REPORT on FERENCE's Mission as W.T. Operator in Occupied France, from November 30th 1943 to December 14th 1944.
After landing in Brittany on the 30th of November 1943, at midnight, I was conducted by DANIEL and ARISTIDE to a nearby safe-house. We stayed there until noon the next day, then we went by taxi to Pletan, and from Pletan we continued our journey to Rennes, in a small van driven by a French friend. We spent the night in Rennes and travelled the following day by train to Paris. Upon arrival in Paris in the evening, my guide took me to the night train for Lyon. I did not ask the name of the said guide, nor the names of our agents and friends who helped me on the way to paris. All proved very efficient.
TERRISSE, 156 Rue Moncey, Lyon.
I arrived in Lyon early in the morning on the 3rd of December and went to contact the above. He had forgotten all about my visit, also both passwords. I found him rather talkative: the very same day of my arrival, he told his lawyer, whom he had invited for lunch, that I had just arrived from England! I found also that he was involved in too many resistance organisations.
However these people treated me in a very friendly way during the four days I had to stay with them, and as they seemed eager to help, i used their services later to buy for me any material I might need, such as batteries, wire,etc. I told them I was not staying in Lyon, but travelling from one town to another.
FAMILLE GUILLOUD, 17 Rue Ferrandiere, Lyon.
On the 6th of December, late in the evening, VICTOR came to contact me at Terrisse's to transfer me to Rue Ferrandiere, where I had to wait several weeks before a suitable site could be found for my set.
The devotion shown to all of us by the Rue Ferrandiere people is well known. Both Madame Clau Guedre (or Gedre) and her sister Madame Jeanne Gentil (or Genty), not forgetting their old mother, were exceedingly kind. They acted simultaeously as safe-house, finance contact, also helping to convey our agents or carry material from one house to another or to the station. The behaviour of their niece, Madame Louise Lefort, acting as assistent to VICTOR, and after the latter's arrest as sole responsible agent for Lyon, has throughout outstanding brave, active and clever. as to Madame Clau Guedre, who was interrogated by the Gestapo following a denunciation, she seems to have outwitted and dodged them. All these people were very security minded. End of january, my set having arrived and a site having been found at last, I moved to the Rue Tete d'Or.
HAYEM, 6 Rue Grole, Lyon.
I met Mr. Hayem on this occasion, for the first time, and was told that it was he who found the house Rue Tete d'Or for me. After liberation, I met him again, and he told me that he was official tennant of the flat I occupied, that he had rented it for the duration of German occupation as a place to move to if ever he no longer felt safe in the Rue Grole. He did not know that it had to serve as permanent domicile and site for a radio operator. When he was arrested, in March by the French Militia, they knew all about his two addresses, but he pretended he had never been in the Rue tete d'Or, that it was not true that he was the tennant of that house. it is a miracle that the Miliciens did not come to search it (Mr. Hayem says that they were on their wat to my place), also that they did not notice the coal ration card which he had in his pocket at the moment of his arrest and which bore my name Delcourt and my address Rue tete d'Or. He managed to get rid of it. I learned all this after the liberation only.
R. MASSOULIER, 152 Rue Moncey, Lyon.
My removal to Rue Tete d'or was also my first occasion of meeting Massoulier. He carried two WT sets to my address, from the safe-house where they were stored to the Rue Tete d'or. Further references to the said Massoulier to be found in the following.
L. ARIEL, 5 Rue de la Monnaie, Lyon.
Once I was established, VICTOR would come to my place to bring me messages to be sent out or to fetch te messages received, but after a while, we decided to discontinue this practice and to meet in town. then we arranged a live letter box with Lucien Ariel. later, when I moved to the Croix Rousse, it is the same Lucien who carried my set in a taxi to my new site, and he again carried it from the Croix Rousse to the station when I left Lyon for Toulouse. While operation in the Croix Rousse, Lucien often acted as courier. I wish to add that VICTOR seemed to appriciate the services rendered by Lucien Ariel, and I have the feeling that, if VICTOR were still alive, he would ask that Ariel's services be acknowledged.
MAYER, 5 Rue Clos SAVARON, Croix Rousse, Lyon.
This is the family with whom I stayed at the Croix Rousse, from 26th of April to the 13th of May. These Mayers are very sympathetic people, and they showed much willingness to help us. Before my stay with them, they were acting already as safe-house for our passengers, and at the moment of his arrest, VICTOR and Mr. Mayer were planning some scheme to carry documents throughout France.
In my compliance with Major Vic's instructions, I left Lyon on May the 13th and travelled by night train to Toulouse.
EDOUARD MORDANT(?), 46 Rue Claude DeCaen, Paris 17e Mme. M.R. PARSON, 35 Rue de la Colombette, Toulouse.
Upon arrival in Toulouse, I was met at the station by the above, the former taking me to a safe-house, the latter collecting my set from the cloak-room, and carrying it by cab to my address, which was:
R. CABRI, 5 Rue du Rossignd, Toulouse.
I stayed about ten days in this safe-house, but the premises were too small to put up sufficient lenght of aerial to make contact with Home Station. However, although poor, these people did their best to help, and I understand that they had several of our agents or passengers at their house, before and after my stay with them.
H. MOREL, 35 Rue de la Colombette, Toulouse.
Cabri's house being too small, Mme Parson found me another site, with Mr Henri Morel, 3 Rue Daubuisson, at the time. I think I stayed there from the 23rd of May to the 12th of June, but I am no longer sure of the dates. This man was really most friendly with us all, and he certainly deserves to be thanked officially.
On account of the proximity of a German Direction Finding station, I was instructed by Home Station to move out of Toulouse, at least 50 km away from the said town. One of Edouard's of Mme Parson's friends, Bernard Casenave(?), 1 Rue Drouet, Toulouse, offered to find me a site in Pamiers (Ariege). It looked suitable, so I moved, being helped on the way by Mme Parson and Massoulier, who remained a few days as courier.
Upon arrival in Pamiers, we ran into three platoons of German and French Gendarmes and Miliciens, who were searching the place for maquisards who had just raided the local Gendarmerie Nationale. I instructed my companions to get into safe quarters, while I would proceed alone to my new site. I thought they would both follow my advice, but when I was half way to my new address, Mme Parson who had followed me at a distance, caught up with me to help me to carry my suitcases containing the set. She was a brave woman.
DEJEAN, Quartier de Pic, Pamiers (Ariege).
This is the name of the farmers with whom I stayed. These people, although rather poor, were very devoted to me, exceedingly kind and so disinterested that I to talk them into accepting money for my boarding. They deserve hearty thanks.
While in Pamiers and Toulouse, either EDOUARD or Mme Parson would act as courier. Both of them impressed me as very faithful agents, ignoring danger and fatique. The same as VICTOR and Louise Lefort in Lyon, they organised our safe-houses and contacts in Toulouse.
Mme Beauguil - Melle Denise OLIE, 118 Avenue Camille Pujol, Toulouse.
My stay with the farmers coincided with the harvesting, which brought many of their friends to work on the farm. Too many got to know me, so I decided to move. I may have done well, because two days after my departure, a plane was seen circling over the neighbourhood, with the special aerial for radio detection, while while many houses in the vicinity were searched by the police. Perhaps they were on my heels. I moved to Najac (Aveyron), in a house belonging to Mme Beauguil, one of our safe-houses in Toulouse. Her daughter, Melle Denise Olie, acted as courier between Najac and Toulouse. She proved most devoted to us. GEORGE (Henry Levin) became so enthusiastic about her darling behaviour, that on the moment he made a special mention about it in one of our messages. She actually carried a message to Toulouse through enemy fire in Gaillac, and, without stopping to rest, brought one back, through Albi where more fighting was going on. As at the time all railway communications had been cut, she had to hitchhick her way to Toulouse and backagain. She was helped very efficiently in this respect by F.T.P. cars and despatch riders, although they were very busy fighting the German Garrisons and columns moving out. I wish to add that my instructions were that she lie quiet, or even come bach to Najac, rather than enter an area where fighting was in process, because the messages were not very important. But she disregarded my instructions, carrying out her mission regardless of danger. She too is a brave woman. Some time before liberation, my courier's journeys to Toulouse and back attracted suspicion upon us, on the part of the local Comite de Resistance. Much to my asonishment, we had been allowed to carry on this way for five weeks already, without getting into trouble with the local A.S. and maquis (I did not bother about the Germans, as the maquis seemed to have the country well under control), when the Chief of the A.S. called at our house, with two friends, to interrogate me. I managed to convince them that I was a refugee from Britanny, but then they found my set and battery, which were not in their usual hiding place, because I was preparing to use them for a trial (miniature set) when they came in. So I had to tell them. First they seemed somewhat vexed because I had made them believe I was a "Breton", then they became suspicious again on account of my revolver, a German weapon, so I had to talk to them again. I was guarded by the maquisards, but I was soon in the best of terms with them, and the following day, when there was an alert in Camaux, they wanted to take me with them, not as a prisoner, but as an ally, to fight the Germans. Ehen the A.S. people came back in the afternoon, they found me and my house unguarded, and as they still seemed to entertain some suspicion as to my real position, I asked you to send a message through the BBC which achieved its purpose. From that moment on, both A.S. and F.T.P. maquis did theit utmost to help me.
Although known by the local A.S. and the maquis holding the surrounding country, I decided to remain in Najac, which the last milicien had deserted by now, while the nearest Germans were 20 miles away. The only danger was the proximity of the station, about 200 yards, but no Germans had been using the train for weeks. Of course I asked the A.S. and the F.T.P. not to forget to inform me should any Germans approach Najac. Then GEORGE, hearing of my adventures with the A.S. sent EDOUARD to see whether I should move back to Toulouse. We planned a move by car and train, but the car did not turn up and the trains stpped running, so I had to stay in Najac. It is at this moment that my courier carried messages through enemy fire as mentioned in the foregoing.
A few days after liberation, GEORGE sent a truck to Najac to bring us back to Toulouse. There I continued receiving and sending messages until the 8th of November, when I moved to Lyon. Upon arrival, my condition was considered so bad - I had been suffering of impetigo (baardschurft) for the last four weeks - that I was immediately sent to the nearest US Hospital, where I stayed another three weeks. However the hospital had to move nearer to the front, I had to be discharged before being thoroughly cured. I spent some days convalescence in Lyon, and returned to London on the 14th of December.
As to GEORGE (Henry Levin), I regret having to state that his way of handling me has not left a very good impression on me. I hate making an unfavourable report about anybody who is supposed to have taken a share in our dangerous activities, but his behaviour has been too utterly nasty to forget about it. Furthermore, the unfair treatment he has given, after liberation, to his former "brothers in arms", whom I have known as devoted to our organisation, calls for some form of protest, if not retaliation.
First, establishing me Rue Tete d'Or, in a flat officially occupied by a man who was living in hiding, under constant menace of arrest ( I was only informed of this, and heard the truth after liberation only) is an act if incredible foolishness or criminal carelessness. And when the official tennant of my WT site was effectively arrested, with a false coal ration card in his pocket bearing my name Delcourt and my address Rue Tete d'Or, I was allowed to remain in the flat, knowing nothing of the danger I was exposed to so stupidly. What would the consequences of my arrest have been. I accept the pricipale that the loss of a man, as a being, is of little importance, if any at all. But supposing I would have been arrested when leaving my flat to carry to the life letterbox one of those messages giving several addresses and passwords, may be the message of announcing Major Vic's arrival, contact and password. It is Major Vic, when he was informed of my situation - not upon his arrival in Lyon but several days later - who took the decision to move me to the Croix Rousse immediately. It is interesting to note that my position was considered so dangerous, that VICTOR received instructions not to call personallyat my flat, but to send an outsider to invite me to come and receive his instructions in the neighbourhood. Further to be noted, the same day, German police attempted in the morning to arrest Mme Hayem at her flat Rue Grole, but she managed to escape with her baby through the back door. Why they did not come to Hayem's second address, will probably never be known. Probably, when the Miliciens handed Hayem over to the Gestapo, they forgot to mention my flat Rue Tete d'Or. GEORGE and the Miliciens or Gestapo rivalising in studipity and inefficiency, your WT operator was safe!
Second, GEORGE is hysterically jealous of other people's merits. In private conversations, he would do all he could to discredit even his best friends, and to belittle their share in the team's work. He told me that Victor Rashlin was of no use to him, that when he himself was not in Lyon, nothing was being done. This is absolutely untrue. Our safe-houses and contacts in Lyon received VICTOR's constant attention, I sincerely believe he organised those existing when I got there, and saw him very busy organising new ones. In vindication of VICTOR's wife, whom GEORGE so nastily criticises, I wish to state that twice at least she came to the Rue Tete d'Or with messages to be sent out, while her husband was too busy elsewhere. This will do away, I hope, with GEORGE's criticism, that she had a cowardly attitude and kept her husband away from his work. - After liberation, when GEORGE emerged from his hideout in Verfeuil, he made similar unfriendly statements about EDOUARD, also Mme Parson. Now I know the whole organisation in Toulouse is their work. The same as VICTOR and Louise Lefort in Lyon, EDOUARD and Mme Parson in Toulouse were utmost devoted, effiecient and active agents. I could mention other instances of GEORGE's evil talk about his former collaborators, but shall just mention one more: of British I.O. Officers, GEORGE says that they are mencenaries only, as opposed to himself, whom he describes as the disinterested elite.
While fully realising that an organiser has often to remain in the background. I do not think that it is fair that he allows all the work to be done by his agents, the planning as well as the running about, and then tries to discredit them, to fustrate them of their merits, in order to gain himself all the benefit of the organisation's performance. As long as the Gestapo were around, he helped his agents to large shares of danger, but once the Germans were gone, he pretended that he alone should get all the credit for the work done.
As a result of this attitudeof GEORGE, much bitterness arose, after liberation, in his relations with his former assistants, who had served us so devotely. They are sorry they ever served him, and they are not far from feeling sorry that they served in Colonel Humphrey's British Organisation. Something should be done to remove this unfavourable impression from their mind, although the harm already done to British prestige mat be too deep to be uprooted completely. Most of these people belong to the category of French - not so numerous - who are true friends of England. Why cast them off? Is GEORGE playing a double game?
I also resent the wat GEORGE treated me about the French money you handed me to go accross. Wing Commander Archibald made it quite clear to me, in the Colonel's presdence, that "I would never have any accounts to surrenderabout this money, that I could spend it as I liked, but that it was given to me to help me out of eventual difficuly." he added that therfore "I had not to live upon the money" and advised me not to spend it too quickly, as it might be needed to make an escape if I got isolated in a tight corner. So I considered the money as an extra pay to make conditions more normal for me in France. I never asked for the money, it came to me as an unexpected gratification. Nevertheless, I acted in accordance with the spirit in which it had been handed over, always trying to keep enough for an emergency. I mentioned the money quite frankly to GEORGE, so he started by not paying my expenses for five months, tried to get Fr. 30.000 out of me for the furniture required for my establishment Rue Tete d'Or ( I heard later that it cost hom Fr.16.000 only), and using all sorts of naive pretexts, always postponed the payment of my expenses, so as to make me live upon the money. It is only after some insistance that I managed to obtain accounts to be paid out occasionally. As I did not lead a fast life (GEORGE told me that some agents sent as much as Fr.50.000 monthly), but attended day and night to my WT job - I had to - I was looking forward with pleasure to some rest in France, after Liberation, and thought I would save at least part of the money for that purpose. I mentioned this intention to GEORGE who acted as if he thought it quite natural. Then I heard that he was telling our friends that I was dishonest, that I was trying to keep money belonging to the organisation for my own purpose.
I also resent GEORGE's way of treating my courier. Several times, in Toulouse and in Pamiers, he suggested that I must have a "housewife. As at the time I was receiving full boarding from the people with whom I was staying, I did not need a housewife, so I refused, for security reasons. When GEORGE sent me to Najac, in an empty country side house, my courier took care of my boarding. After liberation, GEORGE insisted on her staying in the same house as I in Toulouse, telling her that the organisation still required her services as corier to the Radio Operator. I expressed the opinion that the organisation would be liquidated, and that in any case I wished to stay in an hotel, while my courier's home in Toulouse was the normal house for her to live in. GEORGE refused obstinately, although I insisted several times, he also refused to book a room for me at the hotel.The next thing I heard was that GEORGE and his wife were criticising the girl for living under the same roof as I. "Officier Brittannique"? "Agent provocateur"? Or just simply an ungentlemanly cad (ploert).
Re my security, GEORGE never troubled the least to help me build up a cover story, As to my carte d'intentite, which DANIEL, upon my landing in Britanny, much to his regret, had to spoil, GEORGE never bothered to get me anoteher one. DANIEL told me it was a pity to alter such a good carte d'identite, but that it had to be done to get me out of the prohibited coastal area. He added that I should ask for a new one upon arrival in Lyon. I had to pretend that I had committed a breach of security by spending the night in an hotel, and that the hotel keeper had made some comments about my carte d'intendite, to obtain a promise that anoter carte d'identite would be made for me, but I never got it. As long as he was safe ...
GEORGE uses his title of Britisf Officer, even to help collaborators out of prison. A friend of his, who recognises having received Fr.350.000 for services renderedto the Germans, was released following GEORGE's interference as "officier britannique".
Last but not least, after liberation, GEORGE red our messages, wrote out his replies, in restaurants, loud enough to make sure everybody got a good idea of his activity. Then he ordered his cars to be provided with the inscription "ETAT MAJOR INTERALLIE" in big capital letters, parked them in front of my house, ordered everybody to parade at my place every morning, and behaved generally in such a way that in no time the whole neighbourhood felt sure that my house was the Supreme Head Quarters of the British Intelligence Service for the south of France. As at the time Toulouse was still full of Miliciens and German agents, my friends became nervous and suggested it might be wise to move. I heard sub-machine guns firing from the street and neighbouring gardens during the night, but whether they were aimed at my house or not, I can not say.
While my relations with all our friends throughout my mission were most agreeable and efficient, I am sorry that my report about GEORGE is such bitter one, but the ridiculous man is alone to be blamed for it, as I never gave him the slightest cause, neither in my work nor in my behaviour, to utter unpleasant comments about me.
As GEORGE has been discrediting his friends in speech, it may be that he has also made unfair reports about them in writing. I do not know whetehr he would do so about me, because he seemed to fear me. Anyhow, I consider without value any report issued about me by this man, or any report, issued about me by anybody else, based upon GEORGE's statements. The same applies to statement of accounts, as GEORGE recognised at least once that he had entered against my name amounts which I had never received.
I wish before ending this report to pay a special tribute to Victor Rashlin's outstandingly devoted services. I have have known him for nearly six months, a most active and highspirited, relentless in his eagerness to fight the enemy. It is most sad that he met with death at their hands during the last weeks of the struggle for liberation.
London, January, 21st, 1945
Before going into the field: very good.
While in the field: nil.
When back from the field: worse still.
Before going into the field, we were the object of numerous unasked for attentions.
While in the field, from November 1943 to December 1944: I received no comforts at all before liberation. The only thing I missed was tea, but I managed to get some from time to time from the black market. I did not ask for a parcel or comforts, because I thought it would be unfair and selfish to add a problem to the numerous problems yoy already had to solve. But immediately after liberation, I found that you had been sending comforts, but that they had not been distributed. In the organiser's house in Toulouse, I discovered many cartoons of Lucky Strike Cigarettes, a fair number of pieces of toilet soap and several packages of Ceylon tea. - Under German occupation, I received WT sets packed in lage suitcases, with empty tin boxes to wedge them in. Somebody seems to have thought that, if these boxes had contained some tea, they would no longer have been able to serve the purpose of wedging. - After liberation, I received a large case of comforts, which I distributed to all our friends.
Back from the field: as I could not make reservations for a bedroom and a bed to sleep in, from Lyon, i thought somebody might have done this for me, but apperently it is considered essential, so I had to do without. I am still standing in the clothes with which I went over. They are dirty, because I had to use them in the garrets and farms from where I operated my set, often lying down on floors which have served as recreation ground for all the mice, rats and cats of Lyon for the last two hundred years. As a change, I have one battle dress, in a pitiful state also, as I used it in S.T.S., but I have no military coat, as the result of a theft. I expected to receive the normal issue of coupons, I received 83, and although this represents one third of what I need, was given to understand that it was an exceptional favour.
From July 1942 up to the present date I have been issued with one military outfit for training purposes and one civilian outfit for the field. I have therefore not been a burden upon British textile industry. I did not want to waist any for clothes or battle dress to remain here. I would like a clean change.
Robert Arthur Chapman
Blijkbaar heeft dit rapport van Chapman niet veel geholpen, George ontving van de Franse regering een hoge onderscheiding voor zijn verzetswerk, maar ook de anderen deelden in de eer.
GEORGE / ANDRE - Henry Levin, 3 Rue Jacquemont, XVII - Commant Croix de Guerre.
VICTOR - Vila Rachline, 30 Rue Octave, Feuillet - Capitain Croix de Guerre posthume.
MARCEL - Roger Massoulier, 152 Rue Moncey, Lyon - Lieutenant Croix de Guerre.
DENISE - Mme. Therese Mitrani, Pompes Worthington, 38 Rue de la Republique, Lyon - Lieutenant Croix de Guerre.
LOUISE - Mme. Marie Louise Lefort, 24 Rue St. Jean, Lyon - S/Lieutemant Croix de Guerre.
THERESE - Mme. Denise Olie, 118 Avenue Camille Puyol, Toulouse - S/Lieutenant Croix de Guerre
Nawoord: als men dit leest dan blijkt dat de SOE agenten in Nederland het nog niet zo slecht hadden. Er werden veel comfort pakketten gedropt voor de agenten, maar ook de grondploegen op de droppingsvelden ontvingen hun deel.
Croix de Guerre