John F. Hanley

  • French Foreign Legion fight on

    Six members of the Foreign Legion are on Saul's boat "Jacob's Star" when the Lancastria is bombed but how did they get there?

    Over 84,000 foreigners joined the Legion in 1940 and many of these were East European Jews who found it difficult to assimilate.

    After battling the Germans around Narvik, the 13th Demi-Brigade returned to France from Norway, sailing into the harbour at Brest on June 13th, almost at the same time the Germans were marching into Paris.

    They were ordered to form a line as part of the proposed last-ditch 'Breton Redoubt' though this was of little use as the Germans had already broken through. While on forward reconnaissance to determine what could still be done to delay the enemy, Colonel Magrin-Verneret became separated from the main body of the demi-brigade and when they returned to Brest they could not find any trace of the unit. He assumed that they had been overrun and captured. In accordance with an earlier order he had already decreed that Polish, German and Italian men within the ranks should be given priority for evacuation so as to avoid any possible retaliation against their families if captured.

    Given this order, I thought it reasonable to expect men like the fictional Willie Grun and the other Jews within the Legion to make their own arrangements rather than wait for their officers to return and speed south looking for transport to the UK.

    Willie's small group join Jack, Saul, Miko and the RAF survivors to trek north to find transport to Jersey and assist in the evacuation of the "Heavy Water".

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