De Jongh Andrée (Dédée) 
 

Andrée De Jongh

 

 

Mlle Andree De Jongh joined the Belgian underground when the enemy occupied the country, and in 1941 was engaged actively in espionage when she determined that Allied airmen who hade crashed in German-held territory must be saved to fight and to fly again, rather than to suffer the fate of a prisoner of war. When she dedicated herself to this mission, Mlle De Jongh chose one of most perilous assignments of the war.

In August 1941, with a compatriot, Mlle De Jongh conceived what was later known as the Comète Line. This line comprised a 1000-mile escape route from Belgium to Spain along which the enemy military and secret police kept constant vigilance. Stretching from Brussels to Bilbao, the links included a collecting point at Valenciennes, headquarters in Paris, Bayonne and St. Sebastian, with guides and smugglers to provide passage through the Pyrenees Mountains.

The Comète Line was organized so ingeniously and operated with sheer courage. The underground aides were so inspired buy Mlle De Jongh, that it withstood frantic counter-intelligence activity and endured until the day of liberation, despite the fact that several chiefs were captured and many workers apprehended. Operating obstacles included recovery of fallen airmen, procurement of civilian clothing, procurement of counterfeit passports and identity papers, medical aid and supplies for wounded airme, sheltering and feeding, recruiting of aides and the constant peril of transportation along the route.

Mlle De Jongh overcame administrative obstacles and then proceeded to take personal charge of convoying retrieved airmen along the Comète Line. Her compatriot was captured returning from the first convoy. Mlle De Jongh was cut off from Brussels by a net of Gestapo traps, but made headquarters at Paris, while her father M. Frederic De Jongh became Brussels chief, directing airmen to the collecting point.

Although arrest was imminent Mlle De Jongh insisted on making hazardous convoyes into Spain, escorting the airmen to the virtual gangplank of safety in Bilbao, while at the same time carrying on as director of the Line into which she had now recruited not only her father, but her mother and a younger sister.

Mlle De Jongh's genius for organization and her capacity for inspiration kept the 1000-mile Comète Line constantly fluid. It was because the route was traveled in two or three days on many occasions that the line derived its name. Mlle De Jongh's success in the escape and the evasion by airmen superseded her ingenuity and capacity for inspiration.

 

Time and time again Mlle De Jongh challenged the hazards of the line as she personally convoyed 118 fallen airmen, many of whom were Americans, into friendly hands at Bilbao for safe passage to active duty. During its existence the Comète Line was haven and escape for more than 400 fighting men of the Allied Nations. Mlle De Jongh's creation not only saved the lives of these men and returned them to fly and fight again, but it demoralized counter-networks nd proved to the Allied Nations that pilots and crews crashing on enemy territory were not lost. Furthermore, Mlle De Jongh and her aides coupled espionage with escape, and vital information traveled along the line into Allied diplomatic channels.

 

On January 15th 1943, when Mlle De Jongh had been director of the Comète Line for seventeen months, she was captured while crossing the Pyrenees with Allied flyers. A German collaborator had betrayed her. After imprisonment in Bayonne and Fresnes, Mlle De Jongh was deported to the Ravensbruck concentration camp and later imprisoned at Mauthausen, from which she was liberated on April 22nd, 1945, her health broken but her mission richly fulfilled.

 


 

 

Citation of the "Medal of Freedom with Golden Palm":

 

Andree De Jongh, Belgian Civilian, for exceptionally meritorious achievements which aided the United States in the prosecution of the war against the enemy in Continental Europe, as a member of the Belgian underground movement, from August 1941 to January 1943. With extraordinary courage, ingenuity, and zeal she helped to conceive and operated the Comete Line, a thousand-mile escape route for Allied fliers falling in enemy occupied territory. In the face of almost insurmountable obstacles she personally conducted 118 Allied flyers to freedom, and more than four hundred airmen were returned to active duty through her genius for organization and her ability to inspire her co-workers. Though she was captured and imprisoned while convoying a group, she had so ingeniously designed her organization that it endured till the day of liberation. Her heroic self-sacrifice in the cause of freedom merits the highest esteem of the Allied Nations.

 

 

 

 

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