CYRNIK De DECKER|
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)
. . . Now, something about "The Pick-up Crew." Thanks for your copy of Bill Dolgin's. Meanwhile, I've consulted with Brussels and the progress of Rene Van Maylem, the one who turned in Jimmy and Dolgin [to Gestapo]. It is very interesting, but I found no evidence that Bill Dolgin ever helped in his arrestation. In fact, Van Maylem escaped to Germany in September 1944 (when the Allied Troops drove the Germans out of our country). Stayed in the German Secret Service at Vienna (Austria), and when the war finished, he started working of the Americans in Austria! Because he could speak and read German very well (and the Gothic scripture), he worked in the American censor-service, to read the letters of German prisoners
When the war finished, he went to Paris and worked in bars. The Belgium justice found him there, two people of the Belgium Secret Police went to Paris and arrested him. They brought him back to Antwerp, where he was court-marshaled and executed in 1948.
Rene Van Maylem's task was primarily to infiltrate the resistance groups, to catch Allied airmen to take them to his apartment to eat and drink with them, and when they were drunk, to question them about armament, air fields, etc. One day later they were arrested by the Germans. The earned a lot of money with it.
Last week, we went to the opening of an old castle in Aaln, which was restored by someone we know. The little castle was built by a certain Van Maylem in the late 1890s and on the party, a lot of the Van Maylem's were present. Some of the people who bear this name made a genealogical study on the name of the family (they dug until 1297!). The man who made this genealogical study, Cynil Van Maylem, was present at the opening of the castle built by one of his ancestors.
I asked him if he knew something about a branch of the Van Maylem family, living before the war around Antwerp. "Oh, yes," he said. "Two of them live in Argentina..." We found out that those two were the two brothers of Rene, and because they also were collaborators with the Germans in World War II, they escaped to Argentina (and maybe are still alive!)
When I told him that Rene was responsible for the treason of 177 Allied aviators, the death of 15 Belgium's in concentration camps, that 30 resistance people came back from the camps mutilated and that 11 more survived quite unharmed those camps. Cyriel V.M. was very impressed and he didn't say a word for a few seconds. Then he said, "It is very awful for me to hear this. You know, during the war I was part of the resistance. . ."
As you see, I'm still working at the case. I just asked for the official report of Ed Taylor's and Murphy Dzwonkowski's escape, and I hope to find some more details. I ask you to be patient for awhile.
Dear Mary, on our last phone call, some weeks ago, you told us that you should not come to Belgium because I am in the Army. But for me it is really no problem to ask for some days off (vacation). Every serviceman has two days free a month (weekends not included). So if you want to come to Belgium, just let us know one month in advance. We would be very glad to see you again and to be your hosts. We have a room for you, and we'll visit some interesting places in Belgium (Waterloo, Ghent, Antwerp). Maybe on this occasion we can meet Mr. Salomes and see the flying suit of Ed Taylor. Maybe you can bring Bill Morris (tail gun) with you - he was making plans to visit Belgium in 1991.
Wishing you all the best,
Cyrnik and Ann
Letter from Cyrnik De Decker, Belgium historian - 1989. Lt. Taylor's crew
Dear Mr. Akin:
I wrote a letter to the local historian of Staden in West-Flanders, where you landed by parachute in December 1943. He wrote to me that he knew where you landed and the man who first contacted you and your two other crewmembers, Henry Dzwonkowski and William Dolgin.
Some weeks ago, I took my photo-camera and recorder and went to Staden. I visited your first "contact," Mr. Andre Laleman. He is today 80 years old, but could remember the whole story as it happened yesterday. He was there when you landed by parachute in a field near him. He went with his brother to one of the airmen and took him to his home, a farmhouse nearby. This airman had a sprained ankle. Then, a few minutes later, the local people brought the other crew members there also. So there were a lot of spectators in my house.
ONE OF YOU WAS THIRSTY AND ASKED FOR WATER. Instead, he was given a glass of beer. Then you all sat around his tale eating bread with meat and a cup of coffee. He could vividly remember that you were all sitting quietly and calm around the table. Then one of you, I think it was the little one, opened his flying suit and showed us the electrical wires for the heating.
About an hour later people of the Resistance came in. They escorted you three into the surrounding fields where you were later sent to the city of Ieprest (Ypres) by bike.
You probably know that the locals of Belgium were forbidden by the Germans to help any Allied airmen to escape. However, many men and women who helped these downed airmen during these years died in concentration camps. Also, Mr. Laleman, your host, had to go to the Gestapo headquarters where he was questioned the whole night about what happened that afternoon. But the Germans had no evidence that he had helped the FOUR missing Americans. None of the spectators at his farm had talked, either, so he was finally released and could go home. When I told Mr. Laleman that I had the addresses for eight of these airmen, he was very pleased.
From the local newspaper about your crash, I found that you were brought to Ypres by Mr. Vermander and where you stayed for four days. He died some years ago.
I also found out something about your pilot, Edward Taylor. He landed safely by parachute at the village of Westrozebeke. He then hid himself in some bushes where some local people found him, gave him civil clothes. They then went with him also to Ypres,. But I haven't found anything about him after he departed there.
I took photos of Mr. Laleman and his farm and will send you copies of the pictures if you are interested.
Letter from Cynrik De Decker to Mrs. Mary Akins - 31 December 1990
Dear Mary Akins:
Two weeks ago, I interviewed the leader of the Evasion line "EVA." He's 75 now, but still very clear in his mind. He also escorted Jimmy (Akins), Bill (Dolgin) and Henry (Dzwonkowski) from the Gare Central in Brussels, when they arrived from Ypres. He was the man who organized the whole escape line - this line helped 118 airmen. He was the one who recruited Ms. Van Hove and Hubert.
I think I am beginning to understand why Jimmy Akins and Dolgin were betrayed and not Henry Dzwonkowski. Briefly, this is it:
You know that the various members of the "line" did not know each other, and kept that way because if they were caught by the Germans, they could not identify any others if tortured. Only Charles Hoste (the man that I interviewed) knew them all, but they didn't know him. That is, except for a few men who were the "Wellfare." And these men did not hide the airmen, but they did follow the instructions that Hoiste gave, and did talk to the airmen and the people who hid them.
As you know, "Hubert" (nickname for Jean Pfortzenheim) was the "Wellfare" between Hoste and Van Hove. The "Wellfare" between Henry Dzwonkowski and Hoiste was Gaston Matthys. However, Charles Hoste did not like Charles Hoste, and that he preferred to set up a separate line for Henry. I found out that Gaston Matthys knew that there was a traitor, Rene, and that he found the way to put Dzwonkowski on another escape line - the "Comet" line.
But normally, Gaston had the duty to inform Charles Hoste because he was the leader. Hoste confirmed that he never heard about this from Gaston, and that is why he didn't know that there was something strange going on. So he put Jimmy and Dolgin on the line of Rene Van Maylem and shortly afterwards were caught.