Unfortunately, there were no trains or planes headed to the south of France, so we got in touch with the French Red Cross and asked them if they knew of anyone willing to drive to Montauban or St. Porquier, and we would share the expense. At the time we had no telephone to communicate with the Red Cross, so we had to keep going back there every other day.

A few days later, we were told that there was someone with a car who was going to see some relations in the south, who would be willing to take us, so we met this young man and he explained that he was going by himself. There were three of us, my father, brother and me. He told us that because he couldn’t get petrol during the war he had converted his car to run on charcoal. But we didn’t care, since we had not communicated with my mother in more than two years.

It was sometime in September when we left. Every so often we had to stop for charcoal, which we could get in the countryside. We had to fill up a large container on the side of the car, and then by lighting the charcoal we could start the engine. Every time we filled up the container, Charles and I would get covered in black coal dust.

Besides the charcoal problems, we also had to contend with other problems. Because we were heading south, the only way was to go over the river, and many of the bridges over the Loire had been bombed out. I remember one night, when we were driving towards the Loire, and it was pitch black. Suddenly the driver stopped the car, and we were a mere yard from the river. Had he driven a little further we would have been in the river itself

This journey from Paris to St. Porquier took us over a week. First we had to find coal, then we had to fill up the cylinder with the coal, and then we had to find detours over the river.

Eventually we arrived in St. Porquier and saw my mother for the first time in nearly two and a half years. She was absolutely ecstatic to see us. My mother had been hidden from the Germans by a Catholic woman, Ms. Delcher. We stayed with Ms. Delcher for a few days. She really was a wonderful person having looked after my mother during the war.Later on, Madame Delcher came to visit us at our apartment in London.

After the allies’ victory at El Alamein and Benghazi in North Africa, Vichy France was liberated from the iron grip of the Germans. However, as the Germans started to leave Vichy France, they deliberately killed and maimed anyone who even looked Jewish. There was one such story about an old man who had a long beard, which prompted the Germans to think he was Jewish. They killed him. Fearing some people might reveal to the Germans that my mother was Jewish, Madame Delcher had taken my mother to another village. Of course we were not there at the time, but when we came back to St. Porquier we heard all the news.

After about ten days in St. Porquier we decided to return to our apartment in Paris by train, as the trains were now running between Montauban and Paris. My mother, who had learned to make sherry brandy in St. Porquier during our absence, took about a half an ounce of sherry brandy with her on our trip. I remember accidentally breaking a bottle on the train to Paris. There were many soldiers travelling on the train, and one had smelled the sherry, started licking the whole floor, as in those days, any alcoholic drinks of any kind were scarce. After a twenty four hour journey we arrived in Paris and went straight to our apartment.

At that time Charles and I contemplated our futures. Considering that we had no qualifications, in lieu of having stopped education at the age of thirteen and fifteen, and beacause we were British subjects, we decided to go to London, England. Of course we had no passports, so we went to the British Consulate in Paris and told them that we were British on our father’s side, as my father had a British passport and the Germans had interned us as British subjects during the war. We also told them that we wanted to join the army in England. This was in October 1944, Paris was liberated, but the war was still raging. It didn’t actually end until May 1945, as fighting continued in such places as Flanders, Germany etc. So after showing them our documents, verifying our internment, they accepted our wish to emigrate to London.

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