The Vions

BuiltWithNOF Free Flags

Escape and Infiltration

The political military control in the Occupied and Forbidden Zones put in place by the German authorities did not only block the return of the inhabitants who had been evacuated to the south and wanted to join their departments in the Nord and Pas-de-Calais, but the same control also blocked the French soldiers who were prisoners of war but had escaped from camps situated on the northern side of the Somme, who now wanted to reach the “Zone Libre” (Free Zone) in the south.

Some of the inhabitants living on the banks of the river helped these various groups of people to cross, despite the dangers, through clandestine crossings in their tiny fishing boats.

Little by little a discrete complicity among these “Passeur,” Ferry-men, took place and after a while a network of Passeurs was established by people living on the north and south banks of the Somme River forming a local and even regional network assisting in helping those engaged in escaping and infiltration. Some of the most active Passeurs between the Peronne and Bray sectors were at Frise and Clery sur Somme.

The Clery-sur-Somme Channel

Rene Vion's Farm

Rene Vion’s Farm in Omiecourt-les-Clery now empty

Except for the two youngest girls, all the members of the Vion family were engaged in the escaping channel. The family consisted of four brothers and four sisters whose parents had died some years before the outbreak of the Second World War. Rene, the eldest of the brothers owned the parent’s farm in Omiecourt-les-Clery, situated on the southern bank of the Somme. All the others, sisters and brothers lived together in the family house in Clery, Rue d’en Bas (since 16th August, 1987, Rue Mme-Marie Vion) which is situated on the northern bank of the Somme.

Joseph, who helped his brother Rene to run the farm in Omiecourt was allowed to cross the river in his tiny boat to reach the farm and to then travel back across to Clery. This opportunity enabled him to carry out clandestine crossings of civilians as well as escaped prisoners who were in the POW camp at Peronne. Most of the escaped prisoners were collected in the Combles Sector at the Abbe’ Bailleul, Maricourt, by Madeleine Barloy of Maurepas and by Helene Verdy who owned a café in Clery.

The Abbe’ Bailleul existed for the promotion of Christian Cultural Youth, of which Madeleine Barloy and Anne-Marie Vion were members.

Anne-Marie Vion provided communication between the escapers and her brother Joseph who was in charge of arranging the crossing of the river and their stay in Clery.

Anne-Marie not only helped the prisoners to escape, but she also organised, together with Mr Bonvarlet and Mr Duserel, both working inside the prison camp in Peronne, to set up a kind of “letter-box service” between the prisoners and their relatives.

This activity caused her to come into contact with Mme Beulaget whose husband was among the prisoners in the camp.

Rene Vion's Farm

Main gateway to Rene Vion’s Farm

Besides these activities the Vion family also provided a safe-house for a “Liaison-agent” coming from Belgium called Van Vooren. Van Vooren was entrusted with the task of carrying information from Belgium and delivering it into the Free Zone (Zone Libre). He was later to be arrested and executed.

[Home] [Occupied] [The Vions] [Agents] [Sacrifice] [Prison] [Pictures] [Links] [Francais]