Crossing from Tarbes
On 27 January 1944, seven USAAF airmen - Owen Scott, Meredith Rueff, Harold Lockwood, George Bertholdt, Robert Martin, Edward Knapp and George Jasman - set off from Tarbes to cross the Pyrenees.
This page first posted 01 Dec 2020
2/Lt Coleman Goldstein (#542) from Philadelphia, was the 23-year-old pilot, and 2/Lt Shirley Vernon Casey (#541) from Burkburnett, Texas, the 24-year-old co-pilot of 92BG/407BS B-17 42-3186 which was thirty minutes from their target of Merignac aerodrome (Bordeaux) on 31 December 1943 when they suffered a runaway engine. Goldstein asked navigator, 2/Lt Herbert Brill, for a course home, and as they were over the sea at the time, gave orders for everyone to prepare to ditch. All excess equipment was thrown overboard before they turned inland, and the crew gathered in the radio room as Goldstein landed his aircraft wheels-up about ten miles NE of Saint-André-de-Cubzac. The crew paired off, Goldstein going with ball-turret gunner George Jasman, and Casey with tail-gunner Owen Scott, leaving the navigator and engineer (Sgt William A Weber) to use a Very pistol (flare gun) to set the aircraft on fire.
Casey's MIS-X file simply says his story is exactly the same as that of Sgt Scott (#514), and that Goldstein's story is exactly the same as that of Sgt Jasman (#505) – which would be okay were it not for the fact that Casey and Goldstein only evaded with Scott and Jasman for part of the time, and then crossed into Spain five weeks after them. Fortunately, Goldstein's report is more helpful – see later.
Sgt Owen R Scott (#514) from Cincinnati, Ohio, was the 20-year-old tail-gunner of B-17 42-3186, and he confirms the crew pairing up after landing; Jasman with Goldstein, radio operator Sgt Herbert C Edenholm with left waist-gunner Sgt Emil J Mahne, engineer Sgt William A Weber with navigator 2/Lt Herbert Brill, bombardier 2/Lt John E Maloney with right waist-gunner S/Sgt Nicholas Mucci, and co-pilot Shirley Casey with him.
Scott and Casey headed south, and were about three miles from their aircraft when they were picked up by a farmer (a tall man aged about 40) who took them back to his house, where they met his wife and two young children. The farmer gave them civilian clothes, and after asking for their identitification and photographs, made identity cards for them.
On 5 January, the farmer took Scott and Casey into Bordeaux, and a friend's apartment (the friend being a short man with brown eyes and hair, and missing two fingures from his right hand) where they were visited by a French ex-pilot who knew the local area well and told Scott it would be impossible for him to go Toulouse by train. Next day, they were taken by bicycle to a farmhouse about ten miles from Bordeaux to visit a farmer (a grey-haired man with a large black moustache) who knew a little English from having worked in Mississippi, before returning to the apartment in Bordeaux. From there, they were taken to another farmhouse, this one near Saint-André-de-Cubzac, where they met 2/Lt Richard S Wilson (navigator of B-24 42-7581 Devil Dream) and S/Sgt Daniel J Norton Jnr (ball-turret gunner of B-17 42-31125 No Regrets), and the farmer (an “ugly looking fellow”, aged about 50 and with few remaining teeth) told them they were with the underground.
On the afternoon of 8 January, Scott, Casey, Wilson and Norton were taken by truck to Dr Jean Bertrand Cabanes at 205 Rue Nationale, Saint-André-de-Cubzac, where they met Goldstein and Jasman (who were living in another house but brought there to see them). Doctor Cabanes (aged 49, 5 foot 8 inches tall with blue eyes and brown hair) told them (through an interpretor, a grey-haired English teacher) that 18 Americans had already been to the house before them.
That same afternoon, Scott, Casey, Wilson and Norton were taken to a farmhouse about three miles from Saint-André, probably at Peujard, where they were sheltered by a man and his wife, and their daughter and her husband, and a baby. The Americans stayed for a week before being moved to yet another farmhouse (Scott saying this was because Rueff, Lockwood, Bertholdt and Martin were coming in that day), and Scott, Casey, Wilson and Norton stayed on this second farmhouse until 16 January when the doctor came and collected them in a small truck.
Meredith Rueff, Harold Lockwood, George Bertholdt and Robert Martin were already on board the truck, and after “joining up” with Goldstein, Jasman and Edward Knapp, all eleven airmen were driven to a maquis camp a few miles north-east of Mussidan (Dordogne).
1/Lt Meredith H Rueff (#513) from Saint Louis, Missouri, was the 25-year-old pilot of 96BG/339BS B-17 42-37808 which was returning from Bordeaux Merignac aerodrome on 5 January 1944. They had been hit by flak over the target but not seriously, however as they headed out over the sea their squadron leader's aircraft began slowing. The squadron began to lose altitude, and had dropped back from the main group when they were attacked by fighters. Rueff's aircraft was hit several times, their control cables were damaged and the AFCE auto-pilot wouldn't work, and when they were had to feather the #4 engine, they headed back towards land. The intercom was out but the alarm bell was sounded, and bombardier 2/Lt Joseph H Broussard went back to tell the rest of the crew to prepare to bail out as soon as they were over the land, Rueff and co-pilot Ernest Rufer (#573) being the last to leave the doomed aircraft.
2/Lt Ernest H Rufer Jnr (#573), right waist-gunner S/Sgt Minton Charles Bornstein (#572) and radio operator T/Sgt Davis (NMI) Maguire (#574) landed close to one another and evaded together, crossing into Spain on 18 February. Navigator 2/Lt James Leonard Brandon is reported to have made it to Barcelona, where he was treated for frostbite but no record found.
Rueff says that he jumped from about 4,000 feet and came down in a forest, close to the sea, with his parachute caught in a tree. It's not clear what he did for the first few hours but that evening, Rueff went to a farmhouse on the outskirts of a village to ask for help. The farmer, a slender man, about 5 ft 8 inches tall, was too concerned about Germans in the village to shelter him but his wife cooked Rueff a meal before her husband took Rueff to a neighbour, an ex-postman aged about 45, with a 16-year-old daughter and 27-year-old son who wore a French uniform of some sort - and had a dictionary which they used to communicate. Rueff stayed with the family overnight, and in the morning, he and the ex-postman walked the 11 kilometres to a railway station where they took a slow train to Bordeaux. They happened to meet a friend of the ex-postman on the train, who joined them for coffee and a cognac in a Bordeaux café. A few minutes after leaving the café, Rueff and the ex-postman met another friend, a grey-haired woman aged about fifty, who took them back to her grocery shop. The ex-postman left Rueff at the shop, returning at two o'clock with a well-dressed young woman (a widow aged 33, 5 ft 6 inches tall, heavily built, with very light skin). Rueff says she worked mainly for the underground, and she took Rueff back to her first-floor apartment in the middle of the town.
Whilst staying with this unnamed woman, Rueff had several visitors, including a 40-year-old man who spoke English, ran a grocery shop in Bordeaux, and seemed to be an organisation chief. Then on 9 January, another English-speaking Frenchman, this one aged about 25, took Rueff to another apartment a block away where he met Harold Lockwood, George Bertholdt and Robert Martin.
2/Lt Harold Keller Lockwood (#510) from Weiser, Idaho, was the 24-year-old pilot, Sgt George Milton Bertholdt (#511) from Middle River, Maryland, the 23-year-old tail-gunner and S/Sgt Robert Harlan Martin (#512) from Martinsville, Indiana, the 23-year-old engineer of 94BG/332BS B-17 42 -30444 Black Jack II on the same mission to Bordeaux on 5 January 1944 as Rueff. They were attacked by fighters before they reached the target, fatally wounding right waist-gunner, S/Sgt Horace S Mann, and after they had dropped their bombs, the attacks continued as they headed out over the Bay of Biscay, knocking out their #4 engine, and putting the aircraft into a spin.
Lockwood says that despite their tail section being torn off, Bertholdt was still at his guns, not hearing the bail-out order because the intercom was out, and only leaving his position when directly ordered to. The top turret was also hit, and Martin was down to a single gun when he shot down one of the fighters, which Lockwood says allowed them to escape, bailing out as soon as they were back over land and leaving the aircraft to crash into the Atlantic by the side of Lac d'Hourtin.
Lockwood, Bertholdt and Martin landed close to one another, and as they were all wounded, took the first-aid kits from their parachute harnesses before hiding the two chutes that weren't caught in the trees. They knew roughly where they were, and decided to head towards Bordeaux, walking generally south-east for the rest of that day and part of the night, and because they knew they were in a restricted zone, trying to avoid meeting anyone. They stopped quite late that night and settled down in a thorn thicket but it was too cold for sleep, and they spent the following morning thawing out their clothes. They set off again that afternoon, heading east to try and get out of the restricted area, and that evening reached a sheep fold where they found three bicycles. They waited for the owners to return, and when they did, declared themselves as Americans and asked for help. They were told to stay where they were, and at about one o'clock the next morining, the men returned with food. Later that same morning, the men came back with civilian clothes and then took the airmen to a charcoal-burner's hut in the forest.
A doctor was brought to give Martin treatment, and after three days in the hut, the men returned to take the Americans by train to Bordeaux and an apartment (a man and two sons) which Lockwood says “seemed to be a transit point for evaders”, and where they met Lt Rueff.
After two nights at the apartment in Bordeaux, a doctor (assume Dr Jean Cabanes) took the four Americans by car to a farmhouse north-east of Bordeaux, near Saint-André-de-Cubzac, where they stayed for three nights - photographs and papers being prepared for them during this time. On the fourth day (Sunday 16 January), new guides took them to a highway where they boarded a truck, joining seven other Americans (Scott, Casey, Wilson, Norton, Jasman, Goldstein and Edward Knapp), and two Frenchmen evading German labour, and driven to a maquis camp north-east of Mussidan (Dordogne). Lockwood reports a Vichy policeman, Gerold Mignon (of Place Jean Jaures, Saint-André-de-Cubzac), coming and giving them very good advice but says the place was poorly organised, and that the Americans thought they had simply been dumped there with no prospect of getting on. Rueff describes it as being “full of kids who did not know what they were doing”.
S/Sgt Edward Louis Knapp (#506) from Bennington, Vermont, was the 19-year-old left waist-gunner of 447BG/711BS B-17 42-31125 No Regrets, and on his first mission, an operation on 31 December 1943 to Cognac-Châteaubernard aerodrome.
They were hit by flak over the target, and pilot 2/Lt Milton R Moore gave the bail-out order. Knapp says that he pulled the waist-door release, saw that tail-gunner (S/Sgt Harrell G Strawn) was ready to leave through the tail hatch, and that ball-turret gunner S/Sgt Daniel J Norton (mentioned earlier) and the radio operator (T/Sgt John R Reagan) were right behind him when he left the doomed aircraft at about 15,000 feet.
Knapp landed in a farmyard about three kilometres from Cognac aerodrome, watched by a family as he stuffed his parachute into a box in their barn before a man followed him in, and on seeing Knapp's injured foot, bandaged it for him, presumably using the first-aid kit that Knapp had made a point of removing from his parachute harness. He also brought civilian clothes, and after waiting until it got dark, gave Knapp directions to head south-east, advising him to stay off the main roads, and telling him that he would probably get help from almost anyone simply by asking.
Knapp walked all through the night, and at dawn was approaching a small village when two cyclists passed him, and then turned back to ask if he were an American. They hid Knapp in a wood, returning that evening with food, and two men who took Knapp to a house in the village where they turned him over to an elderly man who said he would take care of him. Knapp spent three days wit the elderly man, and on the third night, was handed a note which asked him (in English) to stay another night. Next night, the elderly man gave Knapp a new pair of shoes, and led him to a cross-roads where he pointed in the direction he wanted to Knapp to go. Knapp walked all that night, using his compass to head south and covering some 25 kilometres by dawn, when he stopped at a farmhouse. A young man working in the yard was eager to help, taking him to a barn and giving him a blanket so he could sleep for the rest of the day. That evening, the young man brought Knapp supper before he set off once more walking through the night.
Knapp found another farm the following morning near Montendre (Charente-Maritime), where he was given breakfast, and a ride of several kilometres in a cart, and later that day, another elderly man took him in for the night, and then, because there were so many Germans on military exercise, Knapp stayed an extra day. After another night of walking, Knapp arrived at the outskirts of a small town, which he went around because he saw two German sentries standing outside a building, and then, as he was passing a house, spoke to a man who was watching him. The man “somewhat grudgingly” invited Knapp in for food, and then surprised him by offering shelter for the night. Next morning, the man asked Knapp to wait until a friend called around.
The friend failed to appear next day but the man brought a girl to the house who gave English lessons. She assured Knapp that the friend would come and help, at that he was a gendarme. After another night at the house, the gendarme arrived on a bicycle (guessing this was Garde champetre Gaston Berteau), and he took Knapp by bicycle to Saint-Yzan-de-Soudiac (Gironde) to stay with coiffeur Leopold Archat of “Chez Leopold” - Knapp reporting that Leopold was a member of the local resistance, and that he saw stuff dropped by aircraft. Leopold also took him out one afternoon to a wood where they met a farmer and saw a cache of weapons.
Knapp stayed three nights with the Archat family, spending the days at Leopold's shop, and sitting quietly in one of the barber chairs whenever any Germans entered. Early on the fourth day (12 Jan), he was taken to a garage where he met a man with a truck, and a younger man. They drove Knapp to Saint-André-de-Cubzac, and a doctor who was chief of the local resistance, and then to a farm outside Saint-André, where Knapp joined Jasman and Goldstein.
Sgt George Jasman (#505) from Brooklyn, New York City was the 20-year-old ball-turret gunner of B-17 42-3186, and as already mentioned, he paired up with his pilot, Coleman Goldstein. They ran north-east, towards a farmhouse on the top of a hill about a mile away, having to stop and rest half-way, at which point when Jasman took off his electrically heated suit and hid it in some undergrowth. The only people they could see were working in the fields but at the farm they found a teenage boy. The boy failed to understand what the Americans wanted but eventually the farmer arrived and they managed to explain they only wanted food and civilian clothing. They were given enough odd pieces of clothing to cover their uniforms, and Goldstein got a beret, along with a musette bag of food. They used their escape maps, and Jasman says they learned that they were not far from Cognac (he may mean Cavignac), and the boy took them to a road leading south-east.
They didn't follow the road but used their compass as they walked though fields and woods, and skirting a small settlement, until mid-afternoon when they met an elderly couple standing in their yard. The couple were too frightened to help but half an hour later, they stopped a young cyclist who took them back to his house and gave them some food. While they eating more members of the family arrived, their intially friendly welcome fading after the Americans asked about the Resistance, and tended to use a Germanic sounding “yeah” when answering questions. Using their escape maps didn't prove to be very useful in planning a route and the two airmen were preparing to leave when a man arrived and asked them to stay until another man came to see them, and in the meantime, they were given a bed for the night.
The following afternoon, three men arrived. None them seemed to speak any English but dog-tags and escape kits were examined before they led Jasman and Goldstein on foot to a farm about half a mile away. There was a small Renault car there with a doctor, his nephew and another man who Jasman describes as being officer in the organisation of which the doctor (Jean Cabanes) was in charge.
They drove through a few small towns, seeing a few Germans on the way, to the village of Peutard where they stopped at a house, apparently looking for someone who spoke English. They then drove to another house in the village where the man's wife spoke English, and she questioned the two airmen separately, asking Jasman about British service girls, WAAF and ATS, and if coloured troops were serving with the US Army, did they have a different uniform; and about the “Jeep”. Her husband also whistled a few tunes, including “Johnny Got a Zero” (released in 1943 by The Song Spinners). The wife explained that they were not sure if Jasman and Goldstein were American or German, and said the stuff they carried could have been picked up from the aircraft.
Once everyone was satisfied, Doctor Cabanes drove Jasman and Goldstein back to his house in Saint-André-de-Cubzac, where they were greeted with hugs and kisses from the doctor's wife, and had dinner with their large family. At ten o'clock that night they were put back in the car, and the doctor drove them to a farm about two miles away to be sheltered by Albert Pierre Ladepeche and his wife, the two Americans being put in their daughter's bedroom.
They stayed in the bedroom for two days, and the doctor said they would be leaving soon. He took one of their dog-tags and escape maps, and told them he had Casey and Scott at his house, and that they would go to Bordeaux and take a train to Pau that Saturday but it wasn't until the following Wednesday (12 Jan) that they were taken to see Casey and Scott, and met Lt Wilson and Sgt Norton.
An English-speaking professor (query writing) told them it was impossible to cross the Pyrenees at that time and that they would be leaving by aircraft. They were then returned to the farmhouse and told they would be leaving for Bordeaux on the Saturday. However, on the Friday (14 Jan) they were returned to Saint-André, and Doctor Cabanes and his wife took them and Sgt Knapp to another farmhouse where they stayed with an elderly man and his wife. The doctor returned on Sunday morning and took all three of them back to his house in Saint-André once more, explaining that he planned to take them to Mussidan. At seven o'clock that evening, a private bus took them a couple of miles out of town to meet what Jasman describes as a “Brit-type of truck”, with Lockwood, Bertholdt, Martin, Rueff, Norton, Wilson, Scott and Casey already on board. They were all given identity cards, said goodbye to the doctor (they knew they were going to a maquis), and were driven to a farmhouse near Mussidan.
Jasman says they were driven to a farmhouse about two miles east of Mussendan from where they walked to a camp about three miles into the hills – Martin being taken by a boy on a motorcycle because of his injured leg – arriving there at about three o'clock in the morning. Jasman was not impressed with what he saw, and felt that the Americans had been dumped there. They also heard that the Germans were looking for their driver who had apparently killed a Gestapo officer. Next morning a sergeant gendarme (named by Lockwood as Gerold Mignon) came to warn them that the Germans were closing in through the hills, and he marked out an escape route for the Americans to follow to Tarbes, and Joseph Lavignac came from Saint-Etienne-de-Puycorbier and offered to take the Americans out through Tarbes, five at a time. The Americans had been divided into two groups, Jasman saying that Goldstein, Casey, Norton, Wilson, Lockwood and Martin were in a nearby farm, so the first five to go would be him, Scott, Knapp, Rueff and Bertholdt.
It seems that Joseph Lavignac wasn't the only local man to have doubts because the day before Jasman and party left, a farmer named Jean Joly took Lockwood and Martin back to his farm at Saint-André-de-Double.
Early on the morning of 21 January, Joseph Lavignac walked with Jasman, Scott, Knapp, Rueff and Bertholdt to the station at Neuvic. They caught a train to Périgueux, arriving there at eleven o'clock, and then had to wait until six in the afternoon for their connecton. They spent the day in a railway carriage before taking a train for Auch, arriving there at midnight, and then because their next train didn't leave until six o'clock in the morning, spent the rest of the night on a train in the railway yard. They walked back into the station at a quarter to six and boarded a train for Tarbes – Jasman saying that Joseph Lavignac used his own money to buy their tickets.
There was an inspection at Miélan, and when the gendarme saw Bertholdt's identity card he immediately declared it as “no good”. Joseph Lavignac quickly explained that they were Americans, and after a discussion, the gendarme told them and they should not go to Tarbes, where there was a German control, and that the best place to go was Luchon. This episode obviously worried Knapp (who said the group was too large for safety) and Bertholdt enough that they got off the train two stops later at Villecomtal-sur-Arros, leaving Jasman, Rueff and Scott to carry on to Andrest, a small village about 10 kms north of Tarbes, and Joseph to go on to Tarbes alone.
Jasman, Scott and Rueff walked out the station at Andrest, and about 20 minutes down the road spoke to an old man. He didn't seem to understand, and then a 10-year-old boy didn't want to help but as he was heading east, the Americans followed him to the small village of Sarniguet. There were apparantly no Germans there, and on the outskirts of the village, they approached an elderly man, told him who they were, and he agreed to help them. The man took them to his son's house, where they stayed the night, and next morning an English-speaking lady arrived. Then two men took the Americans to the nearby village of Marsac where Jasman was sheltered with Gaston Larroudet and his wife and daughter while Scott and Rueff stayed with Gaston's sister and her husband, Joseph Clarac, and their daughters Germaine and Jeanette. The three Americans stayed in Marsac until 27 January, when a truck arrived to take them to Tarbes.
Meanwhile, Knapp and Bertholdt left Villecomtal-sur-Arros station and headed sout-east towards Trie-sur-Baise. After a couple of hours, they managed to get food at a house but weren't allowed to stay and so ate while they were walking, and sleeping in a barn that night. The next day they walked through Trie and stopped at the house of a curé who fed them, gave them money and directed them to an empty house where they could sleep for the night – he also told them to go to a clothing shop in Castelnau-Magnoac where they would receive help. They found the shop next day, and told the owner Francois Vernus that the curé had sent them. An English-speaking girl was brought, along with her husband, and that evening, they took the two Americans back to their house. Then a man who had been a captain in the French army (6 ft tall, 185 lbs, dark, had a 9-year-old son and a 22-year-old daughter) (head of a local maquis) came and took them to his farm about six kilometres away. Three or four days later, two French ex-officers in leather coats came in a car and drove them to an apartment house at 4 rue de Gonnes in Tarbes, where Mme Henri Cames and her daughter Malou sheltered them for three days until one of the French officers took them by truck to another house in the town where they joined the other five Americans, and met Walter Steiner.
Lockwood and Martin had stayed with Jean Joly on his farm at Saint-André-de-Double for ten days, along with a young man named Robert and his wife. When they heard that the others had gone to Tarbes, Joseph Lavignac, who had taken them, arranged for Walter Steiner (a 21-year-old Viennese with Czech papers who was staying with him) to take Lockwood and Martin, along with Robert and his wife and her brother, to Tarbes to join the other Americans.
Steiner took them by train to Andrest, north of Tarbes, and Lockwood, Martin and Steiner wandered about for two days trying to find the connections which Steiner insisted he had. On the second night they stayed at a toll house where they met a young couple who ran a hotel in Andrest, and next day two Frenchmen (one was a lieutenent in the French army; organisation Pernod according to Lockwood) came to the toll house and interrogated them. The two men returned the next day and took Lockwood, Martin and Steiner to a house in Tarbes where they joined Bertholdt, Jasman, Scott, Rueff and Knapp.
Jasman is the only one whose report describes their subsequent journey, and he says they left Tarbes at three o'clock in the afternoon (27 Jan) and were driven to a deserted house at the base of the mountains, arriving there at four-thirty the following morning, where they and the two guides the lieutenant had brought, spent the rest of the night. They had been stopped at one point by a group of ten gendarmes but the French lieutenant apparantly talked them past. The report isn't clear but they seem to have set off again at seven that evening, walking through the night until two o'clock the following morning, sleeping until seven and then walking again until two o'clock that afternoon. At that point they were in a valley and the road was patrolled which meant they had to wait until evening to go down into a town for food, and then gave the guides 10,000 francs to take them across the frontier after they were told that their Spanish guides had been captured. They then crossed the valley and walked until four in the morning of that Sunday, 30 January when the guides left them, saying that Spain was “straight ahead” – the Americans not having any more money to give them. They crossed the last mountain at ten o'clock that morning, although they didn't know if they were actually in Spain or not, and it wasn't until they followed a road down the mountain and met a Spaniard, and then walked into a town where they were arrested by a Spanish policeman, that they knew they had made it across the frontier.
They were taken to a police station in Bousson (assume the tiny village of Bausen) where their French money was taken, along with knives and dog-tags. They were questioned about their base and squadron but gave no answers, and then walked under guard to a hotel in Les, from where they telephoned the American consulate in Barcelona. Next day, they were taken to Vielle, where they were joined by James Hussong (#407), Leonard Cassady (#408), Charles Downe (#411) and Ernest Grubb (#447) who had just crossed from Saint-Girons - and a “Sgt Leman”. Two days later, they were all taken by the Guardia Civil via Esterri d'Aneu to Sort, where the Americans are recorded as arriving on 3 February, along with Frenchman Jean Lheman (sic) and “Joe W Rosenbaum”, which is probably the name given by Walter Steiner in a bid for early release. They stayed overnight in the Hotel Pessets, where they met Robert Garcia from the consulate, and were given 85 pesetas.
Next day, the Guardia Civil took Jasman, Knapp, Lockwood, Bertholdlt, Martin, Scott and Rueff to the Palacio Hotel (sic) in Lerida. After five weeks at Lerida, they were taken to Saragossa and then spent ten days with the Spanish Air Force at the spa town of Alhama de Aragon before finally being repatriated to the embassy in Madrid on 19 March. Jasman and Knapp left Gibraltar by air to Bristol on 23 March while Lockwood, Bertholdt, Martin, Rueff and Scott were flown to the UK overnight from Casablanca.
Which just leaves Coleman Goldstein and Shirley Casey. Goldstein's report includes mention of their navigator, Herbert Brill, bombardier John Maloney, engineer William Weber and radio operator Herbert Edenholm as last seen “in the hands of the doctor at Saint-André”, before going on to relate what happened to him and Casey following their arrival at the camp near Mussidan.
Goldstein says the young French people at the camp were in a maquis and didn't seem to realise that the Americans wanted to get to Spain. He reports one of the young men going to Perigueux, apparently to contact a British Intelligence Officer but the reason for the attempted contact isn't given. Casey, Wilson and Norton didn't like the setup at the camp, and at seven o'clock on the morning of 17 (sic) January, they all walked out. He also says that when the camp was raided, (Robert) Martin was in a house in the village.
They were unsure which was the best place to head for, having a choice between Lannemezan, Tarbes or Pau, but they had a map which showed the zone interdite, and they decided to follow dirt roads, and avoid any towns. It seems they set off in pairs (Goldstein with Casey) because Goldstein then reports joining Norton and Wilson who were trying to cross the river (l'Isle). They passed a local man who stared at them so they told him they were American and asked for his help. The man called a woman over, and she rowed them across the river.
Goldstein says that they (assume just he and Casey as there is no further mention of Norton or Wilson) planned to avoid Sainte-Foy-le-Grande, and walked to Villefranche (query), and on the outskirts of the village, met a young man in a French uniform, standing in the backyard of a house. They spent the night at the house before setting off at first light and walking to La Fleix (on the river Dordogne) – they had decided to head for Langon (on the La Garonne river) because a gendarme at Mussidan had told them to contact a gendarme named Archer at Langon. The gendarme at Mussidan had also advised seeking help at any Protestant church but when they tried the church in La Fleix, there no-one there. They were just leaving when an elderly man and his wife entered, and the airmen declared themselves as Americans. The man was Belgian, and suspicious of them but after being shown their identity discs, he offered them shelter for the night. They followed the Belgian and his wife across the river and back to their (very nice) house in nearby Sainte-Foy-le-Grande, where they lived with the wife's sister and a girl, and next morning, the Belgian took the Americans in his car to Saint-Antoine-de-Breuilh.
Goldstein and Casey were sheltered by Maurice Gaussen in Saint-Antoine-de-Breuilh for the next three weeks, the Americans not leaving the property while Maurice worked at various ideas to get them out. The most likely chance seemed to be with a gendarme organisation they heard about in Gensac, and contact was made with a shoemaker there but plans were cancelled following an increase in Gestapo activity. Then on 11 February, an English-speaking Frenchman arrived to take them to Bergerac.
The Frenchman *** with British service, appeared to be a travelling salesman. He was 40 years old, 5 ft 7 inches tall, weighed about 170 lbs, with a large hooked nose; he wore horn-rimmed glasses and always acted suspiciously, and Goldstein describes him as being a “movie criminal type”.
They stayed in Bergerac with Fernand Genestie and his wife on rue Jean Nicot for the next ten days, during which time they met S/Sgt George Kelley (#479) and S/Sgt John Myrick {#480) (two gunners from B-17 42-3495), who were being sheltered with their neighbour Rene Barre on the same road .
On 21 February, Fernand took them to the railway station in Bergerac, where they joined six Frenchmen, and on the train to Toulouse, were passed to a beautiful girl called Simone (this was Mlle Simone Caimels of 20 rue Raymond IV in Toulouse) and a young man. In Toulouse, they were handed over to a young English-speaking man called Lucien (assume Lucien William Cros (born 16 July 1914) of 46 Route d'Espagne, Toulouse), who took them to the eastern suburb of Croix-Daurade where they were sheltered with Mme Henriette Garric and her daughter Marcelle at 93 Chemin de Nicol. Goldstein and Casey stayed with Mme Garric and her daughter for a week until they were given extra clothes “for mountain travel”, and taken back to the railway station in Toulouse. They were handed over to a guide, who Goldstein names as Pierre Ramon, and joined a Polish lieutenant named Carston and a British captain named Tsoucas.
Captain George Tsoucas (1886), a 44-year-old Greek national, was living in Egypt in December 1940 when he enlisted in the British Army as an interpretor. He was commssioned in June 1941, and on 16 September 1942, was serving in the Intelligence Corps, attached to the Special Boat Section MEF, when he was captured during an operation to Rhodes. He was held at various prisons in Greece and Italy until the Italian armistice was made public on 8 September 1943, and then transferred to Stalag VIIA (Moosburg) in southern Bavaria.
On 23 September, Tsoucas and South African fighter pilot Captain Ralph Palm (1628), escaped from Moosburg. They found their way to Nancy, where on 3 November, they were passed over to “Mme Laroche” (Pauline Barré de Saint-Venant) aka Marie-Odile. She took them first to Paris, and then to Ruffec (Charente) where they were handed over to Mary Lindell and her Marie-Claire organisation. Palm joined one of the groups taken across the Pyrenees in November but Tsoucas was left behind in favour of evading airmen. After news was received that the next group after Palm had been captured, and Lindell arrested shortly afterwards, Mme Laroche took Tscoucas back to Paris.
Following various aborted attempts to find a workable route across the Pyerenees, Tsoucas was in Montauban on 22 February 1944 when Mme Laroche arrived with a Polish officer. She took Tscoucas and the Pole to Toulouse where, via Gabriel Nahas (aka Georges) (born in Alexandria, Egypt on 4 March 1920), Tsoucas and the Pole were introduced to a guide who told them that heavy snow was making crossings impossible. They returned to Montauban until 29 February, when Tsoucas was taken back to Toulouse, where he met the guide, and joined Goldstein and Casey.
They were taken via Carcassonne to Quillan, Tsoucas buying their tickets, where they were held up again because of bad weather but on 6 March, set off from Le Pla (Ariège) with a large group of Polish officers and men. Goldstein says they walked for thirty-seven hours with breaks, and although Tsoucas was in “really bad shape”, no-one was left behind. They finally crossed the Spanish border to Alp (Catalonia) on 8 March, where they rested in a barn for three nights while their guide went to Barcelona, returning with a truck to take them to the British Consulate, and arriving there on 12 March.
Casey and Goldstein reached Gibraltar on 23 March, and left by air to Prestwick in Scotland on 26 March, the same day that Tsoucas left Gibraltar by overnight flight to Whitchurch (Bristol).