They came from Burgundy
Chapter 40
Some Mlle Bourgeois, Bordeaux, Dahlia and Felix connections
The reader was warned at the start of this account that it would be heavy on detail but light on narrative. This chapter in particular is likely to confound the most ardent of students with the interaction of so many other characters and organisations, and references to other events which may (or may not) be covered in more detail elsewhere.
The paragraph above is included in the original book draft. By posting a slightly modified version of the chapter here, I'm hoping that someone will be able to fill in some of the gaps that have so far eluded me – the identity of Mlle Bourgeois for example ... and In October 2022, Jean-Yves Thoroval emailed me with a copy of a letter from Major John F White Jnr of the MIS-X Awards Section to Donald Darling of IS9, dated 15 May 1945, on the subject Mary Madeleine Davy which includes mention that one of her several pseudonyms was Mlle Bourgeois.
Mlle Marie Madeleine Davy (born 13 September 1907) was professor of philosophy who lived at 21 rue Racine, Paris VI. She had been working with the Resistance since 1940, and soon became involved with helping evaders, sheltering them in her home and recruiting others to help her. She also acted as a guide from Paris to Perpignan as well as bringing evaders to the capital from the north. After several members of her organisation were arrested in June 1943 (assume Bordeaux-Loupiac), she began working with Dutch-Paris, sheltering evaders before taking them to the south of the France. By the end of 1943, intense German activity forced her to leave Paris for the provinces, where she remained in hiding until the Liberation. Marie Madeleine Davy was awarded a KMC.
On (about) 14 December 1943, John Heald (#357) Floyd Terry (#382) and William Quinn (#385) were taken by train to Montauban, Toulouse, Narbonne and Perpignan ...
On 19 December 1943, John Dougherty (#358) Warren Laws (#362) Thomas Mezynski (#374) John Herrick (#381) Charles Bailey (#384) Herbert Dulburg (#390) and Robert Sheets (#394) were taken by train from the Gare d'Austerlitz to Montauban, Toulouse, Narbonne and Perpignan ...
S/Sgt Floyd H Terry (#382) was the twenty-two-year-old ball-turret gunner of B-17 42-29789 Big Time Operator (381BG/535BS) (Zum) which had already experienced trouble with one engine and lost two guns before being damaged by flak over Romilly-sur-Seine aerodrome on 3 September 1943 and attacked by fighters. The aircraft was abandoned to crash near Provins (Seine-et-Marne) south-east of Paris.
Terry landed in the Foret de Fontainebleau (south of Melun) and was helped almost immediately. He was taken to a nearby village and an organisation in Paris was contacted. Terry was taken into Paris and the Cafe du Moulin Rouge at 42 Avenue Henry Barbusse in the north-eastern suburb of Drancy where he met the owner, Maurice Berthe-Cottereau and three doctors. The following evening (about 8 September) he was taken to stay with Mme Theodorine Quenot (described by Terry as a peroxide blonde, about 5 ft 2 inches tall, about 40 years old, with a pale complexion - she wore glasses and spoke good English) at 15 rue Alcide Veillard, Bobigny. On about 10 September, he was joined by 61 Sqn Lancaster W5002 pilot Sgt Percival Victor Matthews (1559) and sometime between 15 and 20 September, they were joined by 2/Lt James Armstrong (#339) from B-17 41-24507 Yankee Raider and five days after that by 2/Lt Andrew Lindsay (#389) from B-26 41-34971 Pay Off. Mme Theo took the four airmen to Maurice's restaurant for the Quimper expedition at the end of October (see later) and afterwards, a girl called Allouette brought Terry back to Paris with 2/Lt John Heald.
It was Mlle Bourgeois (Marie Madeleine Davy) who took Terry and Heald to a hotel opposite the College de Paris (sic). They stayed about two weeks at the hotel until “one of Mlle Bougeois' guides” took them to Toulouse where they picked up two French naval officers. They made an abortive attempt to cross the Pyrenees from Quillan in bad weather but Terry collapsed and the whole party returned to Paris where they went to the apartment of one of the French officers, Pierre. At this point, a new lady took Terry and Heald to another rooming house where they stayed for a week until a boy took the two Americans to his brother's apartment – both boys were very young, one a medical student. The same boy also took them to a bar where they met Genevieve Soulié who took them to be sheltered at 14 rue Montmartre where they stayed for about a week with two middle-aged sisters, Mlles Solange and Yvonne Boury.
On (about) 14 December a tall, very blond young man took Terry and Heald to the Jardin des Plantes where they joined William Quinn (#385) and a man who asked them to tell the first US Consul they met that they had come from Burgundy ...
2/Lt John Heald (#357) 2/Lt John Dougherty (#358) and S/Sgt Robert M Sheets (#394) were the bombardier, navigator and one of the waist-gunners of B-17 42-5797 (384BG/546BS) (Magowan) which was returning from Le Bourget on 16 August 1943 when one engine failed and had to be feathered. As they fell out of formation they were attacked by fighters and the aircraft was abandoned. Heald, Dougherty and Sheets were the only successful evaders from this aircraft - although I suspect that top-turret gunner T/Sgt Sidney C Grinstein almost made it – see earlier.
Robert Sheets landed near Rambouillet and after two days alone, approached a girl who hid him and said she would find more help. A few days later, Sheets was taken to a farm where he joined his bombardier John Heald.
John Heald landed in the Foret de Rambouillet, where he stayed for the rest of the day and following night. Next morning, he approached a young girl who was tending some cows and while they were talking, her father arrived. He suggested Heald hide in a ditch where later, a mother and her two daughters visited. He was taken to a house and two days later, two Frenchmen arrived - one an English-speaking student from Paris who took Heald's details. They had a note from a man known as ‘Froggie' Familisterre (query) assuring him he would be taken to Paris in the next few days. A couple of days later, Froggie himself arrived. He was an elderly man who spoke English, having gone to school in England and worked there, and now ran a tabac (tobacco shop) in Rambouillet. Two days after that, another Frenchman arrived with news that he had located another American who he said he would bring for Heald to identify. Then five more Frenchmen, three locals and two from Paris, arrived to say he would be leaving that afternoon by train for Paris but before that, he should verify the American's identity. They brought in Robert Sheets who immediately said that Heald was his bombardier. This turned out to be a good move since Heald, having only joined the crew at the last moment, didn't actually know the sergeant and they realised later that if Heald had not confirmed his identity, it's likely that Sheets would have been killed.
“It sometimes happens that two or more individual members of an aircrew are picked up by helpers in different places. In such an event it is important for each member to know and remember the names and descriptions of each member of his crew. When they can give these details to their respective helpers it enables the latter to check up, among each other, on the genuineness of each individual in their charge and help prevent the possibility of enemy agents masquerading as Allied airmen for the purpose of betraying helpers to the Gestapo. The betrayal of a helper invariably results in his death and in that of the whole of his family.” (MI9 Bulletin TNA file WO208-3268)
Heald and Sheets were taken by cart into Rambouillet and the two men from Paris, Lionel (query) (who spoke English and seemed very well educated) and Raoul (aka Pierre) (Pierre Berteaux) took them to the capital. They went to an apartment at 66 rue Pouchet, Paris XVII where they met Robert (a sickly looking anaemic man of about 27 with blond hair and a moustache) and stayed with a man, wife and their five-year-old daughter for a week (and visited there by a man who claimed to have helped Joseph Rosio (#54) and George Evans (#55) earlier). On 31 August, Raoul moved them to nearby 29 rue Berzelius where they stayed with his aunt, Mme Normand and her husband Lucien.
Heald and Sheets were told they would be leaving soon for England or Spain but on (about) 9 September, they were visited by a woman named Marie Christine (Marie-Christine Bodin) who brought them more clothes and said they would leave that Saturday (11 September). However, two days later another man came to say they wouldn't be leaving after all because the organisation didn't have enough money to pay for their onward journey.
Shortly after this (date uncertain) Maurice Cottereau took Heald and Sheets by truck to his bar in Drancy, where they met Andrew Lindsay (#389) Vic Matthews (1559) and a gunner named Joe – S/Sgt Joseph Cornwall (#125). Heald and Sheets were taken to a grain-dealers' house for the night and on about 16 September, to stay at 28 Allée du Chevalier de La Barre with a butcher named Pierre Mangeolle and Mme Louise Faivre where they joined their navigator John Dougherty (#358) - and Sgt William Howell (#328) and 2/Lt Paul H McConnell (#380) from B-17 42-29928.
John Dougherty landed near Poigny-la-Foret (north-west of Rambouillet) and was helped immediately by some local women and an Irish girl called Lilly Hannigan (Elisabeth Hannigan (born 1919 in Dublin) was a governess for the Le Bret family of Poigny-la-Foret). Dougherty hid in the woods while his helpers contacted Paris and on the following Monday, he was taken by train to the capital where he met Maurice Cottereau (believed by Vic Matthews (1559) to be chief of the local organisation) at his bar, the Cafe du Moulin Rouge in Drancy. That night (23 August) Dougherty was taken to stay with an elderly couple, Gabriel Pons and his wife at 174 Avenue Jean Jaurès in nearby Bobigny. On 26 August, he was joined by William Howell (#328) and Paul McConnell (#380) and Maurice told Dougherty that he had located his fellow crewmen John Heald and Robert Sheets. On 28 August, Dougherty, Howell and McConnell were taken to Les Pavillons-sous-Bois where they stayed with Pierre Mangeolle and Louise Faivre at 28 Allée du Chevalier de La Barre, and on about 9 September, John Heald and Robert Sheets joined them. On about 11 October, they were also joined by S/Sgt Gary Hinote (#383) from B-17 42-3538.
On 29 October, Heald, Dougherty, Sheets, McConnell, Howell and Hinote were taken to Quimper, Finistere where they joined James Armstrong (#339) Floyd Terry (#382) Andrew Lindsay (#389) Vic Matthews (1559) Sgt France Delorie (1637) Sgt Royce Fidler (1717) Sgt Leslie Woollard (1718) Sgt Anthony Reynolds (1835) S/Sgt Charles Bailey (#384) and Sgt William Quinn (#385). They were to have been embarked by sea in a Dahlia operation organised by Yves Le Henaff (Fanfan) - the idea being to take the evaders from the harbour at Douarnenez by fishing boat and rendezvous at sea with a Royal Navy torpedo boat - but the plan fell through and evaders returned to Paris on (about) 6 November.
Heald and Floyd Terry (#382) were brought back to Paris (where Heald saw Andrew Lindsay (#389) with Mlle Bourgeois) by a woman called Allouette. She handed them over to a girl who took them to a fifth-floor apartment at 2 Place de la Sorbonne where Heald also met Mme Berantz (Mme Baron - query), who lived on the second floor. Mlle Bourgeois told Heald that he and Terry were leaving for Spain and a small, curly-haired boy in his early twenties, took them to join T/Sgt Otto Bruzewski (#320). The three Americans were taken by train to Toulouse where they joined two French naval officers (who Heald names as Pierre Lavissiere and Andre) both of whom spoke English. They were taken on to Carcassonne and Quillan where they met another organisation chief, a chubby man of medium height with a round face. They stayed overnight in a hotel and next day a guide called Martinez arrived and drove them to his house. While waiting in a barn for another group of Americans to join them, Heald picked up a cold and Terry caught influenza. After three days they left, driving through the night in heavy rain. Their guide said it would be impossible to get through but the Americans insisted on trying it anyway, carrying on until Terry collapsed. They made their way back to a small village where they found rooms in a hotel and called a doctor for Terry before returning via Foix to Paris where Pierre Lavissiere (not found) took them to his house in the ‘smart' section of the city.
The three Americans were visited by a very tall French aviator (described by Heald as having big teeth and a pinched face) before a girl took them to the Hotel de Mexique (query) where Mlle Bourgeois brought a man to measure them for coats. They also met a man called Henri (query) and his friend and were told there was another possible boat operation from Quimper. The Americans left the hotel about a week later after it was found that one of the maids had gone through Henri's bag - Heald and Terry to stay with Henri's brother (who was studying to be a doctor) and Bruzewski to a small hotel. Heald and Terry were then taken to a cafe where they met Genevieve Soulié who took them to be sheltered by Mlles Solange and Yvonne Boury at 14 rue Montmartre. They stayed eight days with the Boury sisters before they were taken to the Jardin des Plantes and joined William Quinn (#385) ...
On their return to Paris from Quimper, Dougherty, Sheets, McConnell and Hinote were met at Montparnasse station by Mlle Bourgeois and taken to the Hotel Bienvenue (Mlle Myriem Ledoux) at 4 rue Saint-Sulpice, Paris VI where they were joined by William Howell (#328) and Andrew Lindsay (#389). (Hinote and McConnell seem to have been passed on to Comete at this point – probably moved to stay with Fernande Onimus of 84 rue des Rondeaux). Sheets was sheltered by Gilbert Virmoux (of Bordeaux-Loupiac) along with James Armstrong (#339) Royce Fidler (1717) and Leslie Woollard (1718) at 41 rue Saint-Merri, Paris IV. As Gilbert's one-room apartment was so small, Armstrong and Woollard slept in the flat below with M et Mme Le Callonec (not found).
On 12 November, Sheets and Armstrong were taken to the Chateau de la Fortelle - about 12 kms from Marles-en-Brie (Seine-et-Marne) – where they joined Dougherty and others. On 3 December, Dougherty and Sheets were returned to Paris where they were met by Suzanne (query) and two others, and taken to the (third-rate) Hotel Bienvenu for the night. Next day, they were taken to meet the comte Noel de Villeneuve at 12 Avenue du General Mangin, Paris XVI who told them he had no faith in the organisation they were with, that Mlle Bourgeois was being hunted by the Gestapo and that he knew of another organisation who would to take them to Spain in sealed freight wagons. This plan did not materialize and on about 15 December, they were visited by Genevieve Soulié and two days later she moved them to stay with an older couple in their house. On 19 December, Dougherty and Sheets joined Warren Laws (#362) Thomas Mezynski (#374) John Herrick (#381) Charles Bailey (#384) and Herbert Dulburg (#390) and were taken to the Gare d'Austerlitz where they caught a train to Montauban, Narbonne and Perpignan ...
S/Sgt Charles K Bailey (#384) was a waist-gunner and Sgt William N Quinn (#385) the radio operator of B-17 42-5867 Alice from Dallas (100BG/350BS) (Claytor) which was on a the way to Regensburg on 17 August 1943. Their group was flying too close to the one ahead and their plexiglass nose had already been smashed by discarded cartridge cases when they were hit by flak, setting the left wing on fire and badly damaging the right wing. The bale-out order was given and the aircraft abandoned over Belgium.
Bailey and Quinn were helped by the newly established Felix organisation of Charles Gueulette who sheltered them with Florent Biernaux at 16 Boulevard Thonissen in Hasselt. At the end of October, they were taken to Paris and passed on to the Dahlia network of Yves Le Henaff (Fanfan) for an aborted attempt to evacuate a group of evaders by fishing boat from Douarnenez in Brittany. On returning to Paris they were taken on by Mlle Bourgeois who sent them to the Chateau de la Fortelle for three weeks before returning them to Paris on 10 December 1943 where they were passed on to Genevieve Soulié of Bourgogne.
Bailey landed in someone's garden where he says that fifty people were waiting for him. He was directed to hide in a ditch and a little while later Jean Achten appeared with a bicycle and took him to his fiancée Marie Klinkers at her café in Diepenbeek (Limburg). Marie dressed his injuries and an RAF questionnaire was produced. Quinn was met on landing near Diepenbeek by a countess whose husband was the governor of Limbourg. She took Quinn to hide in the nearby woods and the following morning Jean Achten visited him and that evening took him to join Bailey.
The following evening (19 August) Jean Achten took Bailey and Quinn by bicycle to Hasselt where they stayed with Florent and Olympe Biernaux at 16 Boulevard Thonissen. During their stay they were visited by a British agent called Felix (aka Victor) (Charles Gueulette) who was head of the newly established organisation, and J C de Coster (aka Criticouse). On 28 October, Olympe Biernaux took Bailey and Quinn to Brussels where they met Felix in a car-parts shop owned by a sixty-five-year-old Englishman. Felix and another man took them to the station and passed them on to another man who took them to Ghent where they stayed the night. Next day they were taken to Mouscron and crossed the border to Tourcoing. After several hours at the house of a French captain, Simone Mishaut collected them and took them to Paris. They arrived at midnight and were met by a priest (Abbe Michel Louis Riquet - query) and a short, plump girl called Gillete Edwige who took them to an apartment at 32 Boulevard Henri IV, Paris IV where her parents, Pierre Gillet and his American wife Ann Bailry, apparently owned the whole block. On 21 October, they were moved to stay with Simone Michaut for five days at an address near the Eiffel Tower (12 rue Molitor – query) before they were taken to Quimper ...
On their return to Paris from Quimper (about 5 November) Bailey and Quinn were met by Haralampos Laghos (an American born Greek) and his wife who took them, Sgt Jacob Dalinsky (#342) and Anthony Reynolds (1835) (both also previously with Felix) back to their home at 63 rue de l'Amiral Mouchez, Paris XIII (close to the Cite Universitaire) – they were now (they say) in the organisation of Mlle Bourgeois.
The lady known as Mlle Bourgeois (Marie Madeleine Davy) is described by Bailey and Quinn as being a homely woman with a heart of gold. She had ankles the size of a man's thigh and her two front teeth were black. Her organisation had no money so she was using her own – she taught philosophy at the University of Paris.
Bailey and Quinn stayed with M et Mme Laghos for about eight days before being taken to the Chateau de la Fortelle where they spent three weeks with William Howell (#328) James Armstrong (#339) Paul McConnell (#380) Gary Hinote (#383) Andrew Lindsay (#389) and Robert Sheets (#394). The Chateau de la Fortelle was used as a training camp to get the evaders in shape for the Pyrenees and Armstrong (#339) says they spent their time toughening up for the Pyrenees by hiking in the woods, chopping down trees and playing volley ball. Bailey and Quinn returned to Paris on 10 December where they stayed three or four days with M Laghos again before they were separated.
Bailey stayed at the Lycee Sophie Germaine on rue de Jouy for six days until 19 December when Genevieve Soulié took him to the Gare d'Austerlitz where he joined John Dougherty (#358) and was taken by train to Perpignan ...
Quinn was taken by M Laghos to meet Genevieve Soulié at Mlle Bourgeois' headquarters opposite the University of Paris (assume rue Racine). Genevieve then took Quinn to stay with a forty-four-year-old woman who worked at the Banque de France, was ‘built like Mae West' and lived on the other side of Paris - this was almost certainly Simone Besson at 8 rue Emile Allez, Paris XVII. Three days later, Genevieve took him to the Jardin des Plantes where he joined John Heald (#357) and Floyd Terry (#382) and was taken by train to Perpignan ...
2/Lt John W Herrick (#381) was flying P-47 41-6188 (78FG/82FS) on a bomber escort mission over Paris on 26 November 1943 when he was shot down by an Me109 and baled out.
Herrick landed in a ploughed field near the northern Parisian suburb of Garges-les-Gonesse and was immediately surrounded by French people. He started running but was soon caught up by an elderly man on a bicycle who directed him to a nearby café. He was then picked up by a truck driven by a man called Rafe who took him to Leon Achille Alcouffe and his sixteen-year-old daughter Nicki (sic) at 89 rue Belliard, Paris XVIII who gave him a civilian coat. Later that evening, Herrick was taken to another apartment nearby where he met a man and two nurses who had helped evaders before. The younger woman (described as 5 ft 6 inches tall, good figure and hair pulled back in a bun, spoke good English) made Herrick an ID card before M Alcouffe moved him to another apartment twelve blocks away. Next morning M Alcouffe brought civilian clothes and Herrick was moved back to the nurses apartment for the day. That evening he was taken to stay with M Renaud (query) in his apartment at 27 Avenue Gambetta, Paris XX. On 5 December, Herrick was moved to stay with M Chanfreau (assume Rene Chanfreau of 2 Avenue du General Maistre, Paris XIV) and his twenty-six-year-old daughter Marthe, both of whom worked at the Banque de France. On 19 December, a man (aged about 24) took Herrick to a rendezvous in front of a church where he joined John Dougherty (#358) Warren Laws (#362) Thomas Mezynski (#374) Charles Bailey (#384) Hubert Dulberg (#390) and Robert Sheets (#394) ...
2/Lt Warren P Laws (#362) was the co-pilot of B-17 42-30349 (388BG/563BS) (Wilken) which was returning from Stuttgart on 6 September 1943 and over France when it was attacked by fighters. Several of the crew were probably killed in the attacks before the aircraft was abandoned to crash near Montgueux (about seven kms west of Troyes).
Laws was soon joined on the ground by his radio operator T/Sgt Joseph G Schwartzkopf (#301). The two men walked south and reached Torvilliers the following day where they were approached by Marcel Vergeot and a Polish man who told them the rest of their crew had been killed. Then Marcel Mullot took them by bicycle to Marcel Vergeot's house in Torvilliers and they spent the night with M et Mme Leon Nelle at Cliquot (query). A man claiming to be an officer in British Intelligence visited them and said there was an organisation (Bordeaux-Loupiac) in Troyes for getting airmen out but that it was full, with 43 (sic) airmen in and around the town already. After four days, Laws and Schwartzkopf were moved to stay with Joachim Ledantec at his delicatessen at 27 Avenue General Gallieni, Sainte-Savine. Joachim had a daughter called Anne-Marie and they were visited by the abbé Jean Bonnard (from Clérey) while a baker in the same street supplied their food. After about a month they were moved to stay with the abbé Jean Bonnard and his sister Paulette at 17 rue Traversier where they were visited by Marie-Rose Gilbert - who was sheltering T/Sgt Arthur Beach (#286) and S/Sgt Walter Soukup (#302) – Marcel Mullot, Marcel Dore and his wife Carmen. They made one abortive journey into Paris (see Beach report) before returning to the Bonnards. Following a German search for evaders, Laws, Schwartzkopf, Beach and Soukup met at the abbé's seminary with Marie Louise Bonnard (another sister, she worked at the Banque de France in Paris) Marie-Rose, the abbé and Jacques (a Frenchmen who wanted to leave France) and they all went by train to Paris. They were met by a man and his wife who took Laws and Soukup to the apartment of a nurse, an operating room technician named Suzanne Guelat and her husband Olivier at 68 Boulevard Auguste-Blanqui, Paris XIII, while Schwartzkopf and Beach were taken to Juvisy-sur-Orge where they were sheltered by Andre and Pauline Lefevre at 29 rue Hoche.
Two days later, Laws was taken to jeweller Andre Francois at his apartment over the Galerie de Montpensier where he met a medical student called Guillaume before a girl took him to stay with Felix Gruz at 26 rue d'Hauteville, Paris X. The following day a woman (about 36 years old with short dark hair) brought Herbert Dulberg (#390) to join him. On 19 December, Genevieve Soulié took Laws and Dulberg to a meeting place near the Pantheon – presumably the Jardin des Plantes – where they joined more American evaders and a Frenchman who spoke English. The Frenchman took them by train to Montauban where they were joined by another Frenchman (understood to be a captain in French Intelligence) and on to Narbonne and Perpignan ...
S/Sgt Herbert W Dulberg (#390) was the radio operator of B-17 42-29876 Battlin' Bobbie (379BG/525BS) (Hoyt) which was on the way to Nantes on 16 September 1943 when it was attacked by fighters and the aircraft abandoned over Brittany.
Dulberg was helped immediately on landing near Rennes, taken to a farmhouse and that evening, his journey was arranged. Dulberg's report is almost illegible from this point but we can get some clues from his waist-gunner, T/Sgt William Miller (#636) who says he was soon taken to join Dulberg and their pilot 1/Lt Elton Hoyt (#409) and next day they were joined by their tail-gunner Sgt Edward Shaffer (#637). The four men were together until being taken to a monastery near Dinan (no date) where Hoyt left them. Miller, Shaffer and Dulberg then stayed together until they reached a café at Ploemel (2/Lt Louis Glickman (#370) says about 15 October) at which point, Dulberg went with Francois Lequitte (query), Shaffer was taken by Henri Boulet to Taupont (Morbihan) while Alex Joubaud took Miller to Villa Goyal, his house near Taupont. On 22 November, Miller rejoined Dulberg and Shaffer (along with T/Sgt Samuel Blatchford, S/Sgt Elmer Schroeder, S/Sgt Alfred Held, S/Sgt Cyril Koval and S/Sgt Harry Boegaholz) and a French fighter pilot named Guillaume Bernard. Miller says that a guide called Emile took them all to Paris where they lost Dulberg on the Metro.
While the others were taken to the north-eastern Paris suburb of Pantin (see later), Dulberg went to stay with Felix Gruz at 26 rue d'Hauteville, joining Warren Laws (#362) who had arrived there the day before. On 19 December, Genevieve Soulié turned him over to an English speaking guide (5 ft 10 inches, dark hair, clean complexion, about 165 lbs, about 25 years old and married) who took them to Montauban, Narbonne and Perpignan ...
S/Sgt Thomas R Mezynski (#374) was a waist-gunner on B-17 42-30604 Badger's Beauty V (100BG/350BS) (Helstrom) which was returning from Frankfurt on 4 October 1943 when the navigator realised they were so far off course (although still in formation) that he didn't have maps to cover them. They were also about to run out of fuel and the aircraft was landed (wheels up) south of Caen in Normandy. The ten-man crew split into small groups: pilot Capt Harold B Helstrom with navigator 1/Lt Harold H Cuttice - co-pilot F/O Hubert E Trent (#2218) with bombardier 1/Lt Hilbert W Philippe - TTG S/Sgt Joseph Shandor (#373) with tail-gunner S/Sgt Charles E Crippen and waist-gunner S/Sgt William D Edwards - and Mezynski with radio operator T/Sgt Robert C Giles (#333) and BTG T/Sgt Carroll F Haarup (#334).
Mezynski, Robert Giles (#333) and Carroll Haarup (#334) headed south-east and after getting some food (and civilian clothes that only fitted Giles) they slept out the first night. They walked for five days until they found a man who took them back to his home. This same man helped them get train tickets for Vernay (Verneuil-sur-Avre- query) but after a delay at Argentan, Haarup became so ill that they had to get off the train at L'Aigle. Walking out of the town, they approached a farmhouse where they slept overnight before going on to a small village with a railway station. The railway line was abandoned but the station-master gave them some sandwiches and directions to Chartres. A little further on and it was clear that Haarup wasn't getting any better so they stopped in a small village. This actually turned out in their favour as it was from this (unnamed) village that their journeys were arranged ...
On 29 October, Mezynski, Giles and Haarup were taken to Paris where they stayed with Simone Levavasseur at La Petite Chocolatiere, 19 rue d'Orleans - and Giles was told that he was the twenty-first evader to have stayed there. They were later told that their original contact (Madeleine Melot) had been arrested and they would be passed to a different organisation. Unknown to Simone, they were visited by Genevieve Soulié who took their details. They also met Olga Christol (and her husband Paul) who said she would get them out on 5 December with her organisation – apparently called Organisation Todt because they used papers intended for labourers.
Paul Jean Christol (born September 1892) - a short, grey-haired man who worked as an engineer with Lever Bros in Paris - and his wife Marcelle Olga Christol (born August 1897) sheltered numerous evaders in their tiny apartment at 4 rue Edouard Quenu, Paris V as well guiding some of them to other locations. Both were recommended for awards and Olga received an MBE. (WO208/5451)
On 9 December, Genevieve Soulié came and told them that Olga Christol was wanted by the Gestapo and they should be ready to leave in a hurry. Simone Levavasseur's friend Mme Boy took Mezynski to her home at 9 rue Ernest Cresson, Paris XIV and a young girl (possibly Mme Boy's daughter Jane) took Giles and Haarup to the Christols apartment at 4 rue Edouard Quenu but there was no-one there so they went to stay with Mme Boy as well.
Giles only stayed one night with Mme Boy before Olga Christol took him to stay with a theatre manager named Germaine Herault (or Heraux/Heyraud) at 5 Avenue d'Orleans - where he later met Mme Tartiere, the American actress Drue Leyton. On 21 December, he was moved to the Christol apartment on rue Edouard Quenu where he rejoined Haarup. Giles and Haarup were supposed to follow Mezynski to Spain (see below) but when Paul Christol took them to a rendezvous at a church, their contact failed to appear. They met an Irish airman instead (probably Sgt J D H Carlton 1720) who was also apparently waiting for a contact, and they all went to a nearby park where they were found by Genevieve Soulié. She told them to follow a certain man who had their tickets for Le Mans and he led them to the station where they joined S/Sgt Harry H Horton Jnr (#330) T/Sgt Thomas R Moore (#332) and WO1 Russell A Jones RCAF (1719) and were taken to Douarnenez in Brittany by three guides.
Giles, Haarup, Carlton, Horton, Moore and Jones were among the fourteen airmen evaders taken on board the fishing vessel Breizh-Izel which sailed from Treboul in Brittany on 22 January 1944 on an operation financed by Georges Broussine. They arrived safely at Falmouth in Cornwall the next day.
On 19 December, the Sunday before Christmas, a French boy who had John Herrick (#381) with him, collected Mezynski from Mme Boy and took him to the station where they joined Warren Laws (#362) and travelled with him on the train to Montauban, Narbonne and Perpignan ...
John Heald (#357) Floyd Terry (#382) and William Quinn (#385) reached Perpignan on (about) 15 December where they were picked up two men and went to the room of one of them. Five nights later they left with a guide and joined a group of seven more Americans that included John Dougherty (#358) ...
John Dougherty (#358) Warren Laws (#362) Thomas Mezynski (#374) John Herrick (#381) Charles Bailey (#384) Herbert Dulburg (#390) and Robert Sheets (#394) arrived in Perpignan on 20 December 1943 where they were met by a man on a bike and a girl on foot who led them for about two hours to a rendezvous where they joined Heald, Terry, Quinn and a group of Frenchmen who had been there for several days ...
It took three days to cross the mountains and on the second night (during which they crossed the border) Laws was left in the mountains but caught up again three hours later. Their guides took them to Vilajuiga and left them to take a train to Barcelona. Having no tickets they went into town to get something to eat while Herrick hopped a goods train. When it stopped at Figueras, Herrick got off and was unable to get back again on when it left. He was arrested and sent to prison in Espolla for the night of 23 December where he was joined by the rest of the group, who had been arrested at Vilajuiga. On 25 December, they were visited by the American Consul (Roberto Estrado) from Gerona before being taken on to Figueras, Gerona, Barcelona, Saragossa and Alhama de Aragon until being repatriated to Madrid and Gibraltar the following month.