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This is how it began…

 

It was in August 1941 that Dedee had made her first journey under great danger from Brussels down through France arriving at Bordeaux with her “parcel” of one Belgian and two Scottish soldiers. She was accompanied by a fellow countryman and loyal assistant a young Arnold de Pe. Tiring and exhausting as it no doubt was the journey was far from over, for in the distance the vast high mountain range could be seen, and to find freedom for her “parcel” it had to be crossed.

From Bordeaux they traveled to Saint-Jean -de –Luz a Basque fishing village which lay only a few miles from the Spanish border, from there they walked to the villa of her good friend and fellow Comet member Belgian, Elvire de Greef…alias Tante Go.(image of Tante Go)She was energetic and tenacious a magnificent driving force behind this…Heroic Comet Family. Her villa lay in a small village called Anglet, in the distance the vast mountain range seemed ever closer, the long hard trek looked more difficult as they gazed at the tall magnificent peaks of …The Pyrenees.                                          

It was from this villa that the party set off from to escort the “parcel” over this high mountain range, eventually leaving the villa behind and with their new Basque guide a smuggler called Thomas, they departed. The crossing was going to be harsh, tiring, and dangerous, but it had to be accomplished to keep the Comet Line operating successfully. The trek over the mountains was fraught with danger every step of the way, they always had to cross at night, with the narrow mountain paths and tracks to negotiate in the dark, it was very dangerous. With the ever present threat from German soldiers and Spanish police, who were constantly on the look out with orders of “shoot to kill” on sight anyone crossing the mountain border, their journey had to be made carefully and as quietly as possible. She had heard of the infamous Spanish concentration camp at Miranda, and realized that there must be no way that any of them must get caught or the Comet Line would fail. Changes of clothes were necessary and Dedee would carry the heavy haversack for the party with food and drink to sustain their journey. It would take them nearly eight hours to trek over the vast rugged mountain range climbing the narrow treacherous paths next to sheer drops hundreds of feet below, the downward slog would be easier but still danger lurked as armed German and Spanish guards combed the border for any intruder. As the early morning dawned they could see the border crossing looming ever nearer, very tired and weary they walked the last few steps and crossed into Spain. Up until now she had bravely and successfully out-witted the Germans all the way from Brussels, all she had to do now was get to Bilbao find the Consulate to speak to and hand over the precious “parcel” that she had guided for hundreds of miles to safety.

comet escape route

(image of comet escape route) It was a hot August day when she arrived at the British Consulate, she swept through the doors and confronted the Consul explaining her new project and how she could save downed airmen and soldiers from capture, and bring them all the way from Brussels to Spain. But, she needed financial support as money was needed to assist in the cost of these journeys. The money she explained would pay for train tickets, special forged passes, food for the owners of the “safe houses” en route, and to pay the guide to cross the Pyrenees… explaining emphatically that without a guide it would be impossible.

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