THE COMET CONNECTION: Escape From Hitler's Europe by George Watt

THE COMET CONNECTION: Escape From Hitler's Europe

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Wart's WW II memoir of being shot down over occupied Belgium and his ensuing escape--a remarkable story so casually told that it's robbed of its inherent tension. On a bombing run to the Ruhr Valley in November 1943, Watt's B-17 Flying Fortress was downed by German fighter planes. He parachuted to safety, landing on a small farm near the village of Hamme. As a ""former Lincoln Brigader and a Jew,"" he knew he ""would not fare well at their [the Germans'] hands"" if captured. While hiding in a ditch, he was approached by a number of people who offered aid. Finally, a man named Raymond led him under cover of darkness through the village to a train bound for Brussels. While the danger must have been quite real, Watt writes the episode almost offhandedly: ""On the way we encountered a company of German soldiers. . .I had to hug the wails to keep from brushing against them. Yet I wasn't frightened. Was I getting used to them?"" And in a scene that could be only comical in retrospect, Raymond proudly announced Wart's identity to everyone on the train. Seemingly haphazardly, the two connected with the ""underground railway."" Watt stayed in a series of Brussels homes, avoiding the ""Black Brigades""--Belgian fascists--while waiting to make his escape. After several weeks, he was guided across the French border and hooked up with the French resistance, which eventually escorted him into Spain. Then, after days of hiking through the Pyrenees, he found safety at the British embassy in Madrid. Until his nostalgic return to Belgium 40 years later, Watt was unaware that he had been a passenger on the Comet Line of the Belgian partisans, which had remained intact until liberation in September 1944, despite nearly 1,300 arrests and numerous killings of its members by the Gestapo. Watt writes of his rescuers with great warmth and admiration, but the lack of suspense does his story an injustice.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Univ. Press of Kentucky