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Regular visitors to this web site will recall that Lt-Colonel André Hue, late of the French Resistance, F Section SOE, the Parachute Regiment and SIS/MI6 was the subject of one of our blue plaques in Chichester in 2023 – see below.

Young man false ID
Hue older
Blue plaque

In addition to the remarkable breadth of service and experience already described, André found himself serving alongside 4 (French) SAS in Brittany in June 1944 and it was because of that connection that Nikki Bennett, daughter of André and a subscribed Friend of SECRET WW2, received the following invitation.

Nikki writes:

‘My family and I had the huge honour of being invited to attend a ceremony to honour the French SAS and Maquisards who lost their lives during WWII.

The ceremony was held in Brittany in the small town of Plumelec on 5th June 2024.  About 1000 people were invited, many of whom were school children and college students, as well as veterans and their families.  We were thrilled to sit with the members of AFPSAS (the French association of SAS paratroopers) made up of SAS family members.  The French President, Emmanuel Macron attended the ceremony and delivered a heart-felt speech remembering the first casualty of Operation Overlord, Emile Bouétard.  He was shot after landing on the very field we were standing on, having parachuted in during the night of 5th/6th June.

My father, André Hue also parachuted in at the same time.  He was a member of SOE, and was due to join the Resistance members operating out of a farmhouse about 20 kilometres from Plumelec.  They had been dropped in the wrong place by accident – the field formed part of an enemy position controlled by Russians serving in the German Army.  My father escaped along with an SAS officer by claiming they were French milice [collaborating militia] and on patrol in the area.

My father acted as liaison agent for the Resistance and after the SAS soldier, Capitaine Pierre Marienne was shot [captured, wounded, and then executed, 12 July 1944], took over the organisation of the Resistance group for a few weeks, under the command of Colonel Bourgoin.

British Ambassador, Dame Menna Rawlings, together with the Earl of Minto, laid a wreath on behalf of the Royal British Legion.  As God Save the King was played, I made no apologies for my tears.  Colonel Achille Mueller, aged 99, accompanied the President to lay a wreath.  He also spoke beautifully saying that “those we remember are all heroes, unfortunately dead, I’d rather have known them alive”.  Colonel Mueller was trained in the UK before returning to France to fight.  In true French fashion, when I went to  introduce myself, I found I was not only shaking hands with him, but was rapidly drawn into the French tradition of a kiss on both cheeks!  I was delighted and honoured!  As a choir of school children sang “Le Chant des Partisans”, a song adopted by the Resistance, I found myself in tears again.

For me to stand on the same field where my father parachuted in, exactly 80 years earlier, was incredibly moving. It was also a time to give thanks to all those who fought – not just those who lost their lives but those (like my father) who returned and lived with the images of things they’d seen.  I cannot begin to imagine how tough that must have been, but I am so grateful to have had him as my Dad, a wonderful, warm, funny, genuine, huggable and courageous man.  I had never worn his medals before but did so with huge pride.  I felt like I was walking in the footsteps of giants.’

Nikki Bennett

June 2024