Here’s another example of resisters disguising themselves as collaborators. The collaborationist French government, Vichy, created a paramilitary police force called the Groupe mobile de réserve or GMR (mobile reserve group). They have a nasty reputation from their zealous fight against resisters.

And yet, at least a few of them were resisters. For about two years before his arrest in May 1943, the commander of a GMR unit based in Perpignan used his position to get hundreds of fugitives, including Dutchmen, over the border into Spain. This man, who we’ll call Lecatre, commanded the border patrol in the eastern edge of the Pyrenees from Cerbère to Bourg-Madame.

Lecatre and his men took fugitives to the border, sometimes in GMR uniforms, and ushered them across. They also escorted clandestine French intelligence agents into and out of Spain. The GMR owned the rights to cut wood for fuel in a forest on the frontier. On the days that an intelligence agent needed to get to Spain, a GMR truck would mysteriously break down within sight of the border. The agent would arrive dressed like the other mechanics to repair the truck. When the coast was clear, he would disappear over the border. On the day he returned to France another truck would break down and the mechanics would return to Perpignan with one more person than they had left. The mechanics at the GMR garage and some of the forest guards and GMR men took part in these border crossings.

Unfortunately Lecatre’s superior officer had his doubts about Lecatre’s loyalty to the Vichy regime. He launched an investigation including matching up the unit’s orders and its consumption of gasoline. But he didn’t get anywhere until he caught one of the men driving a GMR truck with two women sitting next to him in the front seat. The superior officer threatened to fire the man unless he told him about the commandant. The man told what he had heard the one time that he drove the truck that “broke down” near the border. That was enough.

Lecatre and his daughter were arrested at their home on 23 May 1943. While they were at it, the Gestapo took all the family’s money, 30,000 francs that they found in cash in the house. Lecatre was convicted of resistance and deported to a concentration camp.