Despite the impression you may have gotten from the movies, the Resistance involved a lot of mundane tasks that were far from exciting except for the ever present possibility of arrest, torture and deportation to the concentration camps.

Take, for instance, the problem of housing downed Allied aviators who were trying to get to Spain to get back to their bases in England. Although some brave families took the risk of hosting these men who rarely blended into the crowd and didn’t like to be quiet or cooped up, it wasn’t always possible to find enough homes to house them. This was especially a problem in Toulouse where the aviators gathered until there were 12 or more of them to make up a convoy over the Pyrenees. For a while in early 1944, Dutch-Paris rented a house for their aviator “clients”, as did a French evasion line with which Dutch-Paris worked called Françoise.

The Françoise network, which was based in Toulouse, rented several houses for aviators. But there was a problem with heating these houses, especially as the Americans didn’t fully appreciate how very difficult and expensive it was to heat any building during the war. But Françoise found a way around that. They recruited the director of the gas company in Toulouse.

This businessman had coal delivered illegally (without ration coupons) to a couple of homes used by Françoise for aviators. He also installed gas lines to a couple of other homes despite the regulations and then suppressed the readings from those gas meters for the duration of the war. That way the Americans could turn up the heat as much as they wanted.

The director also drove a couple of Americans in his personal car from Toulouse to Foix (90 km) on two occasions.

It’s not flashy. No one would make a movie about the director of the gas company. But it’s the sort of everyday circumvention that the Resistance relied on.