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Crossing Comète-line "Tren Txikito"

Crossing train station "Tren Txikito" between France and Spain of the Comète flight line.

The Bidassoa River forms the boundary (muga) between occupied France and neutral Spain. The "Comète" escape line, founded by Andrée de Jongh (aka Dédée), used the environment of the "Tren Txikito" San Miguel train station, which was in use until 1916, on their classic Saint-Jean de Luz Route, as a crossing between France and Spain. In the night of 23 to 24 December 1943, 10 men prepare for the 84 ° crossing. They are the Basque guides Manuel Iturrioz and Ramon, Martin Errazkin, Jean-François Nothomb (alias Franco), Count Antoine d'Ursel (alias Jacques Cartier), Albert Ancia (alias Daniel Mouton) and 4 pilots: 2 ° Lt USAAF Lloyd A Stanford (° 1920 - † 1993), 1 ° Lt USAAF Robert Z. Grimes (° 1922 - † 2010), 2 ° Lt USAAF Arthur J. Horning (° 1915 - † 2000), and 2 ° Lt USAAF Jim F. Burch (° 1917). The oversized group gets into trouble crossing the swollen Bidassoa River. They are discovered by the Civil Guard who begins to shoot in the dark. Albert Ancia, Grimes, 2 ° Lt Horning and 2 ° Lt Stanford are arrested. Count Antoine d'Ursel (° 1896) and 2 ° Lt Jim F. Burch died and were later found by the Germans near San Miguel.

The escape route is repeated every year in September.

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  • Text: Luc Watelle
  • Photos: Luc Watelle

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