Second World War, 1939-1945
Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain
This item is in the Public Domain
Probably Ciboure, France. c. 1945. Florentino Goicoechea (front), a Basque peasant sits by the ...
Probably Ciboure, France. c. 1945. Florentino Goicoechea (front), a Basque peasant sits by the side of the road, his leg wrapped in a blanket while he is convalescing from a broken leg. He is with colleagues who had been part of the Comet (Comete) escape route. Florentino was an illiterate Basque speaking man, a smuggler before the war who assisted 283 Allied airmen escape over the Pyrenees from France to Spain. The Comet route ran from Brussels via Paris, Bayonne, Ciboure and into northern Spain. Small groups of usually four airmen accompanied by an english-speaking escort and a local guide made their way over the dangerous route. On his last trip, Florentino was shot by German frontier guards and his leg and knee cap was shattered, necessitating hospitalisation. He was abducted from hospital by friends dressed up as German hospital orderlies using a forged transfer order, and not found by the Germans again. His leg was eventually reset, but he was never able to go on long treks again. Florentino was awarded a George Medal for his work. (Donor W. Jay)