Very few resisters were professional spies or criminals, so they had to figure out how to forge papers, evade the police, and smuggle people and goods as they went along. Sometimes they did this by diving down into the underworld and finding a criminal to mentor them. Sometimes they found a professional spy to give them some tips. But mostly they had to figure it out on their own.

Here’s an example. Until November 1943, Dutch-Paris in Brussels was mostly concerned with hiding Dutch fugitives in Belgium or getting them to Switzerland. If an Allied airman ended up in their care, they passed him on to one of the Belgian evasion services. But at the end of November 1943, one of their men announced that his contacts in the Ardennes and Maastricht had a whole lot of aviators that they wanted to move south. And so Dutch-Paris added an aviator evasion line to its activities.

They rented a boarding house and set it up to lodge and supply both aviators and Engelandvaarders. They would move the men into Brussels and equip them for the journey with workmen’s clothing, false IDs and advice on how to behave. First they had to take away all the airmen’s possessions except their dog tags because they had a dangerous habit of collecting souvenirs: Dutch coins, tram tickets, even letters addressed to Queen Wilhelmina in London. They would also prepare screening forms for the men, which they gave to a Dutch woman connected to a Belgian network. She had radio contact with London, which she used to verify the bona fides of the aviators and weed out the German agents trying to infiltrate the escape lines.

In the middle of January 1944, Dutch-Paris Brussels got the go-ahead from John Weidner to start bringing aviators to Paris on their own without the assistance of the Belgian networks. A few days later two young Dutchmen left Brussels with nine aviators. They tried to pass the border at Moucron (Belgium) but the first group of one Dutchman and five airmen was stopped by a German frontier guard. The German charged them a fine for smuggling, confiscated their (false) IDs and sent them back into Belgium. They returned to the barkeeper who’d shown them the way. He offered to keep all nine aviators overnight and the two Dutchmen returned to Brussels. The next day one of the resisters and a different colleague who was experienced in preparing false papers returned to the bar with a batch of fresh identity card forms. They made new false papers for everyone. This time the barkeeper went with them to the border. They all made it safely to Lille and on to Paris.

After that, though, the young men of the Brussels section took their aviators to Paris “officially” by the night train. Passing the French and German border controls in the train at Feignies proved to be altogether less risky and easier than the “unofficial” route by foot at Moucron.

They didn’t lose any aviators until the Germans surprised 10 airmen, the landlady and six resisters in their beds at the boarding house in Brussels at the end of February, 1944.