As dawn broke on the horizon, Florentino would arrive with the pilots at the next safe house, Sarobe, near Oiartzun, south east of San Sebastian. In theory they had escaped the worst but not in practice. Franco’s Guardia Civil supported the Nazi regime and were instructed to hand the pilots back to the Germans if they were caught.
The pilots were silently ushered into the kitchen by the Iriarte family where they were fed on corn talos, cheese, eggs and wine, while they bathed their sore feet in salted water. Paco Iriarte was a child of just 8 years old, helping out on his uncle’s farm and remembers the coded knocks on the farmhouse door and pulling thorns out from Florentino’s hands as he warmed them by the fire. With huge pride he also remembers the day that his uncle told him to guide a pilot to safety on a neighbouring farm as the house came under scrutiny of the Guardia Civil towards the end of the war. Both Paco and Maialen, children of the resistance, share the feeling of dread and terror that surrounded their tacit resistance work. Their work was shrouded in silence, no one talked, but the gravity of their tasks and the danger to their lives, and the lives of their families, was understood all too loudly. All too clearly. The fate of resistance workers was far worse than that of the pilots they hid.