by Bob Jamison

          Passing along the beautiful road way from Brussels to Antwerp Belgium, the peaceful fields along the highway belies the tragedy suffered by the German onslaught of World War II. Driving the car was our host Roger DePorter, a vowed opponent of the WWII Nazi regime. The nearby forest where Nazi tanks burst through the picturesque woodlands became a house hold word called simply the Battle of the Bulge.

          The German invasion of this great country was one of contradiction because the Belgium people were in the horrible zone that contained many citizens who could not escape. Then the endless marching of Nazi troops that occupied their land was a threat to anyone or anything in their way. The dilemma of senseless murders by the Nazis was accented by countless raids by the Allied air forces out of England with their necessary daily bombing of enemy targets there. This also killed many innocent people of Belgium plus the heavy damage to the German military. However, the will of the people of Belgium did not falter.

          At the time, DePorter was a young university student that couldn’t stand what he saw. He borrowed his father’s new car and together with a friend headed to the border of France to join the French army. Soon he was stopped by the British road block. DePorter explained he wanted to go fight the Nazis with the French army. “Too late”, they said. Germans had taken France and they were everywhere. At that point they confiscated the new automobile and bid them good bye and advised them to travel by foot only at night on their way back home. They did and ate only rutabagas stolen from gardens to sustain their long walk back. (After the war the Brits honored his receipt he kept all those years and he got a new car).

          Soon he learned that one of his university professors was secretly organizing a branch of the Belgium Underground, a formidable subversive force that continually disrupted Nazi activities by night while they carried on normal duties of school or employment during the day. He gladly joined the group and survived the entire war while serving with this fantastic group of heroes.

          He drove us through an opulent subdivision of two and three story homes in Brussels. It was similar to the expensive homes in cities like Houston. DePorter pointed out a particular attractive home and quietly told us that it housed the dreaded Nazi Gestapo headquarters during the war; “But, we ‘took them out’ one night and got all their weapons and documents.”

          Then we drove by one of the concentration camps still complete with high chain length fences and knarled razor wire.“A lot of our friends in The Underground were captured and placed there. None survived.” The dismal grounds remain as a reminder to those that passed here of the hardships endured. All the while, there were still two allied tanks poised at the gate entrance as symbols of defiance.

          Since the secret meetings were often held in the basement of the professor’s home, there was always a small light shining on the front door. One night near the end of the war, at a prescribed time, DePorter rode his bicycle by the house for a meeting but noticed the light was out. He stopped in the next block, got off his bicycle and pretended to tie his shoes. He had noticed a suspicious person slowly walking toward him. The man didn’t stop or look at him. He said he could feel the hair stand up on his neck when the stranger said, “They got the professor”, and passed on by without a glance at DePorter.

          No telling what the professor went through during the remaining months of the war but not a single name of Underground agents was revealed. As the Nazis were pulling out of Belgium, troops rushed where they held the professor only to find he had been shot and killed a few minutes earlier.

          After the war’s end, DePorter was so highly decorated that he was offered any job of his choosing in the Belgium command. He chose the mayor ship of Stanleyville, Africa in the Belgium Congo and served many years there. Roger DePorter has passed away and some of this story might now be repeated. I was honored with his confidence in me that I might be one to shake the hand of truly a patriot and hero of the times.