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 • Schaarbeek Cemetery
 • Schaarbeek
 • Arrondissement Brussel
 • Brussels-Capital Region
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Andree De Jongh
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Birth: Nov. 30, 1916
Death: Oct. 13, 2007

Andrée de Jongh inspired the wartime "Comet" escape line which carried more than 700 men from German-occupied Belgium to Spain during the Second World War.The work she undertook was fraught with extreme danger, execution being the likely penalty of discovery,or a German concentration camp if immediate death was avoided.She was just 24, and without any training in covert activity.She was born in German-occupied Brussels,the younger daughter of Frédéric de Jongh,a schoolteacher in the industrial suburb of Schaerbeek.She was brought up to admire the heroic Edith Cavell,shot the year before she was born for helping Allied soldiers to escape from Belgium.The next time Belgium was occupied she followed Miss Cavell's example against even greater odds,and narrowly escaped sharing her fate.When the Germans overran her country in May 1940 she was earning her living as a commercial artist at Malmédy. She returned to Brussels and took up work as a nurse,for which first-aid training had already qualified her.She spent a year studying the many German regulations about control of movement,helping wounded Allied soldiers in Belgian hospitals to send letters home through the Red Cross and sounding out close friends about setting up an escape organisation. She had worse to wrestle with than Miss Cavell,who had only to move men across the Dutch frontier.This time the Netherlands were also occupied, as were Luxembourg and northern and western France;Alsace and Lorraine had been reannexed into Germany and southeastern France, governed from Vichy,seemed to her a satellite of the Nazi Reich.Eventually she decided to try to move men out across occupied France,by train through Paris and Bayonne, and then on foot across the Pyrenees. All eleven of the first party she sent were arrested in Spain; only two of them got through to England.She took the next party herself,a Scottish private and two Belgian officers,got safely across with them into Spain and threw her companions on the mercy of the British consulate at Bilbao.The secret service suspected a Gestapo plot,but the consulate persuaded London that Andrée de Jongh's radiant integrity could not be forged; and London helped to supply the money for future journeys.Her friends stood by her. Almost all were young;none had had any training in secret work. Brussels got too hot to hold her, and she moved her personal base to Paris.She had a splendid anchor-woman at Anglet near Biarritz in the shape of Madame Elvire de Greef,a Belgian refugee whose husband stole passes from the local Kommandantur, where he worked.She made friends with a vast, bearlike Basque guide who knew every footpath in the mountains and business became brisk.Once she brought back the seven-man crew of an RAF bomber in a week.Airmen she accompanied spoke repeatedly of how much they admired her combination of energy and discretion.Her presence gave enormous encouragement to young men as they tackled the river crossing and the stiff mountain tracks into Spain.Every time,once they were safely on neutral ground,she turned back into danger.In January 1943,on her way to her 33rd crossing of the Pyrenees, she and three young RAF evaders were at last arrested; one of the young men talked.The Germans, who interrogated her more than 20 times,at first refused to believe the one admission she made,that the whole affair was entirely her own responsibility.Eventually the Gestapo took her over from the Luftwaffe, answered no inquiries about her,and sent her to Ravensbrück concentration camp.There she managed to get lost in the shaven crowds on the verge of starvation, so that when they came back to requestion her they could not find her.She survived.Her father, who tried to carry on the line after her arrest, was caught himself in Paris in June 1943 — betrayed by a double agent — and shot.The escape line was inextinguishable:it was still moving men out across France to Spain after the Allied invasion of the continent began in June 1944.When the war was over, Mademoiselle de Jongh remembered another hero of her childhood,also much praised by her father:Father Damien, the Belgian peasant boy who had gone to the South Seas to look after the sufferers from leprosy,and died of it.She spent many years in a leper hospital in the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo);and many years more in another in Ethiopia, till her own health began to weaken,and she retired to Brussels.She was awarded the George Medal,as a gesture of thanks for all she had done for the RAF:hers was a sort of courage that lies beyond appraisal.



 
 
Burial:
Schaarbeek Cemetery
Schaarbeek
Arrondissement Brussel
Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: cookie
Record added: Oct 15, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 22202689
Andree De Jongh
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Andree De Jongh
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Andree De Jongh
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If only the world had more Andree De Jonghs
- Art Stafford
 Added: Mar. 9, 2012
In memory of a brave lady.
- cookie
 Added: Jan. 20, 2008
 
 
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