They came from Burgundy
A study of the Bourgogne escape line
This page first posted on 28 Mar 2017
After more than four years work, the book "They came from Burgundy" is as finished as I can make it. The title comes from a request made to many of the evaders as they left Paris to pass on to the British authourities the name of the organisation that had helped them. Although based around military escape and evasion reports, the main aim of the book is to introduce the reader to as many of the escape line helpers as possible because it is they who are the heroes and heroines of this particular story.
Of the three major escape lines running through France during the Second World War - the Pat O'Leary line, which covered most of the country, the Comete line, which ran from Holland and Belgium through France to the Pyrenees, and Bourgogne - Bourgogne (aka Burgundy) is the least well known. Escape lines are a largely unrecognised, or at least often overlooked, episode of the Second World War. For those who were involved - the helpers (mostly French, Belgian and Dutch civilians) or benefitted from them (mostly British, Commonwealth and American servicemen) - this was a personal war, which was, and remains, almost unknown to the outside world, despite the tragic loss of so many of those concerned. To the families of the servicemen saved, it must have seemed like a miracle to have their loved ones returned safely to them. For the helpers and their families who were caught, it often meant death. This study, which is based around contemporary reports and documentation, as well as extensive personal research by the author and others, describes the evasions of the more than three hundred Allied servicemen helped by the Burgundy line, together with details and the eventual fates of many hundreds of their helpers.
Click here to buy a copy of the book from publisher Troubador
or you can contact me to buy a copy - signed on request - post-free to UK addresses
Please note that the book (198,000 words) is quite heavy so overseas postage is expensive
Readers outside the UK may prefer to order through their local suppliers or
This page is intended to raise interest and awareness about the book but also to provide corrections and updates to the printed version as and when further information becomes available - a sort of on-line errata - plus things I wish I'd known earlier ..
With that in mind, purchasers of "They came from Burgundy" may care to update their copies with the following notes
Latest update 15 Feb 2018
Page 21 add (Pierre Leonard Frazille - query) - should read (Pierre Leonard Frazille of 98 rue du Point du Jour)
Page 21 f/n add Wireless operator Sgt Noel Morley RNZAF evaded to Switzerland, arriving there on 6 May 1943.
Page 27 add Greene .. stayed with a schoolteacher (Mme Antoinette Piriou of Plouray) until 24 February ..
Page 29 add to be sheltered elsewhere - should read to be sheltered by Henri Dufermont at 42 rue Jeanne d'Arc.
Page 49 correction Mansford notes they were not required to pay their hotel bill - should read Hughes notes ..
Page 68 correction should read Mlle Simonie de Cormont at 74 rue du Rocher.
Page 76 correction Olivier Richiet - should read Olivier Richet
Page 79 add .. where they were sheltered - add "by local resistance chief Jacques Gotkovsky of Les Essarts-le-Roi" .. and "Three days later, SOE agent Henri Frager and Red Cross nurse Germaine Royannez arrived in an ambulance to take them to the station, Frager taking Green and Ruby by train while Mlle Royannez went with Munday in the ambulance to her apartment at 9 Avenue Niel."
Page 88 add M Biscuit (real name Beret, of 33 rue de Vanise)
Page 98 correction Jean Borossi - should read Jean Borrossi
Page 109 correction Gilbert Thibaut - should read Gilbert Thibault
Page 122 I thought I was being diplomatic when I declined to identify the evader who complained about the food he was receiving but Cheryl Padgham (daughter of Vic Davies) then contacted me to insist that it wasn't her father ..
Page 156 add .. by train to Cezy, near Joigny, Yonne .. where they were handed over to clerc d'huissier Louis Cordier to be sheltered at various local addresses.
Page 156 add .. arriving at two o'clock the following morning, their journey delayed because the track had been bombed. They were met at the station by Pierre Charnier who took them to spend the rest of the night at the Grand Hotel de France before going ..
Page 157 add On Friday 1 October, Jean-Claude Camors, Pierre Charnier and Antony-Marie Leriche (of 26 Quai de Paris, Joigny) took all ten airmen ..
Page 159 add On about 20 September, a girl (small, pretty, brunette) .. should read "On about 20 September, Paulette Depesme (small, pretty, brunette) .."
Page 164 f/n amend Mme Jeanne Scheidhauer died on 9 September 1944 in a catastrophic fire inside the Sidi-Carnot bomb-shelter which killed an estimated 370 French civilians and 500 to 600 German soldiers.
Page 166 correction Mme Vve Christine Aimee Magne - should read Mme Vve Christiane Aimee Magne.
Page 167 correction Mme Yvonne de la Marniere - should read Mme Yvonne de La Marnierre.
Page 167 correction (.. brought from Paris by Pierre Charnier the previous day) - should read (.. brought from Paris by Paulette Despesme and Remy Roure the previous day)
Page 167 correction .. and in the ensuing confrontation, Leneveu shot both Camors and Roure .. should read ".. and in the ensuing confrontation, both Camors and and Roure were shot (Leneveu is said to have missed Camors who was then fatally wounded by one of the Germans outside the café)."
Page 177 add On 23 October, a woman member of the organisation visited .. add (Mary-Rose Zerling) visited ..
Page 195 correction Jean Borossi - should read Jean Borrossi
Page 196 correction Pierre Le Mogne and Henri Ruellard (neither found) - should read Henri Ruellard (not found)
Page 196 add Xavier Poincet (aka Francois) .. Martin Mary (aka Jacques)
Page 199 add .. one of the teachers, Mme Marie Droin - should read Mme Marie Ernestine Droin (née Vermot)
Page 202 add .. Mlles Solange and Yvonne Boury (and Jean Bimbault) should read .. (and their cousin Jean Bimbault)
Page 203 correction .. ball-turret gunner and bombardier should read .. ball-turret gunner and radio-operator ..
Page 207 f/n amend According to Gabrielle Wiame the three airmen .. should read "The three airmen were sheltered for six weeks with M et Mme Joseph Chautagnaut at 5 rue Jeanne d'Arc, Paris XIII."
Page 217 add On 5 December, Herrick was moved again .. should read "On 5 December, Pierre Le Garrec took Herrick to stay with Rene Chanfreau (of 2 Avenue du General Maistre, Paris XIV) .."
Page 280 correction Yves Peron is listed twice, delete second entry - and correct total to read thirty-one people ..
Page 281 correction .. and seven evaders to be taken from Douarnenez .. should read .. from Ile-Tudy, near Quimper ..
Page 294 correction .. and next day, Pierre and Paulette Depesme .. should read ".. and next day, Pierre and a young girl who lived above the Wagners .." and - .. (Remy Roure) should read ".. (Remy Roure, brought to Paris that day from Lyon by Paulette Depesme) .."
Page 321 add Hoyt reports a boy coming from Brest - add (this was Georges Le Droff)
Page 336 correction Thirty-six-year-old Halleck Hassan .. should read "Thirty-six-year-old Halleck Hasson .."
Page 336 add B-17 42-5746 (99BG/347BS) .. should read .. B-17 42-5746 Stardust (99BG/347BS) ..
Page 370 correction .. local schoolteacher Georges Lemourier should read ".. Georges Le Monnier of 13 rue Bretonnerie .."
Page 370 add .. sheltered on a local farm - add "by Lucien Rahir at Ferme de l'Aunay."
Page 372 add F/Lt Hugh Parry should read "Rhodesian born F/Lt Hugh Parry .. "
Page 414 add .. looked after by the woman who was taking care of the house - add "Marcelle Flasch."
Page 417 add .. declared themselves to the proprietor, whose daughter .. should read ".. declared themselves to the proprietor, Julien Castagnino, whose daughter .."
Page 422 correction Georges Prevot (often spelt as Prevost) .. should read "Georges Prevost (often spelt as Prevot) .."
Page 447 add The elderly couple who owned the house .. should read "The elderly couple (M et Mme Alexandre Laclau) who owned the house .."
Page 458 correction .. to crash near Autruy-sur Joine (Loiret). should read ".. to crash near Autruy-sur-Juine (Loiret)."
Page 473 index In the text (on page 240) I correctly identified B-26 41-34763 radio-operator S/Sgt William K Lahm as being captured but in the index, I have listed him as S/Sgt Richard K Lahm.
I'm sure there will be more corrections and additions but that's all the ones I know about for the moment
I think the cover, created by artist Helen Duffee, deserves special mention - and it seems I'm not alone in that opinion. Here is what Irish solicitor (and budding poet) John Morgan wrote after he bought a copy of the book in April :
"Firstly, I like the title of the book, simple and very evocative. I also liked the cover very much. I may be wrong but what I take from it is a tribute to the remarkable number of women helpers on the line. The embedded text over the background map serves to highlight some of their work; and the silhouette nature of the figures - faceless - reflects that they and other women helpers on Escape Lines have often been effectively hidden while their male comrades have received proportionately more of the credit.
At the bottom of the cover, the paper-chain image speaks to me of the countless (sometimes unknown) numbers of evaders who were helped; the image is also evocative of numbers of faceless/unheralded helpers quietly working together in a chain, each equally supporting and also dependent on each other. In a sense, when you make a paper chain, you are creating a single unit but at the end it reveals itself as many, each standing behind the other, individuals yet indivisible. Maybe that's how it felt to be part of a line, you were on your own in the sense that you may know only one or two other links in the chain but you were still aware of many others out there working to the same goal from which you could draw strength to counter your natural feelings of fear and vulnerability. Very poignant and dignified."