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This is how it began…

 

The Comet Line in the South was nearly shattered as many were betrayed and imprisoned like Dedee. In Brussels the line nearly collapsed due to a massive betrayal by double agent Jean Masson, alias Pierre Boulain. He infiltrated the Comet Line sacrificing the names of hundreds, who were soon rounded up and brutally tortured by the dreaded Gestapo. Many bravely died under torture disclosing nothing to the enemy, others were executed, many deported to concentration camps. But despite the terrible adversity it now faced the Comet Line continued to flourish and still kept the “parcels” flowing down through Belgium and France over the high Pyrenees to the safety of Gibraltar.

It had seemed all was lost, but the remaining Comet Line members emerged from the ashes of the terror to rise in a greater force than imagined, to defiantly continue as the flame of determination burned ever brighter in their hearts. The Comet Line in the South was soon rebuilt, young Franco aged just twenty three years old was to replace Dedee, he would be guided by her brave and courageous example. Dedee had inspired her followers that whatever happened to her they “Must Carry On”. Despite the Comet Line being nearly destroyed…In their hearts they knew it was right…They would All fight on…!!!

Dedee was soon moved to another prison, Villa Chagrin at Bayonne, and plans were quickly put into operation to rescue her by Tante Go, “B” Johnson, Jean Dassie, and Franco. The plan was spectacular and heroic but sadly failed. The Gestapo now had Dedee in their menacing hands, she was transferred to Fort Duha in Bordeaux, despite interrogations the Gestapo didn’t realise who she was and returned her to Villa Chagrin. Dedee was soon transferred again to Maison Blanche at Biarritz, but still the Gestapo did not identify her. Tante Go and the rescuers were frantic in their attempts of rescue, but all too soon Dedee was on a train to Paris accompanied by the Gestapo heading for the dreaded Fresnes prison, later to be sent to St Gilles in Brussels. Dedee would suffer interrogation bravely and be transferred to different prisons, when finally she was transported to Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany, there to spend two years of enduring the terror and horror in this camp of death.

Many more “parcels” continued to be sent down the Line from Brussels to Bordeaux, the Comet Line members all along the line still continued bravely in their task. Faithful Franco and Florentino continued in their brave exploits of crossing the Pyrenees escorting many more dozens to safety. D-Day had come and the Liberation of France was moving fast as the Allies moved northwards into Belgium. Florentino was also to become a victim, while carrying intelligence papers from Allied agents in Spain and France on June 26th, 1944 he was spotted by a German patrol who shot him four times shattering his leg and seriously wounding him. The Germans captured him but never found the secret papers, for he had crawled away from the documents he had hidden. He was escorted to the police station and then transferred to the hospital in Hendaye. He was still recovering when a spectacular plan to rescue him was put into operation, fortunately before the Gestapo could interrogate him more brutally. Comet Line members, Tante Go’s husband Fernand and two friends, pulled up outside the entrance in an ambulance, using fake Gestapo papers and wearing the familiar Gestapo leather coats and hats confronted the hospital staff, waving the fake papers and shouting in German demanded them to release this man they had come for. The shocked staff directed them to the man they wanted, he was amazed as they carried him out of the hospital as he was still in agony from his injuries, once outside they quickly dumped him unceremoniously in the back of the van which suddenly sped off carrying the dear Basque guide to freedom…It happened in a flash…it had only taken twenty minutes to rescue him…!!!

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