15th-19th May 2023 – on the trail of SOE’s Jedburgh teams and SOE agents in Brittany.
Paul McCue undertook another (second this year) trip, with serving personnel, in preparation for a British Army unit’s Battlefield Study Tour. The tour took in the trails of Teams FREDERICK and FRANCIS, F Section Agent André Hue (pictured below left and soon to be the subject of a SECRET WW2 blue plaque on his former home in Chichester, West Sussex). Hue’s jump suit (pictured), along with a good selection of Resistance, SOE and SAS memorabilia and artefacts was seen in the excellent Resistance museum at Saint-Marcel: Musée de la Résistance en Bretagne à Saint-Marcel (56) (musee-resistance-bretagne.com)
The scene of the death (Kerbozec Farm, Querrien), and the grave (Guiscriff) of Major Colin Ogden-Smith, leader of TEAM FRANCIS and one of the few British Jeds killed in action, was visited as was the site of his grave. See Lord Ashcroft’s description of the action here: https://www.lordashcroft.com/2022/07/the-daring-british-major-butchered-by-the-nazis-and-why-a-tiny-french-village-will-never-forget-the-ultimate-sacrifice-he-made-for-their-freedom/
We only slightly detoured to locate this spot where 28-year-old Corporal Émile Bouetard of the 4th (French) SAS was killed at 0040 hrs on 6th June 1944 as part of SAS OPERATION DINGSON. The position is marked as Croix Bouetard on Google maps, close to the hamlet of Le Haliguen (red pin below), 2 kms from Plumelec. Further details in French can be found here.
A further stop was to study OPERATION CHARIOT – the Combined Operations raid on Saint-Nazaire in March 1942. The location is very well signposted by seven illustrated information boards in French and English and is further enhanced by the nearby memorial and a backdrop of the German U-boat pens which are little-changed. A museum also covers the latter.
While in the Saint-Nazaire area, the opportunity was taken to see the little-visited graves of Muriel Byck and Stanisław Makowski, two of the SOE F Section agents who were originally buried in Romorantin- Lanthenay (see separate News item), but then re-interred, side by side in the first two graves of the CWGC cemetery at Pornic, some 350 kms west from where they originally lay.