arrange the repatriation of aircrew, and Claude got an appointment to meet him. Using the name Jean Pierre, this was Georges Broussine, head of the Bourgogne/Burgundy organisation. Claude then became ill and says that he sent Josette back to Brittany to bring the Americans to Paris, where she found Ray Labrosse trying to do much the same thing, and on 15 July, they brought a party of seven (sic) back to the capital and handed them over to Burgundy. Note that it was probably Josette who took Milasius, Marshall and Wells to Paris on 13 July, before taking the two Martins, Roy and William on 15 July, both groups being handed over to Labrosse in Paris.
By 1 August, Claude had lost contact with the BOA, and having decided that he wanted to go back to England, contacted Broussine once more. There was something of a delay but on 24 August, Claude and Josette left Paris for Toulouse and Foix in a group organised by Bourgogne that included, F/O Peter Ablett RAF (LIB/1201), S/Sgt Richard Davitt (#99), S/Sgt John Carpenter (#100), T/Sgt Samuel Potvin (#101), 1/Lt James Munday (#104) and two unnamed French officers bound for North Africa.

The last of the Oaktree evaders

S/Sgt Allen Norman Robinson (#103) from Burlington, North Carolina, was the 25-year-old radio operator of B-17 42-5175 (306BG/367BS) (Downing) which was hit by flak over Saint-Nazaire on 16 February 1943 and attacked by fighters. Losing altitude rapidly, and after turning inland from Saint-Brieuc, the bail-out order was given. Once the rest of the crew had jumped, the two pilots turned the aircraft back out to sea before bailing out themselves. 42-5175 co-pilot 2/Lt Howard W Kelly (#30) also evaded successfully. After landing near Quintin (south-west of Saint-Brieuc) and being helped by numerous people - but no really organised group - Kelly crossed the central Pyrenees to Montgarri (Lleida) Spain in early March.
Robinson landed somewhere between Lannion and Guingamp and walked south for five days until reaching the village of Josselin. He declared himself to the landlady of a hotel who, despite not understanding any English - she had to bring a man to translate for her - sheltered him (the only civilian in a hotel full of Germans) while she made contact with an organisation. Three days later, Robinson was collected by a miller in his truck who took him to a watch-maker's house. Next day, a doctor took him by car to a café where he was left until being collected a short time later and taken in another car, to Pontivy, where a man gave him an ID card and took him by train to Paris.
He stayed for three days with Maurice Janet (nf), the superintendant of a school who lived with his sister who was a teacher there, then two nights with Marie Therese Gentille (nf) at 13 rue de Citeaux, and two nights with man called Peter (later arrested for black-market activities) where he was questioned by a M. Isley who then took Robinson to stay with Elisabeth Barbier. Whilst at 72 rue Vaneau, he was visited by Paul (Frederic De Jongh), who gave him new papers, Val Williams, Elsa Janie MacCarthy, Olga Pontremoli and Elisabeth Carmalt.
Robinson also mentions an aborted trip when Franco (Jean-François Nothomb) took him to gare Montparnasse. He was actually on a train when Gilbert Wright (the Eagle Squadron pilot mentioned earlier) was captured, and so returned to Elisabeth's apartment.
After seven weeks with Elisabeth Barbier, Jean Camard took Robinson back to Brittany where he stayed with Jean's father, Jerome, the maire of Etables. A week later (on 9 May), Jean Camard took him and nine other airmen (see earlier) to be sheltered by Betty de Mauduit at the Chateau du Bourblanc.
On 5 June, Ray Labrosse took Robinson – along with Spevak, Nichols, Fitzgerald, Parks and Davis - back to Paris. Elisabeth Barbier met them at the station with the news that Val Williams had been arrested and Robinson was taken to stay with Lucien Demongogin at 18 rue Victor Hugo, Asnieres-sur-Seine.
Following the raid at 72 rue Vaneau on 18 June, when Elisabeth Barbier and her mother Camille were arrested, Hélène de Suzannet took Robinson in a Red Cross truck back to her apartment at 20 rue Greuze, where he stayed for three hours before being moved to a hotel where a man invited him to spend the night in his home. The following night was spent in the cellar of an auto parts building next to a hotel, then overnight with the hotel owner's son, then for three or four nights with an English lady who lived in the suburbs before returning for another two nights with the hotel owner's son. He was then taken 2 Carrefour de l'Odeon (Paris VI) and a lawyer named Gouttenois and his wife who told him they were not part of any organisation. Four days later, Mme Gouttenois took him to stay with Maurice Janet, the school superintendant who had sheltered him in February. Finally, a Mme Solange took Robinson to stay with Marie Betbeder-Matibet at 7 Square de Port-Royal, Paris XIII. He was visited there by Marie-Rose Zerling (aka Claudette) who contacted Ray Labrosse, who also came to stay. At some point, Gabrielle Wiame moved Robinson to the home of a nurse for two nights (probably Suzanne Guelat) before returning him to 7 Square de Port-Royal.
On 24 August 1943, Christiane Bodin (aka Marie-Christine) took Robinson, along with F/Sgt Henry Brown (1423) (navigator of 9 Sqn Lancaster ED480) and four others (including a Belgian and a Frenchman) by train via Bordeaux to Tarbes and Lourdes, returned to Tarbes and then on to Bagneres-de-Bigorre (arriving 29 August) where they were passed over to their mountain guides. They started walking across the Pyrenees that night and after two days their guides left them in the mountains overlooking the border. The others in the party headed west but Brown, Robinson and another Englishman (who had joined them at Bagneres) went south - and were arrested by Spanish police. They were taken to Barbastro for a week until a Spanish air force officer took them to the spa town of Alhama de Aragon where they were interned as guests of the Spanish air force for another week before being repatriated to Madrid.
Robinson arrived at Gibraltar on 20 September 1943, and was flown out that night to Prestwick.
 
Thanks as ever to (in alphabetical order) Oliver Clutton-Brock, Philippe Connart, John Howes, Michael Moores LeBlanc, Edouard Renier, Franck Signorile .. without whom much of this just wouldn't have been possible.