SOE operations in France.

Of course, depending how you define 'here', it did and they did.

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True. I would not blame the copper. Difficult choices, hard times, etc.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
No they are two different books, I have both on my book case. The book you are referring is:
Foot M.R.D. (1984): SOE, The Special Operations Executive in France 1940 - 1946. It runs to only 280 pages including the index.

The book I referred to is a much more in depth history.

My bad then...if I recall Foot was a despatching officer in the France section himself, makes sense.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
Interesting dit, but I can't imagine for one moment that its true. If it was, then there is not the slightest chance that P jnr would have been admitted to his career path. In fact the family would likely have been in the Gulag and the father slotted.

yeah, the source makes it more than a little suspect :-D , which is why I qualified it - but hey, who knows, wierder stuff has happened......it would explain why he apparently hates the Little Satan so much.

Goldbricker said:
Did the Copper even have an option to quit?
One of the Das Reich / Waffen SS fanboiz who wet their pants at the idea of wearing that sharp Hugo Boss outfit they keep in the closet will tell you for sure - but my understanding is that serving police officers in Ostland were co-opted into the Waffen SS en masse, Hobson's Choice.

Sidenote:
Casting bloke: ' well Goats, your German is better than mine - but not quite what we are looking for...however, I have found one of my German officers...do you want to be Wehrmacht or SS ?'

Which is how I got to play the Berlin Garrison Commander April 1945 , Maj Gen Krebs in Channel 4's ' Nazi Megastructures'

True dit dat
 
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diverman

LE
Book Reviewer
For much of the war, those collaborating with the Germans outnumbered the resistance. The whole thing is very complex and the information unreliable, but here's my take on it.

Prior to the invasion of Russian, the french Communists were broadly supportive of Germany. Such resistance as there was was mainly in the form of intelligence gathering or helping escapees. That was in part due to the number of hostages the Germans shot because of acts of sabotage.

Resistance increased after Barbarossa. The French Communists (under the influence of Moscow) wanted to tie down German forces in France. The were more acts of sabotage by the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP) - the communist inspired part of the resistance. They also thought that the Germans shooting hostages would stir up French feeling against the Germans.

You then ended up with a mishmash of groups; some SOE inspired, some Gaullist and the Communists. Sometimes they were more interested in spats with each other than in inconveniencing the Germans.

Another factor was when the Germans started to round up young men for slave labour in Germany. Many ran away to join the resistance, but were more interested in hiding away in remote forests than in active resistance.

A lot of the groups were ill-armed. For much of the war, the Chiefs of Staff only sent a trickle of arms into France - the UK's armed forces and allies needed as many arms as possible and only a minimum of aircraft were provided to drop what was available. Most of the arms were dropped in the months leading up to D-Day.

Were the French a threat to the resistance? Yes. A lot of the French started to collaborate shortly after the Fall of France - they thought they'd get wealth/power out of it, particularly after Germany had won the war. When the tide started to turn against Germany, the Milice and other German supporting organisations fought the resistance hard. They knew what their fate would be if the Allies won.

(Some of the most fanatical resistance to the Russians in Berlin was put up by the remnants of the Charlemagne Division, a French SS division).

Resistance numbers rocketed after D-Day - and for the same reason that other Frenchmen collaborated earlier in the war. People wanted to be on the winning side. And sometimes those late joiners to the resistance denigrated those who went to Britain in 1940 to fight. Pierre Clostermann - a much decorated French fighter pilot - was once told by one of the resistance 'colonels' that he had it easy in England, while they had to face the Germans every day...

How much were the French involved in resistance? The great majority weren't. They just went about their daily lives under a different set of masters.

How effective were the resistance? In military terms, not very. Effective acts of sabotage were few - the main thing they provided was valuable intelligence. And such acts of resistance as were carried out were often exaggerated post-war. When Max Hastings looked at the March of the Das Reich division to Normandy, he found the German records contained relatively few casualties and a lot of the delay was the division stopping to swat pockets of resistance rather than pushing on for Normandy, where the real issue was being decided.

Lest you think I'm being over critical of the French, we should also remember that there was collaboration in the one bit of the UK the Germans captured - the Channel Islands. And the official records for that episode remained closed for years.

Wordsmith

And some are still closed until at least 2045, if they are ever opened then?
 
My grandad was in the SOE, I can only imagine the bravery as he parachuted into occupied France one night in 1944, unfortunately he landed in a prisoner of war camp, the commandant was not a bad sort really, and they all had a laugh about it, just before they shot him.
 

Ned_Seagoon

War Hero
Totally oblique contribution. Driving through our local (French) town this morning, I noticed someone standing with a Union Flag among lots of French drapeaux as part of a large parade at the town memorial. I pulled over and had a chat with the bearer after the ceremony. Turns out that he was retired Rensegnement ( FR Int) carrying the standard of the local Buckmaster SOE network. Although too young to have been in WW2, he was present when Colonel Buckmaster came across for the dedication of the memorial in his name which is just off the road between La Fleche and Le Mans.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
Not off topic at all Ned - thanks, good post.

Good to know that in some parts of France ( outside la peripherique) the role of SOE is remembered.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
When Max Hastings looked at the March of the Das Reich division to Normandy, he found the German records contained relatively few casualties and a lot of the delay was the division stopping to swat pockets of resistance rather than pushing on for Normandy, where the real issue was being decided.

Brave and driven as they may have been, I can't imagine much could be achieved taking on an SS division, even at the times and places of your own choosing, with a few Stens and the odd Bren. The SS were no mugs.

Said and written with all due respect, mind.
 

diverman

LE
Book Reviewer
Brave and driven as they may have been, I can't imagine much could be achieved taking on an SS division, even at the times and places of your own choosing, with a few Stens and the odd Bren. The SS were no mugs.

Said and written with all due respect, mind.

Not forgetting the massacre at Orudour-sur -Glane thatthese murderous scum carried out. Probably one of the few if not the only one that the carried being so well recorded. They served for along time on Russia where the 'rules of war' were ignored with war crimes commited on both sides of the lines.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
Not forgetting the massacre at Orudour-sur-Glane that these murderous scum carried out. Probably one of the few if not the only one that the carried being so well recorded. They served for along time on Russia where the 'rules of war' were ignored with war crimes committed on both sides of the lines.

Which, ignoring the moral implications of that massacre, was a military pointless exercise. The issue was being decided on the Normandy beaches, not in some obscure French village.

The last chance the Germans had of a stalemate in the war was to push the UK and Americans back into the sea, switch resources to the Russian front, halt them and then call for a negotiated peace. Dad Reich should have moved to Normandy at once and attacked while the Allies were trying to consolidate their beachhead.

If the Allies had been thrown back into the sea, the Germans would have had all the time in the world to turn on the resistance and destroy it.

Wordsmith
 

4(T)

LE
Did the Copper even have an option to quit?


IIRC the government institutions on the islands were ordered to cooperate with the Germans within their normal functions. The intention was that civic society would be protected as far as possible during the occupation. Keeping the police in place and working would have been the best option.

The European governments in exile all gave the same direction to their own public servants.

It can't have been easy being a senior policeman, though. They'd have had a very fine line to tread between conducting normal police work - e.g. catching thieves, murderers and looters - and being drawn into becoming part of the occupier's regime.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
Brave and driven as they may have been, I can't imagine much could be achieved taking on an SS division, even at the times and places of your own choosing, with a few Stens and the odd Bren. The SS were no mugs.

Said and written with all due respect, mind.

On the occasions the resistance tried to obstruct Das Reich, they were rapidly swatted aside. A lot of that was due to ignorance of tactics. So they blew down trees to obstruct roads, but failed to cover the obstacles by fire - allowing the Germans to rapidly drag the trees out of the way or splinter them with explosive charges.

Or they laid ambushes at bridges, but failed to post sentries to either side, allowing them to be rapidly outflanked by the German armour and infantry.

Very brave but dumb.

Wordsmith
 
Moot point. I don’t think Police was a reserved occupation, but the options must have been limited to joining up, staying in post or possibly being sent to labour camp.
I believe that the police was a reserved occupation during the war mate.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
It can't have been easy being a senior policeman, though. They'd have had a very fine line to tread between conducting normal police work - e.g. catching thieves, murderers and looters - and being drawn into becoming part of the occupier's regime.

Issue is well explored in Len Deighton's book SS-GB

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I count Hastings as one of the SS fanboiz alluded to above.

The massacre at Oradour is reasonably well-known on this side of the Channel. The SS reprisals against the ordinary people of Tulle less so.


Source 1

The Tulle massacre refers to the roundup and summary execution of civilians in the French town of Tulle by the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich in June 1944, three days after the D-Day landings in World War II.

After a successful offensive by the French Resistance group Francs-tireur on 7 and 8 June 1944, the arrival of Das Reich troops forced the Maquis to flee the city of Tulle (department of Corrèze) in south-central France. On 9 June 1944, after arresting all men between the ages of sixteen and sixty, the Schutzstaffel (SS) and Sicherheitsdienst (SD) men ordered 120 of the prisoners to be hanged, of whom 99 were actually hanged. In the days that followed, 149 men were sent to the Dachau concentration camp, where 101 lost their lives. In total, the actions of the Wehrmacht, the Waffen-SS, and the SD claimed the lives of 213 civilian residents of Tulle.


Nothing admirable about the SS - not heroic if ruthless professionals, just thuggish murderers in uniform.

As Andy McNab allegedly said when declining to slit the throat of the goat-herd who discovered B20 in their LUP:

' We're the SAS, not the SS'
 
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Not forgetting the massacre at Orudour-sur -Glane thatthese murderous scum carried out. Probably one of the few if not the only one that the carried being so well recorded. They served for along time on Russia where the 'rules of war' were ignored with war crimes commited on both sides of the lines.
Wouldn’t argue. It’s also alleged that what sparked Ouradour was the murder of a Lieutnant, I don’t know if he was from Das Reich, but in context that was an outrage. It would have been most unsettling for the Germans probably given their experiences with Russian partisans. Given the mentality of the time a razzia would have been inevitable. That was a common response by both Russians an Germans.
 

Chef

LE
The behaviour of the Channel Island's populations is often brought up in these sorts of discussions but does overlook some salient points;

Firstly the islands are just that and small, Jersey is a tad over five miles by ten, with no large areas to hide out in or borders to escape over.

Secondly as the only part of the UK captured by the Germans it was a trophy for Hitler and more heavily fortified than the French coast.

Thirdly the ratio of occupying troops to inhabitants was in the region of one to seven.

Combine that with the fact that most of the local population knew each other by sight if not personally.

This makes it a lot harder to infiltrate strangers to organise resistance.

If the area had been, say the size of Wales it might have been different. Who knows?

ETA @Ho2331 It would be interesting to see a book like Deighton's 'SSGB' set in the Channel Islands. 'Kramer's War' by Derek Robinson is a good read on the subject.
 

4(T)

LE
Which, ignoring the moral implications of that massacre, was a military pointless exercise. The issue was being decided on the Normandy beaches, not in some obscure French village.


How do you make the value judgement, though? If slaughtering a bunch of civilian villagers shocks the resistance into backing off their attacks for 48hrs or so, allowing your strung-out Division to exit the area without further casualties, then, in the eyes of an average German soldier, it was probably well worth it.

Although most of us here have probably been part of bloody violence at one or more stages in our lives, its still impossible for any of us to comprehend the environment and mind-set of men who have experienced years of total war and seen hundreds of thousands of dead. For many of those in Europe - particularly the East - during WW2, human death was entirely inconsequential and usually devoid of emotional response.

Indeed, there may well be an actual physiological response in humans that switches off the emotional response to mass casualties. E.g. two or three killed in a road accident create an enormous mental trauma in an individual, whereas 50k dead in a natural disaster becomes more of a public health and logistic problem.
 

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