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Thread: How many airmen helped by the Belgian Resistance

  1. #11
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    Sorry Bill - I was referring to the OP - and the possible inclusion of the 100 plus that could be counted towards the 'many hundreds rescued'

    Neil

  2. #12
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    Hello

    A frequent problem I've met with the escaping lines, is that each "cell" is counting the airmen they had in charge, for a couple of days or for more, and then the airmen were handed over to another "cell", and later on, some people just added the numbers, and came up with exagerated figures.

    I concur with Bill about the airmen being kept in the area where they were shot down, from about May or June 1944, until the respective liberations of the areas. In the Pas-de-Calais département only, in northern France, one hundred allied airmen were "liberated" by allied troops in the first week of September 1944. We have covered these in Hugues Chevalier's book about the Liberation of the Pas-de-Calais, published last year. I've not made the similar count for the Nord Département, but I'd estimate the figure around 80. Also, not all families sheltering airmen were part of an escaping line. There was a B-24 copilot hidden in my village from mid July 1944 to the 5th of September 1944, and this family has never been part of an evasion line. They were just farmers, living in a conveniently situated farm, and they were approached by a contact who asked them if they would accept to take someone at the farm. They just accepted. Obviously, their action was recognised later on, and in similar cases, they were, postwar "enrolled" into such and such résistance network, but often, in wartime, they were not part of any escaping line.

    Some French helpers (and that would apply to Belgian and Dutch as well) were just at the right time in the right plane, when litterrally speaking, an airman landed by parachute in their backyard, and they decided to help him.

    There were also some double agents in some escaping lines as well, and some lines just "fed" evaders directly into the hands of the Germans. I have two distinct cases here in the Lille area (not counting the case of Paul/George Cole). The people at the beginning of the line were not aware of the "leak" and continued to put more airmen in the pipe. This is also why I'm very cautious with the figures quoted by some sites.

    Regards

    Joss

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