On Their Way Back ...

This picture from "The Way Back" shows Norbert Fillerin's two daughters Genevieve and Monique in the back yard of their farm at Renty in September 1942. The original photograph - which also has wife Marguerite standing on the right - was hidden in Norbert's garden until after the war. The three men are S/Ldr Donald Barnard, P/O Raymond Glensor and Sgt Ralph Forster. The following month Norbert escorted the three airmen to Louis Nouveau's apartment in Marseille.

They are standing in front of a "wanted" poster signed by Kreiskommandant Gottwald. The affiche names the three men in the picture as well as F/Sgt A E Buckell who was later captured. They, along with Sgt H M James, who had already been caught, were the crew of a 142 Squadron Wellington III, shot down over St Omer the night of 16/17 September. The poster warns against anyone helping the airmen "on pain of death" and invites the population to collaborate. It promises that any information will be treated confidentially and that if it leads to their arrest then for each airmen caught, a French prisoner of war would be released.
Norbert delivered the three airmen to Louis Nouveau's apartment in Marseille on 23 October and in early December they joined a guided party across the Pyrenees. The party split up on the way to Gerona with Barnard and Glensor being arrested and sent to Saragossa. They were soon released and returned to the UK together in January 1943. Forster's group were also arrested but he was sent to Miranda concentration camp and not repatriated until April.
Norbert Fillerin was arrested in Paris in March 1943 along with Jean de la Olla and Alex Wattebled. After prolonged torture at Fresnes he was sent to Buchenwald and then Flossenburg until being liberated near Kaplitz by Czech partisans on 8 May 1945.
Barnard and his crew were not the first men to be helped by the Fillerin family: thirteen other soldiers and airmen had already been sheltered at their home including Tuck, Collins and Mayer, the three soldiers later arrested with courier James Smith, and Spitfire pilots Guy Lockhart, Pat Bell, Alex Nitelet and Denis Crowley-Milling. The Fillerin's work didn't stop with Norbert's arrest either: Marguerite is officially credited with helping a further nine airmen until her arrest in January 1944. It is believed she was betrayed following an arrest eight days earlier by a German counter-espionage agent named Streift. Marguerite was sent to Arras where a military tribunal condemned her to death. She was transferred to Loos and then sent to a series of German civilian prisons until liberated from Landsberg by the Americans on 11 April 1945.
At the time of Marguerite's arrest, Canadian 439 Squadron Typhoon pilot Gordon Crosby was in the house, but he escaped with daughter Monique. Not knowing if their parents were dead or alive, the Fillerin girls (then aged seventeen and eighteen) and their younger brother Gabriel (age fifteen) continued with their parents' resistance and escape line work until the end of the war. They are credited with helping a further ten airmen, including Bill Furniss-Roe (on his way out again after crashing his second Spitfire into occupied France) and three more Canadian airmen, Fulton, Wilson and the critically injured Keith Patrick, that they sheltered from June 1944 until the advancing allies reached Renty in September.
Information and identification of Fillerin family members and details of the affiche from Philippe Goldstein