Here’s an intriguing turn of events. I’ve come across the name of a Belgian man, we’ll call him Legrand, in a few reports in a couple of archives.

The first is a long and detailed account written by an enthusiastic member of Dutch-Paris in Brussels, known as the Comité. Legrand makes a brief appearance as the colleague of the banker who was jointly running the Comité. Legrand and the banker, apparently, managed to furnish the Allies with detailed information about the V1 rockets that were storming down on Antwerp, London and the people in between.

The next appearance comes in a membership form for a postwar Resistance organization filled out by the banker. He claims to have been recruited by Legrand for a Belgian information to be their “financial delegate.” Which means he exchanged money for them under the table, something he was already doing for Dutch-Paris.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I opened the Resistance file of Legrand to find out that he served 6 months in prison in 1948/49 for economic collaboration. Apparently he earned almost three million Belgian francs during the war delivering office supplies to one of the Belgian “princes of the black market”. The prosecutors felt that Legrand had earned enough money from the business that he couldn’t be excused as not having known that he was indirectly supplying the enemy.

There are several possibilities here. The first is quite simply that the man who smuggled information about the V1 rockets and the office supply dealer are not the same person. Their name, after all, is a common one. This is one of the difficulties of researching the Resistance. Resisters knew who they could trust, but they didn’t always know their date of birth or their first names or even how to spell their last names. Indeed, I have at least one case of a man who went to his death known only to his companions in the good fight as “Henry,” a name they all knew was false.

Resisters were themselves perfectly aware of this problem, which is why they had an entire service in the Belgian Ministry of Reconstruction with access to the gendarmerie and special tribunals dedicated to verifying the least claim to resistance activity with sworn testimonies and police investigations.

Of course, it might be the same man. Perhaps, like Jean Henri Weidner he was so busy with Resistance work that he ignored his business, making it possible for someone else to collaborate in his name. This seems unlikely, though. By any account Legrand was not that active.

Perhaps he assuaged his conscience over collaborating by balancing out his profits with some Resistance work. Or maybe he was trying to whitewash the three million in profits with a Resistance record. Maybe he was hedging his bets by working with both sides and it just so happened that the Germans paid better.

It could be any of these; times were complicated. Unfortunately we’ll never know which it is unless I stumble across his name again in another archive.