This is another short extract from ‘Just A Forgotten Hero’ and recounts the story of Florentino’s last trip. Once more it highlights not only his strength and resolve, but also the bravery and cunning of his colleagues in thwarting the might of the German security services.
In July 26 1944 Florentino made his last trip across the border to deliver and pick up messages. Since the D-Day invasion there had been far fewer servicemen repatriated by the escape lines, but he continued to act as international postman for the Comète Line and, as in this instance, the French Résistance. On his return trip he was intercepted by a German patrol and shot four times. Even with a badly broken leg and shattered kneecap his contrived to hide the documents he was delivering. He was then taken under guard to the hospital in Bayonne.
Elvire de Greef (Tante Go) visited him there the following morning. Actually she visited the rather bemused patient in the adjoining bed whom she had never met before. As she rose to leave she dropped her bag. When she stooped to pick it up she slipped a piece of paper under the sheet on Florentino’s bed. Neither had exchanged so much as a glance nor acknowledged the others presence, but Florentino had well and truly got the message! The two German guards had not noticed a thing.
Later that same day Fernand De Greef, who was wearing a Gestapo Officer’s uniform, and two policemen working with the resistance in white coats posing as stretcher bearers showed up at the hospital in a ‘borrowed’ ambulance. Fernand produced all the papers authorising them to remove Florentino.He was driven away and remained in hiding until the Nazis abandoned south-western France the following month.