RAPPORT APPORTE PAR Mlle Amanda STASSART
(Report Provided by Mlle Amanda Stassart)
5 Sept. 1945
RESEAU “COMETE” SERVICE EVASION
(Comet Network Evasion Service)
After my return from several days away from Paris, in October 1943, my mother told me about her admission into an organization in the service of helping Anglo-American pilots escape. This hardly surprised me since I already knew about her patriotic activities during the 1914-1918 war.
In 1943 I was only interested in information and leaflet distribution in particular houses. I asked her to put me in touch with the people from this organization. She told me she knew of two people, Mme Françoise “Germaine Bajpai” as well as a young man, Jean Jacques “Albert Maetens.” Thus I waited for the arrival of one of these two people. Thereupon, I asked Jean Jacques if it would be possible to make myself useful to him. After some questioning, he decided to give me an answer the next day. The following day I met Jerome “Comte Jacques Legrelle,” who took me into the service as a guide to the North. This was the beginning of my activities for “Comet.”
- At the end of October I make my first trip with Jean Jacques to Sivry [apparently Sivry Rance in Belgium] and Sart Poterie [Sars Poteries in France]. Upon exiting the train station, we are greeted by Dr. Fichaux and his two aides, “the Vicar and the chauffeur.” They drive us by car to a certain point, then we go to the home of Achille Dupont. There we meet the guides from Brussels who must deliver the fliers to us. Among ourselves, we called the fliers the “parcels.” We spend the night in this house and at dawn we backtrack to Paris, where I take four parcels to my parents’ house, 8 rue Marguerite, Paris, 17th arondissement. I meet with Jerome again, who seems satisfied, baptizing me Diane. That month, I went back one more time to Sivry, and I returned with four other men.
- In the beginning of October, Jean Jacques introduces me to the second passage [across the Belgian-French border], Erquennes [in Belgium] – Bavai [Bavay in France]. I meet the lodgers, Monsieur and Madame Gérard, Jean Leon Massart, Dr. Colson and François. I make three trips there and bring back 12 men, always to 8 rue Marguerite, Paris.
- During November, I learn of the third passage, Rumes in Belgium, Bachy in France. First contact with Monsieur and Madame Bricout [presumably Maurice and Rachel Bricout]. After that, the border passage to look for parcels in Rumes at the home of Monique [according to the report by Jean-Jacques in Amanda’s file, this is Henriette Hanotte], another guide in the same Comet line. We travel at night, stopping over at the home of Mlle Nelly and Mlle Raymonde [these would be Nelly and Raymonde Hoel of Bachy]. We dine at Mr. Bricout’s and depart in the morning by train for Paris, arriving at 8 rue Marguerite, which had become not only a hiding place for fliers, but a meeting place for the people in the line (Comet). I went back to Bachy three times, returning with 16 men on this passage. [She spelled it Bachi.] [Note how close the Rumes-Bachi crossing is to the Hertain-Camphin crossing.]
- During the first two weeks of December, crossing from Beaumont [in Belgium] – Coulsort [apparently she means Cousoire in France], I make the acquaintance of the manager of the Hotel du Mouton Blanc and of Dr. Verstraeten. That day was full of many concerns: an increase in the number of fliers (8 men), difficulty of the journey due to the number of kilometers to cross on foot, and very tight surveillance by the enemy. I only made one trip, still returning to #8, Paris. [Note that the Beaumont-Cousoire crossing is roughly midway between Erquennes – Bavay crossing and the Sivry – Sars-Poteries crossing.]
- Fifth crossing to Hertain, then Camphin at the end of December. Met Mr. de Vauvrin [Dewauvrin], the mayor of Camphin, Mr. Mathon, Mr. Druart and his two daughters [Berthe and Bertha]. I made this trip twice, 8 men each trip.
Between my trips, Monique as well as Jeanne “Odile de Vaslo,” [here she means Odile de Vasselot, who, in her book Tombés du Ciel, gives her Resistance names as “Jeanne,” opposite p. 16, in Vol. I, and “Danièle, opposite p. 92 in volume II] another guide, brought the parcels to #8 and Françoise always came to get them in order to have them stay in other Parisian homes.
On January 6, 1944, Jean Jacques left for Brussels to meet Yvon Michiels, so-called Jean Sarmant. He was arrested for carrying foreign devices. I made another trip to Bavai, but Jerome stopped everything and went himself accompanied by Franco, “Baron Jean-François Nothomb,” and Jacques, “Jacques de Bruyn,” to Brussels. While traveling, all three were arrested. Henri, who was supposed to be his replacement, in case of disappearance, arrived at #8 and asked my mother for my address. (We lived separately to be prudent.) She did not know it, but made a rendezvous for me. The next day Henri was going crazy, no longer knowing what to do. Monique arrived, telling me we needed to disengage from the North. Henri proposed an aide for me and introduces me to a man named Marc “Pierre Poulain.” A subtle aversion grew between us, and I refused to work with this man.
January 16, 1944: date of the arrest of Jerome, Franco, Jacques, and François [Françoise?] in Paris. From the 16th to the 20th the movement of fliers remains suspended. Around January 25 a man came to my home, 30 rue Doriston, Paris, 16th arondissement, by the name of Max or Michel, “Max Roger,” saying he’d come from the South, working at the Spanish border with Franco. After 3 days during which I gathered information on this new person, I was certain that he was one of ours, and we both decided to set up a new crossing through the Ardennes, since we knew this region well and the lines to the North were burned. He left for London to submit the new project. On the evening of February 14, I had a visit from Michou, “Lily Dumon,” her particulars having already been given to me by Max, telling me to act and follow instructions to leave at dawn for the new line (escape route). She gave me the means to meet with Jean Sarman, as well as money for Brussels. She left my house around 9 p.m., after deciding to depart the next morning. But the next morning, February 18, I was arrested by the Gestapo, along with my friend, Mlle Irma Guyot [other documents in Stassart’s file refer to “Irma Guillet” and “Erma Guillot”], who lived with me. She was taken after a passport description for Micheline and we were both taken to Rue des Saussaies for interrogation. There I learned that my mother had also been arrested the same day at 8 rue Marguerite. That evening we arrived at Fresnes [Prison] where all three of us were separated. I stayed in Fresnes until April 3, then left for Rominville where I found my mother and learned that Irma had been freed. I stayed two weeks in the fort in Rominville, then departed for Germany, along with my mother who was also deported. Upon my arrival in Ravensbruck on April 22, 1944, I stayed there until February 1945, as well as my mother, who died there on February 25. On the first of March, I was transported to Mathausen camp where I was liberated on April 23 by the Swiss Red Cross.
/s/ A Stassart
Talk by Amanda Stassart to a Group of Young People
Also available on this website are links to a talk by Amanda Stassart to a group of young people and an English translation.