Sabotage

Charles Reinert, semaphore operator in Caen, joined the Resistance and participated in sabotage operations:


“The first sabotage operation I participated in consisted of unbolting and moving rails.  The target was a train of German soldiers on leave.

The railroad had been cut too soon before the train came. It was a locomotive traveling alone that came. The team signaled the cut. The next operation took place after Mézidon. This time, a bomb had been made with dynamite supplied by quarry workers. We placed it on the railroad before the train carrying the soldiers on leave passed but it didn’t explode.

After this second failure, our team decided to return to the unbolting method. Another sabotage operation took place in Moult followed by another shortly afterwards, but I didn’t take part in that one. Those actions caused two trains filled with Germans on leave to derail, killing around eight enemy soldiers and wounding many more.”

Charles Reinert in Les cheminots dans la bataille du rail, Maurice CHOURY, Librairie Académique Perrin, 1970

 

Yves Cadillac, leader of a group of FTP railroad workers in the Gard department, and several of his comrades blew up a train carrying 700,000 tons of coal bound for the La Seyne shipyards, which worked for the Germans:

“Etienne and I climbed into the locomotive and I made several attempts to start the train. A pal of mine was the brakeman. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the damn thing started. Desperate, I had one of the mechanics called over. He opened up the locomotive’s steam valves and sandboxes and got it running. He immediately jumped out and off we were after sounding the whistle to let my pal in back know that it was time to release the brake.

The train was running; I kept an eye on the signals and Etienne shoveled at least a ton of coal into the firebox to keep the pressure up and not have to put on the brakes when we went downhill.

We approached Mas-de-Ponge station and I noticed a crowd on the platform. I felt anxious for a moment. Unlike the day before when there was nobody in the station because they were all playing boules, tonight there was a chance somebody might recognise us. Etienne started shoveling coal again and I watched the oil feed while keeping my hands in a shade to camouflage myself because we took off our masks as soon as the train evacuation operation was over. We went through the station without a hitch. The critical moment for both of us to abandon the train had come. I slowed down with the graduated brake so that Etienne could jump off at the agreed upon place. Then I released the brake, let the air ducts fill up, opened the regulator (not too much, in order to keep the train from derailing too soon) and, after one last glance, went down the ladder and jumped! …

The train was already picking up speed and, despite my experience, when I hit the ballast I did a somersault worthy of a circus clown.”

Yves Cadillac in Les cheminots dans la bataille du rail, Maurice CHOURY, Librairie Académique Perrin, 1970

 

Franc-Tireur et Partisan Français Honour Code:

“In our downtrodden France that wants to drive out the invaders as soon as possible, the entire people will rise up tomorrow in a great national insurrection that will be our country’s contribution to the Allied strategy in Europe. But the national uprising that, General de Gaulle has rightly said, is inseparable from national liberation must be planned, and it is the honour of the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans Français to make a powerful contribution to this indispensable prelude of the Nation’s armed uprising against the invader.

Francs-Tireurs et Partisans de France, you are the armed vanguard of Fighting France on home soil. You are covered with the same glory that covered the heroic sailors of Toulon, the soldiers of Bir-Hakeim and Tunisia, and all those fighting to free the homeland.

You, Francs-Tireurs et Partisans, who have many officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers from the armistice army dissolved by the Germans in your ranks, form the core of the future National Liberation Army. You are the pride and honour of France, and in solemnly signing the specific commitments that make up the Franc-Tireur et Partisan Français honour code you help to raise the FTPF’s prestige even higher and to tighten the bonds that must unite the patriots showing the way of armed struggle to the people of France who, all together, will take up arms tomorrow.”