Operations LOUIS/BEAVER and EMILE
Murphy and his crew take off in Whitley ‘B’ from Newmarket at 18.45, and Murphy flies via Abingdon to reach Tangmere an hour later. Pinpointing over Abbeville at 20.50, they soon find navigation difficult: unseasonable heavy snowfalls have rendered the roads and rooftops almost invisible. They find the Marne and follow the river to Chalons-sur-Marne, from where they set course to the target. Map-reading is still impossible, and the agents are dropped about 8 miles south-west of the target pinpoint at 22.14.
On their return journey they drop leaflets and some of their pigeons over Noyon, in what Murphy calls ‘our usual diversion’, then drop the rest of the pigeons over Abbeville before heading for Tangmere. After landing back at Newmarket at 01.15, they find that one of the pigeons has ‘hung-up’, his tiny parachute-canopy lodged in the tail-wheel. The pigeon, ‘although somewhat shaken, was released the next morning and returned to its cote’.
There is little information available about this SIS operation for the Belgian intelligence service. The target is near Chalons-sur-Marne, and all are to be dropped together; it is safer to drop agents outside Belgium due to the high probability of informers in both Low Countries. Murphy’s report is headed ‘EMILE, LOUIS’, but Farley’s first summary (which accompanies the October/November reports and identifies EMILE/LOUIS as SIS) pairs LOUIS with BEAVER, with EMILE as a separate operation. This accords with the Air Transport Form, which also pairs LOUIS with BEAVER, but it is originally scheduled for the 28th, with ‘Cancelled’ against it in pencil.
LOUIS/BEAVER is the third pairing of agent + wireless-operator to be sent in, the success of the MILL pairing in August having shown the way forward. The identity of EMILE and LOUIS remains a mystery. The Belgian historian Emmanuel Debruyne has turned up the name of Wladimir van Damme, an inspector in the State Security service who had been a policeman in Schaerbeek, a north-eastern suburb of Brussels, before the war. Debruyne has it that BEAVER was dropped on 17 November 1941, but this is well into the ‘dark’ period and therefore less likely. This later date may be when BEAVER reaches Belgium. He proceeds to establish an intelligence service, but he doesn’t last long: he is arrested in February.
TNA AIR20/8334, encl. 98A
TNA AIR 20/8306 (ATFs)
La Guerre Sécrète des Espions Belges, p.28