Little Cyclone: The Girl Who Started the Comet Line
Little Cyclone is the thrilling true story of AndrÃe de Jongh, a young Belgian woman who defied the Nazis and helped hundreds of Allied airmen and soldiers escape from occupied Europe during World War II. She was the founder and leader of the Comet Line, a secret network of resistance fighters and safe houses that stretched from Brussels to Bilbao, across France and the Pyrenees.
In this article, you will learn about the incredible courage and sacrifice of de Jongh and her comrades, who risked their lives to save others from captivity and death. You will also discover how she earned the nickname \"Little Cyclone\" from her father, who inspired her to join the resistance movement. You will also find out how she survived torture, imprisonment and concentration camps, and how she continued to fight for freedom and justice after the war.
Who was AndrÃe de Jongh
AndrÃe de Jongh was born on November 30, 1916, in Schaerbeek, a suburb of Brussels. She was the eldest of four children of FrÃdÃric de Jongh, a schoolteacher and socialist activist, and Alice Decarpentrie, a nurse. She grew up in a patriotic and progressive family that instilled in her a sense of duty and compassion for others.
As a child, she was fascinated by stories of explorers and adventurers, especially those who traveled to Africa. She dreamed of becoming a nurse like her mother and working in the Belgian Congo. She also developed a strong admiration for Edith Cavell, a British nurse who was executed by the Germans in 1915 for helping Allied soldiers escape from Belgium.
De Jongh studied nursing at the Institut MÃdical Edith Cavell in Brussels and graduated in 1938. She worked as a nurse at various hospitals and clinics until the outbreak of World War II in 1939. When Germany invaded Belgium in May 1940, she joined the Red Cross and volunteered to treat wounded soldiers on the front lines. She witnessed the horrors of war firsthand and was appalled by the brutality of the Nazi occupation.
How did she start the Comet Line
In August 1940, de Jongh met Arnold DeppÃ, a Belgian pilot who had escaped from a German prisoner-of-war camp. He told her that he wanted to return to England and join the Royal Air Force (RAF), but he had no way of crossing the border. De Jongh decided to help him and contacted her father, who had connections with the underground movement.
Together, they devised a plan to smuggle DeppÃ across France and Spain to the British consulate in Bilbao. They enlisted the help of some friends and relatives who agreed to provide shelter and transportation along the way. They also forged identity papers and obtained maps and guides for the journey.
On August 15, 1941, de Jongh and DeppÃ left Brussels by train and headed south. They changed trains several times to avoid suspicion and reached Toulouse after four days. There, they met Jean-FranÃois Nothomb, a young Belgian engineer who had joined the resistance. He agreed to guide them over the Pyrenees mountains into Spain.
The crossing was perilous and exhausting. They had to walk for hours in rugged terrain, avoiding patrols and checkpoints. They also faced hunger, thirst, cold and fatigue. They finally reached San SebastiÃn on August 24 and took a bus to Bilbao. There, they met with Frank Foley, the British vice-consul who was also a secret agent for MI6.
Foley was amazed by de Jongh's feat and praised her courage. He also asked her if she would be willing to repeat it with other Allied servicemen who were stranded in occupied Europe. De Jongh agreed without hesitation and said that she would return to Belgium as soon as possible.
This was the beginning of the Comet Line (Le RÃseau ComÃte in French), one of the most successful escape routes of World War II. De Jongh became its leader and organizer, recruiting more helpers and establishing more safe houses along the way. She also gave herself a code name: DÃdÃe.
How did she save hundreds of lives
Between 1941 and 1943, de Jongh made more than 30 trips across ec8f644aee