Le maquis que l’Histoire avait oublié
 

Témoignage des hommes

Le 3 février 2007, par Gerard,

Voici, lus dans la presse ou communiqués à la mairie de Moussey, quelques témoignages de ces hommes du 2ème SAS, du F Phantom et du SOE, "nos Anglais", comme on les appelait ici avec émotion et respect

Les notes incluses et documents annexés sont autant d’autres documents incontournables pour bien comprendre [1]


L’exemplarité des habitants de Moussey

Ce qu’en a écrit Christopher Sykes en été 1945 [2] Captain puis Major au 2ème SAS, l’officier de renseignement de l’Opération Loyton (document archives personnelles Anthony Kemp/Len Owens) :

« ... Every member of the SAS ought to know the name of Moussey . It is a small town situated in a valley of the Vosges mountains of Eastern France. It lies about 40 miles southeast of Nancy and about 10 miles north of St. Dié. Any SAS man who finds himself in Eastern France ought to go there. He will not be disappointed by what he finds. Like all the Vosges villages and towns, Moussey is spread along its valley, being a mile from end to end though never more than a few hundred yards across.

In September 1944 the Commanding Officer of No. 2 SAS Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel B M Franks, DSO MC, led the last of our parachute operations on French soil. The original drop was near Baccarat to the north and after many adventures we migrated to the woods near Moussey, where we made a headquarters. The operation occurred at a time when General Pattons advance to Nancy was held up by a supply breakdown in the army group to which he belonged. That meant that our mission, designed to last about 10 days, was protracted to about six weeks. During most of that time we depended on the people of Moussey for many of the necessities of life, and for help of every kind. They gave us everything we asked for and more. They were the staunches of Allies and in manifestly bad times, for with the hold-up of the American army, and the continued German reinforcement along the River Meurthe a few miles to the west, our difficulties increased daily. It was a nightmare time, but throughout it the civilian population was in far greater danger than we were. We could move rapidly from place to place, but except for a few of the men, the civilians could not, and if they did, they perforce left hostages behind.

At length at the end of September the Germans became exasperated as the help that they knew the people of Moussey were giving us, and they took their revenge. It was a terrible revenge, another hideous blot on the hideously sullied German record. They rounded up as many men from the population and interrogated them with the accustomed Nazi brutality. For no one gave us away, notwithstanding the Germans removed the men to concentration camps. The number taken to those horrible prisons was two hundred and ten. Only seventy came back, and some of the survivors died soon after their return as a result of what they had been through. In this disaster Moussey lost a tenth of its entire population. There is no evidence that even under torture and ill treatment anyone of them at any time gave us away. Our headquarters in the woods was never discovered by the Germans. I visited them after the war and found many relics of ourselves and no trace of our enemies having been there.

We ourselves suffered thirty-two casualties during the whole operation, most of them in other places, but ten of our men fell in the neighbourhood of Moussey. After the war it was decided, at the suggestion of the parish priest, the Abbé Gassman, to make a little SAS cemetery at Moussey in the graveyard by the church. In the late summer of 1945 the whole Moussey population and that of the villages adjoining came to the funeral of our ten. Since those to be buried were of different religions, the parish priest organised a bidenominational service. A Requiem Mass said in the church by the Abbé Gassman, followed by the Anglican service for the dead conducted in the church by the Regimental Chaplain, the Reverand John Kent, at present Vicar of Selby. At the gravesides the same order was followed ; Abbé Gassman performed the Catholic rites, Captain Kent the Anglican ones. The neigbouring clergy, both Catholic and Protestant, attended. Sometimes today when talk turns to Church union and the great difficulties in its way, I remember that beautiful ceremony at which I was privaleged to command the guard of honour… »

Addendum de Anthony Kemp :

«  … Christopher Sykes went on to say that a few years after the war the Imperial War Graves Commission decided, quite reasonably, that the SAS should be re-interred in an official cemetery. This was bitterly resented by the inhabitants of Moussey who felt that the SAS graves were part of Moussey. The War Grave Commission very sensibly appreciated the strong feelings and ties involved and designated the Moussey graveyard as an official war cemetery. Every years flowers are laid on the graves and on the 1919 and 1946 memorial. SAS men who visit Moussey feel a kinship with this town and its inhabitants ; they are not foreigners or visitors but are part of Moussey history.

The Abbé Gassman was with the Mayor « the tower of strengh round which the resistance in Moussey was so firmly built ». Not only that, he was also full of compassion, and after liberation did all he could to ensure humane treatment for Germans captured by the Maquis and decent burial for the German dead … »

Note GV :
- Deported from Moussey. Total deported : 231 (178 not returned). Including 187 strictly citizens of the village (144 not returned)
- English parachutists. Total dead : minimum 39. Including 31 of 2nd SAS, 2 of Jed Jacob, 3 of F Phantom, 3 of the 4 women of SOE executed at Struthof camp...
- Le 4ème chapitre (In Times of Stress) du livre Four Studies on Loyalty de Christopher Sykes est également un témoignage particulièrement significatif (publié en 1946). Et sans doute le plus authentique hommage jamais rendu aux "résistants ordinaires" d’ici pour leur courage et leur loyauté (voir rubrique Notes/Loyauté)


Edwin Thomas WEAVER

Courtesy of David Weaver

"Edwin Thomas Weaver took part in « Operation Loyton » with other members of 2nd. Special Air Service Regiment.

This operation ended abruptly for Edwin and many others from 2 SAS as they were captured and as Prisoners of War were later executed by the Gestapo on the orders of Hitler.

Edwin was last known to be alive on the 15/16th. October 1944 and his body was eventually interred in Durnbach War Cemetary - Bayern 3-K-6, alongside his comrades. (Il est enterré au cimetière de Moussey, Tombes des Anglais)

Reprisals of a savage kind were frequently extracted by the Wehrmacht after SAS attacks, both on French civilians and any SAS soldier taken prisoner. Nowhere was this more evident than in the aftermath of Operation ’Loyton’ in the Vosges mountains on the border between France and Germany.

As originally conceived, the operation should have started before D-Day. In fact it did not begin until late August, by which time it had become a principle axis of German retreat and defence of the fatherland. It was, like most areas immediately to the rear of such a position, saturated by soldiers. The result was that the teams from 2 SAS were harried night and day from one unsafe base to another and finally, in late September and early October, straggled back to Allied lines in small numbers. Two survivors buried their weapons and dressed as women to elude capture.

One village, Moussey, fed and concealed the SAS throughout those unpleasant six weeks. The German revenge was to remove the entire male population - over 200 men and boys - to concentration camps. Of the 70 who returned after the war many died from the effects of starvation and torture.

Of the SAS involved, over 30 were either killed, taken prisoner or officially "missing in action". Most of these were shot by the Gestapo, some after barbaric torture.

Yet even « Loyton » was not an absolute failure ; numerous vehicles had been ambushed, railways cut, SS Headquarters and fuel dumps destroyed. The total effect on enemy morale in these rear areas was devastating as the SAS struck

Edwin will not be forgotten"

"They shall not grow old as we are left to grow old, Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn, At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them"


Captain Victor GOUGH

Born September 1918. Died November 1944. Croix de Guerre with silver palms (posthumous)

Voici son histoire, et ainsi celle du Jed Jacob, racontée par son neveu (document de la BBC) :

"Sadly, I never met my Uncle Vic ; he was murdered in Erlich forest near Gaggenau on or about 25th November 1944. This is his story. Victor Gough was a Captain in the Somerset Light Infantry, and had previously been a member of the shadowy “Auxiliaries”, groups of trained and armed men who, had Hitler invaded, would have led resistance in Britain.

In 1943 he volunteered for the Training Branch of SOE. He transferred to the operational branch in autumn 1943 and became part of SOE’s “Jedburgh” project.

This was a plan to send teams of 3 men behind enemy lines after D-Day to liaise and direct French Resistance groups .The “Jeds” as they were known, would be dropped in uniform, and would be mixed teams, for example Victor Gough’s team, codename “Jacob” consisted of a French officer Lt. Baraud, and an English wireless operator Sgt. Seymour. There were only just over 100 “Jed” teams, of which “Jacob” was the twenty-sixth.

Team “Jacob” was to be dropped on the night of 12th/13th August 1944 in the Vosges area of France (Le Mont, note GV). Their mission was to arm and direct, up to 7000 resistance fighters in an area that had not been able to previously accept daylight arms drops because of a substantial German presence. Team “Jacob” was to be parachuted in along with SAS Team “Loyton” with whom they were to liaise and plan joint operations.

The drop did not go well. Sgt. Seymour badly damaged his ankle, and the wireless set was broken. This meant that Captain Gough was reliant for the time being on using the SAS wireless, entailing a 5 mile trek for each transmission. Within 3 days Lt. Baraud was killed and Sgt Seymour captured following a German ambush on a steep heavily wooded mountain trail. Victor Gough’s short radio message tells the tale.

"Skye" (Seymour’s codename) captured 17th August. Reported shot as reprisal on 20th Please check with Red Cross. Connaught (Baraud’s codename) killed. I am now sole member of team Jacob.100 maquis killed, 100 captured in same battle. Rest dispersed.”

Seymour was not killed but survived in captivity which was quite contrary to the fate of virtually all other SOE and SAS parachutists.

By September 16th Captain Gough was in trouble. The last message he sent to Special Forces HQ said in part : "Great difficulty working alone. Have contacted 800 maquis under Marlier. Can’t come up on regular skeds. Send more money and arms". Special Forces HQ continued to send messages to Captain Gough until 28th September, but they would not hear from him again, sometime in those 12 days he was captured.

What became of my uncle Vic was revealed in a very unusual way, from the eyewitness testimony of a German officer.

Captain Gough and a number of SAS Team Loyton had been captured over several days after 16th September 1944. They were all taken to the Sicherungs camp at Schirmeck la Broque and housed in the “Block” in effect a prison within a prison, with individual cells. A number of them including Gough, Major Reynolds and Lt. Dill both SAS were taken to Strasbourg for violent interrogation by the Gestapo. Also in the “Block” were 2 American flyers Pipcock and Jacoby, and 2 French priests, Abbe Roth and Father Pennerath.

On the 19th September, the “Block” had a new inmate Captain Werner Helfen of the German Military Police. He had been sentenced to death by the SS at Vittel on 26th August. Captain Helfen had been in command of a company whose main task had been guarding buildings and installations. On the 16th August he and his company were ordered to withdraw eastwards, as the Allies advanced deeper into France. They were also ordered to hand in their normal weapons, for use in the front line fighting. These weapons were replaced by sawn-off shotguns. When Helfen’s company reached Chalon-sur-Marne, he ordered his men to thrown their shotguns into the river. His reasoning was that such weapons were outlawed under the Hague Convention and had they been taken captive, they would have lost their POW status. Thus the charge of “wilful destruction of government property” led to the death sentence pronounced in the Police Court at Vittel.

Helfen’s arrival at “the Block” was a blessing to the British paratroopers, for with his influence on the German guards ; he was able to get medical attention for the 2 injured American flyers, extra food rations for Captain Gough and the SAS men and was very useful in the preparation of an escape plan. Helfen was appointed a “helper” by the Germans, and was able to move about “the Block” with ease, and had entry to individual cells. Escape plans had advanced to the making of a wooden folding ladder, to be used to scale the outer wire.

Helfen became close friends with Victor Gough, Lt. Dill (SAS) and Abbe Roth in particular. Lt. Dill had taught Werner the arcane skills of poker.

The Allied advance through France was plain to hear, for each day the bombing raids crept closer and closer to Schirmeck camp. The prisoners assumed it would be a matter of a few days before they were liberated and so they put their escape plan on hold. Ironically the swift Allied advance was to seal the fate of this small band of brave men.

On the evening of November 22nd 1944 Werner Helfen, Abbe Roth and Captain Gough were together when orders were given to move the “Block” prisoners eastwards. According to Helfen’s testimony Captain Gough read out the names of all the prisoners in the “Block” and thanked Werner for all his kindnesses to them. In appreciation Gough gave his SOE silk escape map to Werner as a token of gratitude.

The last lorry left at 5am on the 23rd November. Helfen was in that truck. As they passed through Strasbourg Helfen jumped from the vehicle, made his way on foot to his home in Offenburg where he hid until he was captured by French troops, and would later give evidence to Major Barkworth of 2 SAS for his War Crimes investigation. Helfen also learned that his Nazi death sentence had been reduced to 10 years hard labour. For his efforts to help the Allied prisoners, Werner Helfen was given a letter of commendation signed by Major Barkworth.

The rest of the small convoy was making its way to a camp at Gaggenau, further east from Schirmeck. The Allied prisoners had thought it would be a normal Stalag camp, But they were not to know that 14 of them were already condemned to death.

Near the cemetery at Gaggenau, was the Erlich forest. It was here that the trucks stopped and the prisoners including Captain Gough, all his SAS comrades and the 2 French priests were taken to a bomb crater and murdered.

Major Barkworth’s investigation led to the capture and prosecution of the main culprits in these murders, but it should be noted that this was not an isolated incident. Nazi policy on SAS and SOE uniformed parachutists was severe and there were sadly many other instances of murders of POW’s captured behind enemy lines. [3]

But this is not quite the end of the story.

Following a regional TV documentary in the West of England about some of these wartime murders of SAS men, Werner Helfen was traced and found to be in retirement having continued his police career after the war. After some correspondence, my Mother, Victor Gough’s sister, received a package.

In it was the SOE silk escape map that Captain Gough had given to Captain Helfen on November 22nd 1945 at Schirmeck" [4]

Notes :

[1] Documents ci joints relatifs à l’Opération Loyton :
- 3 livres (Fire from the Forest, SAS Heroes, Phantom at War) écrits par des auteurs qui savent de quoi ils parlent (document PDF de bas de page)
- L’histoire du Major Anthony Whately-Smith du 2ème SAS, exécuté le 25 novembre 44 à l’âge de 29 ans. Un document au travers duquel on comprend mieux le contexte de l’Opération Loyton, les incroyables difficultés rencontrées ici par ces parachutistes, l’acharnement des Allemands à les détruire. Document BBC. Cliquer
- Sergeant Len Owens, biographie et Opération Loyton. Dans Who Dares Wins de P. Scholey et F. Forsyth, Google books. Cliquer
- Une brève biographie du lieutenant Ralph Marx (alias "Karl"). Article Daily Telegraph du 14 décembre 2000. Cliquer
- Une brève biographie du lieutenant Peter Johnsen, F Phantom (document PDF de bas de page)
- Le livre de Christopher Sykes Four Studies in Loyalty (présentation dans document PDF de bas de page)
- Ce recueil soigneusement documenté : The SAS and LRDG. Roll of Honour. 1941-1947

Celui ci est un ouvrage inhabituel dans son sens comme dans sa forme. Il résulte de la volonté de transmettre l’histoire de ce corps très particulier des Forces Spéciales britanniques au travers de ce qu’étaient chacun de ses hommes morts en "service commandé" : ceux de Loyton et tous les autres qui y ont servi de 1941 à 1947. Une façon de leur rendre hommage, le moyen de comprendre que le SAS n’est pas un corps légendaire sans raison, permettant au passage de faire table rase des imprécisions, détournements et falsifications "commercialisés" jusqu’ici. Servi dans une présentation particulièrement soignée. Vous en trouverez ici sa présentation :
- Présentation générale. Cliquer
- Un aperçu relaté dans The Telegraph. Cliquer
- Sa page Facebook. Cliquer

A noter que la totalité des bénéfices de sa vente seront utilisés, pour une part à rembourser les emprunts engagés pour la réalisation technique, pour une part à édifier les stèles ou monuments non édifiés jusqu’ici faute de moyens, tout le reste sera versé à des oeuvres de soutien aux vétérans. Merci de prendre cet aspect en compte aussi

- Rapide bio d’hommes du SAS dans Special Forces Roll of Honour. Cliquer

- La « Chasse à l’homme » menée ici par les Einsatz Kommandos du Sipo/SD. 2 films documentaires. Cliquer

- La « Chasse à l’homme » menée ici par les Einsatz Kommandos du Sipo/SD. "Missing Parachutists", le rapport d’enquête du major Barkworth. Extraits. Cliquer

[2] Qui était Christopher Sykes. Article de Wikipedia. Cliquer

[3] A l’appui des extraits du rapport "Missing Parachutists" du major Barkworth cités dans ce site, le document The journal of Intelligence history, parmi d’autres sources, aide à comprendre le contexte de la chasse menée par le SAS dès la Libération pour retrouver et "punir" les auteurs des crimes de guerre perpétrés contre leurs compagnons d’armes : Google books Cliquer

[4] Compléments d’information sur l’histoire du captain Gough dans article de The DropZone. Voir document PDF éponyme de bas de page

 

Galerie d'images

Eglise de Moussey Cimetière de Moussey Stèle du col du Hantz Angleterre. National Memorial Arboretum. Le Phantom Memorial Angleterre. National Memorial Arboretum Angleterre. National Memorial Arboretum
 

Documents joints à l'article

Fire from the Forest. SAS Heroes. Phantom at War
PDF | 2.5 Mo | document publié le 21 août 2008
3 livres pour mieux comprendre
In Times of Stress
PDF | 5.1 Mo | document publié le 22 janvier 2010
Christopher Sykes. In "Four Studies of Loyalty"
Lieutenant Peter Johnsen
PDF | 3.1 Mo | document publié le 19 octobre 2010
Brève biographie
Nazi Secret Hunters (Justice SAS Style)
PDF | 2.3 Mo | document publié le 21 février 2014
Einsatz Kommandos contre SAS et Résistance d’ici. Documentaire de Chris Lethbridge
Histoire du captain Gough. Compléments
PDF | 1.3 Mo | document publié le 19 avril 2017
Article de The Dropzone. Pages 12 à 15

Rubriques du site

1.Introduction
Infos pratiques
Le Maquis que l’Histoire avait oublié
Pourquoi ce site
2.Orphelins de Déportés
3.Histoire d’ici
1 - Le Vosgien d’ici en 1940
2 - Le contexte général
3 - Ce qui s’est passé ici
- 1940
- 1941 à 1943
- 1944
Les 2ème et 3ème - les 2 "grandes" - déportations de 44
4 - Bilan humain. La vallée aux 1000 déportés
5 - Les SAS ici
- L’Opération Loyton
- La Mémoire
- Le prix payé
- Témoignages des hommes
6 - In memoriam
- Commémoration des 3 Déportations de 44
- Hommage à la Résistance d’ici, gens du Rabodeau et parachutistes Anglais
- Lieux de Massacres et d’Exécutions sommaires
- Moussey Le Mont 6 juin 2010. Le 13ème Dragons saute sur "Anatomie"
7 - Notes
- Notes
- Voir aussi
- Chants de la Résistance
- Découvrir la vallée du Rabodeau
8 - Brochure-Résumé
9 - Explications. Réflexions
4.Liens
5.Témoignages
La vérité remise à sa place. 6 publications significatives
Le film documentaire "Nazis Hunters. Justice SAS Style"
Les Résistances. Témoignages filmés
Les Résistances. La Désobéissance est le plus sage des Devoirs
Témoignages. Faits et hommes d’ici
Témoignages. Faits et hommes dans les camps
6.Ecrits de rescapés
1 - Marius Schmit
2 - Roger Leboube. Collectif de 8 rescapés
3 - Marcel André
4 - Aimé Vigneron
5 - Marcel Dolmaire alias Marcel Dejean
6 - Jean Vinot
7 - Abbé Paul Parguel. Prêtre résistant déporté
8 - MD. Réflexions sur ce qu’auraient pu être...
9 - Albert Fäh. L’odyssée des maquisards de Grandrupt
BP - Docteur Bernard Py
LR - Louis Receveur. Déporté à Dachau
7.Le dernier mot
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