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Perso/My Dad during WWII


Traduction (approximative) en Français avec Google Translate.

Sommaire


Foreword

Here are a few facts about my father activities during WWII.

My father spoke very little of his time during WWII. Most information found below was gathered from documents, discussions with former members of his maquis group and research on the Net.

This is still very much a "Work in progress" page.


1939 - October 1942

Until mid-October 1942, my father worked as a train driver for the Compagnie du chemin de fer métropolitain de Paris (CMP). We have written evidence of this in a leave certificate issued by the CMP on September 22nd, 1942.


October 1942 - June 1943

On October 19, 1942, in a letter sent by A. Hallmayr, Chief Engineer at CMP, my father was summoned to go to the CMP headquarters located at 52 Quai de la Rapée for "urgent matter that concerns you". That's how my father was sent to Austria under the STO program (Compulsory Work Service (CWS))!

He "worked" in a train maintenance workshop in Vienna (Austria) for some 8 months.

Adding to the fact that most CWS workers were not the most enthusiastic workers, my father, from his own words, was as handy with a hammer or a screwdriver as a hen with a knife. In an attempt to further demoralize the Austrian and German coworkers/guards he told them fairy tales about how much he was paid working for the CMP and that entitled him to buy loads of meat, veggies, butter, etc., go regularly to the movies, on vacation and even buying several pairs of shoes every month!

On June 24th, 1943 his mother died in Brive-la-Gaillarde. He was allowed to leave Austria to go to her funeral.


June 1943 - November 1944

Surprisingly enough, my father "forgot" to return to Austria after the funeral of his mother...

He traveled to the free zone using a false ID card under the name Paul-Louis Janicot who was supposedly a metal turner. Knowing my father's lack of manual skills that was rather risky.

He joined the FTPF resistance in the Haute-Vienne department, near Montmorillon sometime around July 1943 however there is no precise places nor dates until April 2nd, 1944 when, under his maquis name "Capitaine Robert", he headed a small FTPF group that was part of a network of FTPF groups managed by Lieutenant-Colonel Amilcar (real name Robert Artaud from Lathus).

A written testimony by Commanding Officer Robert Artaud (Lieutnant-Colonel Amilcar in the maquis) confirms my father's involvment with the SAS Brigade led by Captain Tomkin of Operation Bulbasket on June 6th, 1944.

CO Robert Artaud also confirmed my father's group being involved in sabotages against German trains and combats against the German troops in Léché, Delabre, Plaisance, Montmorillon, Chauvigny till August 19th, 1944.

Of the very few things my father ever said about his time in the maquis was that his FTPF group helped many RAF pilots and crew members of bombers who were forced to land in France to escape the German troops. These guys moved from one maquis group to the next until there was an opportunity for them to be extracted from France and return to England.

The Robert FTPF group of Capitaine Robert was dissolved in November 1944 and some of its members were incorporated in the regular army. On November 1st, 1944 my father joined the 2ème Bataillon du 125ème Régiment d'Infanterie in Poitiers.


November 1944 - July 1945

From November 1st, 1944 until July 1945, my father served in the 125ème Régiment d'Infanterie as a Lieutenant where he headed the "Service de Récupération" (recovery and inventory of equipment and goods the Nazis left behind) in Migné near Poitiers. He reported to Commandant Ailhaud and Lieutnant-Colonel Blondel.

On June 15th, 1945, Commandant Artaud informed my father that, as an old maquis member, he would be presented to General de Gaulle and his government on the occasion of a fund raising gala organized by Annette Lajon to be held at Opéra Garnier on June 26th, 1945. There are transport documents showing that he went to the gala.

The latest document found, dated July 6th 1945, is addressed to Commandant Ailhaud about a missing barel of caustic soda.


Post July 1945

In June 2018 a cousin of mine reminded me that, when my father returned to Paris sometime in the second half of 1945, he was in a close protection unit (bodyguard) of André Malraux before the latter was appointed Minister of Information in the Provisional Government of the French Republic. There's no details how long this went on.

As a former member of the Resistance having suffered betrayal of collaborationists during the German occupation, my father disagreed with the 1946 spirit of national reconciliation happening so close to the facts. He then decided to quit. When Malraux told him "I'll be nominated Minister in the upcoming government. What do you want ?" my father answered "As long as I get a job, nothing!". That's the closest he was ever related to politics. Till he passed away my father kept Malraux in very low esteem.

My father returned to his job as a train driver with the CMP (that would later become the RATP) and retired from RATP in the mid-60's. He later took a job as a quantity surveyor for an architect agency (Max Klein, tel: DAN 20 17) in the Latin Quarter and he finally retired from Andrault & Parat architect agency at the age of 71.


Members of his FTPF group

As far as I know, my father left no information concerning the members of his group. I happened to know two of them (André Bernard and Pierre Bichon).

  • André Bernard dit Lariflette (slang for "Front line (war) / The Machine Gun"). They kept seeing each other until my father died in 2010. André passed away a few years later. I've known Lariflette for as long as I can remember and for decades I thought his name really was "Lariflette".
  • Pierre Bichon (* 17 August 1926 - † 11 March 2016). As far as I know Pierre and my father didn't see each other for a very long time after WWII until they met again, I believe, in the mid '80s. Pierre, who could not attend my father's funeral, wrote the following eulogy:
Cher vieil ami,

Tu fus heureux de savoir qu'une stèle était érigée à la mémoire de Roger Bissiriex de Saint-Junien. Réfractaire au STO, âgé de 20 ans, il fut tué en mars 1944 lors d'un combat avec la GMR qui encerclait un petit groupe de réfractaires venant de la Haute Vienne.

Tu venais les aider, les organiser et tu réussis à échapper à cette police soumise à Vichy. C'était le premier combat du maquis dans le département de la Vienne. Au bois Talbot, sur la commune de Saint Rémy-en-Montmorillon, en pleine brousse, plusieurs maquisards y furent pris. J'ai su ton dévouement auprès des familles.

Je te connu, début juin 44, où, ayant quitté le lycée, j'intégrais alors le maquis que tu dirigeais avec soin, prudence, courage et efficacité. Nous étions pour la plupart des gamins et notre chef, devenu le Capitaine Robert, savait nous épargner, nous expliquer et nous comprendre.

La situation, l'entourage étaient encore mal assurés mais ton amicale et courageuse présence, ta grande simplicité faisaient de toi un chef écouté et aimé.

Tes galons étaient enfouis dans ton coeur. Ta longue vie s'explique sans doute par ta bonté, ton intelligence et ta générosité.

Adieu, Gas964646ton781816 La850217gan446418ne810028, tous ceux qui te connurent penseront à toi.

Ton vieil ami, Pierre.
  • Roger Bissiriex (that is if I read and understand correctly what's in Pierre Bichon's eulogy).


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