Letter from Emile Witmeur to Robert [sic] Langlois



Letter from Emile Witmeur to Robert [sic] Langlois


Letter to Jack Newton's pilot from a member of the Belgian escape line He says he still does not know why Jack Newton was the only one of the crew to get successfully back to England. He goes on to describe in details his research into the trail of people involved in the escape line. He mentions one member who was executed by the Germans and that he had been held in solitary confinement for over four months. He goes on to describe the effect that the war had had on him.




Temporal Coverage



Two page handwritten letter


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August 15th 1945.
My dear Friend,
I am so glad to receive your letter. It took nearly one month to come here. You have had quite an experience during the war and I hope that you will be able to make one trip to Belgium and see calmly the city and some of your friends.
I still do not understand how Newton succeeded and not you. I heard also about the three others of your crew who had gone first in the direction of Ostende and were contacted afterwards by our organisation. What happened to them? Did they succeed?
I shall send you a complete report of what I know but I tell you directly that it is hard to find out your trail. I could trace you because I had kept the paper written by your own hand. I did not know the other links. At that time, the agents I knew were following like this: de BECO – Felix JEANJEAN – myself – Doctor GILLES – PAUL DONEUX – Mr. MONAMI, HUFKENS. Did you know Mr. SCOHIER? Marcel LECLERCQ? HOFMAN?
If you give me a little time, I am sure to give you better information. Unfortunately, four years mean a long time in the life of out-laws and we have had tremendous losses.
Mr HACHA was not an agent. He helped occasionaly. [sic] Mrs. MASSON who told me that you were hiding in the villa of the FRANÇOIS (BEAUFAYS) became one of my best informers. Mr. MARCHAND who helped in your transfer to the villa, entered the service later on. He went to England and was parachuted. He did a good job with the Group “G”.
Doctor Gilles was executed on the 8th of May 1943. He had blown up a big transformer in the heavy industry plant of Ougrée. I send you his photo. I read your letter to his widow and she was also very glad to hear that you were at home again.
I hear that you have been in St. Gilles also. I remained there four months and a half, solitary confinement, with the red spot in the cell 309 Abteilung C in 1942. They released me for lack of evidence.
Of course I have heard of the Luft III. The belgian [sic] fighter pilot Picard one of our young comrades was shot in the tunnel affair. He had already had a narrow escape when he had been brought down over the channel. He was injured and floated in his rubber boat for a week before landing at the French coast. Taken and nursed by the Germans, he was sent to Germany.
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Now, the war is over and I am glad for you all who did such a magnificent job. No words are able to render our gratitude for what you did and it was but a great honour for us to meet you on our soil during the occupation. I shall never forget you because I had been waiting so long to help a British friend and you were the first. You did not succeed but I thought you had, and when I was in my cell, hearing the RAF passing over, I imagined that you were among the crews and that I was not there for nothing.
I have received big blows during the war, like you have. I have passed through metaphysical fears, but now that it is over, I find that, for me, it has been grand. If you come here, I shall tell you long stories, tragedies also. But never again shall we be pure as we were then. Most of my friends have been shot or did not return. That is why I should like so much to speak to you of their work, because you would certainly understand, after what you have lived, that if we were quickly defeated, we have never been slaves.
I am no more pilot. I was taken on the day of my departure to England. When the liberation came, I had been hiding myself for one year and a half. The Belgian Air Force did not want me, because I was more than 36 and reserve pilot. I worked with an American Air Depot Group and flew a lot pickaback in P. 38 and I had once an opportunity to fly alone in a Cub. I enjoyed it very much. I quitted my job last week because the Group was moving to the States and that the war is over. I do not know yet what I shall do. Before the war I travelled a lot. I was professor in Alexandria (Egypt) but I do not intend to go back, because my parents are old and I prefer to remain in their city. I hope that your wife and children are in good health and that you feel the joys of home.
Do not remain too long before writing to me.
Wishing you all the good
I remain
Yours very sincerely
my private address is


E V Witmeur, “Letter from Emile Witmeur to Robert [sic] Langlois,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 6, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/27323.

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