Dutch-Paris couriers always traveled with a particular mission in mind: deliver a microfilm to a particular café in Louvain (Belgium) on a particular date or escort so-and-so from point A to point B. But they also kept alert for two other possibilities: to gather information about German activities and to help any Dutch people in need.

Take, for instance, the last Dutch-Paris mission in August 1944. A young Dutchman left Switzerland with the intention of going to Belgium to find out what was happening with the organization there. He already knew he couldn’t get there from Paris so intended to go via Nancy.

But as soon as he got to his usual hotel in Lyon, he was told that the day before the Germans had stopped the train at Macon and taken away all the men between 18 and 60. Our man verified the story with a young man who’d escaped from the train by running across the tracks. The next day he verified it again at the train station – where they advised him not to attempt any train travel – and at a notary’s office.

Our man got on his bicycle to return to Switzerland to attempt a completely different route. But it took him another 11 days to make the trip that today would take only a few hours by train. He spent one night at an FFI [partisan] camp waiting for the commander’s return to get his advice. Then he rode his bike to Chambéry, but 500m outside of town a passerby told him to turn around immediately. A hundred meters on the Germans were confiscating all bicycles, and all young men. Our man verified the rumor and spent three days in a nearby village waiting for the Germans to leave.

When he did get back to Geneva, he duly reported all the facts about German movements and war crimes that he’d gathered and verified on his trip. He also reported that he’d found a 63 year old Dutchman at one of the village hotels he’d stayed at. The innkeeper had asked him to encourage the older man, who appears to be one of the many Dutch Jews that Dutch-Paris hid in the northern French Alps when the region was under Italian Occupation in 1943.

Our man offered to pay the innkeeper for his compatriot’s room and board and then asked the older man if he needed any money to pay for his personal expenses. Dutch-Paris agents carried cash for just such eventualities. In this case, however, the man didn’t need any money. Another Dutch-Paris agent had given him 1,500 Francs the year before when he’d been living in a larger town in the region, which he’d reimbursed after getting money through relatives. He did, however, accept help with his documents. All he had were his false French papers. Our man promised to get him real, Dutch papers in Geneva so he could go home when the war was over.

Our man failed to get to Belgium, which was liberated less than two weeks after he got back to Geneva. But he succeeded in his standing orders of gathering intelligence and helping needy Dutchmen.