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La Résistance et les Français

Jacqueline Sainclivier
Christian Bougeard

1re partie. Les enjeux de l'Atlantique et de la Manche

The Resistance as part of Anglo-American planning for the Liberation of Northwestern Europe

Steve Weiss

Entrées d'index

Géographique :


Texte intégral

1Overlord and Anvil, the pre-eminent amphibious landings of 1944, were considered as inter-dependent parts of the same operation, the hammer and the anvil by which the German Armies in western Europe would be crushed. However, individual acceptance and activation of these operations were dependent upon the strategic view points and influence of President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The application and integration of the Resistance into Allied planning were, therefore, dependent upon the decisions reached by them and their staffs at the Teheran « Eureka » Conference of November, 1943. Approving Overlord and Anvil, the Allies agreed that :

« Within the limits of available means and without prejudice to major opérations, patriot forces everywhere within enemy occupied territory in Europe, should be furnished supplies to enable them to conduct sabotage, propaganda, intelligence and guerilla warfare » (Eureka Conference 1943,77).

2This paper will explore the political and military controversies that played such an important part in inhibiting the role of the Resistance in London and further afield. Moreover, the paper will describe how the Allies prepared and exploited the Resistance for and during the liberation of France and will conclude with a broad overview of its contribution during Overlord and Anvil.

3Distinct from allied top-level conferences, Churchill, upon becoming Prime Minister on 10 May, 1940, directed his government to explore ways of disrupting the Nazi occupation on the European continent. The agency designed for Britain's entry into the arena of irregular warfare became known as Special Operations Executive (SOE), under the Minister of Economie Warfare, Hugh Dalton. In late August 1939, the French C. in-C., General Maurice Gamelin, expressed the view, prevalent on both sides of the Chan- nel, that, « Hitler will collapse the day war is declared on Germany. » (Bethell 1972, 5-6). Lord Selborne, onetime chief of SOE later summarised the position facing Britain at this time :

« Underground warfare was an unknown art in England in 1940 ; there were no text-books for newcomers, no old hands to initiate them into the experiences of the last war ; lessons had to be learned in the hard school of practice » (Selborne 1944).

4On 27 May, the British War Office and Secret Service sought approval of a charter for a Special Operations Executive (SOE) on 22 July (PRO 1940). After the fall of France, F-Section, a subdivision of SOE was established to assist French resistance groups through its own circuits. An RF-Section (Gaullist) was established in London to cooperate with the de Gaulle's BCRA ; all was constituted to assist the French Resistance by organizing close circuits in France under London's direction against specific enemy targets, in conformity with the plans of the Chiefs of Staff (COS) (OSS 1944,12). General Colin Gubbins, an early participant and later leader of SOE, stated : « Thus from the very moment of the fall of France and the commencement of total warfare against Germany, British officers and others, after due trai- ning, were parachuted into occupied territories to start the organization of resistance » (Gubbins, C 1948,213). SOE agents were infiltrated into France to train, supply and direct saboteurs recruited locally.

5Churchill desired to help, but the previous French state no longer existed and all he could do was to set Europe ablaze (PRO 1940) by subversion and liberation when the opportunity was ripe, i.e., ground troops would occupy, not invade, and come as policemen (Moffat 1941). The Resistance, which had begun subversive activities almost at the signing of the Franco- German armistice, had to be nourished, supplied and protected, if its morale were to be upheld. France experienced two changes in late 1942, the complete enemy occupation of the country by the Germans and the beginning of a London partnership between the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and SOE. The dissolution of the two French zones demanded that the disparate Resistance movements, in many respects operating independently and disconnected from each other, while representing the whole spectrum of political thought and aims, needed to be unified. Only one organization, the Francs Tireurs et Partisans, representing the Communist Front National, operated across both zones. Five major Resistance movements operated in the Occupied Zone : Ceux de la Libération, Ceux de la Résistance, Défense de la France, Libération-Nord and Organisation Civile et Militaire. Resistance groups in the Unoccupied Zone of Southern France merged under such headings Libération and Combat. These two organizations and the Franc-Tireur combined in March, 1943 and established the Mouvements Unis de la Résistance (MUR), which recognized de Gaulle as head of the FCNL. In May, 1943, Jean Moulin, de Gaulle's Resistance représentative, who had worked tirelessly to establish the MUR, subsequently succeeded in forging the Conseil National de la Résistance (CNR), an ail- encompassing Resistance organization of disparate political and professional members, pledged to evict the enemy from France. On 27 October, 1942, De Gaulle and Churchill met to establish an organization in France that would prepare the French people for a timely national revolt coordinated with an invading Anglo-American force. Britain supported this idea as long as SOE remained the responsible agency that could contact resistance organizers in France regardless of their political persuasion. Complications abounded : the Francs Tireurs et Partisans (FTP), which strode its own Communist and military path, were suspicious of the military Resistance groups, such as de Gaulle's military wing, the Armée Secrète (AS) or the now defunct one hundred thousand strong Vichy Armistice Army, from which many soldiers formed a clandestine fraternity known as the Organization of Resistance of the Army (ORA) (Sweets 1976, 231-233). The FTP preferred the leadership and guidance of the Communist Party or the CNR within France, rather than the FCNL in Algiers, although both councils had declared de Gaulle as the sole leader of the French Resistance (Funk 1992, 6-7). Contacts had been established early in the war between the Resistance in France and de Gaulle's intelligence organization, the Bureau Central de Renseignements et d'Action [Militaire] (BCRA) in London, which tried to organize and co-ordinate clandestine activities against the Germans.

6An SOE-OSS agreement was reached on 24 June 1942 by General William J. Donovan, Director OSS and Sir Charles Hambro, Chief of SOE. The agreement specified world-wide spheres of influence, which automatically placed any future SO operations in the territory of Western Europe under the control of SOE until SO had achieved a level of fitness to operate independently with the emerging American Armies (OSS 1944, III, XVIII) ; General E.E. Mockler-Ferryman, head of SOE's London Group(Northern Europe) recommended that Cossac's operational control of SOE should be extended to SO, because the two secret agencies were already collaborating with each other. This collaboration became officiai on 11 November, 1943 (OSS 1943). Approved by the JCS, full integration of both secret bodies was finally achieved on 7 March 1944 when General Eisenhower ordered SHAEF to change the SOE/SO designation to Special Force Headquarters (SFHQ), subject to the Supreme Commander's main and cover plans (OSS 1944). The bonus of having friendly forces behind the enemy's lines was considered sufficiently likely and valuable that exten- sive preparations were made to develop and control them. On 23 March, SHAEF issued a directive to the newly designated SFHQ, the co-ordinating authority connected with sabotage and the organization of resistance groups, regarding their activities in Western Europe and in support of Overlord (SHAEF 1944). Detailed in a joint paper of 29 December, 1943, it read :

« To promote disaffection and if possible revolt or guerilla warfare in all enemy occupied territories. To hamper the enemy's war effort by means of sabotage and subversive warfare in those areas and to combat enemy interests and fifth column activities by unacknowledgeable means » (OSS 1944, 12).

7Sir Robin Brook, who as liaison with OSS, was responsible for Western Europe SOE operations concluded that co-operation between the two groups was impressive (Brook 1994). Above the operational level, there seemed to be a remarkable lack of collaboration between Britain and the United States. One of General Eisenhower's concerns were the invasion plans and preparations for a return to the continent that he had inherited from Cossac in January 1944, which included the employment and control of the French Resistance during the Liberation. Even in late 1943, Cossac had expressed warning over a premature Maquis uprising based solely on rumor of an impending Allied invasion, the results of which could be disastrous (Morgan 1950, 102). Allied strategy had to integrate plans for a French general strike or uprising if they were to succeed (SHAEF 1943). Attempting to resolve the twin problems of resistance and civil affairs, Roo- sevelt permitted Eisenhower to deal informally with the FNCL, personified by de Gaulle's military attaché, général François d'Astier de la Vigerie. Eisenhower, realizing that Resistance co-operation was necessary, tried to resolve its muddle by agreeing to rearm the Resistance with SHAEF assets, placing senior French officers on his staff as advisors and choosing Général d'Astier as the Delegate of the FCNL responsible for all questions pertaining to all resistance action in France.

8While Eisenhower wrestled with these problems in London, John J. McCloy, Assistant Secretary of State for War, met with Henri Frenay while Churchill met with Emmanuel d'Astier in January, 1944. The above participants of these two North African meetings came to the same conclusion, i.e., that if the Allies were to obtain any benefit from the French Resistance the entire operation had to be co-ordinated with the Normandy invasion (Churchill 1944). As soon as Churchill retumed to London on 27 January, 1944, he held meeting, kept secret from the Americans, attended by Lord Selborne, Minister of Economic Warfare, Mockler-Ferryman, head of SOE and other important French and British representatives. By this unilateral approach, Churchill forced his ideas upon men he could dominate, rather than risk controversy with Roosevelt. Although the bombing of Germany was Churchill's top priority, the Prime Minister insisted that Bomber Command give added assistance to SOE and to the Maquis in Southern France, twenty thousand of whom, between Geneva and Grenoble, were insufficiently armed. He refused to consider augmented assistance to other regions of France, thinking, perhaps that by intensifying rearmament in the Southeast, Mediterranean strategy could be changed and Anvil, an operation he was against, would become unnecessary. He promised unilaterally to double the aid to the Southeastern France Maquis, a decision which so upset air drops in other areas, including Yugoslavia, that he had to relent reluctantly. Under pressure, Churchill agreed in March that he would give greater priority to the resistance in North-western France. Avoiding any mention of the 27 January meeting, in a letter to Roosevelt, he described Emmanuel d'Astier de la Vigerie as the Scarlet Pimpernel type, intrepid and resourceful (Funk 1981, 29-33 ; PRO 1944). Concurrently, McCloy's summation of his meeting with Frenay, in which he wrote that, « they (French Resistance) ought to be taken out of the OSS level and put on the basis of staff planning, and it should be done at once », was now in the hands of the JCS. They queried Eisenhower about SHAEF'S relationship with the French Resistance (OPD 1944). Eisenhower asked SOE to formulate a response, not knowing that Churchill's subterfuge had already ordered a course of action for SOE and the Maquis. Eisenhower, briefed by SOE, replied :

« We have had contact in the past and are now continuing contact with and assisting French resistance groups through the French Committee of Action. Under my general supervision and direction is SOE/SO with whom we are working » (Eisenhower 1943).

9Inside France, Maquis irregular forces, named after a tough Corsican undergrowth, were groups whose members resisted German attempts to impose mandatory forced-labor upon them, the Service du Travail Obligatoire (STO) in early 1943 (Pearson 1978 4). A SHAEF survey of the Resistance, of which the Maquis was a part, revealed that an investment in both offered limited returns when compared to the bombing offensive ; to expect the Resistance to engage in a national uprising was unrealistic and to control its activities, difficult (SHAEF 1943). For most of 1943-44, the belief that whatever the Resistance accomplished would be viewed as a bonus permeated the command structure (Brook 1994). Gervase Cowell, current SOE Adviser, stated :

« It would be in one sense correct, if brutal, to say that Cossac plans did not take the Resistance into consideration, insofar as they did not include their possible contribution in their calculations, but viewed it as a potential bonus. In another sense, since the plans made by SOE to co-ordinate the activities of the Resistance groups with those of the orthodox invading armies were all approved by SHAEF, the activities of the Resistance did form part of the overall planning » (Cowell 1944).

10The Maquis was ill-equipped to fight : armed with a few unreliable Sten submachine guns, under powered sporting rifles and ineffective grenades, action was hazardous, until concerted Allied arms air-drops increased the following year. Planes needed for the bomber offensive hampered SOE efforts to supply the Resistance. In 1942-43 only forty aircraft were available ; in 1944, air-drops to the Balkans were thirteen times greater than to France

11(Warren 1947). Therefore, demand always outstripped the means and supply never kept apace. Because of the logistical limitations imposed by scarce resources, SHAEF warned Général Pierre Koenig, head of the French Forces of the Interior, on 15 June, 1944 « that the FFI should avoid open clashes with the enemy in which his superior weight in equipment would give him an undue advantage » (OSS 1944, 39). Sabotage remained a potent weapon in the hands of the well-trained. When de Gaulle publicly thanked Churchill for British support of the Resistance, the Americans interpreted de Gaulle's remark as a down-playing of US participation in supplying arms, resulting in a JCS cable to Eisenhower on 19 April :

« We desire that, insofar, as it is consistent with the requirements of military operations, you take such action as lies within your authority to bring about an equalization of effort between American and Great Britain in supplying and delivering equipment to resistant groups » (JCS 1944).

12Eisenhower complied and assigned twenty five more aircraft to Special Operations over the protests of Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, « who doubting the value of the Resistance movement, considered the increase unjustified » (Harrison 1951, 203).

13Between 1941 and 1944, SOE was transformed from a British Action Service to an Allied Service and began the training and employment of paramilitary forces in England co-ordinated with the raising of local French resistance forces and secret armies in France ; these were armed and equipped by SOE in support of an Allied military invasion of Northwest Europe. Nevertheless, De Gaulle resented SOE conducting clandestine operations on French territory. Moreover, Hitler's invasion of Russia unleashed an upsurge of anti-fascist feeling throughout France, expressed by professionally trained Communist groups, hitherto undreamed of by and previously unavailable to SOE planners (Gubbins 1948, 211-215 ; Wilkinson & Astley, 83, 94).

14As D-day approached, Anglo-American uniformed paramilitary units accomplished much. One major question posed constantly by the Allies regarding any French project was, how could the resistance elements best assist the invasion forces ? That required Cossac to change its perception of the Resistance from an information-gathering organization to a militarily combative one integrated with the Overlord and Anvil operations (Funk 1970, 20). Future Cossac Planning would require more French participation and the disclosure of the Overlord plan. SOE/SO were notified on 11 August 1943, but the accompanying proviso, as per instructions by the CCS, stipulated that the French were not to be involved in any detailed planning for Overlord ; Cossac appealed to the CCS on the grounds of impracticability ; the proviso was modified (Irwin 1975, 20).

15Even though Resistance capabilities were an unknown factor, through the spring and fall of 1942, plans were conceived and approved at SOE headquarters to form and train three men teams called Jedburgs to secretly aid the Resistance (Irwin 1975, 87). In theory, the teams were tripartite, one of whom was French ; in practice they were mainly bipartite. Parachuted

16into France, these teams maintained contact, communication and control with the Resistance,within the orbit of the invading troops from D-day onward (Brook 1994). Once air supremacy over Western Europe was achieved in the spring of 1944, daylight deliveries on a massive scale became possible. The Maquis acted as customer-members in business with the Jedburgs (OSS 1944). Eighty- two Jedburg teams were dropped into France during June, July and August 1944. Thirteen OSS Operational Groups, consisting of approximately thirty paratroopers each, were dropped into Southern France from Algiers during June, July, August and early September. The Special Air Squadron (SAS) (airborne commando units of the Army commanded by 21st Army Group) had two thousand men operating behind the main combat areas, which included French parachute units. During the summer, these three groups were either dropped to reception committees, or operated in heavily armed jeep patrols as far as eighty kilometres behind the enemy lines ; many assisted, ail co-operated with the FFI. The SAS had been purposefully trained to harass the enemy's rear lines, but as late as July, close liaison between SFHQ and SAS had not been achieved. Lacking a common planning structure, SAS plans and actions for Brittany, conceived at a separate airborne headquarters, were only partially shared with SFHQ (OSS 1944, 62).

17De Gaulle instructed his representative, Koenig, to take full control of the Resistance. With the invasion imminent, Eisenhower agreed to a tri- partite administrative structure known as État Major French Forces of the Interior (EMFFI), commanded by Koenig, which was established within SFHQ's table of organization. Although the change-over occurred on D- Day, 6 June, the first fully integrated section was not in operation until 2 August, much too late to have assisted the Normandy landings (OSS 1944, 34-38). Major General Colin Gubbins, head of SOE, considered some of the politically ambitious French senior officers inexperienced to handle the technicalities of special operations and offered his reaction to an aide :

« The taking over of French resistance by General Koenig has led to a first class battle here lasting six weeks. I have got most of my own way through sheer force of logic of events, but I feel that Koenig will make an awful mess of the whole thing » (Wilkinson, Astley 1993, 196).

18Two joint Anglo-American-French units were responsible to Koenig for those operations dealing with Overlord and Anvil (the landing in Southern France) ; in London SFHQ concerned itself with BRAL (Bureau de Renseignements et d'Action de Londres), and OSS/SOE spécial operations in France ; in Algiers, but control of aircraft and communications would remain, as always, with SFHQ and not with Koenig (Funk 1992 ; Brook 1994). SFHQ was not about to relinquish power and control of financial, communications and distribution resources that it held in practical fact. Nevertheless, SHAEF agreed to consult with Koenig in matters of great importance concerning Resistance issues. The successful conclusion of the first phase of the Normandy landings increased French involvement at the planning level. With the secret of D-day, history, with Patton's Third American Army on the verge of a breakout into Brittany in July, SHAEF asked EMFFI to analyse the possibility of active participation between the SAS and resistance forces in that province. Koenig suggested that a ground force resistance commander be nominated to serve under him, who would co-ordinate his groups' activities with the FFI and the Allied armies. Thus, the field commander would be well-positioned to negotiate directly with Army ground force commanders, while maintaining operational control of the SAS, OG's and Jedburgs. The first Jedburg team, called Hugh, dropped blind (without a reception committee) near Chateauroux, a town one hundred kilometres Southeast of Tours, during the early hours of 6 June (OSS 1944, 26-40).

19Some of the important SAS missions executed under the Brittany Plan were Dingson, Cooney, Samwest, Derry and Dickens. Commandant Bourgoin, the one armed commander of 4 th French Parachute Battalion (4 th SAS) participated in Opérations Dingson and Cooney in early June 1944, in which a total of 204 men and four jeeps were dropped by parachute between St- Malo and Vannes in Brittany, establishing a base from which they organized the local Resistance, interdicted enemy forces and managed to cut a number of railway lines (Darman 1992, 27, 39). The June and July SFHQ Reports disclosed that :

« Results of FFI activities. Generally with OG, SAS and Jedburg assistance greater than expected, despite lack of arms. Potentialities if arms supplied more fully, would be immense. In Brittany, on 1 July there were 30 500 resistance troops, of whom 5 000 were armed. Brittany resistance aided advancing Allies by attacking moving columns, attacking isolated groups, protecting bridges from destruction, etc. Also mopped up behind Allied thrusts and kept Lines of Communication open as Allies advanced into Peninsula in August » (PRO 1944).

20To finance the Resistance in relation to Overlord, SOE became the principal British procurer of French currency, purchased black markets of Europe and Asia. The difference between the officiai and black market's rates of exchange saved the British government about one million pounds sterling per month. Since January 1944 SOE secretly obtained for the Bank of England well over 1 700 000 pounds sterling worth of foreign currencies including 445 000 French francs in notes ofsmall denominations (Selborne 1944). SOE had also acted as paymaster for the British Treasury, by turning over sums of up to 100 million francs per month to the FNCL. This money was then apportioned among the Resistance in France based on unit participation (OSS 1944, XXIV). Weapons were not the only supplies that were air-dropped, but currency too. Anglo-American antipathy towards de Gaulle and French security measures hampered and delayed tying the Resistance to Overlord planning. This prejudice was not offset by the excellent reputation gained by 74 000 French soldiers and their generais fighting in Italy, or that as many as ten French divisions were ready for further action, if Anvil were activated. Although experienced and talented high ranking

21French military officers were available for invasion planning, the Anglo- American military and political hierarchy considered them to be poor security risks and deliberately chose to limit their participation, until after D-day. The OSS War Diary states :

« No French officer was ever taken into confidence and given the slightest bit of advance information on the date selected for the opening of the second front. Prior to D-day, General Keonig was completely bypassed by SHAEF » (OSS 1944, 26).

22WHB Mack who served as British Foreign Office Political Liaison Officer with Eisenhower observed at a COS meeting that the chiefs disliked de Gaulle intensely and vetoed his return to Britain from Algiers on D-2 (Mack 1944). As early as 1940, Roosevelt's visceral dislike of de Gaulle, the President's pursuance of Vichy policy and his choice of Giraud, excluded the Free French leader and his chosen generals from the center of policy and planning. De Gaulle, bitterly anti-American over Roosevelt's lack of support in 1940, responded in kind. In spite of Churchill's ambivalence towards de Gaulle, he remained steadfast to him, as illustrated by a willingness to share the date of the Torch landings, a decision vetoed immediately by Roosevelt. SHAEF prohibited SFHQ on 23 March from disclosing any information to the French which might reveal or compromise military plans. However, de Gaulle's representatives were included in SOE/SO planning for Jedburgs and French patriots were assigned to drop on and after D-day, but the exact date was not revealed (OSS 1944, 75). By 31 May, 1944, Churchill insisted that de Gaulle had to be told of Overlord, in spite of COS feelings to the contrary. With Eisenhower's concurrence, Churchill briefed de Gaulle, who was sworn to secrecy, on 4 June concerning the invasion plans, believing that security was safe at this late date (PRO 1944). The Prime Minister was informed on 5 June that de Gaulle not only refused to broadcast an appeal to the Resistance, but he refused to send French liaison ofFicers with the invasion force. Sir Alexan- der Cadogan, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs recorded Churchill's reaction at a Cabinet meeting :

« We endured the usual passionate anti-de Gaulle harangue from the PM. On this subject, we get away from politics and diplomacy and even common sense. It's a girls' school. Roosevelt, PM, and, it must be admitted de Gaulle, ail behave like girls approaching the age of puberty. Nothing to be done » (Dilks 1971,635).

23Eisenhower expressed his view of French generals at a meeting with press correspondents on 31 August, 1944 :

« Relations with French general were not easy : they had not grown up as members of this team. They were liable to suffer from an inferiority complex after events of 1940. It has not been easy to get them doing things, the way if we turned to a British or American Commander and asked him to do so and so ; we have to use a little strong-arm method » (Eisenhower 1944).

24John Bross, an OSS officer stationed in London, concluded that the British were always against any French participation in Allied planning, because of political and security reasons. French breaches of security and the possibility of French political factions fighting each other rather than the Germans, increased British objections. For this reason, they were strongly opposed to organizing the Resistance on a national basis and wanted it decentralized (OSS 1944, 25). Even assuming that de Gaulle was reliable, the FCNL was not. A number of leading FCNL representatives, their attitudes and purposes complex and unpredictable, had lived in the Unoccupied Zone before Torch and several had been recruited from various colonial administrations. German intelligence had easily penetrated the group, and since it was impossible to know who among the French could be trusted, no one would be trusted including de Gaulle (Eisenhower 1989,165). As for French military participation, the French insisted on the right to by- pass SHAEF and to appeal to the US and British governments-in lieu of CCS representation. The Allies refused to admit the French to the CCS, or to accord any special rights.

25Lord Selborne reported to Churchill that Gaullist groups in France were playing for political stakes at the expense of military action. Increased Resistance casualties, a resuit of unrestrained temptation to over-centralize and increased Gestapo activity, had occurred (Selborne 1944).

26Jean Moulin, President of the CNR, considered to be the most impressive figure in the whole French resistance, had returned to France, in part, to improve Resistance security. He had planned to reorganize it along classical lines by forming water-tight cells, « only the leader was to know the identity of his superior and propaganda services were to be separated from par- military groups » (Beevor 1981, 154-155). Before these security measures were applied, Moulin was captured by the Germans in June, 1943, and tortured to death. Moulin's seizure and demise was part of a ferocious German counterattack on French Resistance groups during that year : many F. and RF. circuits were either dispersed or destroyed, their leaders either killed or in hiding (Stafford 1983, 127-130). By contrast, the Communist FTP, whose members numbered 100 000, suffered less casualties, because its organization was cellular rather than centralized. A Maquis Plan was proposed to alleviate the overcentralized Resistance command and its consequent top heavy communication systems by establishing self contained elite forces dropped by parachute into appropriate sub-regions of France. These elite groups, at the disposai of and under the control of the Allied High Command in London, would hide out and be placed in readiness for D-day. In addition, small groups of Allied officers would be attached to the various district Maquis chiefs, thereby eliminating the need for an overall central Resistance headquarters. Once these military missions were established, SOE advised that the general direction of the Resistance movement be kept out of France entirely (OSS 1943, XVIII). « The institution of the Maquis Plan represented both the beginning of the paramilitary movement and the first inclusion of the French on any basis of equality with the American and British » (OSS 1944, XXI).

27« Resistance », SHAEF now believed, « is primarily a stratetgic weapon which should be used accordingly » (OSS 1944, 52). The coded BBC action messages transmitted on 5 June to the various indigenous Resistance networks set all of the 8 color coded rail, transport, power, telecommunication, fuel and ammunition storage sabotage plans throughout France in motion at once. Interference on roads, misdirection of traffic, the prevention of reinforcements, particularly armored formations, from reaching the coast, guerilla actions taken against German army formations and headquarters and defense against German acts of destruction and demolitions were also included as Resistance objectives (OSS 1944, XIII).

28Résistance accomplishments in support of Anvil were the equivalent of four or five divisions, according to the American task force commander (OSS 1944, 80-84). While in the north, during the first week of Overlord, 960 railway demolitions out of a planned 1 055 had been carried out. On D +1, 26 trunk lines were unusable, including the main lines between Saint- Lô, Avranches, Cherbourg and Caen ; 3 000 rail cuts were confirmed between 6 and 27 June ; enemy reinforcements were delayed between forty- eight and seventy two hours, while the 2nd SS Panzer Division was delayed 12 days trying to reach Normandy from Southwest France ; both of the main railway lines up the Rhone Valley were closed to German divisions trying to reach the battle area from southern France for most of the crucial D-day period. With much of the telecommunication network sabotaged, the Germans were forced to use wireless communications, allowing for easy intercepts by Allied tactical intelligence. June diversionary Resistance activities in central and south-eastern France absorbed the attention of 16 000 German soldiers and the 11 th Panzer Division (Gubbins 1948, 217 ;Stafford 1980,154-155 ; Harrison 1951,206-207). American General Omar Bradley, Commander of 12th US Army Group, informed SHAEF that he had received excellent co-operation from Resistance forces. The Resistance made a spectacular contribution to the liberation of Paris, in which 30 to 50 thousand patriots participated in a levée en masse. Armed with whatever weapons they could assemble, they fought through the streets against the Germans, seeking to destroy them on whatever terms (OSS 1944, 68, 85). Eisenhower who believed that the Resistance had surrounded the Germans with a terrible atmosphere of danger and hatred (PRO 1944), wrote to Gubbins in May, 1945 :

« While no final assessment of the operation value of resistance action has yet been completed, I consider that the disruption of enemy rail communications, the harassing of German road moves and the continuai and increasing strain placed on German war the organized forces of Resistance, played a very considerable part in our complete and final victory » (Gubbins 1948, 218).

29Evidence from many quarters, including the unsolicited testimonials of high ranking German prisoners of war, has indicated that the Resistance

30played a great part in the defeat of German arms in the West (Selborne 1944). Since the Resistance kept few operational records, its exact contribution and effectiveness was difficult to assess. Guided by SOE, the Resistance played its part in strategie deception, in which the Germans were hoodwinked into thinking that the Pas-de-Calais was the chosen invasion area and not Normandy : pre-D-day activities included false action radio messages, an increased tempo of air-dropped supplies and stepped- up guerilla attacks, which were used as diversions to thwart and confuse the enemy, as part of two deception plans, Bodyguard and Fortitude. In March 1944, the Germans increased their garrison of first-class troops in Denmark from four to eight divisions, and Hitler defended Norway with more divisions than necessary, because of Allied misinformation. Fearing an invasion of Norway, Hitler insisted that about fifty U-boats be stationed along the Norwegian coast to serve as a deterrent, a decision that deflected their use from the Atlantic convoy routes. As a consequence, the British released a large number of escort vessels from convoy and support duties to protect the Normandy landings from submarine attack (Burn 1993,146, 160). Intégral to these deception plans, the Resistance contributed to the lodgement, breakout and pursuit of the Allied armies beyond the expectations of the Anglo-Americans, the results far exceeding the expectations of the military (Brook 1994).

31In conclusion, the conventional bombing of Germany was an Allied strategic cornerstone, which imposed tight restrictions on irregular warfare operations. Moreover, poor security within the French political-military system and German infdtration and destruction of many Resistance networks hampered SFHQ and Resistance efforts. At best, any success the Resistance accomplished was perceived as an adjunct to the great land battles in Northwest France. The Resistance could have achieved much more, if the major participants had exhibited a reasonable level of trust, commensurate with creative thinking and mutual assistance in the common cause. Once achieved at the political level, experienced, knowledgeable French officers, would have made an important contribution to Overlord planning ; instead, a major resource was lost. Unfortunately few men could address the dual issues of trust and co-operation, however late in the day, with the candor of an Eisenhower in a statement to General de Gaulle :

« Pour la prochaine campagne de France, j'aurai besoin de votre appui, du concours de vos fonctionnaires, du soutien de l'opinion française. Je ne sais encore quelle position théorique mon gouvernement me prescrira de prendre dans mes rapports avec vous. Mais, en dehors des principes, il y a les faits. Je tiens à vous dire que, dans les faits, je ne connaîtrai en France d'autre autorité que la vôtre » (De Gaulle 1956, 676).



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Department of War Studies, London

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