Traveling Tuesday: Escape Routes
In my upcoming release, Spies & Sweethearts, my characters’ cover is blown, and they must escape from occupied France. Dozens of routes were in place all over Europe, and many were not for the faint of heart as they wound through deep forests, clung to the side of mountains, or snaked through heavily occupied cities and villages. Here are three of the most famous escape routes:
Pat O'Leary Line: Centered on the Mediterranean Coast, this route was used primarily to bring servicemen from the north of France to Marseille, over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain. By crossing the mountains, official checkpoints were bypassed as well as contact with German patrols. The name of the route was taken from the alias of Belgium doctor Albert Guerisse who claimed to be French Canadian Pat O'Leary when he was picked up by the Vichy French Coast Guard during a 1941 mission. Ultimately taking over command of the escape route, Guerisse used the alias for the duration of the war. One report indicates that between 1940 and 1944, over 33,000 successful escapes were made along the Pyrenees (a mountain range over 300 miles long that reaches a height of over 11,000 feet)
The Comete Route: This line started in Brussels went through the south of France into Spain and then to Gibraltar. Created by a young woman from Belgium named Andree de Jonghe, the line was officially sanctioned by British intelligence in 1940 after Andree showed up at the British consulate with a British soldier. When France came under direct Nazi rule, the line became dangerous to use, and by 1942 it had begun to crumble because of betrayals and arrests.
The Shelburne Route: Created in 1944, Wikipedia claims this route is the only escape line not infiltrated by the Nazis. Perhaps because of its short-lived usage, perhaps because it began so close to the end of the war. From Paris, escapees made their way to the beach at Anse Cochat near Plouha where they were shipped across the English Channel to Dartmouth. The use of this line was suspended when preparations for the D-Day invasion began.
No matter which escape line was used individuals were given clothes, identity papers, and food before setting off on their journey. Guides took them to a location where the next guide would pick them up. Members who participated did so at great risk to themselves and their families.
A secret mission. A fake bride. A run for their lives.
According to the OSS training manual, the life expectancy of a radio operator in Nazi-occupied France is six weeks. Partnered with one of the agency’s top spies, Gerard Lucas, newly-minted agent Emily Strealer plans to beat those odds. Then their cover is blown and all bets are off. The border to neutral Switzerland is three hundred miles away—a long way to run with SS soldiers on their heels.
Will Emily and Gerard survive the journey?
And what about their hearts? Nothing in the manual prepared them for falling in love.
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