Pat Line Couriers
There were many couriers (or convoyeurs) who worked with the PAO and here are some details of two of the English ones. Of course most couriers were French or Belgian but unfortunately, apart from my father's French courier, Roland Lepers (see Article) I have very little information on any of them. Louis Nouveau's book 'Des Capitaines Par Milliers', Roger Huguen's 'Par Les Nuits Les Plus Longues' and of course Remy's extraordinary eleven volumes of 'La Ligne de Demarcation' provide many more details but they are only published in French which is not my best subject. I would welcome any information that readers may be able to supply.
2882348 Pte James Smith (1919-1970) (aka Jean Dubois) (5 Bn Gordon Highlanders) from Buckie was one of the line's regular couriers and fellow Scot Arthur Fraser first met him in Harold Cole's company. After capture at St Valery, Smith escaped the line of march near Brussels and spent time working on various farms until January 1941 when he was taken to Lille. From there he joined an escorted party to unoccupied France where he was arrested and sent to Fort St Jean. Whilst being transferred to the internment camp at St Hippolyte, Smith escaped at Nimes and made his way back to Lille to warn his friends that their escape line was compromised.
In the May Smith met Harold Cole, who had been "working on a scheme" for getting people to Marseille, at Madeleine Deram's house. They escorted Dvr R McLelland and Pte Edwin Street along with Mrs Gardner (née Delliesche) and her three daughters to Marseille by the same route Cole and Roland Lepers later took my father's party, and there Cole introduced Smith to Ian Garrow. Garrow recruited Smith, who spoke good French, gave him money for expenses and sent him back to Lille to organise more groups (including that of Larry Robillard) and act as their courier.
Smith was taking his sixth group of servicemen south in late August 1941. He had collected Gnr Frank Tuck, Gnr William Mayes and Sgmn William Collins from Norbert Fillerin and was taking them to Marseille, along with a Norwegian pilot they collected at Bethune, when they were all arrested in a routine check of the Paris-Bordeau express at Orleans. Unfortunately the "Norwegian" was found to be German (he claimed to be a deserter) - and he talked. Smith was sent to a series of prisons, including Fresnes and Bochum (with Bruce Dowding, Drotais Dubois, Pierre Carpentier, Désiré Didry and Marcel Duhayon - all executed at Dortmund in June 1943), never recognised as a prisoner of war, and was fortunate to survive until liberated by American forces from the Zuchthaus (a disciplinary house for anti-Nazis and murderers) at Untermassfeld on 3 April 1945.
This information received from Alexander Garrow and Allan Fraser ...
James Smith was awarded the Military Medal, but seldom spoke of his time in France and Germany. He seems to have recovered both physically and mentally from his terrible war experience, though he was famous, or perhaps infamous, for his appetite - a common trait of escapers and ex-prisoners. He returned to his pre-war loves of football and his club, Buckie Thistle, which was in the Highland League. He also spent time with other clubs of the League as a coach, and qualified as a linesman and referee.
James switched from being an insurance agent to becoming a PE & Drill Instructor for local schools but the council insisted that formal qualifications were required for him to continue working there. In November 1970 he was attending a sports' college in Glasgow and had been given time off to attend his son's wedding in SW England with the rest of his family. He was driving home to Buckie and was on the road from Aberdeen when his car was hit by a Land Rover which had crossed over into his lane. Jimmy was killed and his daughter seriously injured. James Smith is interred in a churchyard near Elgin.
If anyone has any further information about James Smith then I would love to hear from them ...
I received the following from Arthur Payne on 22 July 2010 :
With regard to James Smith and your request for more information - I was his son-in-law. I came across your site and passed on the details to his two grandchildren (Esther and James). I never met James Smith, but here are some details : born Buckie, Banffshire, Scotland on 19 March 1919, died Laurencekirk, Angus, Scotland on 2 Nov 1970.
James was not a conscript. The 5th Gordons was a Territorial Battalion. Like many young men in the north-east of Scotland, he joined the "Terriers" because it gave him 2 weeks paid holiday away at camp every year. In 1939, when Neville Chamberlain said to Parliament that there were no Territorial units with the BEF in France, most of Scotland knew this was a lie since their men folk were serving there.
James married Mary Robertson (1927-1998) a girl from Keith which is 12 miles inland from Buckie. They first met in September 1939 when the 5th Gordons were billeted in the school behind Mary's home. Mary and her mother were handing bowls/basins of hot water over the school wall so that the troops could shave. An officer objected and tried to stop this, but Mary's mother declined in a very brusque manner since she knew that he had had hot shaving water from having supplied his batman earlier. Mary and James met up again immediately post war (at a dance I think). They married at the Catholic Chapel in Keith in 1947, honeymooning in France. Here James had the sad task of informing some of the French families where and when their relatives died. James and Mary had two children, James (1949-1990) and Margaret (born 1955). Margaret and I were married in 1976 and have two children, Esther (born 1979) and James (1987).

Your comment that "He seems to have recovered both physically and mentally from his terrible war experience" is not true. I was told enough anecdotal accounts of how both his physical and mental health suffered. Yours sincerely, Arthur Payne (on behalf of Esther and James).

Click here for more feedback to this article - see 2 March 2011 entry
1877989 Sgt Harold 'Paul' Cole (1906-1946) was the organisation's man in Lille and from late 1940 his job had been to collect escapers and evaders and escort them down to Marseille. As a civilian Cole had been a petty criminal and con-artist and in the Royal Engineers he was a thief and deserter, but as a courier he was perfect - confident, audacious and very successful - until the day he was exposed and accused of embezzlement.
"I shall never fully understand how, why and when Paul Cole defected to the enemy, but in
so far as it concerned my British friends and me, he served us well." (Arthur Fraser 1958)
Cole was confronted by Pat O'Leary, Francois Duprez, Mario Prassinos and Bruce Dowding in the Rodocanachi apartment on 2 November 1941 and accused of stealing funds from the organisation. After breaking down and confessing all and while the others were still discussing his fate, Cole escaped from the flat and went first to Paris and then back to Madeleine Deram's home at rue Bernadette, La Madeleine where he and Mme Deram were arrested by Cornelius Verloop of the Abwehr on 6 December, the same day as Francois Duprez was arrested at his desk in the Mayor's office in Lille. Cole's arrest was reported to Roland Lepers who promptly left Lille with Madeleine Damerment. They finally crossed the Pyrenees in March 1942 en route for England where Lepers joined the French air force and Madeleine joined SOE.
Two days later Alfred Lanselle, Pierre Carpentier, Désiré Didry, Bruce Dowding, Maurice Dechaumont and Drotais Dubois were all arrested by the German Geheime Feldpolizei (GFP) and in at least four cases, Cole accompanied them. On 11 December Cole again accompanied GFP men to arrest Vladimir de Fligue and Fernand Holweck in Paris and on 14 December it was the turn of Andre Postal-Vinay. Strangely, despite these apparent betrayals in Lille and Paris, Cole did not denounce Jeannine Voglimacci in La Madeleine and ironically it was Mme Voglimacci who was later to play such a major role in Cole's exposure as a traitor by approaching one of the gaolers at Loos prison and obtaining a written indictment of his treachery from the Abbé Carpentier.
Here are the same facts with a few extra details added: Cole, Madeleine Deram, Francois Duprez were all arrested on the same day - Cole and Deram by the GFP apparently on information from a Dutch double agent working for the Abwehr. Francois Duprez was then traced as the signatory on Cole's false identity card. Two days later Alfred Lanselle, Pierre Carpentier, Désiré Didry, Bruce Dowding, Maurice Dechaumont and Drotais Dubois were arrested and in some cases (by his own admission Dowding, Carpentier, Didry and Dubois) Cole was present. However several well known (certainly to Cole) escape line workers were not arrested - Voglimacci and the Lepers family are the most obvious examples in the north but there were many more. The Salingue family in Burbure were visited by Cole and the GFP and while Fernand escaped, his wife Elisa was later released for lack of evidence that surely Cole could have provided had he a mind to as he knew them very well. Nor is there any evidence that he betrayed anyone in the south - not even Pat O'Leary who had punched him in the face or Nancy Fiocca who had so clearly despised him. The evidence suggests to me that the Germans had done their homework and raided a series of houses they knew about (certainly Désiré Didry and Pierre Carpentier), taking Cole with them on some occasions - perhaps as psychological pressure on their victims - but they didn't necessarily need him.
After the arrests in Paris Cole got away from his Abwehr handlers, went to ground in the city and on 10 April 1942 married Suzanne Warenghem. However this union did not last long and on 9 June Cole and Warenghem were arrested by Louis Triffe of the Vichy police DST in Lyons and charged with espionage. On 21 July they were brought to trial and Cole was sentenced to death but Suzanne was acquitted. She went to Marseille where she gave birth to Alain Patrick in October but despite the best efforts of Dr Rodocanachi, the baby died in January the following year. In November 1942 Cole was saved from execution when the Germans took over Vichy France and eventually he was recruited by SS Major Hans Kieffer of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) to work with him at 84 Avenue Foch in Paris.
Harold Cole is described by Reginald Spooner of Scotland Yard as "the worst traitor of the war" and by Airey Neave as "the most selfish and callous of German agents" and "the most successful of our enemies". Cole survived the war but in June 1945 he was arrested in Saulgau, Germany by Peter Hope of MI5 and sent to a prison in Paris. He escaped the Paris Detention Barracks in November and was finally shot dead in January 1946 by two Paris gendarmes looking for deserters.
For more details of this extraordinary man see 'Turncoat - the strange case of traitor Sergeant Harold Cole' by Brendan Murphy and 'In Trust and Treason - the strange story of Suzanne Warren' by Gordon Young. Suzanne Warenghem (she later anglicised her name) was the young Pat Line courier who fell in love with and married Harold Cole. There is also a fascinating "factional" novel about Cole called 'The Blue Noon' written by Robert Ryan and published 2003. Click here for a more detailed article about Harold Cole.