That evening the Germans came with their planes and bombed Paris. Sirens echoed loudly and we had to hunker down in the cellar. After a while, they said it was over, so we went back to Berthe's apartment and back to sleep.

When it was morning, my father, brother and I decided to go back to our apartment and tidy up. A lot of the items we brought from the camp were our monthly food parcels which we had saved. We had cans of tuna, chocolates etc. That kept us going for a few days. After a week or so, we decided to go see my mother. As mentioned earlier, two of my brothers had died. My youngest brother Michel in 1941 in Toulouse, and my eldest brother Albert in 1942 in Montpellier.


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.

Beside 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.