The report for Sergeant Thompson’s sortie to drop three agents is almost too short to appear worth recording. Thompson takes off in Whitley T4166 at 22.50, crosses the French coast near Abbeville, drops all his passengers successfully, and returns to base. End of story for Sergeant Thompson.
The three agents cannot be dispensed with so quickly.
TIGER is Roger Cerf, a Belgian upper-class twerp whose social ego is his downfall. As soon as he lands he just goes home to his parents and tells all his friends exactly what he is doing. His self-importance leads, unsurprisingly, to his almost immediate arrest. Despite some heavy aristocratic lobbying on the young man’s behalf, the Germans shoot him in August 1942.
COLLIE is Philippe de Liedekerke, a 27-year-old engineer, the son of a count. Intended to work with Cerf, he separates from his unreliable partner almost as soon as he lands. Somehow he has kept enough about himself back from Cerf for the Germans to be unable to find him. His mission is to contact the various existing organisations in Belgium, such as the Legion Belge, and ascertain their loyalties and intentions. COLLIE is highly successful. Not only does he return to London with one of the legion’s leaders, Charles Claser, he returns to Belgium twice more on clandestine operations. He is awarded the Military Cross; after the war he becomes a distinguished diplomat.
Jacques van Horen (or van Hoven) is TERRIER. He is dropped into deep snow somewhere south-west of Marche-en-Famenne, not far from where the Abbé Jourdain had been dropped in July the previous year. So far I have been unable to find out where the other two agents are dropped. The brevity of the ORB entry about this sortie might lead one to believe that the agents were dropped together, but in ‘SOE in the Low Countries’, MRD Foot appeared unaware that TERRIER had been dropped from the same aircraft as TIGER and COLLIE.
Van Horen is intended to be a wireless-operator for Jean Pierre Absil, who was still in France and inactive thanks to a warning from Maurice Simon, a Section D agent whose circumstances had forced him to become a Gestapo agent. He takes up his pre-war occupation and lived with his parents; on finding out that Absil’s replacement was in prison, van Horen plans an escape: the hour-long W/T conversation leads to his arrest and severe interrogation. Placed in St Gilles prison in Brussels, he learns that Cerf is two cells along, but the occupant of the intermediate cell is a stool-pigeon. Somehow van Horen survives the war.
This is a container-drop to André Fonck, the wireless-operator for OUTCAST (Jean Nicolas Léon Maus). Sergeant Peterson crosses the French coast south of Abbeville at 5,000 feet, and drops to 2,500 feet on his route towards Sedan. His only description of the target is that he flies between woods to the aiming point. After an hour circling the area he sees a white torch carried by a man, who presumably gives the correct Morse signal to persuade Peterson to drop the six containers, which he does in one pass. (The Whitley’s observer (or the pilot) can drop them all at once by selecting ‘Salvo’ on the control panel.) Peterson then returns to base, landing at 23.30.
Both agents have broken one of SOE’s cardinal rules, to stay away from one’s family. They have each returned home, Maus to his wife near Namur, Fonck to his parents at Grapfontaine. Perhaps Fonck disposes of the container casings by donating them as raw materials for his father’s forge. Fonck always transmits from home, and ‘la goniométrie’ gets him on 2 May. Maus is picked up, only indirectly through Fonck, on 13 May, and is tried and shot less than two months later. Fonck survives the war — just — as a slave labourer in Sachsenhausen, Auschwitz and Buchenwald.
S/Ldr Davies, DFC, has a more successful attempt at dropping the two SIS agents that Sgt Peterson had attempted to drop on 28 January. (The 138 Squadron Summary identifies it as an SIS operation.) Several other SIS operations for northern France appear on the same Air Transport Form (ATF): MORRIS/COWLEY, BEAUFORT, BOON and BURR, about which nothing is known.
Davies takes off at 18.56 in Whitley Z9230 and flies via Tangmere to the French coast north of the Somme estuary. Half-way to Douai he drops down to 800 feet over the pinpoint, which is ‘clearly visible’. The agents are dropped and Davies returns to base and lands at 00.22.
Davies and his crew will be shot down in the same Whitley on 29 July, by a night-fighter over Holland while approaching the LETTUCE target. All are killed. Freddie Clark was sure this was linked to ‘der Englandspiel’.
TIGER, COLLIE, TERRIER
138 Squadron ORB
MRD Foot: SOEILC, pp. 279-83 (TERRIER), 285-6 (TIGER, COLLIE)
138 Squadron Ops Summary
ATFs for Jan-Feb ’42.
MRD Foot, SOEILC, pp. 265-6
Freddie Clark, ABM, p. 80
138 Squadron ORB,
138 Squadron Ops Summary