File Size: 847 KB
Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (May 21, 2013)
Publication Date: May 21, 2013
The resistance movements used various tactics to repatriate the downed airmen. One of the most successful of these tactics was originated by a young Belgian girl, Andree de Jongh (Deedee"), whose father as imprisoned and eventually executed by the Nazis. She organized resistance members who, at the risk of their own lives, provided food, clothing, and false identification papers, and guided them to safety in Spain.. Her organization became known as the "Comet Line." Lynn Olson, in her recent book entitled "Last Hope Island," describes some of the exploits of this organization.
At the commencement of "The Freedom Line," de Jongh is betrayed by putative cohort . She is imprisoned by the Nazis and sentenced to death (though she survived the war and led a long, productive life). "The Freedom Line" describes the daring tactics of those who took over management of the Comet Line. Usually they saved and hid the airmen in attics and basements until they could be moved in small groups to Paris. From Paris they went in disguise to the French- Spanish border. There they hiked over the Pyrenees to San Sebastian, Pamplona, or Bilbao where English diplomats moved them to English-held Gibraltar. From there they were sent either by ship or air back to England. Interestingly, the United States diplomats in Spain. presumably acting on orders from Washington, refused to help the rescued airmen, most of whom were from the United States. They refused apparently out of ear of offending Franco. It was estimated that the Comet Line saved between 600 and 700 airmen, most of whom were Americans.
In late 1943 and early 1944 the Allied strategic bombing of occupied Europe intensified in anticipation of D Day (June 6, 1944). This greatly increased the work of the Comet Line though the Allies slowly gained air superiority over the Luftwaffe due in part,, at least, to the introduction of the P-51 long-range fighter which could accompany the bombers to their targets and protect them on their way back to England and Scotland.
This book will be of interest to World War II history Buffs. It selects an American B-17 pilot, Robert Grimes, and follows him from the moment he bails out of his crippled B-17 and lands in occupied Belgium until he is delivered eventually to the British in Spain. Along the way he is cared for by members of the Comet Line who in doing so are constantly risking their own lives. His life, also, is continually at risk. Other airmen and local patriots lose their lives to traitors and Nazis along the way. It is well-written and researched As one can imagine, it is very suspenseful.
This is a 5 star non-fiction book.,My mother and I both read this book and neither of us could pit it down. She, having lived through WWII, enjoys the memories. My family lived outside of Paris in the late 50s and loved stories from the French neighbors who worked with the Resistance and were forced from their chateaux by the Nazis. I was born in Paris during their time there and have heard those stories all my life. We visited in the early 80s and I got to see for myself the history of the place. This book was like taking another trip there.,It wasn't just Belgium, France and Spain. My uncle was shot down over Sicily. He was rescued by Sicilian villagers and passed from house to house until the allied invasion. He was then delivered to the Americans. There is always a Resistance.,Amazing, all the wonderful brave people. I love being reminded that there really were people like this. Yet heartbreaking at the same time. God bless them all. I also like "The Vatican Pimpernel". The movie was on TV recently.
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