Chapter 6

Marcel came home one night and he was excited. He had made contact with another unit and the odd thing about it was the contact was through his immediate superior. Both were involved in the underground and neither one was aware of it until Marcel's probing made him suspect that he needed help. He later told Marcel he was very nervous in replying because he did not want to expose himself and his contacts to any danger.

Our cell was again operational, and they needed our ability to provide identity cards. Again my luck was with me because we could now make arrangements to get me out of Paris and into southern France so I could try and make it over the Pyranees mountains and into Spain. They told we this was the route used most of the time. The necessary contacts were made and all we had to do was wait for a group to be formed. When the time came we would be notified. The unit in charge of moving us from one place to another had to find what they referred to as a conveyor--a person that could convey us from one point to another. This was risky work because they had to be with the people being transported but could not be caught with them if something went wrong. There was nothing to do now but wait, and hope, and pray.

About 10 days passed with no word on the progress being made. Then we received word that I would be leaving the next morning and that I had to be prepared to follow instructions to the letter. That night the Guyon family and I made our goodbyes. I thanked them for all they had done for me, to which they responded that it was nothing. Imagine that, they risked their lives, shared their meager food supply, and searched out help when their cell was isolated, and regarded it as nothing. I asked if there was anything they wanted from me. Paulette said she would like to have a ring I had that was a Cameo that had been in my family for about 80 years or so. I immediately gave it to her and was pleased to do so. We all hugged, kissed and Paulette cried a little. She then gave me two small religious mementos to take with me as a remembrance and wished me Godspeed and to please write after the war. Now, I could not carry their address with me for fear of being captured and the Germans finding it on me, so I left mine with them so they could hide it until after the war. They could write me and I could reply.

The next morning Marcel and I left early and walked for about three miles in town to a church. We entered and found a man standing and about 13 people sitting in the pews. Marcel spoke to the man, came back to me and said in French "I leave you now, have a good journey," gave me a handclasp and departed. I sat with the others and the man began to speak to us in French first then in English. He explained the procedure to be used for the journey south. We were to travel in pairs from the church, always keeping the pair ahead of us in sight but we were not to stay too close as to make it noticeable we were together. We, above all, must never appear as a group. The "conveyors" were to be a young man and a young woman traveling as man and wife. They would arrive shortly, be introduced so we might recognize them, and then we would be on our way. They did arrive and then left the church together. We waited several minutes and then the first pair of us left, repeating this procedure until all were gone. Each pair keeping the pair ahead in view and the first pair following the guides. We had been given train tickets prior to leaving and were instructed to surrender them only to the conductor on the train. We proceeded a short distance to the station and the train being there we, proceeded to board. To say it was crowded would be the understatement of the year. It was jammed to the gills, as they say, with absolutely no place to sit and hardly a place to stand.

Now, I had been paired with a young American flier about 19 years old that had been seriously injured when he was shot down. His one arm was almost useless, and he did not understand a word of French. We found a place to stand in the corridor not far from the bathroom and stood quietly, casting an occasional glance down the line to keep the pair ahead of us in view. If they moved, then we must do likewise. The train was so jammed that people were even in the bathroom, one sitting and two standing with the door open. We were all mixed together, men and women, not many talking, just keeping to our own thoughts. I could not talk to my partner (whose name I neglected to mention was John Katsaros) because if we spoke we would give ourselves away, and who could be trusted?

Our group consisted of men from 19 to 75 years of age, so we looked rather commonplace and this could only help. I later learned that half were Jewish and the rest of us were officers and enlisted men and French, English, American and, I believe, a Canadian. We had a real mixture.

The train finally started and we were on our way, packed like sardines lacking only the oil. After about two hours, a man came struggling down the aisle, squeezing by person after person. Believe me, there was a lot of complaining but he just said he had to get to the rest room. He finally got there and found three people in it, and he had a fit. He carried on so much that the three in there decided they had to come out so he might get in. Now, let me tell you, there was hardly room for one extra person in the aisle let alone four. One was behind the door, so the two had to come out so he could close the door, get around it and out of the room. They shuffled about and the desperate man finally got in and had his day. You will not believe this, but that guy, and only that guy, came back three times on that first leg of the journey to use the room. Finally on his last trip, someone spoke up asking what his problem was and another voice from somewhere said in a loud voice that he must have taken a suppository. As grim as things were, believe me, this brought down the house. The corridor was not disturbed again. It was a long ride until we reached a few stations that relieved the crowding, because more got off than got on. John and I were by now standing near a compartment and at a stop a seat became available. We only had to watch for the two ahead of us when the train stopped so I sat down and figured I could relieve John shortly. Soon a woman got up and left (it turned out she was going to the rest room), so John came into the compartment and sat down, happy to have a seat. Lo and behold, she reappeared and marched up to John and said, in French, "Sir, you have taken my place." He gave her a big grin and sat there. I knew the woman was not going to give up so easily and John had no idea what she wanted, so I got up and gave her my seat and that made her happy. So we proceeded south on the train, not certain just what to expect, or just exactly where we were going. We knew we had to cross the mountains but we had no idea how far south we could ride or even just how we would get into Spain. The people helping us escape could not risk the entire operation by some of us getting caught and being forced to reveal how the operation was run. We were all aware how the Nazis could obtain any information they desired. It was simply a matter of would you die before you talked; and they were experts at their job.

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