"About a week before the invasion of Normandy, Dr. Van der Lay went to town and didn't come home that night for supper. We had heard from his nurse that some times he drinks too much and gets into trouble with the German soldiers. Some times he tries to whip too many of them and he got put in jail.


"Early the next morning the station called his office and said he was there. The man that operated the radio came right out and packed the radio in the two suitcases and David and I went out the door each one carrying a suitcase filled with a U.S. Radio. The radio man was a block ahead of us. There was a funeral across the street from our front door and we had to go right by it or cross the street. We just walked east and didn't pay any attention to what was going on and no one paid any attention to us. We had everything we needed in two suitcases to set up a radio station with U.S. Signal corp printed on the outside of the cases. I said to David, do you realize what would happen to us if they stopped us with these suitcases? We started to walk as fast as we could without looking like we were running from something. We followed the man for several miles not knowing where we were going. We went out of town and headed for the hills. We found out that these hills were full of caves."

About a week or so after the invasion of Normandy Dr. von der Ley went into town, this was in the afternoon, and he didn't come home that night for supper.  We wondered about this as it was never his pattern to be away at supper time but his nurse didn't seem to be surprised.  Apparently, he had done this before; he would go out to have a few drinks with the boys at the local pub and wouldn't get in until 8 or 9 o'clock at night.  This particular evening, he had a few too many with his drinking buddies and in the pub where he was celebrating he decided he could whip all the German soldiers in the bar.

We heard that it took 8 of them to corral him and take him down to the local jail and that's where he spent the remainder of the night.







 Very early the next morning the nurse received a telephone call from someone to the effect that Dr. von der Ley was in jail and why.  She knew that there would be a search of the house by the Germans as this was standard operating procedure.  She telephoned the radio man and asked him to come at once.  Meanwhile she told Floyd and me that we would have to leave, to dress and get ready.  Before we were ready to leave the house the radio man appeared and buttoned up the radio equipment in 2 suitcases.  The equipment he used had come in the cases and they were designed to fold up quickly for removal;; the suitcases could hold everything you needed except a tower to transmit and receive messages.  The suitcases were painted the old Army olive drab common to most Army equipment and on the outside of each was stencilled "United States Signal Corps."

After the radio equipment was packed our radio man handed one case to me and the other to Floyd and we stepped out the front door.  Fortunately, there was a funeral being held at the church which was immediately in front of Dr. von der Ley's door and since this house had no yard we stepped right onto the sidewalk and into the crowd that could not get into the church.  The funeral was for a prominent citizen and the courtyard opposite Dr. von der Ley's door held the overflow and we joined this group.  We followed the radio operator, eased our way through the crowd, and over to a side street without being unduly noticed, and began walking, staying about a block behind our leader.

Since we had no idea of where we were going we just continued to follow for several hours, carrying our assigned suitcases.  We ended up on the southern edge of the city and beyond it, about a mile -- I really don't know how far -- and we were taken into what they called "The Caves," and boy, were they caves!  These caves were created by early peoples of the region who needed materials for building forts, houses, walls, etc.  These mountains








contained a material like sandstone that could be cut with the tools of the period and when moved out of the mountain would harden into a brick-like stone.  In mining this material tunnels were created throughout the mountain for a distance of some 22 miles which crossed the Dutch-Belgian border.  The Germans were afraid to enter the caves because they had lost some people in them.  Therefore, the caves were a good place to hide people and things by the Dutch.  Consequently, we were taken to the caves where we stayed 2 or 3 days.


"Mount St. Peter is a hill south of Maastricht [110 meters high], formed by erosion of the valleys of the rivers Meuse and Jeker over 80,000,000 years ago. It is made of marl, a kind of sandstone, that has been used since 1770 for the buiding of forts, churches, houses and any other building or structure needing to last for years. It is a sandstone which can be cut with a handsaw in any shape needed.


"Some of the caves were cut by the erosion of the rivers when the hill was formed. When the people discovered the caves they found that they could saw the sandstone of which they were made, so they started using it for construction. The stone cutting has continued to this century. As a result there are over 20,000 passages. At several places they have made large galleries in which art treasures were stored when taken by the underground from Amsterdam when the Germans took Holland. At some areas they have found fossils in walls and ceilings: shells of sea-hedgehogs, sharks teeth and some times actual pieces of petrified bones of reptiles. A petrified giant turtle was also found. The passages are so many that they have all been charted. No one is allowed to go in without a guide that has a chart.


"In early days the dutch built a fortress on the north slope of the hill which was connected to a northern gallery system and they had a spiral staircase inside the fort for going down into the system. At that time the hill was the cause of some battles between the dutch and the french. The farmers in the









area sometimes took refuge in the galleries with their families and livestock. There are still signs of their stay: an oven, a well, and troughs for the cattle. During World War II the galleries were large enough to shelter 50,000. In case of air raids, ovens were built, hospitals were furnished and even a chapel was built. As the allied troops reached Maastricht in September 1944 the people that lived near Mount St. Peter took refuge in the caves. There are many galleries in the hill and some of the galleries are nurseries of mushrooms which is ideal with its constant low temperature and high humidity. David and I spent three nights in the caves and got to see some of the galleries. The dutch were proud of their discovery and the use they had made of their find."


  Finally a truck came to a garage to which we were taken.  The driver was a Belgian citizen who lived in Liege.

Before I continue this narration, I want to say another word about Dr. von der Ley.  He continually fed people like Floyd and me, that is, flyers that had been shot down and had to stay in hiding in the area.  Food was terribly short and rationed so in order to get extra and needed food he would go into the countryside as a doctor knowing the farmers that were his patients and they had vegetables, cured a hog or beef once in a while, and he would bring this food back for the evadees in the area.  No one knew what he was doing with the food but they thought, "Dr. von der Ley sure does have a lot of patients that need a lot to eat."  The farmers didn't ask questions, they just gave him the food.

At the end of the war when the Dr. von der Ley story came out, farmers were proud to have helped him feed the needy and the evadees, as the Dutch government honored him with the highest civilian decoration given for wartime service, as did the American, British, and French governments.  Jan









Goedkoop, who sheltered me in Amsterdam, was likewise honored by these governments for his wartime bravery and work and there is a tree that was planted in a certain park in Jerusalem honoring Jan for saving so many Jews during the war.  Both men were truly heroes.

We were happy to learn that after the war Dr von der Ley was invited to join the local medical associations that had ignored him as a new, young physician in their city.  I am sure you can imagine where he told them to go.  Until the day he died he felt the same way; he said::  "You didn't want me then and I don't want you now."  Well, that's the way it goes!

Back to the caves -- they are quite famous in the area, (The Caves of Mount St. Peter) and that's a large area, several miles long, several miles wide, and inside the caves the temperature is a constant 65 degrees Fahrenheit.  For many, many years -- several hundred, as a matter of fact -- the building materials for the forts, churches, walls of the city, bridge structures and houses came from inside these caves.  It is a type of sandstone that, as long as it is inside the cave at the mean temperature, is moist and can be cut any shape, any size, that one wants.  In the early days, of course, they cut it with a hand saw.  In latter years it has been cut with electric saws and hauled out to build churches, walls, everything.  This went on until after World War II when this kind of building stone was replaced with the concrete block that is used in the USA as a more economical building stone.

The Nazis were afraid to go into the caves because there are many, many tunnels running all directions for many miles through the hills and the first Germans to go into the caves never came out -- they had gotten lost and probably died of starvation in the maze.  Even today one does not enter the caves without a guide that can take them in and out safely.










The Underground had fashioned a large, I mean huge, room inside the cave which was headquarters.  There were always 2 or 3 people at this post around the clock and they kept supplies, records, National treasure (paintings hidden from the museums to keep them from the Nazis) and evadees.  It was possible to build fires in the large excavations where you could cook and they had scraped out places in the walls to fashion bunks where you could sleep and rest.  This was a surprise to us but we were grateful to have such a place to stay while arrangements were being made to move us out to the south.

Soon after the invasion began (June 4, 1944) all public transportation as well as private (there wasn't much of this) was shut down by the Germans.  This meant that there were no more passenger trains in occupied Europe.  There were no busses, streetcars, automobiles, and very seldom even a bicycle.  The few exceptions were trucks to haul food back and forth to keep the people fed and that sort of thing -- for what little food there was available.  It was one of these trucks that got Floyd and me across the border to Liege, Belgium.

The fourth night an underground man came and took us down to the city to a large garage. Inside they had a panel truck that the owner used to haul produce from Liege, Belgium to Maastricht. He was paid by the Germans and they gave him a permit so no German troops could stop him. The truck had a dummy front in the cargo section so when we stopped at the border the guards would check his papers and when they looked in the cargo area it was empty as far as they could see. When we entered the garage two men were removing a section of the roof over the front of the cargo area about two feet wide and covered from one side to the other. When they got it off they told us to climb up and slide down in the compartment, it was only 12 to 14 inches wide, two other air men had joined us after we got in the garage so they slid in also. It was a little crowded but we didn't complain. The men











screwed the metal roof back on and we headed for the border. The dummy front was of steel and 1/4 inch thick. I had a small hole right in front of me so I watched as the guards checked the cargo area and told the driver to go on. Some times "little" things like this are exciting. We rode for two hours over a very bumpy road and it was difficult to keep your head from hitting either the front of the truck or the dummy front. The area we were in was so narrow we couldn't stand with our feet straight out. So after two hours we were glad the ride was over. When we got to Liege the driver pulled into a shoe factory he owned and the Germans had forced him to close. We spent the night sleeping on some benches. His home was nearby so he said "I'll see you in the morning."


I can't remember how many days we stayed in the caves but in a very short time a truck came that was used to transport foodstuffs between Liege and Maastricht.  It had a sheetmetal roof on top and was enclosed entirely with this sheetmetal roof.  They drove the truck into a garage-like place near the entrance to the caves and took the top off (the front part of the top) and rolled it back about 2 feet.  A false partition between the back of the cab and the main part of the truck had been built and this is where Floyd and I rode to Liege.

The Underground people put us down inside.  We could barely squeeze in; there were nails sticking out all around us, and then they nailed the roof back on the truck.  In this manner we set out.  The truck was stopped at the border by the German guards and they opened the back door of the truck and looked inside, then crawled inside and looked around, and then we heard the door close and the truck proceeded on its way.  As we had been briefed on the procedure before leaving we kept very, very quiet and were barely able to breathe until we got back on the road.










Along with Floyd and me there were two other evadees that were nailed into the truck.  They also were part of a bomber plane crew that had been shot down and were being protected and moved by the Dutch Underground but at the time we were being moved from Maastricht to Liege, they also, were brought to the garage where they joined us in hiding.

Below is an excerpt from Lou Breitenbach's narrative of his adventure as an Evadee and Prisoner of War of the Germans:


". . . then we headed for the railway station.  Our next stop in the chain would be the town of Maastricht.  As we got off of the train we were introduced to two more men and given directions to Bosseherweg Street and then to keep walking until we came to 29B.  The two men walked a good distance behind us and it was here that we were put to the test.  A lone German soldier was coming up the street and as he got close to us he pulled out a cigarette.  He walked up to us and asked for 'das licht.'  We pleaded 'deaf and dumb' by pointing to our ears and guessed he was so used to being ignored, as we were told nobody talked to Germans, he stepped aside and went on.  We soon came to the home of George and Hannie Lemson. . . the morning of June 6th -- D-Day -- was a dark, rainy, miserable day and we stood by the window, awed by the roar of plane after plane heading south.  They were flying low and it seemed as if the whole German Luftwaffe was passing before our eyes.  A short time later George came up and hollered that the Allies were landing in the south of France.  The invasion had started!  I knelt down and said a prayer for the guys having to fight on a day like this.  It was a day full of excitement for us.

"With the invasion on all underground movement stopped.  The bridges, roads and canals were closed.  There were German soldiers everywhere.

"Things settled down after a while and on the morning of June 16 we were taken to a garage in the middle of Maastricht.  There were four men standing by a truck loaded with fruit and vegetables.  As we approached them, two of the men climbed up a ladder and with screw drivers started to take off the roof.  When they had a section about 18 inches peeled back, it revealed a false compartment in the front of the van.  They told us to come up the ladder and the other two men, Lt. Col. Alford and Lt. Floyd Martin, a P-47 pilot, climbed up with Jim (Hensley), and I following.  We slipped down in the narrow space with hardly room to move and the other men started to screw the panel back in place. The garage door opened and the truck moved out to the street.










 We travelled for some time, bouncing around and almost afraid to breathe.  The truck slowed down and soon came to a halt.  We could hear voices around the truck and then someone lifted the tarp over the back of the truck.  The light streamed in and thru some cracks between the boards, we saw the driver reach in and get some fruit and vegetables. He turned and gave them to the two machine-gun toting German guards, put the tarp down and got back into he truck.  The guards raised the gate and we crossed the Holland-Belgium border.  We were able to breathe again!  The truck arrived at Herstal, Belgium and pulled into a garage in a factory that belong the DuMoulin Fernand, the driver.  The roof was quickly taken off and we climbed out happy that the ordeal was over.  I could just picture us being machine-gunned to death in that compartment if someone had coughed or sneezed.

"Our next stop was to be at the third floor apartment of Gaston DeLairesse, 7 Rue Joffre, Liege, Belgium.  Gaston was a short, dapper sort of a man and his wife and two girls welcomed the four of us into their home.  We were there just about a week and we were like one big happy family in the midst of tragedy.  The apartment overlooked the terminal of the street railway and the Germans were always there to check identification papers.  One day, as we watched out the window, several men got off the streetcar and tried to avoid the Germans.  They broke out of line and started to run; the soldiers shot them down in cold blood.  You can imagine how apprehensive we were when Gaston suggested one evening that we go out and have a beer.  He grabbed his coat and headed for the door.  We followed him down the stairs and out on the street.  It was dark as the five of us walked down the street and into the corner saloon.  It was fairly crowded with civilians and German soldiers.  Gaston got us beers and we sat silently drinking our brew.  I felt like everybody in the place knew who we were and none of us dared to look around.  The time passed without incident and in a way it was nice to get out of the apartment.  Floyd spent a lot of time buzzing around Lillian and it looked like love was breaking out all over.  Jim and I spent most of our time playing games and helping Mickey with her homework.  The Colonel was quiet and reserved and didn't talk too much.

"For some reason or other on June 24th we were moved across town.  We walked across a bridge over the railroad marshalling yards and up a steep hill to a 2-story brick house.  We were greeted at the door by an older lady and a young girl.  We walked into the dining room and there were 5 guys playing cards around the table.  They stood up and introduced themselves.  They were all Americans that had been shot down.  Nine guys in one house!  Things went pretty good for a day and then the weather broke and the sun came out.  The other 5 guys had been talking loud before we arrived there and had no sense of security.  Before we knew it they were out in the back yard tossing a ball around and talking loud enough for the whole town to hear them.  As nobody else lived in the house but us, the young girl brought our food to us in a basket from a house down the street.  The old lady lived 3 doors up.










  When we got our food that evening, the four of us asked the girl if there was any way we could be moved to another house.  She said that things were pretty tight with the invasion, but she would see what she could do.  We talked to her for a while and found out that she was only 18 years old.  We were surprised because she had every other tooth missing.  According to her story, she had been picked up for suspicion (working in the underground) by the Gestapo and they worked her over to make her talk.  Obviously she didn't talk, as she was still doing her job.  She hated Germans with a passion!  It was several days and we were still waiting to be moved.  The house in the front overlooked the railroad marshalling yard and it was constantly being bombed by B-26s, B-25s and A-20s, all medium bombers.  The back yard dropped off steeply to a road below and overlooked a park on the side of the road.  Late in the afternoon of the 27th of June we heard a lot of commotion on the road by the park.  We looked down and saw a lot of German trucks.  Soldiers were getting mortars out of the trucks and setting them up in the park.  we watched for a while and then we saw a squad of soldiers march down the road. The old lady came running down to the house and shouted:  "They have the area surrounded and they are coming up the street, searching each house."  She took us down thru the backyards to a vacant house 2 doors away.  She opened the door, told us to go in and hide, and she left.

"The Germans were making their way up the street, smashing door windows to get in.  When they reached the house next door, the 9 of us went upstairs to a bedroom, closed the door, and sat down on the bed.  Somebody crawled under the bed.  As we sat on the bed, we heard the glass in the door break, the door opened and they began to search the house.  Down to the basement, then the first floor and finally, a lone footstep sounded on the steps.  I could hear doors open and close and then ours opened.  A lone soldier stood at the door, gun at his side.  He took one look inside the room, turned white, fumbled with his rifle and shouted something in German.  Several more soldiers came up and entered the room.  We were motioned to get up and line up against the wall.  They searched the room and discovered the guy under the bed.  The end of our escape came to a screeching halt!  As we were brought out of the house, the old lady was in the yard next door shouting at the soldiers.  We heard from somebody that she was taken away for questioning.  She sure was a gutsy old gal with a heart of gold."


When we arrived in Liege the truck pulled into a garage, the garage door closed, the roof rolled back and we were taken out by the Belgian Underground people.  The truck driver was a fairly young man who had been -- or was -- a long-distance swimmer.  In fact, I think at one time he tried to swim the English Channel.  He was a rather large man and after we were billeted with a Belgian family he came one night and walked us out to a









restaurant and beer parlor to have a beer.  Actually, it was late one afternoon as we got back to the house where we were staying before dark.  Our truck driver friend walked in front of us a little way and told us if we were stopped by the Germans to run while he fought them, however, fortunately, this didn't happen and we got to the restaurant without incident.  We spoke in English most of the time when no one in the place was near but if anyone came close our escort would talk to us in French.  Of course, he got no answers as we didn't know enough French to answer!  But we did enjoy the evening out although it lasted only an hour.

The next day he took us down to the center of Liege across the street from a large hotel. He took Dave and me first: he told us to walk behind him about 50 feet so no one would know we were following him. When we got to the hotel we saw the ladies wear store across the street. He went into the store and after stopping for a few minutes and acting like we were having a conversation with each other, we crossed the street and went in the store. He introduced us to Mr. and Mrs. de Lairesse. They were the owners and operators of the store. The store was on the first floor, they lived on the second floor with their three daughters, and Dave and I along with the other two air men were to live on the third floor. After the introduction of Dave and me to the de Lairesses, Mr. du Moulin went back to his shoe factory and brought the other two air men to the store.


"As we were adjusting to our new home we could observe the Germans going in and out of the hotel across the street. It seemed to be the main center of their dormitories, Gestapo, S.S. troopers and other soldiers. It didn't seem to bother our new helpers. Mr. du Moulin came by every day and would take us one at a time for a walk through the business district. We would stop at the coffee shop for coffee and observe the people. Other than that we would visit with our new family. The girls were teenagers so they had a lot of questions. We had good food and enjoyed the family. We were here two








weeks, then Mr. du Moulin was told by the underground to take us to the rail yards. There was only one house in the area and no buildings: everything had been destroyed by our bombers except this one house. It was a two story brick home. He took us there one at a time. There were several air men there and since there weren't any other houses within a couple of blocks the fellows were playing ball and having a good time. I didn't like the situation and Dave felt the same way. So when the underground man came by that evening we told him we wanted to leave before the Germans came and took every one prisoner. The other two air men that came with us didn't care about leaving with us so a young girl and an older lady brought food for the bunch twice a day. The underground man was very upset and told us if any of his people got killed by the Germans because of us leaving he would hunt us down and shoot us. He showed us his gun. He was the only person I met that was not great and eager to help. I told him we wanted to go on our own by walking cross country to get back with the invasion forces. He still was unhappy with us but said he would take us to a couple on the southwest part of the city."


I can't remember where Floyd and I were taken first when we arrived in Liege, but we stayed in this area about a week. {Note:  When we returned to Liege in April 1995 we got this cleared up.  As noted above in Lou Breitenbach's narration, we were taken to the apartment of Gaston deLairesse.  We were there about a week and were billeted on the 4th floor of the building where we slept (all 4 of us) and we ate with the family which consisted of Mr. deLairesse, his wife and three daughters and mother-in-law.}  Then we were taken to a vacant house that the Underground was using to billet the evadees they had collected there waiting to be sent on.  There were about 12 of us and Floyd and I only stayed a couple of days when we were taken to the home of an elderly lady and I believe, her daughter or daughter-in-law lived with her.  She was sheltering 2 or 3 other Americans and 1 or 2 British flyers.  The house was rather old, run-down place in a bad neighborhood (shabby).  But we









had food and a place to sleep.  Our hostess was very nice and kind but spoke almost no English.


"The couple was nice and said they would help us. They didn't have any children and were between 35 and 40 years old. They lived in a housing addition that was nice. It was a brick row house that formed a square. The people and children mingled in the center of the square. The first night we were there the lady fixed us all Belgium waffles. After we were through eating I told them we wanted them to show us the way to France. We thought it was too dangerous for them if we stayed there. We thanked them and started to leave. The lady said "wait, I want to fix you some waffles to take with you." We were happy to wait: it was good to know we would have some food. She gave us each three waffles. We thanked them again. The gentleman said he would take us to the edge of the city and show us the road to take. He told us we shouldn't walk after 10 o'clock at night and before 6 o'clock in the morning. There was a curfew during the hours in between that no one was allowed to be on the streets or roads. He showed us the dirt road we should take. It ran parallel to the main road that the Germans always traveled. But it could be seen most of the time from the dirt road we would be on."


  After a few days there Floyd and I were moved to an apartment of a man and wife who lived on the edge of the city, but in a totally different area.  Our big problem in getting there was crossing a bridge that had a machine gun nest on either side that was manned by the Germans.  We travelled across in a streetcar; fortunately, in Liege they still had a few running, maybe 2 or 3, and you could cross the river on these if the Germans didn't stop it.  Luckily, at this time they didn't stop the car and we took our chances, got across and went as far as the streetcar travelled, then walked the rest of the way.







The man in charge of the entire operation of the Underground in Liege was named "Roger" and I did not get along with him from the very beginning.  After being at this apartment for a couple of days Roger came out and visited with us and I told him I was getting restless and wanted to move on; the invasion was well along.  The Allies had broken out of Normandy and were headed in the direction of Paris and I felt we had a good chance of hooking up with them if we could just get farther south in the direction of Paris.  Roger's reaction to this was startling.  He proclaimed that he was just like a Chicago gangster and pulled a pistol out of his pocket and pointed it at me and told me if I did anything to cause his people to be caught by the Germans he would shoot me.  As you can imagine, this didn't set too well with me, so I poked his gun aside -- luckily he didn't pull the trigger -- and told him that I thought we would just go on our way anyhow.

After Roger threatened us some more, he finally left and I talked with our host.  He was very nervous and certainly didn't want any gun play around -- and neither did I, for that matter.  But he really didn't know what to do. So, we were at an impasse -- and we remained there overnight and I told him that I believed I would try to get to the Allied lines by walking sough and it would be okay if I had to walk all the way to Paris.  Floyd didn't know exactly what to do because he hated to leave me and finally decided to go along with me.  So, the two of us departed.

Our hostess had little food to cook but she did have enough to cook us a big batch of waffles and we stuffed our pockets full as we got ready to leave.  The husband guided us out to the  edge of town by walking with us.  He took us near the main road from Liege to Namur and Floyd and I trudged along beside the road through the fields but close enough to keep the road in sight, something like about 100 yards distant, sometimes farther, but since the road was our guide we did not lose sight of it.  We didn't have any actual goal, just south in the direction of Paris and the Allied lines.