Underground Contact

          Freteval  Part 2


Creation Of A New Camp
The Wounded And The Sick
Measures Of Protection Upon Arrival At The Camps
The Incidents
The Command Post Of Colonel Boussa At The Train Station Of Saint-Jean-Froidmentel
The Liberation Of The Camps
In Memory Of The In habitants Of The Region



Creation Of A New Camp

Following the invasion at Normandy, the number of aviators arriving at Bellande increased. It soon became evident that the continued growth of the camp, at which there were now more than seventy people and twenty-five tents, was too big a risk. In order to examine the problem, Lucien Boussa called Etienne Biron and the principal leaders to the home of forester Halloin.

They decided to create a second centre of lodging. Jubault suggested to set it at Richeray, township of Busloup, on the edge of the forest, a spot he had chosen previously for his underground headquarters. He went there accompanied by Jean de Blomaert.
Located ten kilometers from Bellande, the location was favourable, so much so that the Germans had made numerous ammunition depots in the undergrowth guarded by a small detachment. From the standpoint of conveniences, there was a spring and a forester’s house.
Commanded by Jean de Blomaert, the Camp No. 2 was set up on the same model as the first one with which it remained in permanent contact. The guard Rideau and his wife, helped by Rene Avrain, provided daily food for the aviators, part of which was furnished by the Deryther couple.
In spite of the close presence of the occupying guards, not a single incident ever took place. It is true that the rules of calm and silence were particularly severe: - not to try to go to England by one’s own means, and to make as little noise as possible. To raise one’s voice a little risked being fatal.
The radio was one of the centres of interest in the life of the camps. Each time that important information was obtained a bulletin was pinned on a tree, serving as a bulletin board. The best messages received were those which announced the parachute drops. Unfortunately, for various reasons, only one was done for the benefit of the aviators during the whole duration of their stay in the forest. That day several men went into the fields at designated spots for several kilometers from the camp, furnished with red flashlights whose rays formed a triangle indicating to the pilot the direction of the wind on the ground. They were thus certain of the perfect reception of medical supplies, cigarettes and French money very important for the condition and the morale of the ‘campers’.
After the parachute drop, the men went to clean up the fields, straighten the wheat flattened by the containers in order to make all trace of the operation disappear.


The Wounded And The Sick                                                                                                       

Numerous aviators wounded, most often because of burns, were lodged and cared for by members of the Resistance. M. and Mme Dubouchage, bricklayers of Rameau, gave their aid to one of them for three weeks. Mme Despres, home owner at Villebout, in her eighties and very alert for her age, could speak perfect English, transformed her home into a hospital and with the help- of her lady’s companion had, until the liberation, an average of five ‘boarders’ in treatment. Doctor Teyssier of Cloyes and his son Louis went each day to visit these sick ones.
In the camps field hospital tents were set up. The sick and wounded were cared for by fellow aviators who had some idea of nursing care. Doctor Teyssier visited regularly and brought into the field hospital those that could be cared for. Ginette Jubault aged 16 years, accompanied by her brother Jean transported the sick ones mostly at night. 


Measures Of Protection Upon Arrival At The Camps                                                       

With the exception of the doctors and the barber very few people were authorized to enter the camps. Very strict rules were applied and when new aviators were found, a welcoming committee presided by a man of big stature furnished with an enormous club, made them stop in the woods at a distance of a kilometre from their destination. There he made them submit to a terse interrogation, place of fall, mission and technical details that an agent of the enemy who had been able to discover the network would not have known how to answer without being confused. Very fortunately the club in question was never used.


The Incidents                                                                                                                                      

However the incidents and the accidents were not lacking. One of them would have been able to make the whole undertaking fail without the composure of an escort, American by birth, named “Virginia”, belonging to the network “Comete” who swallowed a comprising document (plan to go to Bellande).
She had led on foot to Dourdan (Seine-et-Oise) to the farm of Villentiere, township of Civry-Saint-Cloud (Eure-et-Loir), six aviators. One of the escapees, worn out, stayed at the farm to rest. The five others, placed in a cart driven by Jean Meret, went in the direction of the camp. Robert Poupard stayed by the side of the driver, while Daniel Cogneau and ‘Virginia’ preceded the convey at some distance one from the other.
Everything went normally to Marboue, where German soldiers questioned the female escort asking for information. Not knowing the region, she was not able to answer the question and was betrayed by her accent. Arrested, she was stranded at Ravensbruck, where she almost died of hunger. She paid with her liberty for the work she had done for the aviators. As soon as they knew of the arrest of ‘Virginia’, the occupants of the cart fled in all directions.
By measure of carefulness, Daniel Cogneau ordered Jean Meret to return rapidly with his cart then to go to Villentiere in order to evacuate immediately the aviator who remained there. The farmer’s wife did not know him, but as soon as she was informed of what had happened, gave him a horse and a vehicle in order to transport the aviator to the camp. 
The next day, Daniel returned the horse and vehicle to the brave woman, but the search to locate the five aviators who had fled was laborious. Maurice Serein, Lucien Bezault and Robert Poupard, who searched the region, discovered two of them the same day. M.Prieur found another by chance thirty kilometres from there at the market place at Bonneval, and led him to the Marolles family. The latter took him to Jules Gouzy who had his son Jacques take him by bicycle by a circuitous route to Cloyes where Jubault was have taken him to Bellande. Jubault’s wife was not at home so the escort led the aviator to the Meret farm, which was the meeting place.

People considered as enemy agents took the two others in and no one dared to go to their home. The good mailman who was on his route suggested that he go. He learned that the supposed collaborators were really patriots watched by the enemy and that they had fed the aviator in neighbouring woods. The aviators were discovered with much difficulty and taken to rejoin their fellow aviators at the home of Abel Meret.
Finally the five escapees were led to Bellande by car by Lucian Thibault of Chateaudun, but the worst luck continued to pursue them. During the trip the overloaded springs gave way. The driver had his passengers get out, then returned to his garage where he changed cars. After all these problems the trip ended without harm.
Some time later, while checking on Camp number 2, de Blomaert and Jubault got lost in the forest and passed close by to a forest house occupied by Germans. The head of the post questioned them in French for nearly an hour. It was their borrowed clothing that saved them.
On 22 July 1944 Maxime Plateau, who furnished a large part of the food for the forest camps, was arrested following a parachute drop of arms intended for the township of Saint-Hilaire-la-Gravelle (Loir-et-Cher). Led to a concentration camp and tortured, he revealed nothing.
The arrest of ‘Virginia’ had brought about worries to the escorts, and the alert has also been very strong at Bellande. First it had been planned to go and free her, but facing all the difficulties, this had been abandoned. In the camp the sentinels had been reinforced, and the aviators had taken their places in order to flee at the least alert. Madame Hallouin remembers that she was in charge of preparing a big fire in the chimney and was to light it if the Germans arrived. The smoke from the chimney was the signal agreed upon to indicate danger. Mme Hallouin added, “We spent difficult moments, I prayed to the good Lord very often, but we were truly very lucky”.
All the escorted groups didn’t meet the same difficulties, however some merit should be given. It happened that one day. Mme Furet who was at the railroad crossing guard between Chateaudun and Cloyes, wanted to keep young Jean Jubault at her house. Jean was leading a group of aviators and he thought suspicious looking people was following him. (Actually these were the aviators). In order to reveal nothing to the good lady, the little boy just insisted on getting back on his bicycle and continuing on his way.
Later Robert Poupard, who was taking a group of people between Chateaudun and Douy, noticed, after the turn situated at the top of the hill Thoreau, that his “packages” were not following him any longer. So he did a little half turn and noticed that they were in the process of going into the entrance was to a chateau that was occupied by the Germans. He was able to intercept them just as they were in front of the grills of the gate before they entered the walkway and they hadn’t yet attracted the attention of the occupants.

During July, Doctor Dufour took in his charge at the cafe-restaurant of Crucey (Eure-et-Loir), four aviators, one of which had a horribly burned face. He put them in his little Simca 5 CV (5 horsepower). Upon arriving at Lugny, he noticed an enemy patrol parked in front of the monument to the dead. Not losing his cool, the driver stopped his car on the edge of a field of wheat where he hid the aviators whilst he started to change a wheel. Several moments later, the Germans passed by without paying any attention to him.
At Illiers, some allied planes flew over the city and the occupants ran out and made signs to Dufour to stop. However he did not want to stop because he was afraid that maybe his passengers wouldn’t be able to be controlled. The rest of the trip took place without any incident, but he had come close to catastrophe.
Finally Daniel Cogneau and Lucien Bezault, without intending to do so, led five aviators that they were accompanying on foot, in front of a German musical group that had started to play on the square of Saint-Denis-les-Ponts. The parade of aviators, spread out a hundred meters from one another, seemed interminable to the escort who kept wondering if the enemy was going to intervene. They didn’t do anything fortunately, but certainly the heroes of this adventure will remember it again and again.
Touching scenes were produced also. One aviator who was lodged for some time at the home of two elderly people who had discovered him in a field, eating raw potatoes. They cared for him so well and so much that when Daniel Cogneau came in order to take him to the camp, they asked Daniel where he was taking him, and made to him thousands of recommendations. Finally, with regret, they consented to allow this aviator to leave; one would have believed that it was a question of a son of the house. Just as the aviator was about to depart, the elderly gentleman took his package of tobacco (rationed at this period) and dividing it into two parts gave one to the aviator.          back to top


The Command Post Of Colonel Boussa At The Train Station Of Saint-Jean-Froidmentel                                                                                                                           

From the first two weeks of July, by measure of supplementary security, because of the traffic that was going to the farm of Belland for furnishing the food for the camps, Jubault advised Lucian Boussa to put his command post at the train station of Saint-Jean-Froidmentel. It was there that he made up the messages for transmission to London by his radio operator. Jeanne Demouliere, who was the acting head of the station, and her husband, who was a wounded veteran from the war of 1914-1918, were definite patriots. They had several times lodged aviators before giving them to the escape line. Besides, the train station of Saint-Jean located on the Bretigny-Vendome line was being used a great deal by people coming to get food in the surrounding countryside. This resulted in a continual coming and going which fortunately masked the arrivals and departures caused by the command post of the allied officer. However the danger was great because on the other side of the railroad the Germans were occupying the chateau of Rougemont. 

For his part and for the same reason, the radio operator, Francois Toussaint, changed his place of operation several times. After having spent around a month in the home of Doctor Chaveau at Moulineuf, he went to live with Robert Guerineau, a baker at Romilly-sur-Aigre. Roberte, the daughter of the baker, was in charge of carrying messages during this period.
The radio operator next was lodged at the home of M.Houmaire, from where he was able to send his transmissions to the patriots of the region, notably to Gustave Barbier and Jules Gallet and even as far as the farm of Andre Barrault at Saint-Calais. (These latter had three Russian escaped prisoners in their charge for a month).
Georges Blin, the miller at Vetille and Maxime Fouchet, also lodged Francois Toussaint and M.Dauvilliers, electrical engineer who was able to repair the radio.
A helper of Jubault, Pierre Guillaumin called “Gilbert” was in charge of assuring a permanent liaison between Lucian Boussa and the camps of the forest. He participated in completing the food supply arrangements of these camps. He took charge of this task with intelligence and devotedness. He was furthermore in charge of escorting the recuperating aviators in the region by the movement of the “Francs-Tireurs” and “Partisans-Francais”.
Those who were responsible for this group in the region, notably Armand Lhuillery, Charles Sandre, Guy Fortier and Paul Fenin, dead for France at Cormainville after having been odiously martyrized, Jehanno called “Kid” and Maxime Fouchet led twenty aviators to the station of Saint-Jean-Froidmentel where they sent them to the commander of the camps. One of these aviators, Stanley Laurence, was shot down above Beauvais, and was headed on foot towards Spain when he was welcomed by Jacques Pikeroen, a school teacher at Mervilliers (Eure-et-Loir) where he stayed fifteen days before being able to join the group at the forest of Freteval. 
In a book “the Fight of the Francs-Tireurs and French Partisans in Eure-et-Loir”, edited in 1946, one of the leaders, Roger Blanvillain, tells of one of the rescue missions in which he participated under assumed names – Roger Cochereau of Cloyes, Louis Lemoues of Chateaudun and Bernard Avisseau of Marboue.
One evening in June 1944, with the rain coming down in torrents, Jean-Pierre, Geo, Marcel and I were seated around a table in our abandoned house of Lorry with Jean, our Partisan Leader, discussing the air battle that had taken place above Chateaudun that afternoon. One of our friends from a neighbouring area suddenly came to warn us that two allied aviators had fallen and had been seen in a neighbouring wood. Soon Jean gave us our jobs: “Marcel, you go to Conie. Surely you will be able to get information at your friend’s home, and if you have a parachutist, lead him immediately”. “Jean Pierre you come with me to search the woods”. “Roger and Geo stay here. Take the Tommy gun and the carbine and keep on guard, the Germans could be roaming about and don’t open to anyone without the agreed signal”.
They left. Geo and I kept ready. Half an hour later we heard steps outside and two voices. 

The steps went away and a quarter of an hour later someone knocked at the door according to our code. It was Marcel’s Aunt, who lived next door, saying that a man had come to her house announcing in a mysterious air that “I have a heavy package for Marcel, do you know where Marcel is?” Obviously the answer was no, we were wondering what that meant. She left. Outside it was still raining. A half-hour after that, Jean and Jean-Pierre returned accompanied by two big fellows in grey. They were English aviators with astonished looks and were perhaps a little worried when they saw Geo and me surrounded by our guns. But their faces brightened and finally their first words came, “Oh! French Resistance”. Needless to say with what force our hands grasped each other. The poor fellows were drenched from head to foot and our first worry was to dry their clothing, but we understood that they were worried about the fate of the rest of their crew. Jean explained how he succeeded in finding them: “I was saying: ‘French Resistance, comrades!’ Do you know that they didn’t seem to understand, and I was wondering if we could even get them to come with us, they took such a long time to realize that we were real ones”.
The explanation of these previous footsteps we had heard in the courtyard was given in an instant by a new knocking at the door and a voice crying: “Roger, Marcel open in the name of God; you will make me die!” As soon as I opened up I saw it was another friend from a neighbouring area dripping with water. “You are worthless young fellows! I knocked just a little while ago. I have been next door to Marcel’s aunt – impossible to reach you. But you were right to take precautions. I have brought you something difficult to transport – a parachutist with a sprain. I am with my friend Rene. We put him on a bicycle and have been pushing him for six kilometers. The poor fellow asked how long the trip was going to last – he must be hurting. Help us to transport him.” We brought him in supporting him as much as possible. He found his two friends – all three were from the same plane. We stretched him out on our only bed and Jean-Pierre took care of his ankle. Evidently the discussions were going well with his two companions. Then Marcel arrived with another young man about twenty years old that was overjoyed to find the three others. We understood by their gestures that they were thanking us for reuniting them. We organised places for them to sleep, whilst the rest of us went up to the hayloft. Jean decided to stay down-stairs all night. 
The next day, after talking with the aid of an interpreter we had arranged to come, we planned how we were going to lead them out. Our four new friends were felt so happy to be among friends that we sang “El Rancho Grande” together – they in English, we in French. They were so well adjusted that one of them said in very bad French, “Do you have tea? Me like much tea!” To which Jean-Pierre replied, showing him our little bag of roasted barley: “My old fellow, we aren’t in London here.”
The following night Jean led the three able-bodied men to the regroupment camp. It was twenty-five kilometres to be done in two stages, with Jean-Pierre in front and they behind following at a short distance. They were dressed in civilian clothes, more or less appropriate to their size. The injured fellow stayed with us for a week and then he was taken during the day in a truck to rejoin his friends. 

If certain aviators had to go long distances before being regrouped in the forest, there was one of them who by contrast was welcomed very close to the camp by Kleber Olivier. Kleber was at this time employed at the Fouchard farm at Bellande, where he was in charge of killing animals destined for food at the camps. The aviator had landed by parachute in the field where Kleber was working and was escorted directly to his comrades.
Resistance workers operating in Sologne discovered the last escape person led to the camp, to which he had been led from the home of M. de la Malene, at Diorieres, the township of Chauvigne-du-Perche. When he finally arrived, the Germans had already left the country, so his stay in the forest was of very short duration.


The Liberation Of The Camps                                                                                                       back to top

The hardest thing was waiting. The radio announced continuously the advance of the allied troops, but one waited with growing impatience in the region of Freteval. The German troops were in full retreat, sifting through the region. Sometimes shots fired came from the direction of the road toward the forest. The aviators purposely had no arms, in order to avoid any tragic outcome in case of their arrest.
In order to assure security, Lucien Boussa asked the Resistance to furnish small armed groups to patrol around the camps. This was done, but they never had to intervene.
At the beginning of the month of August, it was no longer a question of Liberation. Having learned by radio that the allies were located in the area around Mans, about seventy kilometers from Freteval, the commander decided to go there to hasten the liberation of the camps. Guided by Etienne Viron, they arrived by car after along trip of a hundred kilometers to join the first lines of Americans. Making himself known, Lucien Boussa was led to the Staff Officers where, by an extraordinary chance he met the head of “M.I.9’, Ariey Neave who he had left several months earlier in England.
The 10th August 1944, arrangements were made and it was decided that on the 13th a protective column of British commandos would come to look for these “pensionnaires” of the forest.
The extraordinary adventure was going to end. The 12th August, considering themselves liberated, the aviators went in groups into the villages of Saint-Jean-Froidmentel and Busloup. The inhabitants were astonished to see themselves surrounded by young people speaking English. As soon as the flags were put up in order to celebrate the end of the nightmare, the village people hurried to bring out from their wine cellars fine bottles guarded preciously for the time of the Liberation and in these localities they celebrated late into the night.
The next day, 13th August 1944, the announced column arrived at Camp No. 1. It was with some emotion and also with some regret that the aviators cast a last look on this immense forest that had sheltered them during the long months. 

Several members of the Resistance having been notified of the departure came to say their adieux.
Up until the last moment luck had smiled on the escapees. All were able to resume their service in the aircrews. Following this, thirty-eight of them were going to lose their lives in aerial operations over Germany.
The fact of having been able to lead more than a hundred and fifty aviators to the forest of Freteval, to have hidden them and nourished them, constituted a real feat for the Resistance.
But how all these men had been able to live from May to August 1944 in this region, open to patrols of the occupying German forces, remains unexplainable.

* * * * *

We would not like to finish this page of history without adding the name of Madame Hallouin of La Proutiere, township of Montigny-le-Gannelon, dead in deportation for having lodged patriots who aided the aviators in the forest, and that of Jean Chaveau of Cloyes, who furnished official papers stolen from the Germans in order to be used by the escorts of “Comete”. He was captured on 15th August 1944 and suffered the same fate as the martyrs of Cormainville.

* * * * *

In this booklet we have endeavoured to cite all the persons of the region who participated in the escorting service, in the lodging and the supplying of food for the aviators. Nevertheless perhaps certain ones may have been forgotten. We ask them to please excuse us for our oversight.

* * * * *

Twenty years later, Colonel Boussa wanted to see again this region that had welcomed him under the occupation. He was very happy to find a large number of his friends from the underground activity. He conceived the project of a book retracing the adventure of the “Forest of Freteval”, the proceeds of which would serve for the erection of a commemorative monument, but this project was not brought to fruition. However on 20th March 1966 a committee was constituted, composed of twenty-seven members designated below, in order to collect the necessary funds to erect a monument, which would be inaugurated on 11th June 1967.
Unfortunately Fate did not want Colonel Boussa to see the work that he had so ardently desired. Death brutally surprised him at Cloyes on 12th March 1967 in this little section of France where so many memories were dear to him, to which he had come specifically from Belgium in order to assist in an important meeting of the committee.
A moving funeral service was held for him in the presence of the representatives of the French government, the Army and Allied Countries.

The sister of M. le Marquis of Levy of Mirepoix, Madame la Vicomtesse of Beaudignies, owner of the woods where “Camp No. 1” was set up, made a gift of the land where the memorial has been built.
The general advisors of Eure-et-Loir and of Loir-et-Cher, answering the appeal of the committee, voted each one to subsidise 10,000 francs; the Municipal Advisory of Chartres 5,000 francs; the townships of two departments, of numerous people of the region and several associations gave important amounts.
The stele, designed by the Dunois artist Divi (citizen of Chateaudun) was entrusted to Baglan of Pontijou (Loir-et-Cher), put in place and engraved by Houdebert of Vendome, the ground prepared by Rendineau of Saint-Hilaire-la-Gravelle, the drainage by Delaunay and the masonry by Rougeaux of Cloyes.
Thanks to the goodwill, the understanding and the generosity of all, the inauguration ceremony took place on the 11th June 1967 as planned.
This celebration had an international character as it was under the patronage of the Ministers of the Interior, the Armed Forces and the Combat Veterans. It took place in the presence of the Ambassadors of the allied countries and with the participation of aviators who had stayed in the camps of the forest of Freteval.
The Memorial and this modest booklet will permit recalling to future generations the sacrifices that their ancestors made for the cause of peace and liberty.

At Vendome, 30th May 1967
Cecile Jubault.

* * * * *

The Committee for the Administration of the Association consisted of the following members: Lucien Boussa, Jean-Felix Paulsen, Omer Jubault, Daniel Cogneau, Pierre Guillaumin, Dr.R.Dufour, Louis Lemoues, Bernard Avisseau, Gilbert Gourmond, Lucien Bezault, Armand Boudet, Leon Chesne, Roger Cochereau, Andre Gagnon, Jean Granger, Jean Grange, Robert Guerineau, Yves Herve, Yves Jehanno, Yves Jouvelet, Gaston de Levis-de-Mirepoix, Paul Lieugard, Robert Poupard, Maurice Serein, Emile Vivier, Marius Villedieu, Etienne Viron and Jean Zamponi.

* * * * *

In Memory Of The In habitants Of The Region                                                                    
Victims of their devotion to the allied aviators

Died in deportation:
Mesdames: Lucienne (Callu) Proux, Marie-Louise (Delbert) Gaspard.
Messieurs: Robert Germond, Rene Roussineau, Raymond Evrard, Maurice Pommier.

Survivors of the death camps:
Madame Helene Germond
Messieurs: Lucien Proux, Paul Taillard, Raymond Cordier.


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