True to Jack's promise the secretary, a girl of about 26, with the most peculiar yellow eyes, came to fetch us in the morning. She had a long chat with Georges and all was arranged for the next stage of our journey, or so we felt. Just as we were leaving the apartment, Jack came in and we took a warm farewell of each other. Both Don and I felt that Jack was a "pretty right guy" to use Don's words. So the girl and her two charges walked off to the metro station. On the train the secretary and I chatted in undertones. I asked if everything was going well and was assured that it could not be better. Shortly, she told us to get off the train and on reaching street level again, made our way to the Place de la Madeleine and took a seat in front of the famous church to await our helpers with the car. Soon the young woman nodded to a couple of dark men and we rose as they approached and were soon shaking hands all round. They were oily looking creatures and of a type I would not trust six inches, but I reflected that it took all sorts to make a world and was soon sitting back in a long black car and speeding through the streets of Paris. We seemed to be turning a lot of corners, probably trying to outwit any possible snoopers. Then quite suddenly we bowled through an arch, past a German soldier and stopped in a large courtyard in which were quite a few armed men and what was even more curious, they were armed with Sten guns.
    It was then that one of the oily gentlemen volunteered the information that he and his partner were "Police Allemande" . Still the truth did not fully hit me, though I realised that we were betrayed. Our "friends" led us upstairs and had by now drawn ugly little automatics from their pockets. They kept saying that for Don and me the war was over! They also made other comments to the effect that I was doing my job and they were doing theirs. I thought quite a deal of abuse against those Frenchmen but said nothing. After all the traitors held the guns.
    We were not kept waiting long before we were taken before a Gestapo Colonel. I gather this was his rank for he was addressed as the Oberst and said himself that he was in the Gestapo. He first asked us for our false Identity cards, calling them just exactly that and speaking in French. He asked us for our names, ranks and numbers and nothing more. We were taken away by an Italian soldier, the cockiest and oiliest specimen I have ever met. With us was a good looking young woman with fine, fair hair. She walked very erect and aloof from the guard. I took her for a German typist but found later that she was French and had been arrested the same day. Downstairs again to the courtyard where we were herded with about forty other people, mostly French but with one Negro among them and several Poles, as I gathered from the cowed whispers exchanged by these people, frightened and uncertain of what the future held in store for them. It was here that I learned that the fine looking young woman was wanted for questioning concerning the sudden death of three German soldiers. I learned too, that the Negro was named "Coco". The Italian soldier strutted about guarding the defenceless group and exchanging remarks with the Germans. I could not refrain from showing this young squirt my disgust for him and was rewarded for my pains by a volley of abuse and a warning prod from the muzzle of his Sten gun. Later, he kept hitting me across my face with a rolled up magazine, fastened with rubber bands.

Betrayal and imprisonment

    We were in the Gestapo Headquarters of Paris. Most of the people of our little group were going to Fresnes prison they had been told. So that when after about twenty minutes a "Black Maria" drew into the yard and its doors were thrown open and a fat German shout "Fresnes" most of my group shambled toward the van. Don and I had not been told where we were going so we stood still. The fat German approached, looked at us and drawing an enormous breath used it all in bawling - "Fresnes"?! Well we shrugged our shoulders. This infuriated the German. He changed his tone inhaled a still greater volume of air and shouted commandingly "Fresnes"! Whether we were supposed to go to Fresnes prison or not, we entered the van, under a hail of blows from the big German's newspaper and took our cramped places standing in the little cupboard into which we were locked. The trip in that cupboard was not our idea of comfort. The heat was almost unbearable and as the floor was not level being over a wheel, we could not even stand properly. Fresnes prison was reached after a drive of some fifty minutes, which started after a long wait at the Gestapo Offices. We stopped several times on the way and it was during these stops that the heat reached its height. When we left the van we were herded into the hall of the reception block of the prison. We were the last to be called on the list and took our places along a wall. Here, I was approached by a woman, who told me in perfect English - "If you want to keep anything put it in your sock". She had been a governess to a family in Huntingdon she said. I thanked her, and wondered whether I could trust her, or indeed if I could trust anyone.
    From this hall we were taken to little enclosures not unlike the dressing cubicles at the swimming baths at home, but of a sounder construction. On the wall were names, dates, the usual-"A bas les boches", "Vivre la France" slogans and the French equivalent of the inevitable "It won't be long now!". I hid my watch in my sock as the woman had told me and was not long in being called for searching and the taking of details. A German indicated to me to empty my pockets and the musette. I did so and a list was made of all the articles surrendered. The two bottles of scent caused quite a stir. My watch was discovered and taken. My signet ring was taken. The scent, the watch and the ring have not been seen again. At the time of writing I have had returned all the other articles which were confiscated but believe I have seen the last of my ring, watch, and the perfume for Vera and Alice. The German women who were doing the clerical duties in Fresnes prison have probably used the scent that was meant for my wife and sister.
    Don and I met again in a large gallery some hundreds of feet long, off which on five floors opened the cells of Division 1 of Fresnes. We were given half a loaf of black bread each and taken to our cells. I went to cell 437 and left Don here. I had also, a piece of sausage which Georges had slipped into the shoulder bag that morning. The guard opened the little white door, grunted and I went in. The door clanged shut with finality behind me. I was in prison for the first time in my life.

A typical prison cell at Fresne

    The three occupants of the cell had stood up at the opening of the door (a prison rule I soon obeyed myself) and as the door closed I looked over my new "home" and its occupants. "Bon jour mes amis" I volunteered. Two replied, the third grunted. It was this man, the grunter, that fixed my attention. He was tall and gaunt with strong angular features and a thick, black mop of hair, matching in colour and texture, his three-day growth of beard. The curious being was dressed only in a long khaki shirt, which nearly reached his knees. He lifted this to scratch a fleabite, one of the hundreds that covered his scrawny legs. Somehow this man with his fiery gaze, his beard, and his half savage grunt suggested John the Baptist to me, why I shudder to think. From the other two I learned that Jacques was a Jew, taken he knew not why except that he was a Jew, and Marcel was taken because he had trafficked in black market meat. Jean Levi was a man of about fifty. He virtually ruled the cell. Marcel was younger, indeed only twenty-one, but despite his youth he was married and had two children. The third man had been quiet all this time that we had taken exchanging identities. The two others had been only too glad to talk to me. Then I told them that I was English. They said they knew quite naturally that I was not French and that the tall man was a Canadian Airman. I immediately spoke to him in English. He replied that he thought I was a "God dammed froggie", and why hadn't I said I was English"? He told me he had been nine days with these Frenchmen and couldn't speak the lingo. Finally he said his name was Harry Bastable and that he was sure as hell glad to see me. Harry and I became firm friends and had many a laugh together at the old Jew who had a very orderly mind and had prison life weighed off to a tee. It seemed that Harry's stomach had been upset for many days and his visits to the little WC in the corner of our cell were frequent. For the rest of us at any rate, they were very unpleasant affairs, as the flushing arrangements had broken down and the Germans allowed us a bowl of water a day for all purposes. In order to make life more bearable the old Jew had instituted a regular time, last thing at night for a general visit to the offending corner. This was agreed upon. We all made the nightly visit and the toilet was flushed with what remained of our bowl of water. It was after this, (and as a rule only a few minutes after this) that poor Harry would be forced to use the toilet again. There followed a most unpleasant night, relieved only by the comical wrath and indignation of Jean Levi. As I write I can hear again the old Jews cry of "Mais alors, iI put". Harry and I would echo the cry and think the situation highly amusing. Nothing else in Fresnes was!


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