Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Dangerous Encounter . . . with the Resistance

One day Maurice said to me, “Some parachutists have just arrived; they have money for the network, go and collect it. Go to La Châtre, there’s no password, we don’t know anybody there and nobody knows you. Just in case there’s a problem, you can say that Robert sent you. Sort it out.”

I arrived at the address he had given me in La Châtre, it was a grocer’s shop and bistro. There was a lady behind the counter. I said,

“Good morning, is Monsieur Langlois in?”

“No, my husband’s away today.”

“I really need to see him. Money has arrived, on behalf of Robert I’ve come to collect it for our network.”

“Well he’s not here. I don’t know anything about it.”

“Can I come back later?”

“You can come back tomorrow.”

“No, I can’t come back tomorrow because I have to come by train from Montluçon.”  There were only three trains a week, so I couldn’t return until the day after.

Two days later, I returned to La Châtre from Montluçon. When I entered the bistro, I saw Madame Langlois’s expression and thought, “Oh dear, I’m in for trouble.” I sensed it immediately.  A man whom I had never seen before entered through a side door.

“Good morning, Madame.”

“Good morning, Monsieur.”

“I’m Robert, I don’t know you.”

“Indeed, well I don’t know you either.”

“Follow me.”

He led me up a spiral staircase into a room where I noticed a door ajar. He asked me to sit down and started interrogating me. We didn’t work for the same network, so he didn’t know any of the people I knew and vice versa. After a number of other questions I could not answer, I started to panic . . .

Excerpt from the English translation of Pearl Witherington's memoir, Code Name Pauline: Memoirs of a World War II Special Agent. Pearl's wartime exploits -- including the incident described above -- are also included in the British section of Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue.

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