Paris March the 22nd 1946
Lieutenant RAMOGNINO Gilbert
2e Commando Parachutistes de France
Ministere de la Guerre
Services du Colonel de BOISSOUDY
231 Boulevard Saint Germain, PARIS
to ESCAPE and EVASION SERVICE
19 Avenue Kleber, PARIS
Having read in the newspapers that your department might be
interested by names of people who were able to help allied airmen fallen in
France during the war, I take the liberty to address herewith a few particulars
for one of those cases, in which I had an active part.
In December 1943, after having been
working for my underground “reseau” (network) for three years, the Gestapo being
a bit too much on my trail, I decided to join the French Free Forces. I was sent
to TOULOUSE, to the local underground forces, represented by “CHARLIE” and
police Inspector KELLER, who asked me to wait a few weeks in the town before
crossing the Pyrenees – time necessary to group a few allied airmen they
intended to try to send to Spain. This request was made because of my knowledge
of the English language, as none of the airmen could speak any French.
The 20th of January 1944, I was ordered to get a
ticket for a station at ST LAURENT de l’EST, a small village after the more
important station of MONTREJAULT. I was instructed that 6 allied airmen would
be introduced to me at the TOULOUSE station itself.
In the waiting hall of the station of TOULOUSE at about
14h00, my friends showed me 4 groups of 2 chaps whom I had to convoy. I found
out afterwards that 2 of them were Dutch civilians, who could speak fluent
English and very little French.
We all went separately on the platform, but learned that
our train was 3 hours late. During those 3 hours I had to navigate from one
group to another to explain the delay, and interfere when the very talkative
French people of the Toulouse region wanted to start a conversation with members
of the group, which would have been rather awkward and dangerous. Useless to say
that those 3 hours seemed rather long to all of us, as the German and French
Gestapo, and Gendarmes were rather numerous on the platform. It was the time of
forced labor for French youngsters, and our allied friends were rather athletic
looking and had mostly weird attire given to them by French peasants where the
airmen had fallen.
The train came at last, and then another problem started
because it was impossible to put my 8 chaps in the same compartment where 3
French people were already there. I told my friends of escape to pretend to
sleep to avoid any questioning. Anyway, at the third stop I could manage to have
them all in the same compartment after the 3 Frenchmen got off. Now we only had
to rely on our luck to not be inspected by the German police. We decided in case
it should occur, if there were only 2 of them, to get rid of them. But
everything went smoothly. No Jerries came.
At St. Laurent de l’Est there was no station control, but
the car that was supposed to be waiting for us, to take us to the foot of the
mountains, was absent. I decided it was impossible to wait in the station (which
was very modest in importance) with a group of men like us which would surely
have attracted attention. I took the men to a nearby field and asked them to
wait and to lie down in the snow, as we had the bad luck to have a brilliant
moonlit night. During the next 2 hours, I went to and fro, from the field to the
station until at last the car came.
The story is nearly ended. We started to walk with our
guide for 3 days and nights, and after a rather very hard journey, very often in
2 feet of snow, going up to nearly 6,000 feet, we touched Spain at a village
called OST or BOSOST. From there we were duly accompanied by “carabineros” and
taken to Viella, Lerida.
I parted from my friends in Lerida, the American airmen
being called by their consul in Madrid, and I was myself (having been declared
being British to the Spanish police) called to Barcelona by Mr. WINKFIELD, of
the British Consul, who gave me a British Passport for Madrid and Gibraltar –
from there I was flown to Algiers, where I enlisted in the French paratroops.
I had the joy to travel from Madrid to Gibraltar in the
same train as my American comrades, and from there I lost sight of them.
Names of the American Airmen:
Lieutenant (Reuben H.) ECKART (Eckhardt)
Sergeant (Russell) JEVONS
Snd Lieutenant Glen Mc Cabe, Route Mt Pleasant, IOWA
Sergeant Arthur K. ENDERS Box 362, Globe, Arizona
Sergeant Joseph (BALEAH) – Left to the care of a French the
second day of the Journey in the mountains (he was exhausted). Mc Cabe later
told me in Gibraltar that he had reached Spain safely in another convoy.
(Note: Updated information reports that Joseph was captured by the Gestapo
and sent to a Concentration Camp, where he was tortured and suffered greatly)
Name of the British airman: BRIGHT, Tom (Thomas) Flight Sergeant 105 Varley
Road, West Ham, London E.
Names of the Dutch Civilians: Rene de Vries, and Kornelis
Ydoma or Jdoma
I must mention that Glen Mc Cabe and Enders were my closest
friends during the trip.
I was known only to them by the name of GILBERT.
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