Aid to Escaped French POW’s

After the French surrender, thousands of French soldiers were imprisoned in Germany.  There they waited, hoping to be returned home.  And waited.  Some decided not to wait any longer, escaped, and headed for France.  In 1942, Karst Smit and another marechaussee were patrolling a forested area, the Landgoed de Utrecht, near the Belgian border.  They came across two men hiding in a ditch.  Assuming them to be smugglers, Karst questioned them.  On learning that they were French soldiers trying to walk home, he and the other marechaussee helped them across the border into Belgium.  Realizing that there would be more such men, Karst set up the first elements of his escape line, using contacts in Enschede to be on the lookout for escaped Frenchmen and send them to Tilburg, where Karst or his men would pick them up and move them to a contact in Brussels.  Later Karst enlisted the help of four young sisters from Vorselaar (originally believed to be Herentals), Belgium to move the men across the border into Belgium.

The recommendation for an MBE credited Karst with helping 80 Frenchmen, but it may have been as high as 90.  Names and addresses of some are listed below.  I very much would like to correspond with any of them or their families:

Antonin, Jurdy –  à Burdignes, Loire

Beucher, Raymond (Richard?) – 31, Avenue de Livry, Le Rainey, Seine-et-Ois

Bordenave, Joseph – Pardies Mounin près Peau, Basses Pyerenées

Carboue, Charles – Montiers sur Saulx, Meuse

Curat, Louis – à Chancy, Loire

Delas, Elie – Aubiet (Gars), Toulouse

Garry, Auguste – Route de St. Suzanne, Montsûrs (Mayenne)

August Garry photo snipped from Marie-Pierre Line photos

Hullin, Gaston – 4, Rue Mayet, Paris (6)

Gaston Hullin, French POW

Labadens, Gilbert – 1 Rue des Baléares, 31130 Balma

Marey, Francois – à Pîemeaux par Nuits. St. George, Côte d’Or (74 Route National)

Martin, Albert – 15, Rue du Collège, Toul. Meurthe et Moselle, Nancy

Muixe (?), Maurice – à Estagel, Pyrenées-Oriëntales

Oudin, Francois – La Ferté/Chiers, Ardennes, France

Petitjean, Marcel – 27, Avenue Choisy, Villeneuve St. Georges, Seine-et-Oise

Raynal, Jean – à Peyrestortes, Pyrenées-Oriëntales

Royer, Henri – “Mauroo” à St. Benoit près Poitiers, Vienne

Tranvouez, Gaston – 15-17, Rue des Martyrs (chez Mde. Dusseaux), (Paris 9)

Vigner, Joseph – à Combourg, Ille et Vilaine, Bretagne (Vieux Châtel)

Waldschmidt, Jean – 2, Rue Alfred Dumont, Dunkerque-Nord

Waldschmidt, Robert – 2, Rue Alfred Dumont, Dunkerque-Nord

Warisse, Jean – 48, Rue d’Hauteville, Paris (X)

10 responses to “Aid to Escaped French POW’s

  1. Laurent Reinhardt

    Thank you for posting this. I am the grandson of Gaston Hullin, who passed away in 1999. He spoke often about his escape, but I can’t remember specific details he told me about his route through Belgium.
    Laurent Reinhardt
    San Diego, California, USA

  2. Haem Marie Pierre

    Auguste Garry had been helped by Louis Saint Ghislain, railway worker in Tourcoing ; he arrived at Louis’s house with 5 other POW on november the 27th 1943

    • My Great uncle John Green (Royal Artillary) was helped by Louis St Ghislain to return to England in 1943 using false documents. My Uncle was captured at the retreat from Dunkirk and was a POW but escaped into Occupied France and was found by Louis who helped him. All brave men

  3. Haem Marie Pierre

    thats strange 69 years from to-day

  4. Im trying to find information about my grandad andre jezequel he was a frenchman and fought in ww11 and escaped pow camps 5 times and brought back at gun point, i believe he was in germany but this what im researching as i want to find any documents or any about him really

  5. Rene GLOTZ born in Paris in December 1903 joined was part of the Chasseurs a Pied and was captured in the Battle of the Somme i June 1940 when his unit was encircled. He was taken to Stalag VID and then to Stalag IB in Hohenstein, now Olszytenek Poland. He arrived on Jube 22, 1940. In November of 1940, around Nobember 22, he was due to be transferred to VIB according to the Red Cross. His documents say he escaped and returned to France between November 22 or 25 and December 30th where he presented himself to the last post of the Chasseurs a Pied that had become part of the Armee d’Armistice at the Demarcation line in Alloue ,France. I am trying to recreate his path.
    I know that it was early but he must have had some help so I am wondering what people or organizations were available to help a French POW in November-December 1940.
    Thank you,
    Renee Payne

    I am trying to recreate my uncle’s escape in November-December 1940. If he would have escaped through the Netherlands, he may have been on the way to Stalag VIB of VID when
    he escaped, do you have any thoughts of who would be a helper that early in the war?
    Thank you.

  6. My father is Peter Hullin, I have come across your post, I know we originate from France, although I am also welsh, my mother is welsh generations back . My dad is convinced we are French as well. Ref Gaston Hullin. You can contact me on, Ruth Sims, formally Hullin, I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Dear Ms. Sims, 

      In 2019 I donated all my research files to the McDermott Library at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.  Consequently, I no longer have any records, such as my file on Gaston Hullin.  The library, however, has posted an index, or finding aid, to the files at If you scroll down through the finding aid, on pg. 19 you will find listed “Box Twenty-Nine: Smit Helpers” and in that box is “Folder 5: Smit Helpers-French: Hullin”. There may be information in the Hullin folder of use to you. You will want to contact the following the head of Special Collections at the McDermott Library about obtaining copies of whatever documents there are in Box 29, Folder 5:

      Joel Hebert, PhD
      Chief of Special Collections, McDermott Library
      Assistant Professor of Special Collections and Archives Research
      U.S. Air Force Academy
      (719) 333-6919

      I see that there is a brief reference to a Hullin in the March 2015 newsletter of the Air Forces Escape and Evasion Society (AFEES), pp.18-19.  Go to

      I have a hazy recollection that Gaston Hullin was one of the escaped French POWs helped by Charlotte Ambach, a Dutch woman with German nationality living in Brussels.  See for an interview with her.  My file on Hullin at the McDermott Library should show that, if I remember correctly.  The escape line of Karst Smit would deliver evading Allied airmen and others, like Hullin, to the apartment of Charlotte Ambach and her mother in Brussels.  

      Best wishes,
      Bruce Bolinger
      229 Success Mine Loop
      Grass Valley, CA 95945
      (530) 273-6442

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s