René GUITTARD
152 Rue d'Hesdin
62270 FREVENT

English version
 
LA RESISTANCE
DANS LE TERNOIS
Secteur de Frévent, Saint-Pol s/Ternoise
Auxi-le-Château, Avesnes-le-Comte
Septembre 1986
With gratitude and thanks
And to the memory of
De Monsieur le Colonel Fernand LHERMITTE (+ 1986)
Président d'Honneur des Anciens Résistants
Actifs de l'OCM et du BOA du Pas-de-Calais
A qui ce récit doit beaucoup
For Mr André VELUT (died 1983)
our late lamented President
who was determined
to perpetuate the memory of the "Resistance"
in the Pas-de-Calais
 
INTRODUCTION
This history of Resistance in Ternois is a memorial (marque d'estime) for those who took an active part in the clandestine combat in what was known as the Frévent Sector. It is also and especially, an homage paid to the memory of our missing companions, victims of their engagement in this fight against the occupant Nazi so that our country could find its place among the great democratic nations, and that freedom and human dignity could triumph over intolerance and barbarism.
This is also an analysis of the reasons why we could justify this engagement in Resistance, this account will detail:
a)
The establishment of the movements and networks which covered the sector from 1942 to 1944.
b)
The activities of the resistants together with some details to illustrate the intensity of the events.
c)

An assessment of the losses undergone in our battles through the repression by the various German police forces during the Battle for Liberation.
R. Guittard
A Frévent le 15 Septembre 1986
 
JOINING THE RESISTANCE
To understand such an engagement it is necessary to try to place it in the context of the time after the Great War of 1914-1918, time which modelled the generation of those who took part in the insane but exciting life of La Resistance. France had won this Great War. The schools glorified the heroism of our fathers in the trenches, sensitized our young hearts on the enthusiastic return of Alsace-Lorraine to the French Nation, and exalted the patriotic virtues of this victorious France.
In addition, the position of Ternois in the English Zone during the 4 years of the 1st World War, the hard times and deadly combat carried out coast to coast on the fields of battle in Artois, the renewal of the promises of the British military establishment during the "Phoney War" of 39-40, cemented a strong Franco-English solidarity in our area.
The horrible massacres of Aubigny in Artois and Besles-Monchel perpetrated by the SS in May 1940, outraged us.
The news bulletins on the British radio, the program "Les Français parlent aux Français", and the interventions of General de Gaulle on the BBC, had a profound effect on us and woke up the hope; while the Vichy-native collaborationist propaganda of Pétain seemed cowardice to us. At the same time we were very aware of the threat of annexation by the Grand Reich of our provinces in the north attached by the Oberfeldkommandantur in Brussels, and separated from the remainder of France by the line of demarcation established along the Somme; a guarded frontier, very difficult to cross.
As of June 1940, an escape organisation, covering Frévent, Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise and their immediate surroundings, extended towards Arras and Bethune, made escape possible for the French and British soldiers from the columns of prisoners, who wanted to go to Great Britain to continue the armed struggle. It is was because this escape line that some local young people, answering the call of de Gaulle, were able to join the Forces Françaises Libres in England.
Restraints imposed by the occupiers: curfew from 21.00 to 06.00, strictly controlled movements, massive requisitions, difficulties of supply, were soon causing a reaction in some of our fellow-citizens who, because of relations and ideological affinities, sometimes within the framework of professional activities and the old political or trade-union formations, acted in small groups, even separately, to fight enemy propaganda and to carry out some sabotages:
13 October 1941: 150 m of telephone wire cut between BRIAS and SAINT-POL.
26 March 1942: attempted sabotage of the shunting station of TINQUES.
2 April 1942: sabotage on the railway station of BRIAS.
1 May 1942: anti-nazi slogans painted on the roads of the center of FREVENT.
On the night of 30 April/1 May 1942, a German night patrol saw the slogans and reported to the German Command, which alerted the Feldgendarmerie. They immediately arrested 17 Fréventins and took them to the Kommandantur. They were released next morning after ordering George FATIEN, to remove the slogans.
22 June 1942: rail lines at MONCHY-CAYEUX cut with explosives.
27 June 1942: Kommandantur of ARRAS ordered the confiscation of five wireless sets in FREVENT, following the sabotage of a German telephone line at the western exit of FREVENT towards LIGNY s/CANCHE.
Also, very early, some patriots of Ternois had shown their will to shake the yoke of the occupant. But it is towards the end of summer 1942 that the message "On ne dégotte pas les gars du Nord et du Pas-de-Calais" on the BBC made the constitution of the Resistance groups already formed in FREVENT and the surrounding areas, official. Then, quickly, this first organized core, flowed like oil into SAINT-POL, AUXI, AVESNES and LUCHEUX.
The activities concerned four organizations:
Two movements of "Résistance intérieure"
OCM: Organisation Civile et Militaire.
FN-FTPF: Front National et Francs Tireurs Partisans Français.
Two FFC (Forces Françaises Combattantes) networks attached to the BCRA (Bureau Central Renseignements et Action) of the Staff of the FFL (Forces Françaises Libres) in London:
The BOA (Bureau des Opérations Aériennes) action group.
The "Bordeaux-Loupiac" escape network.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE ORGANISATIONS AND GROUPS
OCM: ORGANISATION CIVILE ET MILITAIRE
ORGANISATION OF THE SECTOR CHIEF FOR THE DEPARTMENT
It was after a meeting in Arras in July 1942 between JACQUOT alias "Antoine" from Paris (delegated by Colonel TOUNY of the OCM) and George BEDEZ, Mayor of Arras, that the OCM was established in the Pas-de-Calais. Confirmation was given from London in a message received at the end of July 1942: "Les Quatre Amis d'Arras se sont réunis". A headquarters staff was formed, and immediately Raoul FRANÇOIS alias "Godillot", Professor in Arras, made himself responsible for the military organization in the sectors of the Coast, HESDIN, FREVENT and SAINT-POL.
THE OCM FREVENT SECTOR IN AUGUST 1942
Raoul FRANÇOIS soon contacted Augustin PETIN alias "Bâtisse", a teacher at Izel-les-Hameaux, and took his place on the Departmental Committee of the OCM. The first contacts in the sector were made by "Bâtisse" in August 1942 with:
Docteur Pierre CUALLACCI alias "Toubib" of FREVENT
Raymond HETROY alias "André" of FREVENT
Oscar TINCHON alias "Ternois" of SAINT-POL
Marcel HERARD alias "Lucien" of LE PONCHEL
Maurice BERTOUX alias "Le Marin" of BOFFLES
Liaison was assured with René GUITTARD alias "Banjo" of FREVENT.
REORGANISATION OF THE SECTOR IN AUGUST 1943
The loss of Pierre CUALLACCI who was arrested on 20 July 1943 by the Gestapo.
They had a list of principal persons in the Pas-de-Calais OCM from the intermediary of a traitor named BAILLART, executed two days earlier by the Resistance. With the arrest of forty of members of the Movement, it was practically decapitated.
The departure of Raymond HETROY - hunted by Gestapo and left the area.
The departure of Augustin PETIN who rejoined the organisation in ARRAS, the department responsible for TISON and HELLE to become, in December 1943, responsible for the FFI (Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur) of the Somme.
Maurice BERTOUX became responsible for the sector until the Liberation with assistant René GUITTARD, and liaison officer Georges LION alias "Guy" of Fortel en Artois.
The "Boîte aux Lettres" was established at the café of Eugene GUITTARD alias "Just" at 33 rue de Doullens in FREVENT until the beginning of April 1944 (Mrs Sidonie GUITTARD was arrested by the Gestapo on 8 April 1944), then with Jean and Roger COTTON at rue des Lombards in FREVENT. (cf Appendix 9: The arrest of Madame Sidonie Guittard)
Five sub-sectors were defined, each one with a person in charge responsible for a) recruitment in the zone and b) maintaining contact with the sector headquarters.
1)

S/secteur of FREVENT with Jean COTTON alias "Bob" arrested 9 July 1944; replaced by Robert MONCOMBLE alias "Poulet".
2)


S/secteur AUXI-le-CHATEAU with Marcel HERARD hunted by the Gestapo in December 1943; replaced by Adrien DELAVAL alias "Alain" of Auxi, arrested on March 11, 1944; replaced by Paul SOUDAIN of Willencourt.
3)

S/secteur of SAINT-POL sur TERNOISE with Oscar TINCHON and his assistant Albert ASSEZ alias "Bronchite" a PTT inspector at St Pol.
4)

S/secteur of AVESNES-le-COMPTE with Jacques DARTEVELLE alias "Théo" and his assistant Léonce ROUSSEL.
5)

S/secteur of LUCHEUX (Somme) with Ernest HEMERY and his assistant Hector LENGLET. At the request of Augustin PETIN this s/sector of LUCHEUX was attached to the OCM Somme as from January 44.
In each sub-sector profitable recruitment took place. In many villages (always with the necessary guarantees for the safety of each one, and survival of the movement) a local résponsable was contacted who then recruited his own group. At the level of the sector chiefs, more specific information was sought:
1)


Contacts were especially sought with employees at the town halls of Frévent, St Pol and Auxi, and in particular with secretaries at the town halls who could supply false papers and food coupons: Rebreuve s/Canche, Villers l'Hôpital, Vaulx-les-Auxi, Le Ponchel, Siracourt Bruneville all answered our request.
2)

Amongst the police forces, for information on the repressive activities of the French police, and even the Germans.
The Brigades of St Pol (1 gendarme) of Frévent (2 gendarmes and the Chef de Brigade) and of Auxi (1 gendarme) were infiltrated in this way.
In order to ensure everyone's security, the contact phrase "Le P'tit Quinquin et l'Ami Bidasse vont la main dans la main" was used several times during the autumn 1943.
The use of an "Action" phase was considered by headquarters from the very start of 1944, a team of 6 volunteers known as Equipe Action Immédiate (AI) were quickly armed and trained in the use of weapons and parachuted explosives, and placed under the command of Gerard MALO.
FN-FTPF: FRONT NATIONAL ET FRANCS TIREURS PARTISANS FRANCAIS
It should be remembered that these resistance movements were initially formed at the instigation of the Communist Party and charged with secrecy since the signing of the German-Russian pact in August 1939, but who, after the attack on Russia by Germany in June 1941, joined the clandestine fight against the Nazi invader.
In the sector, this form of resistance was extremely active as of the summer 1942, (notably) in two of our towns whose industrial environment had involved particular trade-union and Communist establishment:
1)

At FREVENT with Raymond VIGREUX for the FN, and Charles DUQUENNOY alias "Freddy" at the head of a very active FTP group.
2) At AUXI-LE-CHATEAU with Elie VARLET alias "Goudron".
It should be noted that in our sector, contrary to what may have happened elsewhere, the groups of the OCM, and of the FN and FTP, had a common cause.
BOA: BUREAU DES OPERATIONS AERIENNES
Pierre DESHAYES alias "Jean Pierre" or "Tommy Gun" Liaison Officer of the BCRA in London, was parachuted into France in December 1942. His mission was to organise the BOA teams in the five Departments of Area A (Northern, Pas-de-Calais, Somme, Aisne and Seine Maritime).
Thanks to the OCM being already in place, he was able to contact Doctor Pierre CUALLACCI and bring Pierre DE CLEENE alias "Alex" as his technical assistant.
Research of landing fields was then carried out by DESHAYES, DE CLEEVE, CUALLACCI, HETROY and GUITTARD who also recruited at the same time the Chiefs of the Reception Teams:
Marcel HERARD of LE PONCHEL
Guy and René BOUILLET of REBREUVIETTE
Jean MASSERON of SAINT-POL s/TERNOISE
One field in the s/sector of AUXI-LE-CHATEAU and two fields in the s/sector of FREVENT were approved and used:
at LE PONCHEL: SARRE Field
at CANETTEMONT: SAMBRE Field
at REBREUVIETTE: SCARPE Field
Three other fields in the s/secteurs of AUXI-LE-CHATEAU and SAINT-POL s/TERNOISE were approved but not used: at GUESCHART, at HAUT-MAINIL and at BLANGERMONT.
THE BORDEAUX-LOUPIAC ESCAPE NETWORK
From the spring of 1943, there was a return of the heavy bombing raids on central Germany, the almost daily flights of Anglo-American heavy bombers passing over Ternois on their outward journey, and the endless air raids to neutralize the many V1 launch sites, which were protected by an effective network of DCA (AA guns). The allied airmen were shot down with their aircraft, but fortunately, quite often, the parachute drop or crash landing allowed the men to escape without too much injury. Consequently, the Resistance had the duty to recover them; the loss of experienced crews being more crucial to the allies than the loss of their equipment.
From August 1943, the creation of an escape route became essential. Organized at OCM-BOA (sector of district) level, this branch of activity was attached to the "Bordeaux-Loupiac" group after contact in LILLE in August 1943 between Rene GUITTARD and the Regional Responsable of this FFC network, HEGEDOS alias "Antoine" (journalist with the "Réveil du Nord" actually "Nord-Matin") and is presented as follows:
Network chief for the sector:

Rene GUITTARD with the assistance of his wife Marie-Thérèse née DUMONT.
Associates: Jean COTTON alias "Bob" and Eugene GUITTARD alias "Just"
Liaison officer for Lille and Arras: Georges LION
Five under-sectors of collection were established:
1) Frévent-west:
Responsables Maurice DOURLENS and Abbot GUERLET of Fillières.
2) Frévent-east:
Responsables Paul DEBRET of Honval and Pierre CHABE of Rebreuviette.
3) Frévent-south: Responsable Leon RESIMONT of Bonnières.
4) Auxi-le-Chateau: Responsables Joseph BECKER of Auxi and Marcel HERARD of Ponchel.
5) St Pol-sur-Ternoise: Responsable Jean MASSERON of St Pol.
In spite of the enormous risks incurred, 58 known families in Ternois lodged the many fallen airmen recovered into the area (cf Appendix 1: Structure of réseau "Bordeaux-Loupiac").
It is quite obvious that "BOA" and "Bordeaux-Loupiac" networks were not in fact two branches of more specific activities of the OCM.
RESISTANCE ACTIVITIES IN THE SECTOR
INTELLIGENCE
According to the directives issued from 1942 by the ARRAS headquarters, the search for "intelligence" had to be more thoroughly and systematically organized. It concerned:
1)

The movements of the enemy troops by reporting their number plates, all the inscriptions on the military vehicles and by specifying the characteristics of the uniforms.
2) Establishment of the headquarters, the fuel depots, the stores of materiel.
3) Details of the many enemy installations in the sector: airfields, AA sites, V1 and V2 launch sites etc ...
This intelligence was collected by the responsables of each sub-sector centred around FREVENT, and after selection (mis au net) transmitted from ARRAS to be sent to England through the "CENTURIE" and "ZERO-FRANCE" networks.
The most important intelligence provided concerned:
Plans of the airfield at BRIAS and its radio guidance station (September 1943).
Information on all Luftwaffe airfields and V1 launch sites collected by Bob MERLIN, an RAF pilot shot down in August 1943 (Sgt H E R MERLIN 175 Sqn) and employed as personal driver of Joseph BECKER for the firm of ODENTHAL in charge of work on the infrastructure for the TODT Organization.
The general plan of the V1 launch sites at the German office of BEAUVOIR-BONNIERES (December 1943).
The enormous construction at SIRACOURT intended for the storage of (inert) V1 and V2 weapons, and the exact position of the radio control station at PREDEFIN (January 1944).
The fuel store in the forest of LUCHEUX which was completely destroyed by a night bombardment by the RAF at the beginning of July 1944.
THE EVASION NETWORK
The sector of FREVENT-AUXI-ST POL was particularly effective in the assistance given to the allied airmen brought down in the area.
January 1943 to mid-July 1943: 3 airmen (1 English, 1 American, 1 Canadian) were recovered by CUALLACCI and METROY and directed to ARRAS where they were handled by the "Pat O' Leary" network.
From August 1943 until the Liberation: GUITTARD father and son, and Jean COTTON, and later with HEGEDOS alias "Antoine" (Bordeaux-Loupiac Network); 53 airmen: 17 English, 23 Americans, 6 Canadians, 3 New Zealanders and 4 Australians were handled and sheltered in the whole of the sector. (cf Appendix 2: List of allied airmen recovered in the sector)
The airmen were looked after by several doctors from Auxi (Dr. Boutin and Dr. Hibon), from Frévent (Dr. Cuallacci and his substitute Dr. Wallyn), from Saint-Pol (Dr. Carette) and from Lucheux (Dr. Jaquemelle).
Their subsistence was provided, either by the farmers lodging the airmen, or, for those lodged elsewhere, by the food coupons diverted by certain employees at the Town Halls and honoured by some of the tradesmen at Frévént, St Pol and Auxi.
Civilian clothing came from sympathisers and especially from the clothier Maurice MEMBISE in Frevent, and altered by devoted dressmakers (Suzanne LOUIS).
The false papers (identity, work permits) were acquired by Eugene GUITTARD and especially contacted secretaries at the Town Halls.
"Antoine" decided that the airmen, when leaving for the perilous return to Great Britain, should be collected at FREVENT before being taken to ARRAS or LILLE on the first stage of their journey. (cf Appendix 3: The accident at Rebreuviette).
On 8 April 1944, Sidonie GUITTARD, who had 10 airmen gathered ready to leave in her cafe at 33 rue de Doullens, was stopped by Gestapo and Feldgendarmerie who descended in force. Her husband and son escaped but she was taken to the Prison of LOOS-les-LILLE. (cf Appendix 9: The arrest of Madame Sidonie Guittard) The 10 airmen later escaped during an air raid on the prison.
Fact: a score of airmen reached Great Britain via Spain, and 13 were lodged until the Liberation. The others, arrested on the escape line, were taken to Germany as Prisoners of War.
Three messages were transmitted by the BBC to announce the return of airmen to Great Britain:
November 1943: "Bonjour à la Fleur"
January 1944: "Le lapin est bourré d'asticots"
March 1944: "Il n'y a plus de gangsters à Chicago"
Also, a Russian national FTP group from AUXI were lodged for a few weeks in FREVENT in February 1944 before being taken to ARRAS and a specific network for Russian refugees (Russian Prisoners of War or Required Russian escaped prisoners).
FORGED IDENTITY PAPERS - HELP FOR THE "REFRACTAIRES" OF THE STO (Service du Travail Obligatoire en Allemagne)
From 1942 to the Liberation, more than 300 forged indentity cards, together with false certificates of employment and fake residence certificates, were manufactured in the sector. They were intended for:
a) Résistants who had to change their identity to escape from the Gestapo.
b)

Some of our fellow-citizens condemned to permanent flight to escape the tragic consequences of the horrible racial policy of the 3rd Reich.
c) Recovered allied airmen.
d) Escaped prisoners.
e) The many 'refractaires' or defaulters of the STO
Apart from the clandestine use of the seals from the towns and already mentioned villages, and seal of the Police Station of Arras was used thanks to a contact made by Georges LION. Many forged cards, especially those intended for evaders of the STO, were manufactured using the old seal of the commune of VAULX-les-AUXI recovered by Raymond HETROY and entrusted to Eugene GUITTARD, who specialised in this kind of work.
The false employment certificates were made using seals taken from the offices of the Lenier Counter and the Winterberger Foundry at FREVENT and Emailleries AUBECQ in AUXI-le-CHATEAU.
It should be noted that because of this, none of the holders of these forged papers, although often inspected, were challenged by either the Germans or the French police.
Some young evaders of the STO were hidden and looked after by farmers in our sector, and so effectively increased our manpower.
PARACHUTINGS AND LANDINGS
Night of 12/13 July 1943: SARRE field at Canettemont.
Message: "Alex a retrouvé son couteau".
6 containers and 1 bag of mail dropped (1 container remained hung up in the plane)
Night of 15/16 July 1943: SCARPE field at Ponchel.
Message: "Le sucrier est entre les deux tasses".
Successful drop (Operation Roach by 138 SD Squadron) of 7 containers and a bag.
During the day of the 16th, school teacher Mrs HERARD took her pupils to the drop zone for a session of outdoor games, to erase the traces of parachuting.
Night of September 19/20, 1943: SAMBRE field at Rebreuviette.
Message: "Ne foulez pas les blés".
Successful drop of 18 containers.
Night of 22/23 September 1943: SCARPE field.
Message: "Entre la poire et le fromage".
The reception team didn't see the plane until 05.00, which made parachuting impossible.
Night of 7/8 October 1943: SAMBRE field.
Message: "Les prairies sont verdoyantes".
The aircraft arrived too early (21.20) and the reception team did not have the time to get set up.
Night of 18/19 October 1943: SCARPE field.
Message: "Il pleut sur la ville".
The team was in place but the presence of German patrols close to the field made signalling and dropping impossible.
Night of 15/16 November 1943: SARRE field in Canettemont.
Message: "La lune brille ce soir sur la ville" (letter X).
Landing and takeoff without problem by a LYSANDER of the 161 Special Duties Squadron piloted by Flying Officer James McCAIRNS.
DAMBRINE brought the three departing agents from ARRAS in an undertaker's van: Major Yéo THOMAS alias "Shelley" alias "Le lapin blanc" and two women MMelles VIROLLE and PICHARD who took invaluable information to England on the establishment of V1 and coastal defenses of the Atlantic Wall.
The van took the two newcomers towards ARRAS: Rene HOUZE who joined the head quarters staff of the organisation in Lille, and an unknown agent of "the Intelligence Service" on a mission on behalf of the (British) War Office directly established in France by British intelligence (the networks "Buckmaster" [SOE] and the circuit of Captaine Michel)
Verity (We Landed by Moonlight pg 133 on) says Operation TOMMY GUN was organised by Pierre DESHAYES and describes it as a five star 'Crossbow' mission because of the importance of the rocket site information to be collected. He says the two women were Mme M GUYOT alias "Mlle Virolle", and Mlle PICHARD, and that the second agent delivered was Georges BROUSSINE of the escape reseau Bourgogne. He also refers to the landing field as CHARENTE and that S/Ldr Forest Yeo-Thomas reported he had arrived in a hearse as part of a funeral procession and had assured McCairns there were fifty 'Maquis' guarding the landing field approaches. I believe the Captaine Michel referred to was Michel Trotobas.
ARMS AND EXPLOSIVES
At the beginning of 1942 we had only some revolvers and salvaged pistols of average calibre (7.65) which had been reconditioned by the COTTON brothers of Frévent, and a hundred usable cartridges.
With the first parachute drops in July 1943 the situation seriously improved. The containers brought us:
Larger calibre pistols and revolvers (9mm and 0.45)
Sten guns
Cartridges
Grenades
Explosives:"Plastic" and "808" with det-cord, detonators and delayed-action time pencils etc.
At first, the weapons caches were the responsibility of the BOA who hid them in farms near the dropping fields, then from November 1943, they shared them out on orders from the "military delegates" (Regional and Departmental) for use by Resistance groups.
OCM for the sectors: "Littoral", "Minier", ARRAS & St POL and FREVENT
FTP for the sectors "Minier", Auxi-le-Chateau, FREVENT and ARRAS
Voix du Nord for the sectors "Minier" and LAVENTIE
WO for the "Minier" sector
Transport was carried out:
a) By the farmers.
b) By the gazogène ambulance of Dr. CUALLACCI.
c)

By the van from the Renault garage in FREVENT - used by Pierre and Roger DRAPER without the knowledge of their parents.
d)





By the Citroen 'traction avant' bought with money advanced by Joseph BECKER, the car having a false licence plates and driven by Georges LION alias "Guy" and used throughout the sector until July 26, 1944. Stopped at St Pol during one of these transport missions, the four occupants of the car, firing their weapons, manage to flee in spite of the Germans. They gave up the 'traction' at the bottom of the rue de Béthune by the old Law Courts. During the shooting several Germans were hit as well as our comrade Maurice LEFEBVRE, rather seriously wounded by a bullet.
At the end of January 1944, a sector team (Rene GUITTARD, Gerard MALO and Pierre COLLEMENT) took possession, with Paul LEMAIRE's truck (Wines and Spirits of FREVENT), of a ton and half of weapons and explosives at ALETTE near MONTREUIL s/MER, and brought them to a hiding place in CONCHY s/CANCHE to be distributed throughout the sector.
INSTRUCTIONS ON PARACHUTED WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES
At the beginning of December 1943, FFL instructor Jean DELVALEZ was sent to us by the Regional FFI. A hiding place for the materiel and a room were placed at his disposal with the firm of DUPOND-CHABE at Rue de Marshal Pétain (now Rue General de Gaulle) in FREVENT. The volunteers of the "Action Immédiate" teams, and a number of résistants from the sector and other nearby sectors, and two young "Voix du Nord" sent from Lille, were involved in the use of the weapons and explosives during December 43, January and February 44. Then Gerard MALO, chief AI of the sector, was named Departmental Instructer by the FFI Staff in Arras.
It should be noted that as well as the explosives, the teams of saboteurs used unexploded bombs, found everywhere after the allied bombings, and defused.
SABOTAGE ACTIONS
Sabotage was co-ordinated between the OCM and FTP groups. From September 1943 to March 1944 these teams achieved:
12 sabotages (by unbolting or explosives) of railway lines followed by derailments on the FREVENT-DOULLENS, FREVENT-SAINT POL, SAINT POL-ANVIN and FREVENT-AUXI-ABBEVILLE lines.
4 telephone wire sabotages on the railways and 3 sabotages of German telephone lines.
2 sabotages of hydraulic installations at AUXI station.
1 sabotage of German trucks parked in the Avenue du Chateau de Cercamps in FREVENT.
1 sabotage of railway wagons at FREVENT station.
1 cut by explosives of underground telephone cables at FREVENT-SAINT POL (between Frévent and Nuncq).
In March 1944 'our' gendarmes at Frevent told us that Charles DUQUENNOY alias "Freddy", who was responsible for FTP groups, was very actively sought by the French and German police forces. Restricted by the inaction in the sector, he received an order from his chiefs to leave the Northern Area and join the Eastern Area where he was later killed during a direct attack against the Germans. His groups were taken over by the FTP HQ at Bassin Minier, except for some isolated groups which were involved with the OCM in forest of Lucheux.
THE EVENTS OF FEBRUARY AND MARCH 1944
There was a certain excitement at headquarters and responsables level for the start of the invasion, which we were convinced would take place on the beaches of the Pas-de-Calais (of course, we know now that it was one of the aspects of the allied operation known as "Operation Fortitude" which succeeded in deceiving even the German High command). Consequently, we multiplied our sources of intelligence on the enemy activity, and proceeded with the installation of the action plans:
Plan Green: on the road networks
Plan Blue: on telephone communications
Plan Yellow: on fuel and material depots
We especially intensified the sabotage actions when, on June 5 and 6, the BBC sent successive 'action' messages:
Message: "Les sirènes ont les cheveux décolorés" for general action against the German telephone system (Plan Blue)
Message: "Au bout de l'envoi je touche" for a closer monitoring of troop displacements by rail and road.
Message: "Ils se répandirent dans la plaine" for more constant and direct action (Plans Green and Yellow)
And so from March 1944 to 1 September 1944 the AI (Action Immédiate) groups of the OCM achieved:
20 sabotages with the explosives against the railways (including 4 against structures in Ligny, St Flochel, Sibiville and Frévent) with cuts of the neighbouring telephone lines.
2 sabotages of technical installations at Bouquemaison and St Pol railway stations.
11 destructions of telephone lines (and the telephone box at Ramecourt)
1 second cut by explosives of the underground telephone cable in northern Frévent.
In May and June 1944, several mines were placed under road bridges as per Plan Green. The attacks were cancelled because of the rapid advance of the allies in August 1944 (cf Appendix 4: Sabotage of the Pont de la Rue de Doullens, Appendix 5: Sabotages carried out on the railways, and Appendix 6: "Terrorist" activity in the region from June to October 1943)
PAMPHLETS/LEAFLETS AND THE CLANDESTINE PRESS
To all these activities it is necessary to add the distribution of the leaflets and especially of the clandestine press, La Voix du Nord and Le Patriote which reached us rather irregularly:
The Departmental HQ of the OCM for "La Voix du Nord"
The FN and FTP for "Le Patriote"
In contrast, les responsables quite regularly received information from "Les Cahiers de l'OCM".
THE BATTLE FOR LIBERATION
From 31 August 1944, knowing about the quickly advancing movement of the British tanks of the 7th English Armoured Division of the 12th Army Corps of Lieutenant-General RITCHIE, all the Resistance groups began guerrilla actions aiming seizing the greatest possible number of enemy soldiers, or if not, then slowing down their retreat.
The faulty tyres (crève-pneus) manufactured by some of our companions resulted in a considerable number of their vehicles being immobilized during their retreat.
Tired, demoralized, disabled, and cut off from their units, many Germans went without firing a shot, and those soldiers without uniforms simply wearing an arm-band with the "Cross of Lorraine". The weapons recovered from them made it possible to equip the majority of the volunteers who spontaneously came to join us.
On the other hand certain enemy groups were still well structured and opposed us with an obstinate resistance, causing significant losses in our ranks:
1 September 1944 at HERNICOURT: 1 killed and 1 wounded
1 and 2 September at ESTREE-WAMIN: 1 killed and 1 wounded
2 September at HOUVIN-HOUVIGNEUL: 2 killed and 1 wounded
2 September at St MICHEL s/TERNOISE: 1 killed
2 September at AUXI-LE-CHATEAU: 2 wounded
2 and 3 September at HERLINCOURT: 2 Killed and 2 wounded
2 and 3 September at St POL s/TERNOISE: 1 killed and 3 wounded
3 September at GENNES-IVERGNY: 1 killed
3 September at WAVANS s/AUTHIE: 1 killed
3 September at GALAMETZ: 2 killed and 1 wounded
3 September at FLERS: 1 killed
4 September 4 at ROUGEFAY: 1 wounded
In total: 13 killed + 13 wounded (cf Appendix 7: FFI volunteers killed and wounded during the Fight for Freedom).
The 950 German prisoners captured in the whole of the sector testify to the effectiveness of the Battle for Liberation carried out by our Resistance groups and those Patriotic Militia who spontaneously came to join us to evict the occupant Germans from Ternois. The majority of these young FFI volunteers were gathered into the "Compagnie de Marche FREVENT" at the Château de Gargan and integrated in 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 33ème regiment of Motorized Infantry. They continued the fight around the pockets of Boulogne and Dunkirk before joining the 1st Division of French Infantry on operations in southern Germany.
THE GERMAN REPRESSION
Since 1942, the German police forces (Gestapo and Feldgendarmerie), aware of the importance of Resistance in Ternois tried, with the assistance of some traitors and paid informers, to dismantle our organisations and networks. They managed to arrest several of our companions with important responsibilities in our clandestine organizations, but never managed to destroy them.
On the contrary, the actions of resistance become increasingly frequent. For tougher repression, in May 1944 the Gestapo requisitioned a whole wing of the home of Mrs CAUWET-DEWAZIERES at Rue Houbart in FREVENT to install an information unit with four French informers, which resulted in new arrests among our companions.
Altogether, 29 résistants were arrested in the sector of Frévent, Saint-Pol and Auxi le Chateau:
16 were deported to concentration camps in Germany: 6 died there and 10 returned in a physical state of deficiency which one could not imagine.
13 were interned in the German sections of the prisons of LOOS-les-LILLE and ARRAS: 2 escaped and 11 were released.
(cf Appendix 8: Deportees and internees of the Resistance: details of the arrests and losses in the sector)
CONCLUSION
This talk of the resistant activities of the sector of FREVENT, ST POL, AUXI and AVESNES shows that the inspiration given to the teams by the local founders in 1942 of the above mentioned organisations and networks was very effective. The assessment of the actions is remarkably positive compared to the losses suffered; German repression having been limited by the obstinate silence of our comrades arrested by Gestapo.
Certainly the main objective for us was direct action against the enemy war machine, but to conclude, I believe that I need to honestly evoke what such an engagement could, on the human level, bring to the young people which we were then. For us, La Résistance was, above all, one total engagement with all that such an engagement can bring of sacrifices and enthusiasm, sorrows and joys. War crushes youth, La Résistance exalted ours. For those few years, the young résistants that we then were, lived so intensely that it is always engraved in our memory with same acuity. This period remains the most filled of our life, as much by the diversity and the extent of the activities as by the richness and the plenitude of emotions.
The arrest of one of our companions, sometimes of one of our parents, the rigour of the fate which awaited them, twisted us to tears of the heart. The fear tortured us to the marrow. But I never again experienced the deep joy I felt when I first heard a personal message sent from London; the confident glance, full of hope, of the allied airman shot down and recovered from the clutches of the enemy; the vision of parachutes opening in the moonlight of a beautiful summer's night; the landing of a small Lysander and the frank smile of the pilot with his friendly salute, proof of the same combat which linked us for the final victory ... and so much more ... other events.
"Sir you had the chance, while you were still young, to have been able to work for a noble cause." That is what a pupil said to me during the preparation for a School Contest of the Résistance, when I came to answer the many questions. I believe there is no better conclusion on this modest subject; and one understands then why any oppression generated, still generates and will always generate, La Résistance.