Joe Balfe and the escape network at Hornoy le Bourg and Amiens
This has been a particularly difficult story to write (and it still isn't finished) because although Joe Balfe and his organisation are mentioned by many evaders and in several publications, actually trying to understand how it all worked is far from simple. It began with Joe sheltering evaders, either at his home or with others locally, before passing them on to other organisations to get them out of the country, first via the Belgian Comete line and then with the French Bourgogne organisation. Later it became necessary to keep evaders sheltered until the advancing Allied forces could liberate them.
Another problem has been the fact that so many of the evaders' stories are intertwined that making any kind of sequential listing is almost meaningless. I can only hope that the reader will have the patience to try and understand this complicated story.
At this late date I have no way of knowing what the structure of the organisation was, or even if there was a structure. Joe was obviously a leading character who made an impression on everyone who met him but Jean Lemattre, Benjamin Lefebvre, Michel Dubois and especially Mme Vignon are also well remembered for their contributions. I will amend and update this story as more information becomes available.
This page updatd 10 Jan 2019
Jean Lemattre was a hairdresser who lived at 3 rue Blin de Bourdon (near St Roch station) in Amiens. He is described by Elisco (#713) as 5 feet 4 inches tall, 30 to 35 years old with a blonde wife of about the same age and two children. Tom Slack also mentions that he had a beautiful assistant working in his shop. Note that although several evaders refer to him as Jean (as do I in the text) it was actually Rene Lemattre and his wife Odette (both born 1912 and both hairdressers) with their three children Willie, Anick and Edith.
Benjamin Lefebvre is described as a pilot from the First War, owning a garage in Amiens and living at 71 rue de la Demi Lune (also near St Roch) in Amiens with his tall grey-haired wife. Mays (#702) describes him as 5 foot 6 inches tall with dark hair, a small moustache and a wife who looked like the comic character Olive Oil. Mays also says they had three sons, Gerard aged about 15 still at home and the two older ones apparently hiding out in Paris.
Mme Vignon (Mme Jeanne Vignon Tellier) of 137 rue Vulfran-Warmé in Amiens is described by Mays (#702) as an elderly lady with a son who was MIA fighting the Japanese in Indo-China.
Joseph Balfe (Joe Snr) was of Irish descent but born 1897 in Manchester. He was the son of police officer John William and Jane (née Taylor) Balfe. Joe served with the Irish Guards during the Great War, attained rank of sergeant and was awarded the Military Medal. After he was demobbed, Joe stayed on in France, married Madeleine Gaudiere and took French nationality. They lived in Dunkirk and raised a family of two boys, John Paul and Joseph Patrick (Joe Jnr) and two young girls, Madeleine and Marie-Therese. Between the wars, Joe worked on the cross-Channel ferries and became Chief Steward. Joe is described as a large burly man, about six feet tall, with a big belly and very strong. With his commanding personality, genial expression and remarkable resemblance to Winston Churchill, it seems no-one who met Joe Snr would easily forget him.
With the coming of the war, and with both sons serving in the French military, Joe took his wife and two girls away from the action and headed south. They got as far as Bordeaux but then decided to return, this time to Hornoy-le-Bourg in the Somme where Madeleine's mother ran the Hotel de France on rue de Molliens. At some point Joe then blanked off part of the top floor corridor so that at least one room was only accessible from the rear of the hotel. Shortly after the family's arrival, the village was occupied by the Germans who made their head-quarters opposite the hotel and billetted their officers in the hotel itself. Note that by early 1944 the village was heavily garrisoned by German troops, although many of them were actually Austrian and (according to popular French rumour) only waiting for the chance to surrender.
It is believed that the family began sheltering evading servicemen from this point on but I have no information to confirm that. Although literally dozens of men, mostly soldiers, report evading through Amiens (the nearest large town) few of these early reports give much detail. The first evader that we have confirmation for is Spitfire pilot Tom Slack in July 1943. Joe Balfe Jnr (who had dual nationality) left the French air force in May 1942 and by this time had joined the rest of the family at Hornoy.
F/O Tom Slack RAF (1366) was pilot of Spitfire EN233 shot down near Le Quesne on 18 July 1943. Slack was helped almost immediately by the Angot brothers who sheltered him overnight. Next day, one of the brothers cycled to Hornoy and fetched Joe Balfe. Tom stayed with Joe until 24 July when Joe heard that Tom's presence was becoming common knowledge. Joe Jnr took Tom into Amiens to stay with hairdresser Jean Lemattre, who hid him in the attic of his house behind his shop. According to Slack, neither the Balfes nor Lemattre were members of any organisation but Joe started asking around and eventually a man came from Paris to interview Tom. Meanwhile, Benjamin Lefebvre provided Tom with ID papers. On 5 August, a woman came from Paris to meet Joe and Tom at Amiens. She then took Tom back to Paris and passed him on to Jacques le Grelle and the Belgian Comete organisation.
Slack (1366) was taken across the Pyrenees to Spain the night of 10/11 Aug 43.
In his MI9 report, Slack also mentions two American evaders being helped by the Balfe family. They were S/Sgt William F Crowe (#83) and S/Sgt Joseph M Hager (#84) whose B-26 was shot down on a raid to Poix aerodrome on 31 July 1943. Both men baled out near Hornoy, were helped soon after landing and brought to Joe that same day. Hager had injured his leg and needed medical attention so Joe arranged for them to be sheltered on a nearby farm. Joe also arranged for a doctor to attend the wounded airman and visited them himself every day. On 5 April, Joe took them to stay with Jean Lemattre in Amiens. On 7 August, Joe Jnr took the two evaders to Hamelet near Corbie where they were passed on to Renée Boulanger (Nenette) and the Comete organisation.
Note that Corbie is on the Somme in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, where the river was the line between militarised northern France (and Belgium) and Occupied France. Hamelet is just across the river in what was Occupied France.
Crowe (#83) and Hager (#84) were taken across the Pyrenees to Spain the night of 13/14 Aug 43.
2/Lt Francis X Harkins (#115) was bombardier on B-17 42-3306 Phoenix which was lost on 15 August 1943 following a collision with another B-17 during a raid to Douai aerodrome. Harkins landed a few miles south of Calais and was quickly helped. A few days later he was taken to Armentieres where he was joined by his co-pilot 2/Lt William F Middledorf (#114) and F/Lt Conrad RCAF (1458). The two Americans were soon separated again Middledorf and Conrad were taken to Paris, where they stayed overnight, and then on to Biarritz and across the Pyrenees to Spain the night of 28/29 August. Meanwhile Mme van Kemmel brought Harkins to Amiens where he stayed with Jean Lemattre. Next day he met Joe Balfe who contacted a lady in Paris. She came and stayed the night in Amiens before taking Harkins back with her to Paris where he was passed on to the Comete organisation.
Harkins (#115) was taken across the Pyrenees to Spain the night of 18/19 Sept 43.
Joe Jnr left France in August 43 because of the STO (Service du travail obligatoire) and was taken to Spain by Comete with Eldridge (1389) and Donaldson (1390). His brother John (who was married by then and left his pregnant wife Jacqueline in France) left in October, crossing the Pyrenees the following month with Bourgogne. In England Joe Jnr was recruited by MI9 where he worked with Airey Neave and returned to France in 1944.
Sgt Douglas R G Eldridge (1389) was flight engineer of Halifax HR839 which was shot down over Belgium the night of 28/29 June 1943. He landed near Mol and started heading for Brussels. On 2 July, he reached Ramsel where he was sheltered for the night by a farmer. From there Eldridge was taken to Diest and then (14 July) to Hasselt where his identity was established. On 19 July, he was taken into Brussels and the Comete organisation. I don't have any further details of Eldridge's evasion apart from Comete taking him across the Pyrenees to Spain the night of 20/21 August 1943 with Lawrence Donaldson (1390) and Joe Balfe Jnr.
Sgt Lawrence G Donaldson (1390) was navigator of Halifax JD108 which was shot down over Belgium the night of 13/14 July 1943. Donaldson landed near Froid-Chapelle, not far from the French border. He was soon helped by local farmers who arranged for him to be taken to Brussels two day later. I don't have any further details of Donaldson's evasion apart from Comete taking him across the Pyrenees to Spain the night of 20/21 August 1943 with Douglas Eldridge (1389) and Joe Balfe Jnr.
F/O George René Lents (1567) was returning from a Ramrod sortie to Paris on 3 October 1943 when he was hit by flak. Being too low to bale out, Lents crash-landed his 341 (Free French) Sqn Spitfire JL347 in a field about 20 kms south-west of Abbeville. Lents was helped almost immediately and after having his injuries treated by Dr Pierre Coffin, was brought from Ault to Hornoy on 12 October. Lents only stayed three days at the Hotel de France before a guide came from Paris to take him back to the capital where he was passed on to the Bourgogne organisation.
Lents crossed the Pyrenees from Perpignan later that month in a party that included SAS man Capt Roy Bridgeman-Evans (1557).
Sgt George Baker (1586) was pilot of Halifax JD368 which was shot down the night of 27/28 August 1943 returning from Nuremburg. Baker landed near Harmignies, just over the border in Belgium, and was soon helped. It was a few days before his helpers were able to contact an organisation but on 7 September, Baker was taken to Amiens where he was met by Joe's wife Madeleine. She took him back to Hornoy where he stayed at the Hotel de France with Joe and Madeleine until 16 September when he was moved back to Amiens and Jean Lemattre. Two days later a woman came from Paris to collect Baker and pass him on to the Comete organisation.
Baker (1586) was taken across the Pyrenees to Spain the night of 27/28 Sept 43.
Jean Marie Auguste Gilbert (aka Marcel Dupuis, born 7 May 1920 in Uccle) fits in here somewhere. June 42 found him working for Siemens at Poix and lodging at the Hotel de France in Hornoy. He says that he worked with Joe Snr in helping evaders for six months until November 1943.
2/Lt Allan G Johnston (#212) and T/Sgt Grant Carter (#213) were navigator and radio operator of B-17 42-5057 shot down on 6 September 1943 returning from a raid to Stuttgart. Johnston landed near Blangy-sur-Bresle and was soon helped by the Crept and Fauget families of Nesle-Normandeuse. On 4 October, Johnston was taken to Blangy and then to Eu (near Le Treport) where he was joined by T/Sgt Carter, who had also landed near Blangy. On 8 October they were driven to the Hotel de France in Hornoy where they stayed for two days before Joe Balfe took them to stay with Jean Lemattre in Amiens. A week later they were taken to Paris and passed on to the Bourgogne escape line.
Johnston (#212) and Carter (#213) were taken (in separate parties) across the Pyrenees to Spain on 29 Oct 43 and 3 Nov 43 respectively.
F/Lt Joseph G Oliver (1924) and his navigator Sgt Harry Williams were shot down on 14 January 44 and made a forced-landing in their Mosquito LR290 near Saint-Remy-Boscrocourt (Seine-Maritime). They were helped almost immediately and sheltered overnight at St Remy before being moved south of the village to a farm at Petit Gomard. Next day, four members of a local sabotage group arrived and took them to stay with the leader of their group, Aime Fizelier at Baromesnil. It was this group who were in touch with Joe Balfe and on about 22 January, three of the group delivered Oliver and Williams to Joe at the Hotel de France. Joe promptly sent to them to Linchoux, Hallivillers where they stayed with M Adrian Thermonir for about ten days until Joe moved them to Amiens, where they were sheltered with Mme Jeanne Vignon until 5 April ...
S/Sgt Milton J Mills Jnr (#689) was radio operator of B-17 42-29963 Judy which was shot down 30 December 1943 returning from Ludwigshaven. Mills was unconscious when he landed between Montataire and Gouvieux. He was found by a local man and soon joined by two crewmates, Sgt Neelan B Parker (#461) and 2/Lt Jarvis H Cooper. They were sheltered overnight but then, as Mills was injured, he stayed behind when the others were moved on a couple of days later. An Italian named Innocente Lauro took Mills to his house on rue de Boran in Gouvieux where he stayed until 27 Jan 44 when Edmond Bourge from Creil took Mills to stay with Marie Dorez at 4 rue de Condé in Montataire with Kenneth Morrison (#690). Two days later, Mills was moved to stay with Jules and Hortense Duchateau at 21 rue de Condé.
Neelan Parker (#461) was taken to England by Royal Navy MGB in March 44 on the third Shelburn evacuation from Plage Bonaparte. Jarvis Cooper was captured (details unknown) and sent to Stalag Luft 1 (Barth)
T/Sgt Kenneth A Morrison (#690) was top-turret gunner on B-17 42-30674 Destiny's Tot which was also shot down returning from Ludwigshaven on 30 December 1943. Morrison landed near St-Just-en-Chaussée and was helped almost immediately. Next day, Chantilly organisation chief Jean Lacour took Morrison by train to Chantilly where he stayed overnight. Next morning Edmond Bourge came from Creil and took Morrison by motorcycle to Gouvieux where he met Milton Mills (#689). After lunch with Mills, Edmond Bourge took Morrison to Montataire where he stayed for a month with Mme Dorez (who ran a butter and cheese business) at 4 rue de Condé. Mills came to visit before moving in with the Duchateau family in the same road and the two evaders visited one another each day.
On 4 Feb, Edmond Bourge brought false IDs for Mills and Morrison and a man known as Rollo (Leslie Atkinson) took them by train to Amiens where they and Rollo stayed with Georges Tourdes. (Rollo is described by Sokolowski (#697) as blond, 5 feet 11 inches tall, aged about 28, and said to have been a major in the French army who had escaped from a prison camp). On 14 March, Joe Balfe moved them to stay with Jean Lemattre, where they stayed for two weeks until Benjamin Lefebvre drove them to Hornoy. They were supposed to meet other evaders but the railway had been blown up and so they stayed overnight at a farm outside the town. Next day they went into Hornoy and met a young Frenchman named Jean Fourrage who took them to his house to wait. On 27 March, Jean Lemattre brought them back to his house in Amiens where they stayed until 5 April ...
2/Lt Merlyn I Rutherford (#695), T/Sgt John Robert Landers (#696) and Sgt Stanley A Sokolowski (#697) were co-pilot, bombadier and cameraman of the B-17 42-29863 Kentucky Babe which was shot down 11 February 1944 returning from Frankfurt.
Rutherford landed near Beaucamps and quickly taken there where a family (a railway worker with wife, son and three daughters) fed him then moved him to stay with a cabinet maker for two days. A dairyman then took him to Hornoy and turned him over to Joe Balfe. Landers and Sokolowski were already there, having landed at nearby Le Quesne.
Landers and Sokolowski had been well looked after in Le Quesne before they were handed over to a twenty-six year old former French Air Force gunner and his wife who took them by train to their house next to the station in Hornoy. That evening Joe Balfe came to meet them and next day they were reunited with Rutherford.
18 February 1944 : Operation Jericho, a low-level daylight bombing raid by Mosquito bombers on the prison at Amiens, the day before it was thought (now controversially) that more than a hundred Resistance men were due to be executed.
Landers and Sokolowski stayed with Joe Balfe while Joe's fourteen year old daughter Madeleine took Rutherford to stay in a house just north of the railway station with a blond man (Rollo - query) who worked in a bank in Amiens. Next day Joe Balfe took all three Americans to Benjamin Lefebvre in Amiens where they stayed for six weeks until 27 March when Benjamin took them back to Hornoy. This time Rutherford stayed with Joe while Landers and Sokolowski stayed on a farm at Liomer, about 7 kms north, owned by a retired French general but run by a caretaker and his nephew Lucien Belfort (who had escaped from a German work camp and whose father was a station master in Paris and with the organisation there). Peter Mason (aka Maurice Leslie - thought to be British Intelligence) was already there (as was Elisco #713) when Landers and Sokolowski arrived. Landers and Sokolowski stayed on the farm until 5 April when the blond man took them by train to Amiens ...
Rutherford stayed four days with Joe Balfe who then took him to Benjamin Lefebvre's niece in Amiens until 5 April ...
Rutherford also reports that Jean, one of Joe Balfe's helpers, was arrested and soon after, another fifteen or twenty also taken.
24 year old Jean Fourrage (aka Jacques Vasseur) and his mother Marie Antoinette (43) were arrested 2 April 44. Morand Waquez (44) and his 19 year old son Raymond, Max Edouard Darras (17) and Sigismonde Fourrage (44) were also arrested the same day. Jean Fourrage, Morand and Raymond Waquez were shot at Gentelles the following month. Max Darras died at Bergen-Belsen. Marie Antoinette and Sigismonde Fourrage both survived Ravensbrück.
Sgt Wilson P Jones (#701) was ball-turret gunner on B-17 42-37932 Ole Bassar lost 2 March 1944 returning from Chartres. He and bombardier 2/Lt Frederick Shecter landed near Fontaine-le-Sec (Somme) and were soon helped to Hornoy where they stayed at the same house where Mills, Morrison and Sokolowski had been sheltered. Jones also mentions Benjamin Lefebvre but although it seems to contain much detailed information, his report is almost illegible, however other evaders report them moving to stay with Benjamin Lefebvre on 2 April and they were both at Amiens station on 5 April ...
2/Lt Howard J Mays (#702) was co-plot of B-17 42-3185 Queen Bee which was shot down by fighters on 26 November 1943 whilst on the way back from Paris. Mays landed near Villers-sous-Faucarmont in Normandy and was helped immediately. That night he was taken by bicycle to Nesle-Hodeng where he stayed with a school teacher called Roger Cressent. On 11 December, Mays was taken by train to Hornoy. Mays stayed at the Hotel de France until 19 December when Joe moved him to stay with Benjamin Lefebvre in Amiens. He stayed seven weeks with Lefebvre before being moved across town (c.11 February) and a man called Michel (aged about 50, 6 feet tall, about 200 lbs, thought to have been in a German prison) took him to stay with Mme Vignon, simply known as Madame, who was already sheltering 2/Lt Ernest V Lindell (#730). That same day, Joe brought Oliver and Harry Williams to the house and later, 2/Lt Alden F Faudie (#1566) Typhoon pilots F/O Kenneth W Sim (1949) and F/Sgt David A Slack, F/Sgt Edmund Powell (1952) and Sgt William Johnstone (2/512/1387) from Halifax LW390, and 2/Lt John Harms (#1570). Mays stayed seven weeks with Mme Vignon before being moved back to Benjamin Lefebvre's house with Oliver and Williams on 5 April ...
F/Sgt David A Slack had crash-landed his Typhoon JP369 in a field south of Amiens on 5 Feb 44. Regular readers of this page may recall that I previously only referred to him as "Dave the Typhoon pilot". It was not until April 2012 while I was having dinner and chatting with David Slack, that I realised he was that Dave ...
On 5 April 1944, Joe Balfe and Benjamin Lefebvre took Oliver (1924) and Sgt Harry Williams, Mills (#689) Morrison (#690) Rutherford (#695) Landers (#696) Sokolowski (#697) Jones (#701) Mays (#702) the mysterious Peter Mason and 2/Lt Frederick Shecter, to Paris where they were passed on to the Bourgogne escape line.
Harry Williams and Frederick Shecter were arrested at Pau station but the rest of the party joined more American evaders and were taken across the Pyrenees, arriving Spain on 20 April 1944. Shecter reported at Stalag Luft 3 (Sagan) and Williams at Stalag Luft VII (Bankau).
F/O Kenneth W Sim (1949) suffered engine failure in his Typhoon JR238 and crash-landed on mud-flats between Ault (Somme) and Cayeux-sur-Mer the morning of 4 January 1944. He was quickly helped and next day taken to nearby Brutelles. The following evening he was taken by bicycle to Friville-Escarbotin. On 29 January, Sim was taken by train to Abbeville then driven to Maison Ponthieu. Next day he was walked to Gueschart where he stayed until 11 February when he was moved to Boufflers. Next day two Frenchmen collected him in a lorry, and after picking up Harms (#1570) and Friuli (#731) from Auxi-le-Chateau, delivered them to Mme Vignon in Amiens where Sim stayed until 17 April ...
WO2 Edmund A Powell (1952) and Sgt William Johnstone (2/512/1387) were bomb-aimer and flight engineer of Halifax LW390 shot down north of Amiens returning from Stuttgart the night of 20/21 February 1944. Powell landed near Puchevillers and started to walk towards Amiens. He was soon intercepted by a man on a bicycle who took him back to the village and contacted the local organisation. I don't have the full story but M M de Flandre of Albert took Powell and Johnstone to Mme Vignon at Amiens the next day. Various American reports then have Powell taken to Amiens station 17 April ...
Johnstone stayed on with Mme Vignon until 7 June when he was moved to stay with M Veys at Flixecourt (about 15 kms north-west of Amiens). Two weeks later he moved to M Binet at nearby Berteaucourt-les-Dames. On about 21 July he was moved again, this time to stay with M Georges Leuillet at 8 rue Gambetta, Saint-Ouen where he remained until liberation.
1/Lt Richard B Caughman (#1466), 2/Lt John B Avery (#711), T/Sgt John C Mattila (#2194), S/Sgt Paul B Young (#1531), Sgt James W McGinty (#712), 1/Lt Richard E S Perkins and S/Sgt Howard M Langer were crew on the B-17 42-3517 Happy Warrior which crashed near Grattepanche (south of Amiens) on 24 February 44 returning from Schweinfurt.
1/Lt Richard B Caughman (pilot) landed near Jumel (south of Amiens) and soon met up with his bombardier Richard Perkins. They spent the night in a barn at Lawarde-Mauger. Later taken in by a Belgian called René, they were passed on to Ailly-sur-Noye where they met waist-gunner Howard Langer and ball-turret gunner Paul Young. The four were taken to Thezy-Glimont, and three days later to Michel Dubois in Amiens where they joined John Avery, John Mattila and James McGinty. Caughman and Perkins spent a week with a M Moore (Frederick Moore of rue Boucher de Perthes - query) (one son in the RAF and another in the RN) before returning to Michel Dubois. Perkins and Langer were moved to greengrocer in the same street (rue Delpeche) and Caughman was told they were later captured.
When Michel Dubois' home at 45 rue Delpech was raided by the Gestapo, Caughman and the others were moved to stay with Mme Vignon, where Caughman remained until Amiens was liberated by the Canadians on 31 August 1944.
2/Lt John B Avery landed near Ailly (south of Amiens) and made his way to St Sauflieur where he was found by Edouard Robin (a large, burly, good looking gendarme) who took him to his house. Next day (25 Feb) McGinty was brought in and the following day, Mattila. On 3 March the three Americans were taken to stay with Michel Dubois (described as a 48 year old former Master-Sergeant, slightly bald and with a small moustache) at 45 rue Delpech in Amiens. Later that same day, Caughman, Young, Perkins and Langer also arrived. Avery and McGinty remained with Dubois when the others were moved to stay with Joe Balfe. About a week later, Mattila, Caughman and Young returned to Dubois while Perkins and Langer went to another address (grocery shop query) in Amiens.
Perkins and Langer are believed to have left a week later to meet an aircraft for the UK but were not heard from again. Perkins reported at Stalag Luft III (Sagan) and Langer at Stalag Luft IV (Gross-Tychow) and according to the MACR for their aircraft, both men returned after the war ended.
Sgt James W McGinty (#712) was helped soon after landing and taken to Sourdon where the mayor passed him on to blacksmith called Ballenger who fed and sheltered him overnight. Next day he was taken to St Sauflieu and handed over to Edouard Robin where he found Avery before they were both passed on to Michel Dubois in Amiens (McGinty adds that Dubois was concierge of a Catholic school for young children)
T/Sgt John C Mattila (#2194) landed near St Sauflieu and broke his ankle. He was helped by Edouard Robin and soon joined Avery and McGinty. After being sheltered in Amiens by Michel Dubois until 8 April and then with Mme Vignon, he moved to stay with Mme Henri Binet at Berteaucourt-les-Dames (NW of Amiens) where he remained until the liberation.
S/Sgt Paul B Young (#1531) landed near Ailly-sur-Noye, south of Amiens and also broke an ankle. He was soon helped and two days later joined by Langer and Caughman. He was with Caughman from this point, staying in Amiens with Michel Dubois until 8 April and then with Mme Vignon and sheltered by her until the liberation.
On 8 April, the Gestapo carried out a series of raids (including at the home of the Belgian family that first picked up Caughman). When Michel Dubois's home was raided, he and the five evaders (Avery, McGinty, Mattila, Caughman & Young) only just managed to escape. They went to Mme Vignon and joined Sim (1949) Powell (1952) Lindell (#730) Friuli (#731) and David Slack. They were later joined by F/O Alec W Drage (2/326/2058) F/Sgt Angus J Macauley (2/466/1242) S/Sgt Leibring (#1469) and S/Sgt Castro (#1463).
Other German raids on 8 April included an address in Beaumetz-les-Loges where three airmen were caught and the Café Guittard in Frevent where a further ten airmen were picked up. In both cases, a number of French helpers were also arrested.
T/Sgt Morris Elisco (#713) was top-turret gunner on the B-24 41-28649 Little Bryan which was shot down on 18 March 1944 returning from Friedrichshaven and crashed near Vernon-sur-Seine. Elisco landed near Hornoy and a girl hid him on the farm of her two elderly parents. Four days later a young man took him to Aumale to be interviewed. Two days after that Elisco was taken by bicycle to a house near Hornoy to meet Jean Fourrage (a frail, light complexioned man, about 5 feet 2 inches tall) who took him to a farm at Liomer owned by a retired French general. The general (aged 80 and 6 feet 2 inches tall) visited Elisco several times and paid for his keep but the farm was run by an elderly caretaker and his 22 year old nephew Lucien Belfort. Four days later he was joined by Landers and Sokolowski from the Kentucky Babe.
Following the arrest of Jean Fourrage on 2 April and the rounding up of another twenty or so people (including many not connected to the organisation) the old caretaker took Elisco, Landers and Sokolowski to the station on 5 April where guides took them by train to Amiens and Benjamin Lefebvre. Twelve evaders were gathered there and (as seen above) Benjamin and Joe Balfe took ten of them to Paris and the Bourgogne organisation ...
Meanwhile, Elisco and Mize (#716) were taken to Jean Lemattre in Amiens who took them to the home of another man named Jean (5 feet 4 inches tall badly scarred with burns around one eye, about 30 years old, married to a thin, dark woman of the same age and with a young son of about seven). About a week later, Jean Lemattre moved them to join Sgt Edwin Finlay who was staying with Frederick Albert Moore, a wealthy batchelor (52 years old, 5 feet six inches tall, grey haired and heavy set, who spoke English) of 36 rue Boucher de Pethes, who owned a grocery shop about fifty feet from his house. Three days later (on 17 April) Lemattre took Elisco, Mize and Finlay to the railway station where they met Joe Balfe and Benjamin Lefebvre who had Sim (1949) Powell (1952) Avery (#711) McGinty (#712) Lindell (#730) Friuli (#731) and David Slack with them.
I previously referred to an unnamed RAF evader but using information from David Slack and Oliver Clutton-Brock, we now know he was Sgt Edwin Finlay, bomb aimer and only survivor of 625 Sqn Lancaster ND636 which crashed near Amiens the night 10/11 April 44.
S/Sgt Walter A Mize Jnr (#716) was the tail-gunner of B-17 42-39962 shot down near Dieppe 11 February 1944 returning from Frankfurt. Mize landed near Eu where a farmer sheltered him for three nights until Paulette Marcelin and Mlle Baubesache took him to M & Mme Edouard Wandre (French husband and English wife) at Touffreville-sur-Eu where he stayed for three weeks before being passed on to Joe Balfe at Hornoy. Joe put him with a man named Henri for one night before taking him to stay on a farm at Hallivillers, 20 kms south of Amiens. Mize stayed there for three weeks before being brought back to Hornoy to stay with Jones (#701) and 2/Lt Shecter. When Jean Fourrage was arrested (2 April) Henri took the three Americans to Amiens where Mize joined Oliver (1924) Harry Williams, Mays (#702) Rutherford (#695) at Benjamin Lefebvre's house. Mize stayed on with Elisco (#713) in Amiens when the others left on 5 April. He was taken to Amiens station 17 April ...
2/Lt Ernest V Lindell (#730) was navigator of B-17 42-31246 shot down 14 January 1944 on a raid against V1 sites in the Pas-de-Calais. Lindell landed a few miles north of Abbeville and was helped almost immediately. He made his way to Amiens (his report is almost illegible) arriving 17 January, where he was sheltered by Mme Vignon until 17 April ...
T/Sgt Gaetano A Friuli (#731) and 2/Lt John G Harms (#1570) were top-turret gunner and navigator of B-17 42-3427 Canadian Club shot down 21 January 1944 on a raid against V1 sites in the Pas-de-Calais. Friuli landed near Divion (Pas-de-Calais) and was helped by René Guittard's Bordeaux-Loupiac organisation at Frevent. By early February he and Harms were staying with Mme Vignon in Amiens. Harms left Amiens 18 March with 2/Lt Alden F Faudie (#1566) but Friuli stayed on until 17 April ...
2/Lt Alden L Faudie (#1566) was navigator of B-17 42-30453 Thunderbird which was shot down 14 October 1943. Faudie landed near Epernay (south of Reims) and was helped by the MI9 Possum escape line for some months before being brought to Amiens (date unknown). Faudie and Harms left Mme Vignon's on 18 March and were later picked up the Chauny group who sheltered them at Commenchon (Aisne) until the liberation.
On 17 April, Joe Balfe took Sim (1949) Powell (1952) David Slack, Edwin Finlay, Avery (#711) McGinty (#712) Elisco (#713) Mize (#716) Lindell (#730) and Friuli (#731) to Amiens station and on to Paris where they were passed on to the Bourgogne organisation.
David Slack and Edwin Finlay were arrested at 22 rue Sacrot, Saint-Mandé, Paris along with their hosts Gerard and Genevieve Moet and their daughter Michele (and others) on 28 April. The rest of the airmen joined two more American evaders and were taken across the Pyrenees, arriving Spain on 8 May 1944.
S/Sgt Ladislao L Castro (#1463) was a waist-gunner on B-24 41-29172 Lucky Strike which was shot down on 18 March 1944 and crashed south-west of Abbeville. Castro landed near Forceville (Somme) breaking his right ankle. An unnamed woman and girl found him the following morning and took him to Wiry-au-Mont where he was sheltered by M and Mme Albert Duval. On 28 March he was moved to stay with Mme Maurice Herbert at 84 Avenue du General Foy in Amiens where a doctor set his ankle. On 2 May, he was moved a few streets away to stay with Mme Vignon where he remained until the liberation.
F/O Alec W Drage (2/326/2058) and F/Sgt Angus J Macauley (3/347/500) were navigator and air bomber of Lancaster JB732 shot down near Mondicourt the night of 10/11 April 1944. Drage landed at Authie near Doullens where he was sheltered while his helpers tried to make contact with an organisation. On 18 April a man came to take him into Doullens where he joined Macauley, S/Sgt Clarence P Leibring (#1469) F/O Peter (query) N Johnson (2261) and his navigator P/O Ernest J Burchell (2596). On 28 April the five evaders were moved to Mme Vignon in Amiens where they joined Caughman (#1466) Young (#1531) Mattila (#2194) and Johnstone (2/512/1387). Drage remained with Mme Vignon until liberation. Macauley only says that he stayed in Amiens until liberated.
S/Sgt Clarence P Leibring (#1469) was tail-gunner of B-17 42-39991 Look Homeward Angel which was shot down on 4 March 1944 returning from the Ruhr. Leibring baled out and landed near St Amand (Nord Pas-de-Calais) where he was soon sheltered. Following a German raid, Leibring was moved by the Bordeaux-Loupiac organisation to stay with Ernest Hemery at Lucheux (Somme) for three weeks before moving on to somewhere near Pommier. Another German raid (18 April) forced him to return to Lucheux from where he was moved first to Doullens and then to Mme Vignon at Amiens, where he remained until the liberation.
P/O Ernest J Burchell (2596) and F/O R N Johnson (2261) were navigator and air bomber of Lancaster DV288 which crashed near Amiens the night of 10/11 April on raid to Aulnoye. They were helped by the organisation in Amiens but apart from Drage reporting them brought from Doullens to stay with Mme Vignon, I don't have any details ...
1/Lt Lloyd (NMI) Rinkel (#1464) was the pilot of B-26 42-96079 shot down 22 April 1944 on a raid to Bois Coquerel. Rinkel baled out and landed south-east of Abbeville. He walked south for four days before meeting a man who sheltered him somewhere west of Hornoy for another four days. Rinkel was contacted by a man from Amiens who then took him there by train. He stayed at two addresses in the town, being bombed out of the first, before moving to stay with Mme Vignon three weeks later. Rinkel stayed with Mme Vignon until the liberation.
F/O Anthony J A Bryan (2498) was pilot of Spitfire MJ645 when he was shot down by flak on 21 May 1944 and baled out near Riencourt (Somme) breaking his ankle on landing. After hiding in a hedge for two days, he began heading south and was picked up five days later by a man who took him to his farm near Molliens-Vidame. He was sheltered there for ten days before being taken to Amiens. Bryan remained in Amiens (reported with Mme Vignon in June) until the liberation.
Capt James E Zengerle (#1467) was the pilot of B-17 42-31741 shot down by flak on 25 May 1944 while returning from Liege. Zengerle baled out and landed near Hornoy where a farmer quickly found him and took him to stay with Joe Balfe. Joe sheltered Zengerle at the Hotel de France until 31 May when he was moved to stay with Mme Vignon in Amiens. Zengerle remained with Mme Vignon until the liberation.
S/Sgt Harold E Boyer (#1465) was a gunner on A-20 43-9983 which was shot down by flak on 27 May 1944 whilst bombing Amiens. Boyer baled out and landed in the southern part of town. Boyer also broke his ankle on landing and was taken to Mme Vignon where he stayed until the liberation.
W/Cdr Donald R Donaldson RAAF (2/327/1023) was pilot of Lancaster LM597 which was shot down on a raid to a V1 site north of Bethune the night of 24/25 June 1944. He landed near St Pol-sur-Ternoise and over the next four days, made his own way to Amiens. He was soon brought to Mme Vignon where he stayed until the liberation of Amiens on 31 August.
My thanks to John Howes, Oliver Clutton-Brock, Luc Vervoort, Edouard Reniere, Philippe Connart and Dominique Lecomte for some of the information shown above and my special thanks of course to the Balfe family.