Escape lines – which should more properly be called evasion lines – can be described as organisations that helped stranded servicemen make their way from enemy occupied territories back to friendly territory. Of the three major escape lines running through France during the Second World War – the Pat O’Leary line, which covered most of the country, the Comete line, which ran from Holland and Belgium through France to the Pyrenees, and Bourgogne – Bourgogne (aka Burgundy) is the least well known.
Escape lines are a largely unrecognised, or at least often overlooked, episode of the Second World War. For those who were involved – the helpers (mostly French, Belgian and Dutch civilians) – or who benefitted from them (mostly British, Commonwealth and American servicemen) this was a personal war, which was, and remains, almost unknown to the outside world, despite the tragic loss of so many of those concerned. To the families of the servicemen saved, it must have seemed like a miracle to have their loved ones returned safely to them. For the helpers and their families who were caught, it often meant death.
This comprehensive study, some 480 pages, is based around contemporary reports and documentation, as well as extensive personal research by the author and others. It describes the evasions of the more than three hundred Allied servicemen helped by the Burgundy line, together with details and the eventual fates of many hundreds of their helpers. They came from Burgundywill appeal to those interested in history, specifically Second World War escape and evasion.