French OG page  

  Algiers-to-France Sections:
  U.K.-to-France Groups:

To aid the resistance movement in Southern France in harassing of enemy communications.

To coordinate Operational Group operations in the Rhone River west bank area.

24 August. Sterling bomber left Blida at 2000 hours for DZ "Tandem" near Devesset in the Ardeche Province. Flight was good and drop was made on 25 August on to a pasture with good reception. Maquis provided food and billet in Devesset.

25 August. Maj. Cox contacted Commandant Vanel ("Pectoral"), head of Ardeche FFI. French felt main routes used by Germans were west bank highway (RN 86) of Rhone valley , and east-west highways south of the Ardeche, generally in the Villefort-Vallon-Privas line. Remainder of Ardeche was considered liberated.

After a couple of hours' sleep Maj. Cox and Cmdt. Vanel went to Vals les Bain and met with other Maquis officers plus Lt. McKenzie of OG "Louise" to iron out points of dispute. Then at Chapelle sous Aubenas Maj. Cox visited the Section ("Louise") right after the ambush and conflict earlier this date (25th) when the Maquis left leaving the Section to fight its way out of the trap.

Maj. Cox returned to Vals and made recommendations to Cmdt. Vanel: 1) OGs to be assigned to sectors where Maquis showed good leadership, discipline and combat activity.. 2) Sectors be required to maintain proper liaison with adjacent sectors. 3) Central reserve be set up of materials and troops for quiick moves.

27 Aug. On Maquis report of hugh German column heading north near Tournon along west side of the Rhone, Maj. Cox with detail took off, met the advance guard and took cover off the road but not before being sighted and fired on. The detail returned to Devesset base the following morning and sent intelligence of the column to Algiers and the Maquis Headquarters. Subsequently learned was the knocking-out of around 50 vehicles of the estimated 50,000 troups passing through Tournon to Lyon over 4 days and nights. At least 1000 vehicles got through.

29 Aug. Maj. Cox reconnoitered Vals region with Cmdt. Vanel and the local FFI chiefs, after which he made the following comments.
"1. Too much discussion---not enough orders. Waitresses, Chauffeurs,---everyone had his two cents to put in.
2. Selections of positions from roadmaps; little or no terrain appreciation.
3. General tactical policy was to place one company on every road, theoretically surrounding the enemy. In reality Germans selected the route desired, blasted through the one company covering it often merely by a display of firepower. and the effect of the remainder of Maquis was entirely wasted.

In the main, I feel that the following conclusions about the FFI are justified.

1. A truly tremendous amount of good was done by small bands who operated in true guerilla fashion, hitting and running, slashing repeatedly the enemy flanks.
2. As the success of the Allied Armies became more certain, the ranks of the FFI swelled tremendously, and they thought of themselves as an army, instead of as a large number of guerilla bands. The FFI had neither the arms, discipline nor leadership with which to operate in pitched battles against trained combat troops. More and more attention was paid to projects such as the liberation of Lyon and other large cities, and less and less to continual harassing of enemy columns."

During the four days in which the large column passed through Tournon, Maj. Cox continually urged the FFI to concentrate all available forces on hitting this column again and again. However higher FFI command ordered concentrationn of all possible ARDECHE Maquis to the North to aid an attack on Lyon. The German column reached Lyon with very little opposition, the Germans blew the bridges, and withdrew completely. The following morning the FFI triumphantly "took" the city. This procedure held for many such "liberations." On the whole the Germans held what they wanted to and after they left the Maquis moved in."

31 Aug. Maj. Cox and party observed German column still travelling north. Back at Devesset Maj. Cox received a call to go to Chaumerac to assist in the surrender of a German column. When he arrived the surrender had taken place but he participated in interrogation and quartering.

The 1st French Armored Division was moving north through the Ardeche.

2 September. At Yzeron, near St. Etienne, arrangements for advance on Lyon were made with Sections "Louise," "Helen" and the Maquis.

3 Sept. In early morning Maj. Cox and party started for Lyon, and met Capt. Vanoncini who with some of his Section "Helen" was spearheading the approach, and who went on with a detachment of the French Army to see about holding a bridge. Maj. Cox and several of his group, "Lehigh," proceding on foot somehow got in front of the Maquis who were still forming up and had to fight through wildly cheering crowds. From a Cathedral overlooking the city the Maquis and French Army units were seen arriving at the river bank. A weird scene followed with weapons wildly fired and few casualties, civilians everywhere hugging and kissing with complete disregard of the firing, and milice hunted down and killed.

In the afternoon Maj. Cox contacted Gen. Dahlquist of the 36th Division on the east side of the Rhone, told him what he knew of the German and French armies and offered any possible assistance.

4-9 Sept. Arrangements were made for assembling all OGs to Grenoble.


Summary compiled by John Hamblet.





  Major A. T. Cox
Capt. R. Morin
Capt. J. Hamblet
T/Sgt. F. Delage
T/Sgt. D. Campbell
T/Sgt. W. Beaudoin
T/Sgt. P. O'Lear
T/Sgt. P. O'Lear
Cpl. A. Rockman

Map of French

contact us