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A Picture from History: The Maquis

In this Picture from History, we take a look at the French resistance fighters who went head-to-head with German soldiers in World War II.

    As the German armies rolled into Paris, all seemed without hope. Their homes had been taken, and they were no longer free people.

    Members of the Maquis
    Members of the Maquis

    Men were regularly rounded up and sent back to Germany to work in the factories producing desperately needed goods for Hitler’s men…but some Frenchmen said “no.”

    Beware “The Underbrush”

    Known as the Maquis, these were the rural version of The French Resistance.

    They quickly organized, fighting against the Germans at every turn, using sabotage and ambush to accomplish their goals before quickly fading into the night.

    Members of the Maquis in La Tresorerie
    Members of the Maquis in La Tresorerie

    But it is hard to fight without weapons and ammunition, and the few arms that the Maquis did possess were rapidly dwindling. 

    The people needed help, and that help was about to arrive. Operation Cadillac was underway. 

    Skies Raining Weapons

    On July 14, 1944, the Maquis received notification that a massive arms shipment was imminent, slated to arrive atop Mont-Gargan. 

    They heard the engines in the sky overhead, and as the people looked up, they saw a sky filled with parachutes of red, white, and blue.

    Mont-Gargan (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

    Machine guns, Stens, grenades, mortars, ammo, money, medicine, and food — that was how they would fight back and maintain freedom.

    But time was of the essence. 

    Hunting the Beast

    The Germans were furious about Operation Cadillac. The Maquis had proven to be a thorn in their side for far too long, and they intended to stamp them out completely from the region.

    Fortunately, the Maquis knew the Germans were coming. And so, they rapidly retrieved the packages, hid what they didn’t immediately need, and then waited.

    Members of the Maquis
    Members of the Maquis

    Mont-Gargan was saturated with the Maquis. Two days later, the Germans arrived.

    The Maquis knew what lay ahead of them. If they surrendered, like other members of the French Resistance before them, they would be tortured and executed.

    Reprisals against their loved ones would likely take place as well. Not fighting wasn’t an option. 

    Violette Szabo
    Violette Szabo, a famed maquis fighter who was captured, tortured, and then shot in the neck by Germans.

    For France

    As the Nazis arrived, fierce fighting broke out throughout the entire region of Mont-Gargan. According to one Maquis fighter, “We didn’t eat or drink for three days, because we had to fight.”

    Though the Maquis fought valiantly, the Nazis overtook the mountain.

    A total of 38 of the Maquis were killed in the action, 54 were injured, and five were missing.

    Captured members of the Maqui
    Captured members of the Maquis, likely all executed. (Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1989-107-24 / Koll / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

    But the casualties inflicted upon the Germans were three times that of their own.

    The Maquis made Hitler’s men pay dearly for that piece of French soil. A month later, the Maquis surrounded the Nazi-held French city of Limoges. 

    French resistance during the Paris Uprising
    French resistance during the Paris Uprising

    Realizing they were surrounded, the Nazis laid down their arms and surrendered. 

    And the Maquis entered the city to the cheering roar of their people.  

    This is a new style of article for Pew Pew Tactical, if you liked it — let us know in the comments! If you didn’t enjoy it…well phooey. To catch up on previous Pictures from History, click on over to our History Category.

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    7 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar

      Great! I enjoy the little known and often forgotten stories. Keep it up!

      September 26, 2022 8:17 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Don’t let history be forgotten. They did what needed to be done to save their country. They say history repeats itself.

      September 25, 2022 6:51 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Remembering history is a valuable resource. Keep them coming.

      September 25, 2022 4:13 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Great story. Keep them coming.

      September 24, 2022 7:44 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I wonder what the Maquis did with the Nazi's who surrendered at Limoges? Any one know?
      Great articles. Keep them coming. Resistance articles appear to be quite appropriate about now.....

      September 23, 2022 12:48 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Great story. Thanks Aden

      September 23, 2022 11:14 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      John Lakey

      Thank you for the history snippet. I wonder if history will repeat itself?

      September 23, 2022 10:27 am
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