In May 1940, after the battle of Dunkirk "Dunkerque", during the rapid advance of the German troops trap in the North of France and in Belgium. Many British soldiers too far away from the ports of the Atlantic and the English Channel, the crews of fell down planes were eager to join England.
The solution consist to transfer them towards the Pyrenees and handover them to the British consular authorities installed in Spain.
But it is necessary to cross occupied France, to cross the line of demarcation clandestinely then the Pyrenees, to reach pro-Franco Spain.
Since 1941, some networks manage to ensure of the passages in spite of controls and investigations of police force, for searching and the infiltrations.
The indiscretions and sometimes denounce constitute additional risks.
From November 1942, with the allied solders combined, the prisoners of French war escaped prisoners and the volunteers were ready to take again the combat in North Africa, those which is added try to be withdrawn from persecutions anti-semites, the requisitions of the Service of Obligatory Work and from the reprisals against the resistant ones.
From now on, forty networks are activated in the Low-Pyrenees, that is to say 150 to 180 frontier runners. Everywhere the difficulties are considerable, including on the Côtes Basque since this zone is occupied the end of June 1940. The movement of the people is supervised on all the transportation routes, particularly in station of Bayonne.
Comet: first steps, first events…
In the beginning of 1941 in Belgium, Andrée de Jongh, a 24 year old young girl, and his compatriot Arnold Deppé, sound engineer of the firm of Gaumont cinema who worked on the Côtes Basque, decide to create one escape line via Pyrenees.
The assistance that they already bring to the soldiers to guarantee their clandestinity appears insufficient to them. In May, Arnold Deppé is put in liaison with one Belgium family Me. Greef of Brussels refuge at Anglet.
There, his prewar knowledge recommends it to Spanish republicans having fled the pro-Franco mode.
Through them, shelterers and a frontier runner are recruited.
At the end of July 1941, in order to organize the reception of the escaped prisoners beyond the Pyrenees, Andrée de Jongh cross the border.
She goes to the British Consulate of Bilbao.
With perseverance and self possesstion, she persuades the interlocutors of the viability of his project. The network Comet can enter in action.
She starts with four stages. Those of Belgium and North recovers the candidates with the passage.
Those of Paris ensures their routing towards Western South. That of the Côtes Basque prepares and carries out the transfer
Finally that of Spain, hides the escaped prisoners while waiting to handover to the allied the diplomatic services and occasionally lodge persons in charge ofComet on mission.
During the summer 1941, with one of the first convoys, Arnold Deppé is arrested. The hard blows follow one another in 1942 (sectors Belgium and Paris) and 1943.
January 15, 1943 in Urrugne, Andrée de Jongh is apprehended in her turn in company of three aviators to the farm “ Bidegain Berri”.
The owner, Francha Usendizaga, and his farm laborer, Juan Larburu originating in Hernani, will die in deportation. However, this organization continues to function efficiently until June 1944.