Brigadier George R P Roupell VC and Captain Charles H Gilbert -
plus two Commandos and three Polish airmen
This article first posted 15 May 2024 - amended 19 May 2024
In James Langley's 1974 book “Fight Another Day”, he relates how in July 1941, a coded message was handed to a porter at the British Embassy in Madrid. Once the message was deciphered and found to indicate that two senior British officers were stranded in northern France, he says that information was sent to Ian Garrow in Marseille with instructions to rescue them as soon as possible. He concludes the episode by saying that “In the light of events to come it was perhaps a clumsy and amateurish operation, which had greater success then it probably deserved”.
I don't know what criteria Langley used to measure success but once in the hands of the Pat Line, the two officers were taken to Spain within days.
Brigadier George R P Roupell (803) (born 7 Apr 1892) from Shelford in Surrey, was commissioned into the East Surrey Regiment in 1912, and as a lieutenant, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Ypres in 1915. In May 1940, Roupell was Brigadier of 36 Infantry Brigade, 12 Division.

Roupell had established his headquarters at Locheux, Somme (about 7 kms NE of Doullens) and says that on the morning of 20 May 1940, he was receiving reports of tanks along the Doullens-Arras road (to their south-east) together with indications of an attack from the east across open country. Refugees were pouring through on the main road, and after a lull, German motorcyclists, then armoured cars, then an open car with German officers passed, heading towards Doullens.

The grounds of his headquarters were surrounded by walls, and they were not disturbed but having lost contact with “everyone”, Roupell decided to get away that night. Once it was dark, Roupell set off for Frevent with a company of 5 Bn Buffs (the Royal East Kent Regiment) under Colonel Allen, and his adjutant Captain Gilbert. However, as they approached the Arras to Frevent road, they heard a German column heading towards the south-west, and retired to some woods. As the chances of 120 men getting through undetected were negligible, Roupell gave instructions to break up the company into parties of two or three, and try to make their way north and join the BEF.
Captain Charles H Gilbert (802), a stockbroker from Maidstone in Kent with four years in the TA, was serving with the Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment, and Staff Captain for 36 Infantry Brigade, 12 Division.
He says it was 23 May 1940 when the Brigade moved up from Fleury (Fleury-sur-Andelle), south-east of Rouen, to establish their headquarters north-east of Doullens, at Lucheux, They were attacked that same day, and a company of Buffs fell back and joined them. They took out an armoured car with a Boyes anti-tank rifle but the Germans brought up tanks, for which the Brigade had no answer. Gilbert, Brigadier Roupell, Captain Champion-Jones, the temporary Brigade Major, Colonel Allen (CO of the Buffs) and his adjutant, Major Parry, made their way to some woods, where they spent the night. Next morning (24 May), Roupell sent a message to Major Fry, the acting Brigade Intelligence Officer, instructing him to take his staff to Frevent. When no reply was received, Roupell decided they would try and reach Frevent themselves. However, they soon found the route blocked by German armoured vehicles, and Roupell decided they should split into small parties - and Gilbert went with Roupell and Lt Maurice Tavilitski, their French Liaison Officer.
After failing to get through German lines to the west or south, they also tried (in vain) to find a boat on the coast near Fort-Mahon-Plage before deciding to head for their old headquarters at the Chateau du Fayel near Fleury. When they got there however, they found the chateau had been evacuated, and so they went to a farm about half a mile away, at Perrieres-sur-Andelle, where Lt Tavilitski arranged for them to stay.
At first they slept in the woods, and then because of the rain, in a barn, with food brought to them each evening. When they heard about the French armistice with Germany, Tavilitski went to see his father in Paris. Meanwhile, Roupell and Gilbert moved into quarters above the stable in the grounds of the Chateau du Fayel until they heard rumours of the Germans requisitioning the chateau, and moved back to the farmer's house.
On about 18 March 1941, Roupell and Gilbert were moved to Rouen where they lived with the farmer's brother-in-law (Gilbert says this was in April and May before returning to the farm). They had kept in sporadic contact with Tavilitski, and about a year after he left, he returned (on about 15 July) to tell them that he had been in contact with an organisation that might be able to help them. The brother-in-law had plans to get them out with help from railway workers but this plan fell through, and so it was about August when they asked Tavilitski to put his plan into action. There was a delay before the brother-in-law's wife came to tell them that Tavilitski‘s plan was set up, and it was the middle of May 1942 when the two officers were taken to an organisation in Rouen, and their onward journey arranged.
A few days before their departure, Mlle Maie Noel arrived by bicycle to take their photographs for ID cards, and on 16 May, they were taken into Rouen in a farm cart, where they were met by Mlle Noel and Mme Picabia. A young man brought them false papers issued in Roubaix, and the two ladies took the officers by train to Paris, each man in a separate compartment, paired with a lady. On arrival in the capital, they were taken to the flat at 11 rue Chateaubriand where the ladies lived. They stayed in Paris over the weekend, being visited there by Tavilitski, who told them he had found an organisation by pure chance.
Mlle Maie Noel was Mme Madeleine Noel (born 24 July 1915), a dental surgeon of 5 rue du Champfleury, Paris. Mme Noel had been involved with resistance activities since 1941, and after the arrest of her husband, Doctor André Noel, in 1942, made contact with Robert Ayle and Frederic de Jongh of the Belgian Comete escape line, working with Comete as “Martine”. In addition to acting as a guide, her apartment was used to house numerous evaders and agents until she was arrested on 1 March 1944. Madeleine Noel was deported to Germany where she survived Ravensbruck before being repatriated back to France in the Spring of 1945. Mme Noel was awarded the MBE for her bravery and “excellent services”.
Mme Picabia was Mme Gabrielle Picabia-Buffet (born 21 Nov 1884) of 11 rue de Chateaubriand - former wife of wealthy avant-garde painter Francis Picabia. She began her evasion work with a Belgian organisation, working with them until late 1942 when she was obliged to leave Paris and escape to the unoccupied zone, at which point she joined the southern section of the Brandy organisation (with its headquarters in Lyon). She became its second-in-command, a position she held until numerous arrests in the organisation forced her to leave France in early 1943, crossing Pyrenees in April and arriving in England from Gibraltar on 24 July 1943.
Mme Picabia should not be confused with her daughter, also named Gabrielle, born 29 June 1913, and referred to as “Gloria” by SIS and SOE, who arrived in the UK on 12 March 1943 by air from Lisbon, having crossed the Pyrenees to Andorra in a party which included Canadian F/Sgt Walter Drechsler RAF (1093) - see Article.
“Gloria decided that she too would be well advised to leave [Paris], but before doing so she waited to arrange through her mother and the Belgian service, for the escape of two officers who had been in hiding in Normandy since the Armistice and whose names, General Rupel (sic) and Captain Gilbert, had been given to her by her agent Yvonne Boneval. These men arrived in Paris on 9.5.42 and left again on 11.5.42 for Chalons, where they were to be passed across the demarcation line by Jarrot, a passeur who worked both for SMH/Gloria and the Belgian services.”
Note that her SIS interviewer Captain John Mair commented in his 11 April 1943 report, from which this is taken (words to the effect) that Gloria was not very good with dates, and I believe in this case, she was a week out.
On Monday 18 May, the two ladies took the two officers (again in pairs) by train to Chalon-sur-Saone, getting off before Chalon and completing their journey by bus to a bicycle shop, where the ladies left them. On the night off 22 May, Roupell and Gilbert joined a group of six or seven Belgians to be taken across the river and demarcation line. They crossed at a mill and went to a garage at Lux belonging to Andre Jarrot (information passeur for SMH/Gloria, and future Brandy agent), where they stayed for the rest of the night .
Next morning (23 May) the two officers and a Belgian were taken by motor van to a railway station about 15 miles away, where they took a train for Lyon. After supper that evening with “the head of the local organisation”, the three men took a late train to Toulouse. They met the head of the Belgian (sic) organisation, a man called “Wolf”, and were put into the Hotel de Paris, where they were handed over to a British organisation and met “Josef”, “Francois” and a number of Spanish guides.
I suspect that “Wolf” was Gabriel Rivière of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade's Alliance organisation (which was French); Josef (or Joseph) was Pat O'Leary, François (or Francis) was Francis Blanchain, and the Spanish guides were from the Ponzan Group.
They stayed at the Hotel de Paris for about four days, and Roupell says that he and Gilbert left Toulouse on about 25 May, travelling to Banyuls-sur-Mer with two guides. At a house in Banyuls, they met the rest of the party - two Commandos from Saint-Nazaire and three Poles - and left to cross the Pyrenees early the following morning, while it was still dark.
The two Commandos were Cpl Edward Douglas (822) a meat salesman from Hyton, Liverpool with seven years in the Liverpool Scottish TA, and Pte Victor Harding (823) a farmer from Henbury near Bristol, with two years in the Gloucester Regiment. On 28 March 1942, both men were serving with No 2 Commando (under Lieutenant Colonel A C Newman) when they were landed from a motor launch to take part in Operation Chariot, the raid on Saint-Nazaire that saw the destroyer HMS Campbeltown, packed with delayed-action explosives, being rammed into the Normandie dry dock and blown up, putting the dock out of service.
Douglas and Harding's party landed at 0130 hrs, their task being to take out a pair of 6-inch gun positions. They reached the designated attack position but there were no guns, and so they returned to an arranged point at the dock entrance where Colonel Newman and several other men were gathered. They were trapped there for nearly half an hour by fire from trench mortars and machine-guns, during which time they were joined by others, many of whom were wounded. They decided to make for the re-embarkation point, fighting their way along until a Naval officer came and told the colonel that all their boats had been sunk. Colonel Newman then ordered everyone to get back to England any way they could.
Douglas and Harding's section, with L/Cpl Grieve in charge, only had one wounded man, and they took point as they made their way west towards the Quai Demange, their rubber-soled boots allowing them to move undetected. They continued on to the Place du Bassin but as they crossed the bridge, were fired upon, and took numerous casualties. After several fire-fights, their party became separated from the main group, and reduced to six (armed with four Thompson submachine guns, a Bren gun and a rifle), including a badly wounded corporal from a demolition party, with Douglas and Harding taking the lead. They took cover the cellar of in a bombed-out house, with the Bren gun covering the entrance, where they stayed until it got dark. That evening, the men left in pairs, with Douglas and Harding the last to leave at about 2145 hours. They left their equipment behind as they tried to pretend they were civilians, and made their way out of the city via a series of back gardens until they reached open country.
On the morning of 30 March, they went to a house asked for water and food, and were directed to another house, where the lady of the house had spent some time in America. She gave them food, clothing and two old bicycles and let them stay the night. The following morning, a young Frenchmen took them by bicycle to somewhere near Saint-Lyphard (about 14 kms NW of Saint-Nazaire), and kissed them goodbye.
The two men were dressed in corduroy trousers, sabots and old coats, and with no maps, were soon completely lost. They found their way to “a place near Missillac” where an elderly Frenchman took them in, fed them and let them sleep in his barn, Next day (1 April) they made their way to a small village about 5 kms from La Roche-Bernard, where they found food and shelter, and got a map from a wall calendar. The following day they went (east) to Saint-Gildas-de-Bois but there was a big German military presence and Gestapo controls on the road, and so returned to La Roche-Bernard that same day.
On the morning of 4 April, they set off again, through Saint-Dolay, Sévérac, Le Clandre and Le Dreny to Saint-Emilien-de-Blain where they were sheltered by an elderly Frenchman who agreed to put them up over Easter Sunday and Monday. They left on Tuesday 7 April, avoiding Nort-sur-Erdre because of German presence there and travelling on side-roads to Chateauneuf-sur-Sarthe (north of Angers).
On 8 April they went on to La Fleche, Le Lude and Broc (south of La Lude), where they tried at a chateau owned by an Englishman but his servant chased them away, and they spent that night in a barn.
On 9 April, they went to somewhere south of Chateau-la-Valliere where they say there was a chateau owned by Lord Halifax (previously Foreign Secretary but then British Ambassador to the United States) but avoided it after a farmer who gave them a meal warned them that the Gestapo were using it as a headquarters. After the meal, they continued soputh to Le Gros Ormeau, and a small cottage where a lady whose son was a POW took them in and gave them shelter food and baths, and washed and mended their clothes. She also brought the local school-mistress, who spoke English and marked out a route to Saint-Michel-sur-Loire near Langeais (on the north bank of the Loire) where they should go to the curé (assume Abbé Mutte). They did so, and told the curé, an ex-soldier from the First War, they were British soldiers from Saint-Nazaire. The curé gave them eggs and bread, and wrote a signed note calling on all French people to help them get to unoccupied France. He then walked with them to Langeais where he arranged for the ferryman to take them on his ferry, and they crossed with a number of German soldiers.
They stayed that night at an address in Vallières that the curé had given them, and next day, the people there sent them to farmer Jules Adrien Dansault (who they say was reputed to have helped 1,000 people across the line) who took them to Thilouze to be sheltered by Dr Georges Ropers, whose wife spoke English. They stayed with the Ropers for a fortnight, their hosts being determined to keep the two soldiers until they were sure of them getting across the demarcation line safely. Meanwhile, they worked on the farm, and neighbours in the village brought them books, and took them home for dinner.
At about the end of April, the two soldiers were taken by pony trap to Ligueil, with a Frenchwoman riding ahead on a bicycle. From Ligueil, they were covered with blankets and taken in a pony trap to a farmhouse close to the demarcation line, and a veterinary's daughter, and a butcher with a farm in the unoccupied zone, walked them across the boundary. They then walked to Esves-le-Moutier, where they took a tram to Loches.

They were met in Loches by a M. Caillard, who had a transport business in Loches, who passed them on to René Gérard, a lawyer who worked for the government. When René failed to get them faked US passports, he sent for Mr Vittabo at the US Embassy in Vichy who gave them a letter signed by himself for the US Consulate in Marseille. After five days in Loches, René and his wife Suzanne took the two soldiers on a Sunday night train (no control checks) to Marseille, arriving on the morning of Monday 11 May, where Suzanne took them to see the British representative at the US Embassy, who put them in touch with "the organisation”.

They were sent to the home of a Greek doctor, Dr Georges Rodocanachi at his large second floor apartment at 21 rue Roux de Brignoles, where they stayed with the doctor and his wife Fanny for two or three days until someone in the organisation took them to Nimes. In Nimes they stayed with Gaston Negre at 2 rue Porte de France for three or four days until Francis Blanchain took them by train to Banyuls ..
The three Poles were RAF airmen from two different aircraft, shot down on the same night, who all evaded separately.
P/O Jan Fusinski (818) was the first pilot of 300 Sqn Wellington Z1276, which was on the way to Cologne on the night of 27-28 April 1942 (and somewhere over Belgium) when they were shot down by a fighter.
Fusinski baled out at about 0140 hrs and landed so close to his burning aircraft (which had crashed at Les Ripelles, near Fromelennes, Ardennes, France) that he was able to throw his parachute into the flames. He set off walking west for half an hour before stopping in some woods to unpack his compass and maps. He then continued westwards through the rest of the night, and following day and night until the morning of 29 April when he met an elderly stonebreaker in a wood. Fusinski asked where he was, and the man told him he was in Belgium, and that there were some Germans in Beauraing, from which Fusinski was able to work out that he was just east of Martouzin-Neuville. The old man gave Fusinski some bread and milk, and when asked about civilian clothing, his son brought some, and took Fusinski's uniform. Fusinski had injured his knee when jumping and it was by then becoming painful so he decided to risk travelling by train. The son told him the next train would be at three o'clock in the morning so Fusinski slept for a while on a farm and then walked to Pondrome, where he took a train for Brussels.
Not knowing the route, Fusinski asked a girl sitting opposite him if he had to change trains to get to Brussels, and as she was going there as well, he simply followed her as they changed trains several times until finally arriving at the Belgian capital at nine o'clock that morning.
Fusinski's intention was to reach Lille, where he knew there were a number of Poles, and when he asked a German officer which station he should use, the officer very politely gave him full directions, and saluted when he had finished. Fusinski then boarded a tram for the railway station, and the conductor, having seen Fusinski talking with the German officer, let him ride for free.
That afternoon, Fusinski took a train to Tournai, and on the way asked a girl in his compartment about crossing the border into France. She told him that identity cards were essential but that if he tried a little south of the main road, he might succeed in sneaking across. Fusinski duly followed the main road towards Lille but then turned onto a side road heading south. He saw that the frontier was marked but with farmers working on both sides, he was able to walk into the fields and pretend to work, slowly making his way west until well clear of the boundary line. Fusinski spent that night in a barn, and in the morning, took a bus into Lille.
After bluffing his way past a ticket check, Fusinski tried in vain to find some friendly Poles and so decided to take a train to Paris, where he arrived at about mid-day. He then went to the gare de Lyon, where he took a train for Dijon, arriving there at two o'clock the following morning.
Because there was a curfew, Fusinski stayed in the station waiting room until seven, when he took a tram to the terminus and then walked out into the country. He asked an elderly man in an old French uniform if he could help him get across the demarcation line, and he gave Fusinski the name and address of a man in Seurre. Fusinski returned to Dijon and took a train to Seurre where he went to the address he had been given. The man was very suspicious of the Pole but then went and fetched an elderly lady who spoke English. Fusinski told her he was an English escaped POW, and she took him back to her house and gave him some food - the first he had had for six days apart from the Horlicks tablets in his escape kit. He spent the night at her house, and in the morning the man's son came and explained that there were guards along the river Doubs (which marked the demarcation line) but he might be able to find a boat further upstream. Fusinski spent the rest of the day looking for a boat, and after a night sleeping in some bushes, swam across the river near Longpierre.
Fusinski was very weak from lack of food by this time but he finally managed to get to a farm about two miles away where he told them he was Polish (rather than English) and had been taken prisoner whilst serving with the French Air Force. He was given fresh clothes and stayed the night, and told that French PWs were given help at Navilly, where he went the following morning. He was received “very sympathetically” by a French Army officer who gave him food tickets, 16 francs and documents that acted as both ticket and identity card so he could go to the demobilisation at Bourges. Instead, Fusinski took a train to Lyon where he went to the Polish Administration Bureau. He was given food and his injured knee attended to, and he stayed the night there. Meanwhile, the Bureau had contacted George Whittinghill at the US Consulate, and the following day, Whittinghill took Fusinski by train to Marseille (the men travelling in separate compartments).
Fusinski was taken to Louis Nouveau, where he is recorded on page 78 of Voltaire as arriving at 28a Quai de Rive Neuve, Nouveau's fifth-floor apartment, on 10 May 1942, and stayed for eight days. He was joined that night by F/O Jan Wacinski (819), and by F/O Julien Morawski (820) two days later - although Morawski (see below) is recorded by Nouveau as arriving on 15 May.
On 18 May, Francis Blanchain took the three Polish airmen to Narbonne, where they stayed overnight in a hotel, and next day, on to Banyuls-sur-Mer. They stayed in Banyuls for another week, until being joined by Brigadier Roupell (803) and Captain Gilbert (802).
F/O Jan T Wacinski (819) was the navigator of 304 Sqn Wellington W5627 (Morawski), which was on the way to Cologne the night of 27-28 April 1942 when they were shot down by fighters.
The crew were ordered to bale out, and Wacinski says he landed near a Belgian village “some distance NE of Mezieres” (now Charleville-Mézières). He threw his parachute into a river and made his way into the woods, then used the stars to head south-west throughout the night. He believed that he must have crossed the Franco-Belgian border without realising it because in the morning, he came to a farm near La Francheville, just south of Mezieres.
After watching the farm for several hours, Wacinski saw three PWs working there, and when one came near, he called him over. The man said he was a Pole and that the farm was run by a German officer back from the Russian front. He told Wacinski to go to the next wood and wait there until evening. When the Pole found him later, he explained that most of the farms in the district were owned by Germans but that the villagers were French, and he might find help in Mondigny (about 8 kms SW). Wacinski went there that evening, and knocked on a door, told the man who answered that he was English and asked for clothes. The man said he was Italian and advised Wacinski to try a certain Belgian family. The Belgians gave Wacinski clothes, food, 200 francs and some small maps, and advised him to head south-west where all the workers were pro-British. They also warned him that the Zone Interdite was bounded by the river Aisne.
Wacinski spent the night with the Belgians, and in the morning followed the main road to Rethel. As there was a German sentry on the bridge at Rethel, Wacinski turned left along the river Aisne to Ambly-Fleury, There was guard on the bridge there as well but after trying further along, and trying to swim the river, Wacinski gave up, dried his clothes in the sun and returned to Fleury. He kept watch on the bridge, and at about four o'clock, the sentry left the bridge, and Wacinski immediately slipped across. Just beyond the river, was the Canal des Ardennes, with a bridge that was also guarded but the guards were in their guard-house having tea, and Wacinski was able to slip across there as well. Wacinski was feeling rather feverish by this time, and after a short walk to Mont-Laurent, called at a house, told them who he was and asked for food. The people there refused to help and so Wacinski went to the village mayor who told him about a Polish family. They gave Wacinski food, and he spent the night in their barn.
Next day, Wacinski walked through Menil-Annelles and Juniville to Thuisy (about 10 kms SE of Reims, now part of the Val-de-Vesle commune) where he called at a restaurant owned by some White Russians. They gave him food and passed him on to a Polish worker who sheltered him for the night, and gave him money.
The following day, Wacinski set off walking along the main road south towards Chalons (Chalons-en-Champagne), and just before reaching the city, at Saint-Martin-sur-le-Pré, a man followed for a short distance before stopping him and asking who he was. The man didn't believe Wacinski's story of being a workman and accused him of being a escaped PW. He said he had a friend who worked for the Gestapo and that they could help him. The two men gave Wacinski food and showed him on a map the demarcation line. They also told him about a farm where some Polish workers would help him. Wacinski duly went to the farm, where he spent that night, and was advised to go to Bourges. He was told that train travel was easy in Occupied France, so took a train to Paris and then back south to Bourges but got off at Vierzon, arriving there at nine o'clock in the evening. As Wacinski was walking through the town, he heard some men singing Polish songs, so he told them who he was. The men took Wacinski to a farm about 7 kms west of the town where they gave him food and shelter for the night, and explained that crossing the river Cher west of Vierzon was difficult due to it being so deep.
Next day, Wacinski was introduced to a man from Mehun, who lived in a small farm near the river, and he showed Wacinski a point on the river where he could cross. Wacinski went to the place, and after waiting for a German patrol to pass, waded across into the unoccupied zone.
The place where he crossed was presumably just a few kilometres south-west of Bourges because after drying his clothes, Wacinski then walked into Saint-Florent-sur-Cher, where he caught an early evening train to Toulouse.
On arrival in the city, Wacinski went straight to the Polish Bureau, where he told them he was a Polish officer in the RAF, and was given clothing, food and identity papers. He stayed five days, and was put in touch with a Polish organisation. A major from the organisation was sent to Marseille where he contacted Louis Nouveau, who came and collected Wacinski, and took him back to his apartment in Marseille, where Wacinski is recorded on page 77 of Voltaire as arriving on 10 May 1942.
F/O Julien Morawski (820) was the pilot of 304 Sqn Wellington W5627 - see Wacinski above. After ordering the rest of his crew (except Sgt Lipski, who was injured) to bale out over Belgium, Morawski still had hopes of returning his aircraft to the UK but on realising this was hopeless, baled out with the injured sergeant, landing near Montillot, west of Avallon (Burgundy) - and leaving his aircraft to crash at Chatel-Censoir.
Morawski walked south to Vezelay, where he tried a house next to a church, hoping to find a priest to help him. Instead he found a German family who promptly sent for the police. Morawski ran into some woods where he met three young Frenchmen belonging to a De Gaullist organisation. They brought him food and civilian clothes, and took him to a farm at Charbonnier, where Morawski stayed with the farmer until the Germans gave up searching for him. Whilst on the farm, he was told that Sgt Lipski had been captured and taken to a hospital where he told the Germans that he was the pilot, and the rest of his crew had baled out over Germany. After four days on the farm at Charbonnier, the three boys took him to Tharot, north-west of Avallon, where he stayed for a week.
On 10 May, Morawski was sent into Avallon, and a certain cafe, where a woman in a De Gaullist organisation gave him food, a large-scale Michelin map and instructions. Within half an hour, Morawski set off walking through Quarré-les-Tombes, Montsauche-les-Settons, Planchez, Anost, La Celle-en-Morvan, Saint-Leger-sous-Beuvray and La Comelle before swimming across the river Arroux to continue through Saint-Didier-sur-Arroux and La Chapelle-sous-Uchon to a small village called Couthere, just west of Montceau-les-Mines (Saone-et-Loire) (about 120 kms in all).
Morawski had been to Couthere before, visiting in 1940, where there were some 3,000 Polish workers. He stayed in the village for two days until a French farmer whose property was half in the Occupied France and half in the unoccupied zone, took him across the demarcation line. Morawski then continued walking towards Lyon, getting a lift in a lorry between Macon and Villefranche, and reaching the city on 16 (sic) May.
He went straight to the US Consulate where he contacted the consul, George Whittinghill, who put him up for the night, and next day, Morawski was sent by train to Marseille. He was met by “a tall man wearing spectacles”, who took him to Louis Nouveau, where Morawski is recorded on page 79 of Voltaire as arriving on 15 May 1942.
The commandos and airmen all defer to Roupell for the remainder of their story as far as Barcelona, although it's actually Gilbert's report that has the details.
“At Banyuls we were taken to a house, where we met a party consisting of : Cpl Douglas and Pte Harding, 2 Commandos, who had taken part in the St Nazaire raid and who are now in Spain; three Poles, and a Belgian. The party left with a guide about 0400 hrs [about 27 May] and crossed the Pyrenees, travelling by night. We arrived at Vilajuiga about 0100 hrs next day and were handed over to another guide who bought us two tickets for Barcelona. He travelled with us and said we were to refer the police to him if we had any trouble. We all travelled in the same compartment. About an hour's journey from Barcelona the police asked for my papers, and the whole party was arrested and taken back to Gerona, handcuffed with string from our parcels. At Gerona we were met by more policemen, proper handcuffs were put on us, and we were marched through the town to the civil police headquarters. We were detained two weeks at Gerona in the political prison, where our clothes were deloused and our heads shaved. The eight of us were put in one cell with only five palaisses. The British Vice-Consul had seen us coming off the train in Gerona and visited us straight away, arranging a supply of cigarettes and underclothing and a credit of 100 pesetas for each person in the party. The Spaniards gave us facilities to write to the Vice-Consul, but our letters did not reach him till eight days later, some time after he had already visited us.
After fourteen days in the political prison we were taken to Figueras, handcuffed in pairs. At Figueras we stayed for a short time in the military prison and were given food and a haversack ration for our journey to Barcelona. On the journey to Barcelona we were not handcuffed, and there were only two guards with the party. In Barcelona we were met by the Vice-Consul and taken to see the Captain-General of Barcelona. We were then freed and, after being reclothed, were taken to a hotel by Consular Officials. We were at liberty for a fortnight in Barcelona and had emergency passports and a statement signed by the Consul General saying that we would not try to escape. It was hoped that the whole party would be freed, but only Brigadier Roupell and I were allowed to go to Madrid. We made the journey with a policeman in plain clothes.
The others went to Miranda. After a fortnight in Madrid in the Embassy we were sent to Gibraltar.” (WO208/3309 802 Gilbert)
Roupell and Gilbert left Gibraltar by sea on 21 July, arriving at Gourock on 30 July 1943.
The two commandos (and presumably the three Polish aircrew) arrived at the Spanish campo de concentracion at Miranda del Ebro near Burgos, on about 5 July. They were held there until about 5 August, when they were sent to Madrid for repatriation.
Douglas and Harding left Gibraltar by sea on 20 August, arriving at Scapa Flow on 26 August 1942. Fusinski and Wacinski left Gibraltar by sea on 19 August, arriving at Londonderry on 25 August. Morawski also left Gibraltar by sea on 19 August but he was landed at Greenock on 27 August 1942.
From the records kept by the Ponzan Group, it seems likely that the Belgian who crossed with them was Baron Constant de Montpellier de Vedrin.