The Final Days of the John Carter Organisation
John Carter (aka Jules/Julien) was born 1891 in Gouvieux near Chantilly (Oise) of English parents, and had dual nationality. Carter was put in contact with the PAO in August 1942 when George Whittinghill at the American Consulate in Lyon asked him to deliver the five-man crew from 138 SD Whitley Z9232 (Outram) which had crashed near Vierzon, to Dr Georges Rodocanachi in Marseille. Following Pat O'Leary's arrest in February 1943, Carter went to Switzerland where he contacted Victor Farrell (SIS station chief) who asked him to start taking evaders along the SOE Vic line route to Spain through Perpignan, or via Lavelanet (Ariege) to Andorra. Carter, who soon based himself in Lyon (where I believe he lived in an apartment on rue Vendome) made many useful contacts through his assistant, Annie (Anne Marie Emilienne) Sabourault. He also had good contacts in Paris where he says that Madeleine Grador represented him, while Jean Calmet (of 12 rue de Marseille, Lyon) helped as his conductor. Carter continued passing evaders on (including Operation Frankton survivors Herbert Hasler and William Sparks) until his arrest with three American airmen at the Hotel de France in Pamiers in January 1944. John Carter was deported and survived Mauthausen.
This page posted 15 Nov 2015
In early January 1944, a letter arrived from John Carter in Lyon, telling his group in Paris to be prepared to leave the capital with all the airmen in their care. It was arranged that Madeleine Grador would leave in the morning (10 January) with two airmen - Sgt Robert Griffith (1744) (who was sheltered with Madeleine Schmitz) and S/Sgt Clifford Hammock (#391) (who was sheltered with Jeanne Huet) - and that Mme Huet would take Sgts Norman Cufley (1728) and John Harvey (1729) (who were also staying in her eight-room apartment on the seventh floor at 48 Avenue du President Wilson) in the evening. Madeleine Grador had already left with Griffith and Hammock when a letter was delivered from Julien's secretary (Annie Sabourault) asking them to stop sending parcels as Julien had had a very dangerous accident and a few parcels had been lost.
Sgt Robert E Griffith (1744) was the navigator of 75 Sqn Stirling LJ442 (Parker) which was hit by flak over Cologne and later attacked by fighters and abandoned over southern Belgium at about eight-thirty in the evening of 18 November 1943. Griffith landed in a field near Masnuy-Saint-Pierre (Hainaut). Walking through the village, he knocked on the door of one of the last houses and was given civilian clothing (while they took his flying gear) bread and coffee, and a package of more bread to take with him. Griffith carried on walking and over the next few days, made his across the frontier into France near Valenciennes, through Le Quesnoy to Rouvel (Somme) south-east of Amiens, from where his journey was arranged.
Griffith spent the night of 24-25 November with Marcel Grenier on his farm at Rouvrel. Neither Marcel nor his brother, who lived on the neighbouring farm, were members of any organisation but next day, Marcel took him to a general store in Guiscard (Oise) where the owner, M Hesdin, was. M Hesdin (not found) told Griffith that he would have to wait while the organisation checked up on him and for the ten days that this took, Griffith stayed with M Hesdin who supplied him with civilian clothes. On 5 December, a young man took Griffith by bicycle to Noyon and caught a train to Creil where he was sheltered overnight by a man who worked at the Industrial Co-operative Society. The following evening, another young man took Griffith to Beauvais where he stayed with a local ‘secret army' chief (named either Robert or Raoul and aged 35-40, ex-French Air Force officer) and the following night with a young Frenchman named Jean, who had also served in the French Air Force. On 8 December, Gilbert Thibault drove Griffith to his home in Auneuil where he met Norman Cuffley (1728) John Harvey (1729) and S/Sgt John Lowther (#2335).
Griffith says that the night after Lowther (#2335) and S/Sgt Delton King (#2217) left Paris for Lyon, they were followed by 2/Lts Jean Pitner (#375) and Arno Plischke (#376). Shortly afterwards, P/O Henry Hall (1747) arrived in Paris – he left for Bordeaux on about 8 January with Evelyne Vassius and a young Frenchman called Andre. On 10 January, Griffith was taken to the Gare d'Orleans where he joined Clifford Hammock (#391) and Madeleine Grador (aka Colette) who took the two airmen by train to Lavelanet. At the Hotel Gabon, they joined Pitner and Plischke and met Sgt Kenneth Skidmore (1767) and S/Sgt Joseph Shandor (#373). They also heard that Jules had been captured along with three of the crew from Shandor's aircraft (Philippe, Edwards and Crippen). Jeanne Huet was due to bring Norman Cufley and John Harvey from Paris next day – and a man called Jean (Jean Calmet) was supposed to be coming from Lyon with two more (Lowther and King – they were taken to Switzerland six weeks later) but none turned up so it was just the six of them who left for the crossing to Canillo in Andorra three days later ...
S/Sgt Clifford Hammock (#391) was the tail-gunner of B-17 41-24507 Yankee Raider (Armstrong) which was returning from Stuttgart on 6 September 1943 and running out of fuel when they were attacked by fighters and the aircraft abandoned. Hammock landed near Beauvais and was helped almost immediately by an elderly woman who was herding sheep and that evening, a Frenchman took him to a barn. After a week in the barn, Hammock was moved to a house (no address) where he stayed for a month before moving to another house, where he spent another month until being collected by Gilbert Thibault. Thibault and another man drove Hammock to Paris where he was sheltered with M et Mme Payen (not found) at 20 rue Saint-Lazare. Whilst there, a blond Belgian (thought by Hammock's interviewer to be an agent known as Cashbox) visited and said that Hammock would be moved on about 16 December. However, Thibault (who visited frequently) told him that something had gone wrong and on about 14 December, Hammock met Madeleine (Grador) two others and an Englishman (about 5 feet 6 inches tall, 135-140 lbs with brown hair and blue eyes) (John Carter) who told him that the Belgian organisation had been broken up. This last news may have been premature as the Belgian returned to collect Hammock but his hostess wouldn't let him go and promptly contacted a friend of Gilbert with the news. On about 28 December, Gilbert's friend contacted Madeleine's group and she and a Frenchman came to tell Hammock he would be leaving on 31 December. On that day, two people took Hammock to stay with Jeanne Huet in her apartment at 48 Avenue du President Wilson where he joined Norman Cufley (1728) and John Harvey (1729). On 10 January, Paule Vastel, who visited her friend Mme Huet every day, took Hammock to stay overnight in her apartment at 39 rue Claude Bernard. Early next morning, Paule took him to the station where they met Madeleine Grador and Robert Griffith (1744) and Mme Grador took the two airmen by train and bus to Lavelanet where they joined Kenneth Skidmore (1767) Joseph Shandor (#373) Jean Pitner (#375) and Arno Plischke (#376) ...
Sgt Kenneth Skidmore (1767) was the flight-engineer of 158 Sqn Halifax HR791 (Evans) which was returning from Cannes in the early morning of 12 November 1943 when they were hit by flak and the aircraft abandoned to crash near Surville (Calvados). Skidmore landed near Bonneville-la-Louvet and was sheltered in the Normandy area until 10 December when Helene Gill and Jean-Pierre de la Hutiere brought him to Paris. Mme Gill took him to stay with Jeanne Huet where he was visited by Jules (John Carter). On 14 December, Jules took him by train to Lyon where he was supposed to join a group of five other evaders to be taken to the Spanish border. However he was told that the guides would only take five so Skidmore stayed on in Jules' apartment (address not known) until 17 December, when he was moved to another house on the outskirts of Lyon (address not known) with a man, wife and their two children. On 4 January, Jules took him back to his apartment and ‘kitted him out' for the Pyrenees and on 6 January, a man called Jean (Jean Calmet) took him [and Joseph Shandor] to Lavelanet. They were meant to be joined by Jules and three Americans but they failed to arrive and Skidmore stayed in a hotel in Lavelanet where he was joined by Robert Griffith (1744) ...
S/Sgt Joseph Shandor (#373) was a waist-gunner on B-17 42-30604 Badger's Beauty V (Helstrom) which was badly off course returning from Frankfurt on 4 October 1943 and running out of fuel. The aircraft was belly-landed south of Caen and the crew split into groups to evade. Shandor went with fellow waist-gunner S/Sgt William D Edwards and tail-gunner S/Sgt Charles E Crippen. They had various adventures in Normandy (where their co-pilot F/O Hubert E Trent (#2218) and bombardier 1/Lt Hilbert W Philippe were also being sheltered) before their helpers finally decided to take them south, via Paris by train to Culoz (Ain, Rhone-Alpes) and a nearby maquis camp. On about 12 December, they were joined by Trent, 2/Lt Clarence D Willingham (#2689) (co-pilot of B-17 42-30837 Ole Bassar) and 627 Sqn Mosquito DZ479 crew F/Lt L R Simpson and Sgt Peter W Walker (2514) who had also been sheltered in Caen – these last four were taken to Lyon in January and the following month, to Switzerland.
On about 10 January 1944, Shandor says an order came for them to move and he, Edwards, Crippen and Philippe were taken by truck to a small village where they were turned over to a guide named Jean. Jean (Jean Calmet) took them to Lyon where Jules (John Carter) met them and took them back to his apartment. They were outfitted with new clothing before Mme Annie (Annie Sabourault) took them back to meet Jean. Mme Annie took Pitner and Plischke while Shandor went with Jean to pick up Kenneth Skidmore (1767). When they got to the train, Jules instructed them to sit in different compartments for the journey. Shandor, Skidmore and their guide Jean got off at Bram to catch a train for Lavelanet while the others continued to Toulouse to take a connecting train from there. While they were waiting for Jules (Edwards, Crippen and Philippe) in a hotel in Lavelanet, Mme Annie arrived with Jean Pitner (#375) and Arno Plischke (#376). After waiting two days for Jules, it was assumed he and the three Americans had been captured. Meanwhile, Colette (Madeleine Grador) had arrived from Paris with Robert Griffith (1744) and Clifford Hammock (#391).
2/Lts Jean B Pitner (#375) and Arno E Plischke (#376) were the co-pilot and navigator of B-17 42-31215 (Ford) which was shot down on 26 November 1943 and crashed south-west of Beauvais. They (and their waist-gunner Delton King) were helped by Gilbert Thibault and on 2 December, the three airmen and Thibault were driven into Paris where they took the Metro and then walked to an apartment house (which they describe as a rendezvous for helpers) where they met a chemist named Mme (Evelyne) Vassius. That same day, Mme Schmitz collected them - someone else took King (#2237) - and took them to her apartment at 87 rue Rochechouart. Whilst there, they met Pierre Grador (a veterinarian with a practice in Brittany) and his wife Madeleine. On 17 December, Mme Grador took them to Lyon where they met Jules (John Carter) and went back to his apartment before being taken to stay with Roger and Marcelle Thomas (not found). They also report meeting Paul Bonnamour and his wife (daughter of Gordon Bowers (Major Herbert Hasler (1140) who stayed with the Bonnemours in January 1943, gives his name as Barr) of Barclays Bank in London). Jules supplied them with heavy clothing for the mountains and on 6 January, Annie Sabourault took them by train to Toulouse where they joined 1/Lt Hilbert W Philippe , S/Sgt William D Edwards and S/Sgt Charles E Crippen from the B-17 Badger's Beauty V. Kenneth Skidmore (1767) and Joseph Shandor (#373) were also on the train with their guide Jean Calmet but they got off at Bram to take another train direct to Lavelanet. From Toulouse the five airmen were divided into groups to take separate trains to Pamiers with Annie taking Pitner and Plischke, and Carter takng Philippe, Edwards and Crippen. After waiting (in vain) for Carter to arrive at Pamiers, Annie took Pitner and Plischke by bus to Lavelanet where they rejoined Skidmore and Shandor. The following morning, Annie and Jean returned to Lyon, leaving the airmen in a hotel. Meanwhile (as already mentioned) Madeleine Grador had arrived from Paris with Robert Griffith (1744) and Clifford Hammock (#391). Arrangements had already been made with their Spanish guides so while Jean and Annie returned to Lyon, the six airmen left on (about) 16 January for Andorra.
The crossing to Andorra took three nights and they spent another night at Canillo before moving to the Hotel Coma in Ordino to recover. Two days later, they were driven to the Spanish border, which they crossed on foot to an unnamed village from where, after a slight delay, they were collected by truck and driven to Barcelona.
Sgts Norman B Cufley (1728) and John Harvey (1729) were the wireless operator and flight engineer of 77 Sqn Halifax JD247 (Charlesworth). The aircraft had already lost one engine on the way to Ludwigshaven on the evening of 18 November 1943 and when two more engines failed on the return, the aircraft was abandoned to crash south of Saint-Quentin, near Moy-de-l'Aisne.
Cufley and Harvey only spent one night with Mme Schmitz (see earlier) before being taken to stay with Robert Roques in his apartment at 7 rue Chaligny, Paris XII. On 17 December they moved back for another night with Mme Schmitz and next day, were taken to 48 Avenue du President Wilson where they stayed with Jeanne Huet. They say they enjoyed complete freedom for the month they were there and often went out. They also say that Mme Huet's husband was an American who apparently didn't know that she helped evaders. On 19 January, they were visited by Captain Hamilton (MI9 agent Lucien Dumais) of the British Intelligence Services who passed them over to guides who took them by overnight train to St Brieuc and Plouha in Brittany where they joined thirteen Americans waiting to be taken off by RN MGB 503 on the first Operation Bonaparte.