Secret Army - The Great Belgian & French Escapes
A true story of daring, popularised in Secret Army and ‘Allo ‘Allo...
- Led by Guy Walters, an expert on this secret war and author of The Real Great Escape
- Hear the true story of the Allied Escape lines, popularised in the BBC drama Secret Army and well-loved comedy ‘Allo ‘Allo
- Enjoy a gentle walk in the dramatic scenery of the Pyrenees, retracing the mountain route taken by those evading capture by the Nazis
When an Allied airman was shot down over Occupied Europe, his first duty was to evade capture. Lacking food, civilian clothing, papers, and linguistic skills, this was a nearly impossible task. Many downed flyers were indeed swiftly tracked down, doomed to spend the rest of the war behind barbed wire. However, within two years, resistance groups in Holland, Belgium, and France had become established. Their aim? To spirit these airmen, and others, through the Low Countries and France, over the Pyrenees, and away to the safety of neutral Spain.
By far the most famous of these vital organisations was called the Comet Line, founded by a remarkably brave young woman called Andrée de Jongh, nicknamed ‘Dédée’. In this unique tour led by Guy Walters, the author of The Real Great Escape, we will be following the route of the Comet Line from Brussels through Flanders and northern France, and then on to Paris and Bilbao. We visit safe houses in both capitals and key locations en route, explore the foothills of the Pyrenees and retrace some of the exact footsteps made by the airmen and their resistance helpers over the mountain range. While we will be travelling in comfort, this promises to be a tour that will reveal the huge hardships endured by so many brave men and women as they struggled not only for their own personal freedoms, but for those of their countries too.
Fly to Brussels in time for lunch and an introductory talk by Guy Walters. This afternoon, we visit some of the area’s safe houses, including the home of Andrée de Jongh. We end the day with a visit to notorious St Gilles Prison, where many resistance figures were to meet their dreadful fates.
En Route to Paris
Visit the National Resistance Museum, and leave Brussels late morning. On our luxury coach journey to Paris, we stop at various important locations on the Comet Line. Lunch in Valenciennes, before arriving in Paris late afternoon.
Stops on Both Sides
A day in Paris, beginning with a visit to the safe house run by celebrated Comet Line member Elvire Morelle. Here, many airmen lived packed together while waiting for false papers. We visit some other safe houses, and Gestapo stations at Avenue Foch and Rue Lauriston. After lunch, we visit the Resistance Museum, and a pre-dinner talk from Guy introduces our journey’s next leg.
Last Port of Call
As the evaders would have done, we take a train from Montparnasse to Bayonne — visit the famous Villa Voisin in Anglet and Restaurant Larré, the last port of call for many escapees before trekking over the Pyrenees.
This morning, we visit the beautiful hilltop village of Urrugne, through which many evaders passed. On to the Hermitage of St Michael on the French-Spanish border, before, weather permitting, a two-hour walk. After a picnic lunch, we explore Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
On our final day, we visit the excellent Comet Line exhibition at Irun’s Museo Romano Oiasso. Drive to Bilbao to visit the British Consulate. After lunch, we explore Bilbao and visit the Guggenheim Museum, before our flights home.
- Tour Manager
- Flights - Flights London to Brussels; Bilbao to London
- Meals - All meals included with wine at lunch and dinner
- Hotels - 5 nights in 3/4* hotels in Brussels, Paris and Saint Jean de Luz
Revolution in the air, war afoot…
The 20th century saw the world dominated by war. It was a time of unknowing atrocity and dubious morality; an age of resistance, risk and revolution.
Take an alternative look at 1940, examining what could have been, had Operation Sea Lion gone ahead. Uncover the Nazis’ Face of Evil, following their beginnings in Munich’s beer halls to the Nuremberg trials.
In this modern era, victims of war are more distant and responsibility more dubious. Travel with us as we examine whose hands are stained with innocent blood; and question who is to blame for the horrors inflicted upon mankind...