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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 11:35 am 
Retro Guru

Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2010 4:38 pm
Posts: 2019
Location: Lovely Lincolnshire Wolds & W. Sussex on the beach.
Are you aware on the memorial unveiled in London in 2009 ? A distant relative of mine flew SOE agents into occupied France in Lysanders, I'm not sure how many actually parachuted in as a Dakota would have been an noisier=easier target for Jerry.

The SOE story is probably apocryphal, in that she may have found herself in France and worked with the resistance but that is not the same thing as being an SOE agent.

If she was awarded the Cross of Lorraine there will be a record of that - somewhere.

I assume you have seen the Classic Lightweights page ?

Jon.


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 Post subject: Re: 1948 Evelyn Hamilton
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 12:04 pm 
Old School Hero

Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:01 pm
Posts: 171
Location: Brandon, Suffolk, UK
The memorial is specifically to Evelyn Hamilton ? If so please confirm details. Yes I have read the Classic lightweights page.
I assume that you have read the 'Cycling' article where she states that she parachuted 6 times into occupied France, never staying for longer that 2 days. She later recounted many tales including one of being arrested by the Gestapo although she had earlier stated that she never had to produce her false identity papers.
The French 'Medaille De La Resistance' (commonly known as The Cross Of Lorraine) was awarded to more than 60,00 individuals, towns, organisations etc.
I have no doubt that Evelyn Hamilton had some involvement in France in WW2 but what that involvement was must be open to question in my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: 1948 Evelyn Hamilton
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2018 2:15 pm 
Old School Hero

Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:01 pm
Posts: 171
Location: Brandon, Suffolk, UK
Further checking would seem to indicate that Ms Hamilton was not awarded with what is commonly termed 'The Cross of Lorraine'. A far more likely candidate would be the Médaille commémorative des services volontaires dans la France libre. This was awarded to over 70,000 recipients, the vast majority being individuals in the services. This is referred to as the French Libre medal in the 1948 article.
There is probably a record of those awarded this medal in France - so more research is needed. I have no doubt that she played some role during the war and it would be most interesting to establish exactly what part she played.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 9:23 am 
Retro Guru

Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2010 4:38 pm
Posts: 2019
Location: Lovely Lincolnshire Wolds & W. Sussex on the beach.
All very interesting but I see no evidence from primary source material, articles in old copies of cycling magazines don't qualify. Any primary sources should be cited, as is common practice in academic research, otherwise the EH story remains, in the main, speculative at best.

For example, you say you have no doubt that she played a role in the war - what evidence leads you to this lack of doubt ? Furthermore It is widely accepted that many, soon after the war ended, claimed they worked with the resistance when in reality they were probably collaborators - the first thing to establish with EH is was she in France at any time during the period 1939-1945 ?

Rk.


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 Post subject: Re: 1948 Evelyn Hamilton
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 9:57 am 
Old School Hero

Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:01 pm
Posts: 171
Location: Brandon, Suffolk, UK
So - you are suggesting that all of it is fabrication ? Perhaps you are correct.
Did it cross your your mind that the reason I have posted this is to answer that very question ? Clearly not. As to articles written in the press - well.....what can I say - we have been here before as you may recall !
You did not answer my question about the memorial ? What is this memorial ?


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 Post subject: Re: 1948 Evelyn Hamilton
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 11:40 am 
Retro Guru

Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2010 4:38 pm
Posts: 2019
Location: Lovely Lincolnshire Wolds & W. Sussex on the beach.
VeloFellow54 wrote:
So - you are suggesting that all of it is fabrication ? Perhaps you are correct.
Did it cross your your mind that the reason I have posted this is to answer that very question ? Clearly not. As to articles written in the press - well.....what can I say - we have been here before as you may recall !
You did not answer my question about the memorial ? What is this memorial ?


Your churlish tone is unwelcome and I haven't used the word fabrication, but I do think EHs story is largely apocryphal. One could argue her story disrespects the sacrifices that SOE agents made in the occupied countries in WW2 - one of the most famous agents being Violette Szabo.

My relative's wartime logbooks are on permanent loan to the IWM, and his missions in occupied France are quite detailed. However, SOE papers have still not been released in full due to their sensitivity.

I can understand that owner's of bicycle frames may want to discover some of their history - of the builder (shop owner in this instance). Her cycling exploits are well documented, yet this story must be viewed with a large degree of scepticism unless primary research proves otherwise.

Rk.

N.B information on the memorial is easily found in the public domain.


Last edited by roadking on Sun May 13, 2018 2:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: 1948 Evelyn Hamilton
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 1:11 pm 
Old School Hero

Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:01 pm
Posts: 171
Location: Brandon, Suffolk, UK
Churlish ?
I know that you did not use the word 'fabrication' - I did, and that is the purpose of my raising this question - are any of the stories about EH's wartime exploits true at all ?


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 Post subject: Re: 1948 Evelyn Hamilton
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2018 8:53 am 
Devout Dirtbag

Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2016 2:18 pm
Posts: 104
Location: Warwick
There is a film and book in preparation by an author in the USA and we hope to complete our understanding of her involvement in the wartime activities of the French Resistance. I have forwarded the story of the life of this remarkable lady to the English Heritage (proposal for Blue Plaque), Swaffham Museum (proposal for memorial) and to the Museum of French Resistance (for more information).

BACKSTORY:
Mrs Hamilton was born in 1906 as Alice Bayliss in London and was to become a famous long distance cyclist in England. In 1926 she married Jack Hamilton and they cycled around the country on a tandem. She was the film double of Gracie Fields in the 1934 musical Sing As we Go when the main character is depicted by Hamilton cycling from Manchester to Blackpool (50 miles). Between 1931 and 1938 her long distance cycling exploits were recorded in a number of epic feats including 1,000 miles in 7 days, 10,000 miles in 100 days, and London to John O'Groats (700 miles) in 4 days.

In 1938 Jack and Evelyn Hamilton opened a bicycle repair and build shop at 416A Streatham High Road, London.

There is some uncertainty of how Evelyn arrived in France but she has given an account of being in Paris, possibly as a part of a circus, just before the occupation of France by German troops. She worked as a waitress in a café frequented by Gestapo officers, lived with a Frenchman called Fernand Maurice Helsen and assumed the identity of a dead woman as she herself was on the wanted list. Becoming a courier for the Resistance she ferried allied personnel across Paris on a tandem until an informer led to her being captured. Wearing her hair in a bun to conceal a small pistol she pulled it out, shot her captor and escaped to England and safety.

The shop was a front for the Free French and the SOE and was run by three Frenchmen including one of the Pelissier brothers. It is known from the records of the Museum of the Resistance that Louis Pelissier, codename Carton, was the leader of the Franc Group of the Morhange network. The Morhange network had been commissioned by Marcel Taillandier as a direct action and counter-espionage group, and was in charge of cleaning up those traitors, collaborators and Nazis who destroyed the resistance networks in the southwest of France. They eliminated dozens of people hostile to free France and resistance. Morhange was also a counter-espionage organization combating the Abwehr and the Gestapo.

Henri Pelissier won the Tour of France in 1923 and was murdered in 1935. Louis Pelissier was killed in action in 1944. He was awarded the Knight of the Legion of Honour, Companion of the Liberation - decree of 20 November 1944, Cross of War 39/45, Medal of the Resistance with rosette. Alice Pelissier was a member of the Morhange Franc Group. Jack and Evelyn Hamilton divorced in 1944.

Fernand Maurice Helsen worked as a clerk in the French Embassy in London and died aged 50 from a heart attack in 1950.

Evelyn Hamilton was awarded the Médaille de la Résistance Française, (featuring the Cross of Lorraine), which had been authorised by Charles de Gaulle in 1943, for Voluntary Service in the Free French Forces. The award for ‘Actes remarquables de foi et de courage qui, en France, dans l'empire et à l'étranger, auront contribué à la résistance du peuple français’ (Remarkable acts of faith and courage which, in France, in the empire and abroad, have contributed to the resistance of the French people) was given to 64,000 recipients. Robert Paxton cites the figure of 300,000 cards of combatants issued: 130,000 to deportees, 170,000 to volunteer fighters of the Resistance. He adds the 100,000 resisters who died in combat to approach a total of "active resistance" of 2% of the French population.

After the war the Lorraine Cross was to become the motif on her bicycle frame badges together with the name ‘Lorraine Cycles’. In 1952 she rode 12,010 miles in 100 days on one of her machines fitted with British components just to prove that British machines could be as reliable as other makes from the Continent.

On the 29 May 2005 Hamilton was known as Evelyn Alice Helsen and, aged 99, she passed away and is buried at Swaffham, Norfolk.


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 Post subject: Re: 1948 Evelyn Hamilton
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 12:07 am 
Gold Trader / MacRetro rider
Gold Trader / MacRetro rider
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Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:03 pm
Posts: 7427
Location: held captive by baby haggis in a cave in Scotland
Hi all
I have been following this thread as things are added and wasn't sure if any of you have seen or heard of this before. Joe Kurmanskie, of metal cowboy books etc has just written a book about Evelyn. I really like his books and his non touring stuff is pretty well researched.
I know of him from his touring books with his sons for a good few years now as they are relevant to my touring with my son. He always gives talks and seems very down to earth so may well be worth messaging. The web page for it is below.
Apologies if this is already mention previously.

http://www.evelynhamilton.org/book

http://www.evelynhamilton.org

Jamie


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 6:38 am 
Retro Guru

Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2010 4:38 pm
Posts: 2019
Location: Lovely Lincolnshire Wolds & W. Sussex on the beach.
I know of the book Jamie, I had hoped EHs two fans on here would have been aware. Myself I am still rather sceptical about EHs war record - perhaps the book has primary evidence of this, but the promotional material does read rather like a tabloid headline !

I previously mentioned Violette Szabo, an SOE agent executed by the Nazis. She was very highly decorated and among her awards - the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre. She is listed on the Valencay SOE Memorial, and the memorial I previously alluded to is on the Albert Embankment.

A film was made about her, Carve Her Name with Pride and starred Virginia McKenna

Rk.


Last edited by roadking on Wed May 16, 2018 8:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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