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The End

Many arrests were now made in Belgium among the members of the “Phalange Blanche,” but this had no effect on the Picardie Resistance. Taking into account all these dramatic events, Joseph Vion wisely and swiftly left Clery for the Free Zone and eventually joined the French Army.

As to the remaining members of the Vion family, they decided together to stop their clandestine activities. The Germans, unaware that they had made this decision, kept a close eye on the family. Their close link to the Catholic Church was well known and the Germans played on this fact.

Road Sign

Looking towards the River Somme from the north bank

First, a young man arrived in Clery and asked them to help him cross the river, this was rejected. Another day someone claiming to be a priest asked for the same help in crossing the Somme on the northern side of the river without success. The next day he approached the Vion farmhouse on the southern side and received the same response to his request to cross the river.

All of these approaches evidently were a German provocation. The Vion’s answer to these requests was always the same, to cross the Somme one needs only to ask for an Ausweis at the German Kommandantur.

As soon as Madeleine Barloy was arrested the whole neighbourhood found out and the local garage mechanic, Mr Landon, in Peronne, a good friend of the Barloy family, made it his business to find out what had happened and the reason for the arrest. He promised to do what he could to help them.

Mr Landon was in a good position to help having rendered a great service to a German officer of the Abwehr. This officer had left his car for repair at the garage, asking Mr Landon to bring it back to a given address. After the officer had left, Mr Landon had found a parcel containing papers written in German which he immediately took to the address and refused to give the parcel to anyone else other than the officer concerned. When the officer saw the parcel his face became white and he told Landon that: “if ever you need help, just call on me …” This is what he did, asking for help to get Madeleine Barloy out of Mons prison.

The very same day, 20th October, 1941, Madeleine Barloy was released from prison by the German Guardian and told to go to the railway station and take the train to Maurepas via Lille.

There was no proof that Madeleine Barloy was guilty of anything, but it may be that she was released by the S.D. in order to see if she would lead them to people such as Henri Talboom who was still free. The Barloy family was closely watched in Maurepas from this time.

Rene Vion's Farm
Plaque to Anne-Marie Vion

Rene’s Farm with a commemorative plaque to the memory of Anne-Marie

During the first half of October 1941, most of the members of “Phalange Blanche” were put under arrest and sent to Saint-Gilles prison in Bruxelles where they were constantly interrogated. On 18th October, the interrogations finished, they were brought before a court martial located in Mons. In order to gather more information the court of justice ceased in December 1941, for investigations until a later date. Then, in February, 1942, General von Falkenhausen decided to apply the “Nacht und Nebel” instruction, which meant that all political prisoners not yet tried in occupied countries were to be sent to Germany.

On 2nd September, 1942, Paul Houbar was transferred to Wuppertal-Elbesfeld. He was sentenced to death on 7th January, 1944, by a special court in Essen for murder and spying and was decapitated on 10th March, 1944, in Dortmund.

As for Anne-Marie Vion, she was transferred from Saint-Gilles prison in Bruxelles to Mittlich and from there to prison in Cologne on 21st August, 1943. It was in Cologne that she was tried on 27th August, 1943, and where she was sentenced to death for having “helped the enemy in spying,” the charges given were: She helped French prisoners of war to write and send letters, to escape, and also that she had helped the Belgian organisation “Phalange Blanche” in its activities.

Due to her youth, the punishment was commuted to hard labour for perpetuity, and so the hardship went on for Anne-Marie. After being held in the prisons of Lubeck and Cottbus, she finally found herself in the grim and hopeless concentration camp of Ravensbruck, where she died on 3rd February, 1945, aged 23, suffering from tuberculosis.

See the Prison page for more information regarding Anne-Marie’s last days in captivity.

This plaque is situated at the base of the war memorial in Clery-sur-Somme

Commemorative Plaque to Anne-Marie Vion

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