Brecon Mountain Rescue Team to Commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII by retracing the steps along the Escape Lines over the Pyrenees from France to Spain and to remember the brave men and women that helped the escapees get home.
During the Second World War, over 33,000 escapees successfully navigated their way to safety along the entire length of the Pyrenean Mountains. Of these, 782 escaped over the mountain peaks of the Ariège, the high point being in June 1943, when there were 113 successful evasions along or close to the route named as Le Chemin de la Liberté. They were helped along these ‘Escape Lines’ by brave members of the French resistance, otherwise known as ‘Helpers’. True unsung heros, risking their own lives to help smuggle out the escapees into Spain. Those mountains were a dangerous place to be, not only because the enemy patrolled them but also because the terrain and the conditions were extreme. Despite this, the helpers would not leave them until they were safe, guiding them step by step to safety. Volunteers ready to help at a moments notice, it is to these ‘helpers’ that the successful escapees owed their lives.
The voluntary work of Mountain Rescue Teams across the UK embody the spirit of these helpers. From inured walkers, to fallen climbers and vulnerable missing people, we pride ourselves on being there to help when and wherever it is needed. Brecon Mountain Rescue has a close relationship with the British Armed Forces. Based in a historical Garrison Town, responsible for areas where the British Military train and with many of the Team’s past and present members having served in the military, we felt it was only right to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of the conflict by retracing those steps and paying homage to those ‘Helpers’.
The Brecon Mountain Rescue Team are partnering with the WW2 Escape Lines Memorial Society who are dedicated to always remembering and supporting the ‘Helpers’ of the Escape lines who assisted allied escapers and evaders during WW2. With their support we hope to educate present and future generations about this piece of history by engaging with the public and schools during the next ten months leading up to the event in June 2020. We also hope to raise money for Brecon Mountain Rescue and for the Escape Lines Memorial Society. Both organisations rely on public donations to operate.
So what do we hope to do?
Le Chemin de la Liberté route is considered to be one of the most dangerous. Professional adventure companies take groups over this route regularly. Allowing 4 days of trekking, 6-8 hours a day, covering between 13 and 26 km each day. The toughest of which sees the ascent of two Cols of over 1400m each with 650m of descent. Brecon Mountain Rescue intend to complete this route twice, there and back, in just 5 days. The team we have assembled are proud to be undertaking this endurance event to help remember all those ‘Helpers’ who sacrificed themselves for others. This event has been named Freedom and Back 2020 (#fab2020). More information on upcoming events to support the #fab2020 to follow
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