An account of his involvement in Pat Line in 1941 and his war service 1940-46.
In August 2002, and out of the blue, I had a message from Jean Fourcade. From this developed a correspondence which sheds important new light on Pat Line, one of the more remarkable secret organisations operating in German-occupied France during World War ll.
Below is Jean's own brief account of his activities and adventures during WWll and in particular of his brief role in 1941 as one of the earlier members of an escape and evasion organisation, based in Marseilles, France, which successfully helped hundreds of escaping and evading Allied servicemen and secret agents to leave mainland Europe and to return to carry on the war from Britain.
Right: Jean Fourcade, in summer 1946, in front of 'French House' mess at Iserlohn, Westphalia, where he became a liaison officer with l Corp British Army on the Rhine.
Jean Fourcade was only 23 years old when he first met Capt. Ian Garrow and Elisabeth Haden-Guest who were among those who recruited him into the 'line'. A young Frenchman of impeccable origins and a pleasant nature must have been an invaluable asset to the escape team that operated in collaboration with SOE and MI9 in London. However, the organisation's work took place under the noses of the fascist French milice and later of the German gestapo itself.
To make matters worse, the vast majority of the French usually had few qualms about betraying Allied clandestine operations even those dedicated to the liberation of France. Hundreds were indeed betrayed usually facing torture, execution or slow death in concentration camps. Readers might want to note that what they are about to read is the account of a remarkably diffident and modest man. He never alludes to the very real dangers he and the others in this organisation faced, nor the immense courage required and the great risks taken by all concerned.
In 2002 Jean Fourcade was living in Spotsylvania, Virginia, in the United States. He died there in 2010.
By Christopher Long
From: Jean Fourcade
To: Christopher Long
13 August 2002
Histoires du temps jadis...
I cannot tell you how thrilled I was today when I finally got through to you that bloody telephone drove me nuts. I don't know whether you ever read a book from some Canadian chap, if I remember correctly: "Un homme se penche sur son passé" very popular in the '3O's. To-day and last weekend when Georges brought me your first print-out concerning Dr. Rodocanachi I did gaze into those years of auld lang syne which are both so distant and so near.
September 1939 The outbreak of World War ll...
Well, where should I start? I should like to give you as much information as possible even if I risk being boring (you can always skip) or stupid (no comments!). What about September 1939 when I was drafted into a horse drawn Artillery Regiment in Vannes, Morbihan?
The horses were not too good but I volunteered to ride every morning. We also had sabre drill on foot every day for a couple of hours after all, did not the Polish cavalry charge German tanks with their lances? Never saw a blasted gun. However I could quickly reassemble, in the dark, the entire harnesses of both the rider and the puller horses (porteur, sous-verge, etc., if you want to be technical). Quite a feat! On the positive side, I met a group of Royal Corps of Engineers stationed in Vannes. We had drinks together. I should have liked to be assigned as an interpreter with the UK Expeditionary Corps but could not manage it.
Right: Jean Fourcade, on guard duty at the 'Quartier' with the 35ème Regiment d'Artillerie Divisionnaire at Vannes, in September/October 1939.
Early 1940 I was sent to Fontainebleau's Ecole d'Application d'Artillerie. The horses were much better and they had excellent croissants at the mess on Sundays.
In June 1940, we had to abandon the old school, on bicycles, with our spurs on and a rather useless mousqueton tied to the frame no ammunition but it did look quite martial.
We pedalled all the way to Poitiers where the other artillery school was. We left hurriedly when fighting got too close and, under the guidance of one Lt. Nolet, headed south. Around Bordeaux I quietly dropped out and tried to contact some friends in that city. A Mr Angeloni was in charge of British Petroleum in Paris and he and his family were our neighbours and friends in Sceaux where my parents used to live. Unfortunately the Angelonis had left for the UK on one of the last boats leaving Bordeaux and I was not able to accompany them as I had intended to.
August 1940 France has capitulated to the Germans, its army has disintegrated and the British have retreated at Dunkirk...
Our group of would-be artillery cadets finally reached Lourdes (a dreadful city full of bondieuseries) and I was demobbed in August 1940. I stayed in the area a while because I had friends in the Armagnac and then decided to go to Marseille, my home town, where we still had the family home.
I first stayed with one of my uncles, Dr Charles de Luna, who was a gastro-intestinal specialist (like my grandfather Dr Gauthier de Luna) who also visited the Hôpital des Enfants Malades and spoke very highly of your uncle, Dr Rodocanachi.
I was trying to finish my M.A. in English, attended the university at Aix, got a job in a catholic Collège de la Viste as an English teacher and then found out about the Seamen's Mission in Rue Forbin in late 1940. That is where I probably met Elizabeth Haden-Guest and several British soldiers who were billeted (though not interned) at Fort Saint Jean.
I got friendly with a bunch from Scotland who planned to celebrate the 31st December in a bar, on the Vieux Port, near Fort Saint Jean. On the appointed day I met them. They had a bottle of whisky and I had my mouth organ and we began celebrating and singing until the owner told us he had to close before midnight: 'Vichy regulations!'. A disaster...
Fortunately there was a chap from London in that group, who knew of a brothel nearby where we all repaired. At midnight we all sang 'God Save the King' and the patronne insisted on giving us drinks on the house. Then we sang the Marseillaise with the ladies. I think some of the boys went 'up-stairs' too. One came back rather crestfallen probably too much to drink which works hell on the corps caverneux.
January 1941 Jean, back in Marseilles, is recruited into Pat Line...
In January 1941 (or possibly December 1940) I met Captain Garrow. He and Elizabeth Haden-Guest were living in a small hôtel de passes in the same street as the Anglican Church, parallel to Cours Pierre Puget.
The entrance to that hotel was right across from the police station (a nice touch) but there was of course another discreet exit on the next street. (Sorry, I can't remember the street names without a map). Inside, the paint scheme was rather hideous: dark green to the chair rail then light green above.
I used to go and visit Garrow and Elizabeth regularly, I remember signing many fake identity cards as mayor of some town always in northern 'Occupied' France to make checking up more difficult.
Right: Four year-old Anthony Haden-Guest on the Canebière, Marseilles in early 1941. Jean Fourcade cared for Anthony while the boy's mother, Elisabeth, was active in Pat Line's escape and evasion work. Jean too combined nursery duty with his work as a courier and general helper in the réseau.
About that time, Elizabeth asked me if I could take care of Anthony who was then about 4 or 5 years old [born 2 February 1937]. We had met before and got along splendidly, so I immediately accepted. Another uncle, Just de Luna, a barrister, at whose place I also stayed, used to call him my Bastardon 'Honi soit qui mal y pense'.
Anthony and I settled at Saint Loup, a suburb of Marseille, where the old family house was. My parents had rented it to old 'friends' (who later wanted to denounce me to the Germans). One of the daughters had been a baby-sitter when we were children. In order to have more freedom I chose to live in the former laundry room, adjoining the stable, with cold running water and a big loft above for temporary 'lodgers'.
Every other morning Anthony and I would catch an early tram to the school where I was teaching. He wore a glengarry complete with feathers and thistle [a gift from Ian Garrow] and spoke only English. Working people on the tram always wanted to buy us a drink, thinking we were both English. I felt proud of those French people.
1941 Jean becomes a Pat Line courier and guide...
I never met Dr Georges Rodocanachi, neither did I know then what role he played in the organization. But that was basic caution: knowledge can be and usually is deadly. We all know that too well.
I occasionally accompanied small groups (seldom more than 3 or 4) of UK military personnel to wherever they were supposed to report.
[These were escapers and evaders who were passed down the line, usually from northern France, and were guided across the Pyrenees after being hidden in 'safe houses' in Marseilles].
Very few spoke French so we used English but only when out of ear shot and sparingly, just in case. Now, in retrospect, I don't think this was so necessary. This was before December 1941 and Pearl Harbour: Americans were quite legal in France where few people could tell the difference from British English.
Using the loft above the stable I was able to shelter several small groups before they could be escorted to Spain. There was a small problem though: the bathroom was in the main house and bodily functions had to wait until dark when my guests could use the garden. Fortunately this was rather large in those days about 4,000 square metres.
Towards the end of winter, in early 1941, Captain Garrow decided to send me to the Occupied Zone. I was supposed to meet a friend of his at the US Embassy in Paris and try to get a wireless transmitter. I was also asked to carry some letters for relatives in that zone . In those days there was no regular mail between the two zones except for nasty brownish cards where you crossed out whatever did not apply (Madame de Sévigné would have had a fit).
Elizabeth Haden-Guest also wanted me to go to Saint Briac near Saint Malo [Brittany] to pick up some belongings that either she or a friend of hers, Madame Tailleux (née Eileen Forbes) had left in a rented villa.
[More than 60 years later, Christopher & Sarah Long were invited to a grand lunch at this same villa where the Forbes family, including US presidential candidate John Kerry, still took their summer holidays. During WWll this house was occupied by German officers as a comfortable retreat.]
The beginning of that trip was a bit of a flop. For some unknown reason, while going from Marseille to Paris, I was shunted through Pau and south west France to enter the Occupied Zone at Salies de Béarn. My contact in the free zone, in some unknown little town across the 'border' from Salies did not materialize. Instead I found a stranger with a 'gazogène'-equipped car who was willing to ferry me across. But I had to chop a whole bag of charcoal to start his cooker working. We eventually made it to Salies de Béarn.
Right: July 1941. Eileen Forbes was an American painter, trained at the Byam Shaw in London. During the war she worked with the Resistance in Aix-en-Provence. Married to the French painter Francis Tailleux the couple's work sometimes linked with that of Pat Line including hiding some of its Allied escapers and evaders at their home, Château Noir. Eileen adored Anthony and helped Jean Fourcade to care for the boy. But she clearly had deep reservations about his mother's reliability both as a mother and as a resistance worker. Jean Fourcade says: "I pinched this photo from the files while I was interrogated at Fort St Nicolas; thought they would not miss it".
My parents were surprised and glad to see me and the reunion was rather emotional because I knew that my father had had a very serious operation and I had not been sure I would ever see him again.
The next day I met the man to whom I was to hand those 'letters to relatives'. To my great surprise he opened one of them (which I thought were for other civilians) and gave it to me to read: "Confirmez SVP que X, Y et Z travaillent pour la Gestapo" ["Confirm, please, that X, Y and Z work for the Gestapo"]. That annoyed me no end very amateurish. I could easily have memorised the frigging letter. That kind of message would certainly have tickled the German authorities had they found it on me and I think my budding career as a courier would have been badly jeopardized. I made a mental note to tell good old Garrow what I thought about it.
A couple of days later I met that bloke again. He said, pulling it from his pocket, "By the way I still have that letter of yours". I wonder how long he lived...
I did go to the American Embassy, in Rue Gabriel I think, and met with Garrow's friend. The Americans were very cautious in those days. They probably feared I was an agent provocateur. I was treated politely, as though I had a severe case of leprosy: No transmitter.
I went to Saint Briac too and retrieved whatever belongings had been left there by the ladies.
Shortly before my departure for Marseille I had to meet that crazy chap again (sans letter this time). He gave me a fat envelope with lists of factories working for the Germans, their locations, types of production , schedules of the workers, etc. I was a little hesitant so he said he would stuff it in the tender of a Marseille train without telling the locomotive crew a solution I did not like at all and which did not make sense any way. The Paris-Marseille trains change locomotives at least three times: usually at Dijon, Lyon and Avignon. That fellow was day-dreaming. So I took the bloody envelope and tried my best to translate its contents into more innocuous terms.
When my train reached the outskirts of Salies de Béarn, on the way back, the conductor took and kept my ticket which I thought was unusual. In those days you surrendered your ticket at the passenger exit of the station. So, when the train slowed down, I left from the wrong side of the coach and used an unauthorized exit.
In Salies I found a farmer who was taking a load of manure across the border. I put my bag with proper insulation under that load and walked, sans baggage, along the border of the demarcation line. When a German patrol got near, in true French fashion I started peeing against one of the trees lining the road and waved graciously with my free hand: 'No problem...'
Later that year, Ian Garrow sent me to the US Embassy in Vichy to deliver a message: no explanation. In those days the Americans had two Embassies in France. Later, in the early '5O's when I lived in Washington, one of my neighbours who lived across the street was Doug McArthur (with the State Department) and he told me he remembered when they all had to vacate the Paris embassy at about the time of the attack on Pearl Harbour. (His wife had an incredible repertoire of rather unprintable songs but, unfortunately, a bad voice.)
I continued to escort a few groups here and there. It was kind of routine. In those days, besides Captain Garrow and Elizabeth Haden-Guest, our group included Dr Guérisse [Pat O'Leary] a good name for a doctor but no name was mentioned then. I only knew that he was either Belgian or Flemish (he spoke with a northern accent). There was also Lt Johnson [real name Tom Kenny] from Canada, Captain Jan Jankowski from the Polish army and, occasionally, Nadine Pastrée from a 'good' Marseille family. I saw Nadine again in Paris in 1946...
[Nadine Pastrée's parents, the Comte & Comtesse de Pastrée, lived at the Château de Montredon which Jean Fourcade describes as: "... a very impressive looking place on a hill beyond the Prado in Marseille. My mother told me she had been at the same school for girls as Nadia's (or Nadine's) mother: Le Cours des Demoiselles de Bordes. That school was on a street parallel to Cours Lieutaud and had a very large garden where the good Demoiselles held a charity bazaar every year which my mother faithfully attended and which my sisters and I always enjoyed..."]
July 1941 Jean and some fellow Pat Line workers are arrested...
In early July 1941 I went to the Hotel Noailles in Marseille to get in touch with Lt. Johnson.
He was not in his room so I left and was arrested outside by a police officer in mufti who took me to the police station we called 'l'Evéché' because it was located near the cathedral.
There I was reunited with Captain Garrow, Elizabeth Haden-Guest, Lt. Johnson, Capt. Jankowski and Nadine Pastrée (who was quickly released).
Right: This photograph of the Vieux Port in Marseilles under German occupation dates from 1943, at about the time Pat Line was betrayed and most of its workers betrayed.
Later another police officer, also in mufti, mysteriously flipped the back of his lapel to show me a Cross of Lorraine [symbol of the French Resistance]. I thought that was a little too crude and innocently asked him what that insignia was, which left him wondering.
Our little group spent three or four days in the Evéché police station. It was not equipped to detain prisoners for long periods of time so they gave us some coffee (?) in the morning but for lunch and dinner we were escorted across the street to a small restaurant. All the exits were guarded and trips to the loo were strictly supervised (its window was too small anyway). I do not know who footed the bills but the food was not bad and the atmosphere very congenial.
After three or four days and a trip to Fort Saint Nicolas [where Jean Fourcade thinks he was interviewed by a Capitaine Dutour] we were released on parole.
Right: Marseilles under German occupation in 1943.
Earlier that year I had sheltered three English medical officers who had remained with their hospital in Rouen after giving their word to the Kommandant that they would not escape.
When they had prepared their evasion, they dutifully informed that Kommandant that they wished to withdraw their parole and left. They had obtained civilian clothes and had waited for a change of exit guards who would not know them. That, I think, is the proper behaviour when you give your word.
Therefore, I was rather disappointed to receive later in July, from a total stranger, a card from Spain in very ceremonious French, informing me that my good friend Capitaine Jankowski had safely arrived. Knowing his fastidious tastes I was surprised by the address that the Spaniard gave, in case I wanted to write to him: Prison Départementale de Figueras, Céllule Numéro 8... 'Sic transit gloria mundi'.
[Most escapers and evaders who reached 'neutral' Spain were formally interned for a month or so at camps such as Miranda. They were then generally repatriated to Britain with the help of British consular officials in Spain, Gibraltar and Portugal or through the assistance of MI9's Donald Darling]
Summer 1941 Jean loses touch with Pat Line...
Sometime during the early part of July 1941 I lost all contacts with the small group except for Mrs Haden-Guest. I had planned to spend a few weeks in the Alps with Anthony and several friends and wanted to keep her informed. During those weeks at Praz-sur-Arly I had to make a short round trip to Fort Saint Nicolas at the request of the military examining magistrate, Capitaine Dutour (?). He informed me that I was being charged with 'Complot contre la sûreté extérieure de l'Etat'. Quite a mouthful.
Right: Eileen and Francis Tailleux with Anthony Haden-Guest riding their Welsh pony, at Praz-sur-Arly in August 1941. Shortly after this photograph was taken Elisabeth Haden-Guest arrived at the couple's house, Château Noir, Aix, to reclaim the boy. The Tailleux were reluctant to do so, fearing for the boy's safety while his mother was on 'some adventure'. They claim that Haden-Guest threatened to tell the police that they had been hiding British soldiers. Francis then fetched his gun and ordered her to leave with the boy, saying they never wanted to see her again. Elisabeth Haden-Guest, denies this version of events in her memoirs.
Towards the end of August or the beginning of September I brought Anthony back to his mother and went to work in the country (as a farm labourer in the Lot and Garonne). The first family was too Vichyiste [facist] for my taste. I left in January 1942 to work as an instructor in a riding club at Aix-en-Provence. With no food or hardly any I dropped below jockey weight and went back to Sceaux, to my parents where I had to stay in bed for quite a while to recover.
Then I got a job as a farm hand near Conflans Sainte Honorine before I enrolled at the Bergerie Nationale at Rambouillet to become a certified shepherd. In Autumn 1943 I was hired as a shepherd on a very large estate (about 2,000 hectares) called 'Chevaux' at La Ferté Saint Aubin, due south of Orleans.
Summer 1944 D-Day and the start of the Allied 'Liberation of France', while Jean tires of blood-shed...
Beginning about D-Day in 1944, things got a bit hectic in the La Ferté Saint Aubin area. Some 18 to 20 Résistants (without weapons or even look-outs) were rounded up by the Germans and shot near La Ferté.
Later, one August Sunday, while I was playing bridge with my boss (the supervisor of the estate), we heard and saw a couple of lorries pull up at the end of one of those straight, long forest lanes. Some people dismounted and then there were shots and the lorries left. My boss went to investigate, thinking some Germans had been poaching. He came back quite pale. There were, I think, seven dead young civilians, shot. Those poor ill-advised fellows had FFI armbands in their pockets not the kind of identification to be carried around in those days.
Shortly before, I had helped our local people pull the body of an RAF pilot from the wreckage of his plane in one of the commercial ponds we had on the estate. I held his hand thinking that such a short while before that man had been in England the country I could not reach. I'm afraid I got a little emotional that day.
Anyway I was getting allergic to corpses. Or was it the old 'Thou shall't not kill syndrome of my Christian education which prompted me to try and prevent more bloodshed?
Whatever the motive, during the last week in August 1944 I made a rather stupid, hare-brained attempt at persuading a small German artillery detachment to surrender to the Americans who were then occupying the right bank of the Loire river at 0rléans. I knew they were reluctant to contact the FFI who sometimes had a dubious reputation. Well, they did not go along with my proposal and kept me instead in a very nice little chateau with elegant furniture, to the north of La Ferté, where I spent the night on a very authentic-looking Louis XV caned arm chair.
The lieutenant in charge set me free the next morning. I had been treated decently, even getting two slices of very dark bread and unidentified jam for dinner the previous night. So I gave him my card in case he had any problems with the local resistance chaps. Never saw him since, I believe his group and a few others surrendered en masse to the Americans some ten days later.
1944 Jean joins the Americans...
I walked back to the estate and slept for 24 hours. Next morning I decided I'd better be in some uniform should I be caught again. So, with my dog Sam (I was a shepherd, don't forget) I walked to Orléans, crossed the river no guards on the bridge and met a group of Americans in a bar. I offered my services and was immediately accepted by the 212th Field Artillery Regiment of the 6th Armoured Division.
Right: Jean Forcade in the uniform of the XII Corps US Army in 1945.
After the division had regrouped, we proceeded eastward to Nancy. Later I was transferred to the 86th Cavalry Reconnaissance. We were engaged in the von Rundstedt offensive of December 1944, known as the Battle of The Bulge.
After I was released from the Val de Grace military hospital in Paris (a bad case of severe strep throat, nothing very glorious) I was assigned to Xllth Corps and stayed with them all the way to Czechoslovakia (Pilsen) and the Bavarian border.
In order not to chagrin our faithful Russian allies we retreated from those areas and settled in Regensburg, Bavaria, where my outfit became the 4th Armoured Division.
The Americans, knowing that idle military personnel can be a source of trouble, had cleverly planned a whole set of higher education selections (from poultry-raising to calculus).
They asked for volunteer instructors. I was then in the I&E (Information and Education) Section of the 4th Armoured Division and got on the list for French and later for English too (we had a few soldiers from Puerto-Rico who spoke only Spanish).
The General kindly asked me whether I would mind flying to Paris to get the necessary supplies, which I brought back a few days later, starting a new teaching career.
1944 Jean joins the British and witnesses the bitter aftermath of war...
In December 1945 I was told that I was being transferred to I Corps BAOR (British Army On The Rhine) in Iserlohn, Westphalia, where I arrived in early January 1946.
Among my various assignments I attended several war crimes trials at Wuppertal, near Essen. That is where I met again with Pat O'Leary for the last time.
O'Leary was there as a witness for the prosecution. The Germans had captured, and condemned to death, four female agents after they had been parachuted into Occupied countries. They were awaiting execution in a Natzweiler concentration camp where O'Leary was also a prisoner.
Right: Jean Fourcade with l Corps BAOR, Iserlohn, Westphalia, where his duties included sending reports to the French HQ, at Bad Ems, of the Wupertal war crimes trials he attended. "My typing is still very amateurish, but I did have a huge office in the barracks. We had a cup of tea and two biscuits at 1700 every day, good service."
The medical officer of that camp, when the order for execution arrived, wanted to spare those four women the agony of capital punishment and decided to give them lethal injections instead under some health pretext. Then he had them cremated.
According to the report, one of them was not completely unconscious when pushed into the oven [this was Andrée Borrel see below].
Under law, you need corpses to try for murder or manslaughter and ashes do not count. So Pat O'Leary testified that he had seen the women escorted to the doctor's office and later had seen their bodies carried to the crematorium.
I believe the presiding judge was General Hennessy and the King's Counsellor was Colonel Hunt or Hunter. I felt a little sorry for that doctor. I think he had meant well. I believe he was hanged unless he claimed extenuating circumstances and was shot instead if he so wished.
[On 12 May 1944 Andrée Borrel left Frèsnes prison in Paris for Karlsruhe, Germany with Odette Sansom (Lise), Vera Leigh (Simone), Diana Rowden (Juliette), Yolande Marie Beekman (Yvonne), ex-Pat Line courier Madeleine Zoe Damerment (Martine) and Eliane Browne-Bartroli Plewman (Gaby). Of these seven women only Odette Sansom was to survive the war.
On 6 July 1944 Andrée Borrel was taken to the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp and that night given a (supposedly) lethal injection of phenol. Her body was immediately cremated in the camp oven. Perhaps the only consolation for this tragic end was the fact that she did not die alone amongst her enemies. Three other female agents, Vera Leigh, Diana Rowden & the hauntingly beautiful Sonia Olschanesky died with her that night.
The deaths of these four women was meant to be kept secret by the Germans. But their arrival at Natzweiler was witnessed by Pat O'Leary (who had been captured in February 1943) and by SOE agent Brian Stonehouse. O'Leary (later transferred to Dachau, which he also survived) knew Andrée well from her earlier work with him and recognised her at once. Today the Natzweiler-Struthof camp at Natzweiler in the Alsace near Strasbourg is a protected historic site and a Memorial of the Deportation with a plaque dedicated to the memory of "Des quatre femmes Britanniques et Françaises parachutées executées dans ce camp".
On 13 September 1944 another group of four women SOE agents died. Madeleine Damerment, Yolande Beekman, Eliane Plewman and Noor Inayat Khan (Madeleine) were shot in the back of the head whilst holding hands together at Dachau.
I am grateful to Keith Janes of Conscript Heroes for the above notes... C.A.L.]
I talked to Pat O'Leary a little after the trial but he was not terribly communicative. I had the impression he did not wish to mention past events. I, for my part, was a little confused to see him resurface as an officer in the Royal Navy and did not try to pursue any conversation about the past. I never saw Pat O'Leary afterwards.
The last member of our little Marseille group I saw was Nadine Pastrée. A young officer whom I occasionally met at the club (he liked to practice his French with me) told me one day, coming back from leave, that he had met in Paris a girl who knew me. I was nonplussed. I don't know anybody in Paris but he named Nadine Pastrée, whom I had last seen in Marseille, and he gave me her phone number.
Shortly thereafter, on leave too, I called Nadine who invited me to dinner at her sister's place in one of those quaint, old streets near the Place Saint Michel. Quite a place! Valets in uniform and nothing but 'His Imperial Highness', 'Her Imperial Highness' floating all over the rooms.
Apparently, Nadine's sister (very good looking, with her leg or arm in a cast from a winter sports injury) had married some 'Prince Murat' who never showed up for dinner detained no doubt by important affairs of state...
Dreadful evening... all those Bonapartists... Fortunately I was in uniform (which allowed me to travel free on the métro) which improved my status a little. I took my leave as soon as I decently could and never saw Nadine after that historic evening.
Summer 1946 Normandy, where Jean is 'promoted'...
I was in your area of Normandy during the Summer of 1946. The Commanding General of I Corps, BAOR, had led a Welsh regiment which had been very active in the neighbourhood of Caen during the Normandy campaign. He had decided to erect a monument to commemorate their deeds and I was asked to go to that area to pick several options for a site for the monument. I took lots of pictures for the general's approval.
When the site was chosen I had to go there again to purchase it from the local authorities, a third time to supervise the erection and finally one last time for the inaugural ceremony.
The General nearly did not make it. His light plane blew a tyre upon landing and started waltzing around the makeshift strip rather unnerving.
I cannot remember the name of that township where that monument was erected. It was made of reddish granite or porphyry, I think, probably with a Welsh griffin, but it was not too far from Caen. You might be able to find the location.
I wonder what has happened to the countryside. When I took those pictures one year after the fighting it still looked like a moonscape with nothing but the skeletons of dead trees here and there. The local farmers still did not venture into their fields without first driving a few cows ahead in case of mines. And I too was very careful where I put my feet while taking those pictures for the General.
That assignment got me a temporary and totally undeserved promotion. On the first trip, a magnificent Humber with a bonnet a mile long and little flags at the head showed up at the French Mess. The driver announced: "Car for Colonel Fourcade". I was a little surprised, I never made it higher than 1st Lt. But I rather liked the car with its leather upholstery.
It seems that the officer in charge of issuing transports, who knew me from the club, had noticed the red artillery patches on my lapels. He was not familiar with the niceties of French uniforms and had wrongly assumed that I was some high-ranking brass. He laughed heartily when I came back the first time and tried to correct the situation. But he told me I would keep the car for future trips because it was too much bother and red tape to change the assignment orders.
2002 Jean tries to identify individuals in a photograph of Pat Line personnel, believed to have been taken in June/July 1941...
Right: A photograph taken in June or July 1941 and sent to the parents of Captain Ian Garrow in order to reassure them that he was alive and well. In fact he was fully occupied at the time in running the organisation that was be led by Pat O'Leary and known as Pat Line. His head quarters in Marseilles was the apartment of Dr Georges Rodocanachi and his wife Fanny. Subsequently Jean Fourcade said he believed this picture was taken on the 'Roucas Blan', near the house of the Martin family at Endoume, Marseilles, who also hid Allied escapers and evaders.
I should like to see a clearer picture of the group photo with Captain Garrow and five other members of Pat Line. When I first saw it, it reminded me of the messy conditions at the Evéché police station. However, the clearer picture which you sent does look like some rocks and therefore taken outside. Now, as far as the people are concerned:
It seems that the chap in the fancy outfit is the only one with O'Leary's hairline.
Elizabeth Haden-Guest had very dark hair. She might be the woman in the picture. She was rather short and somewhat stocky too. The fellow on the left reminds me (a little) of Lt. Johnson, the Canadian officer. The man in front appears to wear glasses.
[The man with glasses, bottom left, is Louis Nouveau. Capt. Ian Garrow certainly appears in the picture. But the quality of the snap-shot makes identification of the others very hard C.A.L.]
Captain Jankowski would have used a monocle noblesse and Polish cavalry obligent. He sported a large, black moustache and looked very much like the late King Alfonso XIII of Spain (I need a clearer picture).
Finally I might be the one on Garrow's right. The hairline is somewhat familiar. I used to have a regular, short-clipped moustache in those days. However, I haven't the faintest recollection of sitting on those rocks, but I'll wait until I can see a clearer picture, if available.
2002 Jean ponders on Pat O'Leary...
Talking about pictures, I presume the man on the right in the group photo [above] is Captain Garrow... But, do you know, after all those years I am beginning to question my own visual memory... rather disturbing.
I vividly remember our conversations in the hotel and yet his physical appearance is blurred... Can't explain it.
I was a little hesitant, at first, to 'accept' the man from Belgium as we often labelled him. It seems that I was not the only one.
Our relationship was always on the cool side, reserved if you prefer.
Right: Pat O'Leary 'snapped' by a street photographer in Marseilles in c.1942. The fact that the photo survived suggests that the low-profile O'Leary took whatever steps were necessary to ensure the picture was in safe hands.
2002 Jean ponders on Elisabeth Haden-Guest...
Elizabeth was another riddle. Somehow I had problems with her citizenship (English). Her hair and general complexion were very dark. I know not every girl in England (French generalizations notwithstanding) is blond with blue eyes, but she looked more like she might have been from some central European country. Her English sometimes sounded a little foreign.
Also she claimed that she and Anthony had been in a detention camp somewhere near the Pyrenees. In 1940 and l941 British nationals lived freely, at least in Vichy France.
Finally, whereas people who did our kind of work tried their best to blend in and become as invisible as possible, Elizabeth would walk into the lobby of the Noailles, a very posh hotel, wearing questionable clothes, carrying an old shopping bag with leeks or vegetables sticking out and speaking English in a very loud voice that attracted everybody's attention. I was rather embarrassed to take the lift with her to go to Johnson's room. For a while I even wondered whether that behaviour had not been the reason why our group was unduly noticed and finally arrested, but then this may have been a hasty, erroneous conclusion without any valid proof.
2002 Jean ponders on Captain Ian Garrow...
Captain Garrow was first caught and arrested by the Vichy shit in early July 1941 with our little group, remember and not in October 1941. I was not in Marseille at that time however. He may well have been arrested a second time in that month. You mention a concentration camp at Mauzac but I could not find that town on the map. There was a detention camp near the Pyrenees. Elizabeth Haden-Guest said she had been there. Later Eileen Tailleux, (née Forbes) was also an inmate in that area for a while. She had damaged a chair on the head of a policeman who came to arrest a Jewish family from Luxembourg who were then living in a small house across the road from 'Chateau Noir' at the Tholonet, near Aix-en-Provence which she and her husband Francis (a painter) were renting.
Chateau Noir had been the residence of Paul Cézanne for several years, right opposite La Montagne Sainte Victoire which he painted many times. I spent my first night there around Xmas 1941/42. The Tailleux had invited me for the holiday but had forgotten about it. When I arrived late at night the place was locked and empty. Fortunately they had left with Dart their Welsh pony. There was some fresh straw in the stable so I spent a fairly comfortable night. Eileen and Francis showed up the next morning, a little apologetic.
In several subsequent letters, Jean Fourcade makes clear his intense irritation at some of the claims and statements made by Elisabeth Haden-Guest in her memoirs Dream Weaver (by Elisabeth Furse a.k.a. Haden-Guest, Chapman's, 1993). Many of these claims and statements are also quoted in Safe Houses Are Dangerous (by Helen Long, William Kimber 1985, Abson Books 1989). This is significant because so much that has been written about Pat Line has relied upon Haden-Guest's testimony. Many who have studied the history of Pat Line will be unsurprised to hear that Fourcade believes much of what she says to be unreliable.
1. Haden-Guest claims that she and her son Anthony escaped from Oflag 124 at Besançon. Fourcade wonders how this can have been possible bearing in mind that an 'Oflag' was a detention camp for officer POWs.
2. She claims to have taken her two year-old son Anthony to see Dr Rodocanachi in 1940. In fact Anthony was born on 2 February 1937 and was therefore four years old in late 1940. Furthermore, Fourcade says, Haden-Guest was not introduced to him by the Rodocanachis. "Sorry, that is pure invention by Elisabeth. I did know Dr Rodocanachi by name, often mentioned with admiration by my uncle, Dr Charles de Luna, but I never (unfortunately) met him. I'm almost sure I met E. H-G at the Seaman's Mission [run by the Rev'd Donald Caskie] in late 1940."
3. She claimed in 1940 to be 'British' by origin. Fourcade always had his doubts at the time. In her 1993 memoirs however, she claims to have been born in Estonia of a Russian father and a German-Estonian mother, considering herself to be Russian-Baltic by birth.
4. Contrary to several accounts, Jean Fourcade says that the parole arrangement at Fort St Jean (which allowed officers remarkable freedom to leave the 'prison' for extended periods) also applied to 'other ranks'. "I met several [Allied] privates and NCOs who walked freely far from Fort St Jean in late 1940, early 1941. I remember a chap from Scotland, Jock Snodden, with whom I got on friendly terms. He was party to our gathering on 31st December 1940 and 1st January 1941 in that brothel [see above]."
5. She claims that "every night" they used to go to the local brothel, since this provided a safer environment for clandestine meetings and where she would leave Anthony with the chambermaids. Jean Fourcade begs to disagree. "From the day I met her and Capt. Garrow (probably in late 1940), they both shacked up in an hôtel de passe near Cour Pierre Puget, opposite the local police station. That is where most, if not all, the meetings I had with Garrow took place. Hôtels de passes had nothing to do with brothels (except for the broad purpose). You had to bring your own partner. Good old Ian did not need to worry about his digs; an hôtel de passe is much more respectable than a brothel..."
6. She claims to have been "security conscious and trained to be reticent and discreet". Fourcade believes this to be the antithesis of the woman he knew: "This may have applied to Jimmy Langley, but to E. H-G give me a break!". She was, says Fourcade, constantly creating or inventing dramatic situations and made every attempt to make herself as conspicuous as possible. Her dress, loud voice and flamboyant behaviour when visiting the Hôtel Noailles was a cause of constant embarrassment and may have contributed to her arrest along with Pat O'Leary and other members of the line.
7. She claims that she, Pat O'Leary and Tom Kenny (a.k.a. Lt Johnson) were arrested and held in a 'prison cell'. O'Leary remembered that he was arrested along with Mario Prassinos, Tom Kenny, Francis Blanchain and Elisabeth Haden-Guest. Jean Fourcade says that on the same day he, Capt. Jan Jankowski and Nadine Pastré were also picked up at the Hôtel Noailles, shoved into a police car and taken to the 'detention room' ("not a prison cell) at the Evéché police station. Haden-Guest claims that she, Pat and Tom Kenny were all endlessly interrogated at Fort Saint Nicolas and put to considerable discomfort and varying spells of solitary confinement before being released. Jean Fourcade says: "This is slightly different from what really happened. Firstly, when arrested in early July 1941 and taken to the Evéché, all five of us (Garrow, E. H-G, Johnson, Jancowski and I) were kept in the same room (no solitary confinement) for about four days. To the best of my recollections and based on my experience, there was little interrogation at Fort Saint Nicolas. As for "considerable discomfort", well, it was not the Hôtel Noailles. We slept on the floor or on the tables, but had our lunches and dinners in that little restaurant across the street from the police station." He also confirms that Tom Kenny (a.k.a. Lt Johnson) exhibited his inexperience and "regrettable candour" when he admitted, when questioned, that a line existed. "I stressed the fact that, being an English teacher, I always tried to get together with people from England to practice and improve my fluency in that language. Lo and behold, in comes simple Simon (Tom Kenny) telling the cops how brave I had been, etc... etc..."
Jean Fourcade is insistent that the only people he met at the Evéché police station on that day were those who had tried to contact Lt Johnson (Tom Kenny) at the Noailles hotel. These were: Capt. Garrow, Lt Johnson, Elisabeth Haden-Guest, Capt. Jankowski and (he thinks) Nadine Pastré. He says that E. H-G "used to parade in the lobby of that hotel in a most ridiculous and dangerous fashion. Could her obstreperous behaviour have aroused the interest of the police?"
Jean Fourcade has another query over accounts of the July 1941 arrests: "It has been said that Pat, like the others, was locked in a cell for four days during which time they never ceased to question him. We were not 'locked in a cell' at the Evéché, simply herded all together in some detaining room and I really do not recall being interrogated there. It's said that Pat stood, time and time again in front of the desk at the Gestapo headquarters. Did that event take place in early July 1941 after all five of us had been caught at the Noailles? Was this event related directly by Pat or relayed by E. H-G. You see, Christopher, in July 1941 the Germans were keeping a low profile in the so-called 'free zone'. They did have Kommandanturen in a few convenient places to issue Ausweis [travel permits], for instance, for people who wanted to go the Occupied Zone and of course the Gestapo were all over the blooming place in that zone but in Marseille? In 1941? If Pat himself told the story to your mother, I have no problem... if it came through our fantasising friend, then I do need some factual research."
[The claim that O'Leary was among those arrested that day adds confusion to the story. Unless witnesses are themselves confusing what was in fact two separate arrest episodes, it is hard to believe that the line would have been able to continue under O'Leary's command if he had already been implicated in an arrest involving Garrow C.A.L.]
8. She claims that Fourcade hid her son Anthony in the mountains at the request of Capt. Garrow. Jean Fourcade stoutly refutes this, saying that he made the offer directly to E. H-G in early 1941 after seeing the way the way the child was "dropped here and there at the whim of his mother's so-called trips". E. H-G also claims that her son and Jean hid in the mountains where they "lived close to a wild fox among the rocks". Fourcade says: "What imagination! Our house in St Loup was in a fairly flat plain (the mountains served as a back-drop at least three miles away). Sorry, no rocks on the property, except for the hideous artificial 'rocailles', made of concrete and pebbles, that were a must in Provençal villas in the late 1880s. Mitzy, my "wild" fox was quite tame and playful, like a kitten. In fact my house was not a 'hiding place'. Actually it was rather poorly designed for such a purpose. There was very little pedestrian traffic in that country lane. Anybody using it was immediately noticed. That was my problem when I sheltered UK personnel."
9. She claims that twice a week Jean Fourcade and Anthony came down to her splendours at the Hôtel Noailles where she could see the boy and give them food to last until the next visit. "Splendid bull-shit again. I did see (seldom and reluctantly) E. H-G at the Noailles, but the room was supposed to be Lt Johnson's, not hers. As far as I knew she lived in the already mentioned hôtel de passe. There was no set schedule to bring Anthony and the only thing I needed was ration tickets, not food."
10. She claims that the line's second chief, Pat O'Leary (in real life a doctor named Albert Guérisse), 'gave himself away' to her early in their relationship within the Line. She claims that the way Pat handled the boy in a physician-like way convinced her that he must be a doctor. If so, this was a rare lapse on the part of an extremely cautious and accomplished British agent. Jean Fourcade says: "Since Pat came rather late, if I remember correctly, the 'meeting' must have taken place probably in June 1941. The whole story of Pat handling the boy in a physician-like manner seems apocryphal. For one thing, I haven't the slightest memory of ever meeting Pat O'Leary in the company of Anthony."
11. She claims that Anthony became ill while hiding with Jean Fourcade and that Dr Rodocanachi was again called to attend him. Jean Fourcade says this is the first he has heard of this 'illness'. "Anthony was a strapping little boy who ate, slept and played without any problems... Anthony's alleged poor health was one of the props she loved to use." He has photographs of Anthony in perfect health, taken on the Canebière and at Praz-sur-Arly in July, August and September 1941. In fact Haden-Guest claims that it was an earlier bout of such ill-health that led her to meet Dr Rodocanachi in the first place.
12. Jean Fourcade says that he is puzzled by some reports which suggest that in mid-February 1941 Capt. Murchie was acting as the line's chief. He never met nor heard mention of Murchie and from very early in 1941 believed Capt. Ian Garrow to be in charge of the whole operation. He thinks Garrow was staying in his hôtel de passe from January 1941 and not, as some suggest, at the Seamen's Mission. He also thinks that Garrow and O'Leary had met before June 1941. Similarly, in contrast to other accounts, he believes that O'Leary may have been staying at the Rodocanachi apartment by 2nd July 1941 but didn't stay there long and was held at the Evéché in early July 1941.
13. Following the early-July 1941 arrests, Jean Fourcade was devastated. "Everybody scattered like a covey of quails. I really though that was the end of our efforts to help repatriate those military personnel. I knew O'Leary could blend in easily and continue... carefully, since he was, then, identified by the Vichy police.. But what about Capt. Garrow who stood out like a sore thumb and spoke no French. The future looked bleak. After I returned Anthony to the loving arms of his mother, I decided to make myself scarce, with as low a profile as possible. Hence my exit to the country, a life which I liked anyway. I wish I had known then about Dr Rodocanachi's role. He might have taken me in, albeit not properly recruited and introduced by our local Mata-Hari!"
14. Jean Fourcade is also puzzled by the claim that Pat O'Leary is alleged to have said that while being interrogated he was able to read, upside-down, the word 'Acropolis' on the file that his interrogators had assembled while investigating Pat Line. The implication is that the Germans had thus code-named their operation owing to the numerous members of the Greek community involved in the line. "When I was at school with the Jesuits at Evreux one of the fathers could read quite fluently in that manner. When he was a child his elder brother had been taught reading by their tutor and he, sitting on the other side of the table, had learnt the alphabet and everything else upside-down. I do not remember whether Pat knew German I don't think he did, though I may be wrong. In those days the Nazis insisted on using Fraktur for books and official documents hard enough to read under normal conditions if you are used to it. But upside-down? That is quite a feat... One more question: how had the Nazis found out that there were so many Greeks in Pat's line? Loose mouth? Irresponsible behaviour?
15. Finally, Jean Fourcade is astonished by some of the claims made in Elisabeth Haden-Guest's obituaries in 2002. The Daily Telegraph, no doubt quoting her own account of her exploits, says she was "held in a women's prison in a castle overlooking the harbour at Marseilles". This can only have been Fort Saint Jean which, he says, was neither a prison nor a place where she was held. She is then alleged to have used the ruse of hiding things in a condom in her vagina. "Even rookie jailkeepers have heard of that age-old trick and they have matrons in French prisons too!" says Jean Fourcade. More ridiculous, he says, is her claim, reported in an obituary in The Guardian that she hid 1,000,000 dollars which becomes 1,000,000 francs in her memoirs in her vagina in order to bribe her way out of jail. Apart from the astronomical sum this would have represented in 1941, the sheer physical bulk of such a sum (in any denomination) would have required a vagina of similarly astronomical proportions... The same obituary also credits her with "setting up safe houses all over Marseilles". This is manifestly not the case and Jean Fourcade says: "I innocently thought that was mostly the work of Dr Rodocanachi and his immediate entourage". Finally The Guardian reports her as having "lent a hand in evacuating British troops from Brittany". "Well..." says an exasperated Jean Fourcade, "why not?"
Right: In November 2002 Jean Fourcade and journalist Anthony Haden-Guest met in Washington. They had not seen each other for sixty-one years. Anthony, aged 4 in 1941, had no memories of Marseilles or of the several months he spent there in Jean's care. By contrast, Jean Fourcade remembered every detail of his brief period with Pat Line. As he grew older he was increasingly impelled to trace and meet Anthony again.
Some notes on the background of Jean Fourcade:
He was born in Marseilles on 7th March 1917. His father, an electrical and chemical engineer, was Henri Fourcade-Cancellé, born in Neuilly, near Paris, on 4 March 1885. His father's father worked for La Compagnie du Canal de Suez in Rue d'Astorg, Paris. His mother, Cécile Folliero de Luna, was born 23rd August 1886, in Marseilles. His mother's father was Dr Gauthier Folliero de Luna, a stomach specialist. Jean and his parents moved from Marseilles to Sceaux in the late 1920s where (nick-named l'astre à éclipses) he attended the local lycée irregularly and as seldom as possible "not shining that much but disappearing quite a bit". The local woods, nurseries, open fields and the Paris métro held much more appeal. Consequently he was sent to a Jesuit boarding school at Evreux. In 1938 he returned there as an English teacher after attending the Sorbonne in Paris. He finished his M.A. at Aix-en-Provence in 1940 after the outbreak of WWll. His wartime activities are recorded in his memoirs, above. After WWll he spent a period farming and logging on a 100 hectare family property in the Alpes Maritimes. By 1951 he had been recruited by the French government as an interpreter for the Marshall Plan administration. He flew to the USA on 21 April 1951. Later he became assistant to the Commercial Counsellor at the French Embassy in Washington where he remained until his retirement in 1982. He has four children and spends his retirement keeping the weeds at bay on a 20 hectare small-holding. Only in 2002 did he discover that his participation in Pat Line was already a matter of record and that he was the last survivor of the famous Marseilles team.
Jean Fourcade's family would be pleased to hear from old friends and colleagues from war-time days or from those with knowledge or a serious interest in this subject.
[Written on 25-06-2010: Jean Fourcade died peacefully today. He ought to be remembered in France as one of the true members of the real French resistance who risked his life, or at the very least his health and liberty, for nothing much more than common decency and the free France we know today. If this has not yet been the case, Jean will not have been forgotten by hundreds of Allied servicemen and secret agents who owe their own lives and liberty either to him in particular or to men like him. In June 2010 few such escapers and evaders were still alive. But the few who remain and we, his friends, mourn his death today and the loss of a most kind and thoughtful man who just happened to be an heroic figure in WWll.]
Tribute to Jean Fourcade sent to The Washington Post (07-2010):
"I can only speak about Jean Fourcade with any sort of authority concerning that brief but critical period in the early 1940s when, aged 23, he made the decision to join a handful of very civilised rebels resisting the German occupation in France from their base in Marseilles. This was not however the phoney Resistance with a capital 'R' which in reality did so little and then, generally, with only political objectives in mind.
One consequence of Jean's decision to work for an escape and evasion network (later known as Pat Line) was that his liberty, or more likely his life, was immediately at risk. He found himself among a small but growing team who, in 1941, had no real reason to believe that Germany would be defeated. His decision, like that of other line members, was almost suicidally courageous. Immediately he entered into a clandestine life of constant risk, often in highly dangerous situations, while performing several key rôles in the escape and evasion process of British, Canadian, Polish and other Allied servicemen temporally hidden in safe-houses in Marseilles. The arrival of the first American airmen did not occur till much later in the war, by which time he had wisely moved away from southern France. Soon after, in 1942 and 1943, a large number of his colleagues were indeed captured, tortured and killed for doing exactly what he had been doing. [See full account of Jean Fourcade and Pat Line in WWll]
A second consequence of his decision was that his relationship with his home country must have changed irrevocably. I never discussed with him his feelings for France during and after the war, though it was clear that he retained wonderful memories of his childhood and youth in pre-war years such as those of herding and shearing sheep, taming a wild fox, working with horses and enjoying long periods, often alone, in the wilderness of rural France and its mountains. But I never had the impression that 'official' France and its institutions counted for much in his life. I don't know if he would have agreed that his time spent working with the British, and later the Americans, in northern France and in Germany was an inevitable shift of allegiance away from a France whose authorities had become an enemy during WWll. Perhaps in his subsequent life in the USA he recreated some reminder of the pre-war halcyon days he had left behind in Europe.
What can be said with some certainty is that Jean was a perfect clandestine agent. A man of impeccable origins, highly educated, multi-lingual and at ease in all strata of society, he had that invaluable gift of making easy relationships with those around him and the capacity to make judicious but firm and enduring friendships. His wartime life showed that his courage was built on a very clear and firm basic sense of values without any apparent doubt as to where his loyalties lay and what he considered was worth fighting for. His self-sufficiency and independence of spirit must have been invaluable when he found himself recruited into Pat Line and, later, into service with the British and American armies. To all three, his loyalty seems never to have been in question. On the other hand his own account of the manner of his departure from Pat Line reveals an entirely natural sense of self-preservation and of the vital importance of good security. Instinctively he recognised, distrusted and distanced himself from those who were indiscreet or breached security and, in leaving the Line when he did, was probably the first to detect its growing vulnerability. For this reason he escaped the appalling fate that awaited so many of his colleagues and survived to resist the Axis powers in other ways. If his qualities as a natural secret agent were not put to good use by Britain or the USA during and after the final months of the war, they certainly could have been!
Finally, one must state the obvious: Jean was above all a very good, very kind and very loyal friend. In 2002 we began a long and fascinating correspondence with Jean when he was trying to locate somebody he had not seen for 61 years. It was in Marseilles in 1941 that, alongside his work of aiding the escape of Allied servicemen, Jean found himself caring for the day-to-day needs of a four year-old English boy called Anthony Haden-Guest, whose mother at the time was otherwise occupied. Thrown together and then separated by the war, it became an increasing obsession towards the end of Jean's life to find out what had happened to Anthony. Late in 2002 they met again in Washington, to the surprise, joy and satisfaction of both.
Those of us today who so regret the loss of Jean Fourcade were not surprised to hear of his continuing kindness, loyalty and friendship towards a four year-old since these were qualities that we could all count on too CAL"
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