Jedburgh Team Jacob, August 12 1944
During the night of August 12, 1944, the SFHQ dispatched the Jedburgh Team Jacob to the Vosges area north of Epinal as the twenty-sixth Jedburgh team to the Continent. They landed at about 0100 on August 13 near the village of La Petite-Raon. The SFHQ had previously been unable to support the eastern area of France and in mid-August resolved to send a Jedburgh team to the area. The SAS resolved to dispatch the ninety-one-man Team Loyton to the area also. The Jedburgh Team Jacob was to assist the local Maquis, cooperate with the SAS, but to remain under the command of the SFHQ. They were to avoid open offensive action against Axis forces. Team Jacob consisted of (UK) Capt Victor A. Gough (Arran); (FR) Lt Maurice Boissarie (Connaught); (UK) Sgt Ken Seymour (Skye). Gough was a pleasant young man from Somerset, who before entering the service had been a cartoonist. It was Gough who created the design for the Special Forces wings that the Jedburghs wore on their uniforms.
On August 16, Team Jacob radioed the SFHQ reporting that they had landed safely and were with a Maquis two kilometers south of Vexaincourt. Sgt Seymour injured his ankle in the jump, but they expected him to be ambulatory in seven days. Meanwhile, the team used the SAS radio operator and hoped to meet the Réseau Planète in a day or two. Of the 800 FFI volunteers in the area, only 50 were armed. Some 600 were forced to remain sedentary inactive in their homes. In two messages on August 26, the team requested a large supply drop and indicated that their radio set was not functioning. On September 5, Team Jacob reported that they had not yet received another radio but that they had contacted the SAS Team Loyton. It would appear that several days earlier Team Jacob and the SFHQ had attempted to conduct an arms drop that proved unsuccessful, resulting in numerous FFI casualties when Axis forces attacked them on the drop zone (DZ).
On the following day, Team Jacob canceled that night’s arms drop, reporting that Germans were on the DZ. The SFHQ next heard from Team Jacob on September 15, when it reported that Sgt Seymour had been captured on August 17 and was rumored to have been shot on the 20. In a recent battle, Capt Boissarie had been killed along with 100 Maquis. Another 100 Maquis had been captured with the remainder dispersed. On September 16, Capt Cough (Jacob’s sole survivor) radioed the SFHQ stating that he had rallied 200 Maquis and with the SAS assistance had armed them. He also reported that the transmitter and radio set recently dropped had broken during the drop. Cough said he planned to continue using the SAS set.
At 1900, September 18, Capt Cough sent his last message: have contacted 800 Maquis under Marlier. Sent message with the SAS yesterday for arms drop. Gave ground. The SAS will liaise [liaison] with you. Great difficulty working alone. Can’t come up at regular skeds [schedules]. Will come upon an emergency when can. Please have your message ready for me on this channel. Have not had money yet. The SAS having personnel drop to team here tomorrow. Please send money addressed to me with one of their officers
The SFHQ continued to send messages to Team Jacob through September 28. Capt Gough was captured in the days following September 18 and executed on November 25, 1944, at the Schirmek La Broque concentration camp in Alsace.
He is buried at the Durnbach Commonwealth Cemetery near Bad Tölz, Bavaria. Capt Boissarie (alias Baraud) apparently died in a skirmish on September 4, 1944, at the Viambois Farm in the Vosges. Sgt Seymour was captured by the Germans, survived incarceration in a concentration camp, and returned to England.
Jedburgh Team Aubrey, August 12 1944
The SFHQ dispatched Team Aubrey as the twenty-seventh Jedburgh team to France from the United Kingdom. It was to assist the [Spiritualist] network (code name for the organizer and circuit) in the Seine-et-Marne region east of Paris, providing an additional communication link to London, particularly for the delivery of arms and ammunition. The team consisted of (UK) Capt Godfrey Marchant (Rutland); (FR) Lt Jean-François Chaigneau (Kildare); (UK) Sgt Ivor Hooker (Thaler). They received their briefing in London on August 11 and left for Harrington Air Base at 1700. The team wore civilian clothes for the jump and took off in a modified B-24 from Harrington at 0015 on August 12, followed by two more B-24s carrying weapons, ammunition, and equipment.
At about 0155, the team parachuted without incident into a DZ near La Plessis-Belleville and were greeted by Maj René Dumont-Guillemet, the leader of the [Spiritualist] circuit, and a large reception committee from the village of Saint-Pathus. On the evening of August 12, the team cycled to the village of Forfry, where they established themselves in a safe house. The following day, Sgt Hooker developed a case of the mumps, and since there were no Germans in the village, he set up his radio and operated it from his sickbed throughout most of the remainder of the mission.
On the 14, the SFHQ approved Capt Marchant and Capt Chaigneau’s request to shift operations to the suburbs of northern Paris, where Maj Dumont-Guillemet had identified some 1500 volunteers. The team believed it much safer to operate in the built-up suburbs than in the gently rolling hills of the Seine-et-Marne. Capt Marchant secured Spanish identity papers and traveled daily throughout the suburbs, instructing small groups (including Parisian gendarmes) on sabotage techniques. The local resistance group provided Capt Chaigneau with false papers and a motorcycle, and he served as a liaison between resistance groups.
On August 21, Chaigneau and Marchant decided that with the German Army retreating from France, it was time to move to the Meaux area. When Marchant and the [Spiritualist] radio operator named Blaise, bicycled back to Saint-Pathus, however, they found an SS and a German Army field unit camped about the village. The Germans moved north on August 24, and the following day, Maj Dumont-Guillemet, on his own initiative, instructed his forces to rise in revolt. Within hours, however, the SFHQ radioed to tell him that the revolt could not start until the SFHQ sanctioned the rising. Maj Dumont-Guillemet and Capt Marchant then conferred and agreed that to call off the uprising would only create confusion. They decided to go ahead with the insurrection.
Team Aubrey put on their uniforms again on August 26 and awaited the arrival of the FFI volunteers from northern Paris. The latter arrived the following morning in some twenty vehicles, having managed to avoid large German military convoys escaping to the north. This FFI group with Maj Dumont-Guillemet and Team Aubrey attempted to set up an ambush position near Rougemont, between Oissery and Forfry. It was not a bad defensive position, resting upon a sunken road with a good field of fire to the south, protected on the west by heavy wood and on the east by marshy ground impassable to armored vehicles.
The problems were twofold: the Maquis were basically unorganized and untrained, and the men really had no idea what would be coming down the road into their ambush. Only two Bren guns were operational, and only the Jedburghs knew how to operate the four PIATS (a hand-held antitank rocket – Projectile Infantry Anti Tank). Even as the FFI column unloaded at the sunken road, a German armored car opened fire on two FFI vehicles in Oissery. Seconds later, a German light tank opened fire on the vehicles in the sunken road. After about eighty minutes, at about 1230, with the arrival of additional Germans, Maj Dumont-Guillemet directed a covering force to hold off the Germans while the remaining men dispersed.
Capt Marchant said he would remain with the covering force and ordered Sgt Hooker to leave the field. Hooker moved east along the streambed, where he met Maj Dumont-Guillemet. They spotted Capt Chaigneau about thirty yards ahead of them. Capt Marchant and the covering force held their positions for a short while until another German tank approached and opened fire at close range, whereupon the covering force also fled. Marchant was forced to crawl north to a lake, where he hid for the next eight hours.
The German armor continued to fire, killing Capt Chaigneau in the streambed with a high-explosive shell. The mud in the streambed was rather deep, so Hooker, Dumont-Guillemet, and the others crawled some two kilometers through the mud until they finally reached the shelter of the woods. From there, the group dispersed, with Hooker (who had discarded his codes) and Maj Dumont-Guillemet making their way to a safe house in Nongloire-par-Puisieux. Maj Dumont-Guillemet and Sgt Hooker spent the next day at the safe house.
On the morning of August 29, they awoke to the sound of machine guns and discovered a US VII Corps column advancing down the road to Soissons. They received a ride from the Americans to Meaux, from where they returned to Paris. On the 30, Sgt Hooker borrowed a jeep and drove to Forfry, where he found Capt Marchant, and the two returned to Paris, Maj Dumont-Guillemet had already returned to London, and the two surviving members of Team Aubrey followed soon after.
The German armored unit that Team Aubrey encountered belonged in all probability to the LVIII Panzer-Corps, which was responsible to the German 1.Army on August 25-27. It consisted of the remnants of several severely battered divisions, including the Panzer-Lehr and the 9.Panzer-Division. The LVIII Panzer-corps concentrated its efforts on blacking the major road nets north of Paris until August 27, when it was forced to retire to the line Beaumont – Survillers – Dammartin-en-Goele – Meaux. In the nineteen days, it was in the field, Team Aubrey provided valuable information to London, particularly targeting data on a Luftwaffe airfield north of Paris. In addition, although the SFHQ probably knew of the withdrawal of the German’s Paris garrison, Team Aubrey’s confirmation of its departure on August 19 undoubtedly assisted in clarifying the situation. Capt Marchant estimated that the FFI lost eighty-six men and women killed in the August 27 engagement near Bougemont. Godfrey Marchant, originally from Buenos Aires, died in April 1945 when his B-24, bound for an SOE mission in Burma, crashed on takeoff near Calcutta. Ivor Hooker survived the war, returning to England to live in Suffolk County. He died in June 1988.
Jedburgh Team Augustus, August 16 1944
The SFHQ dispatched Team Augustus as the thirty-fourth Jedburgh team to the Continent on August 15, 1944, to the Aisne region, where it was to assist the local Maquis and serve as an additional communication link to London. Maj Maj John H. Bonsall (Arizona)(US), the team leader, was born on June 11, 1919, in Morristown, New Jersey. After attending a number of preparatory schools, he entered Princeton University, where he was in the ROTC program. He was commissioned an Army second lieutenant upon graduation in 1941, although he planned to follow his father’s example and practice law. He was called to active duty in August 1941, arrived in England in December 1943, and was promoted to major in April 1944. Capt Jean Delviche (Hérault)(FR) and T/Sgt Roger E. Cote (Indiana)(US) were the other members of the team. Delwiche was a professional officer born in Vivaise, a small village ten kilometers north of Laon. He was a profoundly quiet man, undoubtedly the result of the death of his wife and child to illness.
On the night of August 15, the team flew from England with twenty-four containers weighing 3 tons and with no other passengers. Landing near the hamlet of Colonfay, about fifteen kilometers south of Guise, they moved to Le Nouvion-en-Thierache, the local resistance headquarters. On the afternoon of August 16, they reached a farm near the village of Clary, which the resistance suggested would be much safer. The team radioed the SFHQ on August 17 that the reception had gone perfectly. Two days later, they reported that they had successfully contacted the local resistance leader. At that meeting, they apparently decided to follow the suggestion of the resistance to conduct operations to the south near Soissons. On August 20, the team radioed that the resistance movement in the Aisne Department was quite advanced, with 1100 men armed and trained and 4900 unarmed men.
On August 21, the team moved south about 100 kilometers to the village of Rugny. Through August 24, the team sent London several reports on specific targets for the Allied air forces, mostly large German troop columns headed east for the German border or trains stuck between railroad demolitions.
On August 25, however, Augustus reported that there were so many German troops in the area that it would be unwise to form any Maquis and that hiding places were becoming harder to find.
The following day, the team reported that the Germans were constructing field fortifications behind the Aisne River, although without minefields.
On August 28, they learned that American tanks were in the vicinity and moved north to Soissons. There, they briefed the staff officers of the US 3-AD on German defenses in the area. The American officers displayed a particular interest in the German camp at Margival. The SFHQ, on August 30, sent Augustus the following message: have received the order from Army commander for the FFI to take all possible steps to preserve following Somme River bridges from enemy demolition. All bridges in the Amiens area, also at Moreuil, Boves, Fiquigny, Conde, Longpré. You should attempt to preserve these bridges for about four days after receipt of this message. This is an important task. Count on you for fullest cooperation. If you need arms can drop from low flying typhoons.
Team Augustus presumably received this message. That same day, the team passed through the American lines north of Laon (south of Froidmont), an area well known to Capt Delwiche. A subsequent OSS investigation revealed that all three members were shot and killed on the night of August 30 at the village of Barenton-sur-Serre. Apparently, German troops stopped a horse-drawn cart and found the three occupants in civilian clothes, carrying false French identity cards, and equipped with weapons, a radio, and other equipment.
Since the German troops were the remnants of an armor unit interested mainly in escaping to the German border, they undertook no further searches but merely shot the team and soon departed in the rain. The horse, still towing its cart, returned on its own to its stable in Mr. Magnien’s barn, which was occupied by armed FFI volunteers. The return of the horse and empty cart created considerable consternation, Mr. Magnien and his colleagues found the bodies of the Jedburgh Team Augustus the following morning, buried the three men at the Barenton-sur-Serre cemetery, and subsequently erected a memorial in their honor.
Jedburghs Team Andrew, August 15 1944
Operations in eastern France and Belgium were particularly difficult for the SFHQ owing to the great distance from England and the proximity of German training areas and Axis security forces. In mid-April 1944, the SFHQ dispatched the first four members of the Operation [Citronelle], the code name for one twelve-man inter-Allied mission led by Col Paris de Bolladière into the Ardennes on April 12 and June 5, 1944. Team Andrew (UK); (BE) Lt Edouard C. d’Oultremont (Demer); (UK) Sgt Frank Harrison (Nethe). The mission’s leader, Maj A.H.S. Henry Coombe-Tennant (Rupel)(UK) and seven more men parachuted into the area on June 5 was to contact and assist the Maquis on the French-Belgian border of the Ardennes. The Germans soon launched a series of attacks in the area, and an American member of [Citronelle], Capt Victor J. Layton, radioed the SFHQ to report that a German attack on June 12 had scattered the resistance group. He reported 5 FFI members killed, 140 captured and estimated that perhaps 100 remained.
The SFHQ, on the night of August 15, dispatched Jedburgh Team Andrew to the southern Ardennes in France, where they were to assist the FFI with arms deliveries and provide another communications link to London. The team consisted of Maj A.H.S. Henry Coombe-Tennant (Rupel)(UK), Lt Edouard C. d’Oultremont (Demer)(BE), and Sgt Frank Harrison (Nethe)(UK).
Henry Coombe-Tennant was born on April 9, 1913, in the Vale of Neath, South Wales, and subsequently became a career officer, serving in the Welsh Guards. As a member of the British Expeditionary Force in 1940, he was captured near Boulogne. In 1942, he and two colleagues escaped from their German POW camp near Warburg in Westphalia and were fortunate enough to link up with the [Réseau Comet] network in Belgium, which assisted their return to England. Upon his return to England, Coombe-Tennant attended a staff college and in 1943 served on the SOE planning staff on Baker Street. Soon thereafter, he volunteered for the Jedburgh project. One of the members of the [Réseau Comet] network was Count d’Oultremont, born on September 27 1916 in Paris, a resident of Brussels, who was of medium height, well built, with blonde hair and mustache, and distinguished in appearance.
In 1943, d’Oultremont followed the [Réseau Comet] escape route, shortly before the Germans rolled up the network. The two men were rather surprised to meet each other again at Milton Hall and decided to form their own team. With d’Oultremont on the team, they guessed they would be inserted into Belgium. The team received their alert on August 8 and on the 10, traveled to London for their briefing. The briefer informed them that the resistance forces in the Ardennes had recently lost 200 men in an engagement, and only 150 remained. The SFHQ instructed Team Andrew to contact the [Citronelle] mission upon their arrival. Two French officers on a similar mission would fly with the team. In addition, a ten-man Belgian SAS force on an independent mission would parachute with them.
On the night of August 15, the group flew to the Ardennes skirting a storm with high winds. The SFHQ dispatched two bombers to the Ardennes that night carrying thirteen parachutists and forty-eight containers weighing approximately 6 tons total. Upon approaching the DZ, the landing lights were clearly visible, and the SAS team jumped first, about two kilometers east of Revin, France. The aircraft turned around to make a second pass, but this time the landing lights could not be spotted. Upon being informed that they would either have to jump ‘blind’ or return to England, Maj Coombe-Tennant decided to risk the jump. The strong wind scattered the team, but during the remaining hours of darkness, they located each other and buried their chutes. The Belgian SAS team had disappeared to conduct its own mission. At dawn, Team Andrew marched through the forest until they found a woodsman’s cottage, where they were offered shelter. On August 17, a Maquis lieutenant arrived and took them to meet Col de Bolladière’s [Citronelle] mission. Along with some other equipment, Team Andrew lost its radio crystals in the drop and was therefore dependent upon [Citronelle]’s radio for contacting the SFHQ.
On August 25, the de Bolladière group received a request for help from a Belgian resistance group about five miles to the east that was in a skirmish with a German convoy. Col de Bolladière took about sixty men with him and found the ambush site. Upon spotting women in the convoy, he ordered that it not be attacked; but it was too late, and a firefight ensued. The following day near noon, a German company from Belgium found and attacked the [Citronelle] group as they were having lunch. The Germans’ use of 50-MM mortars proved particularly effective, and the [Citronelle] mission lost eight men killed and twelve wounded, including Col de Bolladière and Lt d’Oultremont. The Germans, however, had not expected such firepower, and both forces simultaneously retired – the [Citronelle] group to a camp south of Tourbillon. The following day, Coombe-Tennant and Capt Layton returned to the scene of the engagement and observed that the Germans had not removed their dead.
The [Citronelle] group subsequently remained deep within the forest about two miles north of the French border. Their main link to the outside world was a Capuchin friar, Anton Hegelmann, who periodically visited their camp. Since they had little ammunition, they remained at their hideout the following week. Around September 1, the group learned of the advance of the US Army and decided to move south toward Charleville. Upon reaching the city, they discovered that the US Army had already seized the town.
The group did, however, set up an ambush and managed to intercept a group of Germans retreating east. The US 1-A’s 10th Special Force Detachment picked up the team on September 8 at the V Corps headquarters and gave them a ride to Paris. Maj Coombe-Tennant and Lt d’Outremont left for Brussels to rejoin their regiments, leaving Sgt Harrison to file the final report.
Team Augustus was in the field for slightly more than three weeks, working with the [Citronelle] inter-Allied mission. The [Citronelle] group obviously undertook direct military action prematurely and consequently was forced to spend one critical week in hiding. If the [Citronelle] mission materially assisted the advance of Allied ground forces, it was only indirectly by tying down German forces and constituting yet one more possible threat to German forces retiring east. Maj Coombe-Tennant returned to the Welsh Guards, served in the Middle East, and retired in 1956. In 1961, he joined the Benedictine Order. On November 6 1989, he died at Downside Abbey. Edouard Comte d’Oultremont survived the war and returned to Brussels, where he died on February 3 1988. The Jedburgh community subsequently lost touch with Frank Harrison.
The SFHQ planned to dispatch Teams Benjamin and Bernard on the night of August 19, 1944, to the Meuse-Argonne area of northeastern France to assist the local FFI. Team Benjamin consisted of (UK) Maj Hubert O’Brian-Tear (Stirling); (FR) Lt Paul Moniez (Ulster); (FR) Lt Henri Kamiski (Serre) and was to operate east of the Meuse River. Team Bernard consisted of (FR) Capt Etienne Nasica (Argens); (UK) Capt Jocelyn de Warenne Waller (Tipperary); (UK) Sgt Cyril M. Bassett (Lancashire). Each team parachuted with the standard Jedburgh radial set, with which they were to contact the SFHQ in London to arrange the delivery of additional weapons and supplies.
Following a request for such supplies, it would take an estimated eight days for delivery. The two teams received a joint briefing on August 17 that proved suspiciously brief. Information on the state of the resistance in eastern France proved sketchy, and the teams were not provided with detailed maps of the area. The planned jump for August 19 did not transpire, but on the following night, each team took off in a bomber from Fairford Air Base. Both bombers found their way to the DZ, several kilometers south of Clermont-en-Argonne, but could not spot the landing lights until directly above them. As the six Jedburghs parachuted, they suspected that something had gone wrong in the reception committee.
Jedburghs Teams Benjamin & Bernard, August 20 1944
The FFI reception committee had no previous experience working with parachuted men or materiel so consequently had not selected or prepared a suitable DZ. They had picked a very small field surrounded by the Argonne Forest. Thus, five of the Jedburghs, along with sixteen packages and about thirty containers, landed in the trees. The reception committee had selected a DZ that was far too small and complicated the problem by placing the landing lights too close to the tree line. Furthermore, they had only fifteen men, so it took two days and three nights to assemble the scattered containers and parachutes.
On August 21, two local resistance leaders escorted the Jedburghs to their camp on the edge of the Argonne forest, three miles south-southwest of Clermont, where at 0630, they established radio contact with the SFHQ. They used Team Bernard’s radio since the other radio had been destroyed in the drop. They also decided to remain together in one large team until another radio could be supplied. It was not until August 23 that two senior FFI officials, Col Aubusson and Col Angelet (assistants of Planète), arrived to brief them on the local situation.
They reported that Planète was in Nancy planning for a major operation in the Vosges and that he desired the FFI to harass the Germans in the Argonne region east and west of the Meuse. To accomplish this, there were about 600 men scattered about this rural area and another 300 in Saint-Mihiel. The Franc Tireurs et Partisans (FTP) had an estimated forty men in Stenay, 200 in Spincourt, and 50 in Souilly.
To confuse the situation further, about 3000 Russian POWs worked as miners in Bassin-de-Briey.
The two team leaders decided, therefore, to split up and return to their original plan. They would call for six priority parachute-supply drops at the beginning of the new moon, three in the Bernard sector west of the Meuse and three in the Benjamin sector east of the Meuse. They planned to arm a nucleus of 200 men in each sector. They consequently began preparations, contacting the local FTP leader to arrange his cooperation and to prepare for Team Benjamin to cross the Meuse. Then disaster struck.
The following morning, August 24, the Gestapo and the French Milice posing as FFI Maquis at the town of Les Islettes, arrested the local FFI leaders. The two Jedburgh teams learned of this several hours later and began to carry off as much of their equipment as possible to a new camp. Later in the afternoon, 150 Axis troops led by an SS captain raided the Jedburgh camp evacuated only hours earlier. Through coincidence, an FTP patrol from Souilly, desiring to coordinate with the Jedburghs and secure more arms, arrived at the camp to find not Maquis but a large enemy force. The FTP fled, losing ten men and, no doubt, some measure of confidence in their FFI colleagues. The Jedburghs abandoned their earlier plans, knowing now that they were being hunted. They consequently moved again that same night through the heavily wooded Argonne forest to the western side of the Biesme valley into the Foret Domaniale-de-Chatrices.
The move to the western side of the valley took three days, during which scouts attempted to determine the level of damage done by the Les Islettes incident. On August 28, they learned that one of the FFI leaders had been captured with a map showing the planned supply DZs. The following day, the group met with Major Rooney’s SAS group Rupert, both groups having selected the same DZ for that night’s supply drop. After coordinating for a joint drop, the SAS canceled the drop later that evening. Probably on this same day, the SFHQ informed Team Benjamin of the imminent arrival of American ground forces and requested that Benjamin send guides through the German lines to meet them.
On August 30, the guides dispatched by the Jedburghs contacted the advancing American force (US 3d Cavalry Group, US XX Corps), providing them with an estimate of the local situation. In the morning, the Jedburghs made three offensive patrols on the Sainte-Menehould – Les Islettes – Clermont road, hoping to cut off retreating German forces. They also desired to prevent the destruction of the railway tunnel and bridges of Sainte-Menehould. The road patrol encountered no German forces. A second patrol found the railway tunnel abandoned and not rigged for detonation. The third patrol (consisting of Lt Moniez, Commandant Dulac, and six men) entered Sainte-Menehould, killing four Germans, but later withdrew at the approach of German troops. A party of eighty FFI that was supposed to assist at Sainte-Menehould proved unable to fight through German forces.
The US XX Corps began its advance on Verdun on August 30, led by its 3d Cavalry Group and the 7th Armored Division. The cavalry seized Sainte-Menehould at 0545 on August 31, and CCA (7-AD) moved toward Verdun to capture a bridgehead over the Meuse River.
The Germans had destroyed all of the Meuse River bridges in the area except the main bridge at Verdun, which was rigged for demolition and defended by a rearguard with two Mark V Panther tanks. As units of CCA entered the town shortly afternoon, a number of FFI volunteers ran under the bridge and managed to cut the wires to the explosive charge before the German sentries opened fire. Minutes later, the tanks of CCA arrived, knocked out the two Panthers, and proceeded east to secure the bridgehead.
On August 31, before the arrival of American forces, Capt Nasica was wounded in a skirmish with a German patrol at Futeau in the Biesme valley. The Maquis advanced along the Biesme valley, taking Les Islettes on September 1. On September 2, the group, about 100 men, entered Clermont and began to intercept German stragglers, killing or capturing about fifty men. The Jedburghs had turned over command of the Maquis to Commandant Dulac and on August 31, moved east across the Meuse toward Verdun. Upon reaching that historic town, they discovered troops of the US XX Corps in force and decided to contact the US 3-A headquarters to receive new instructions. On the return drive, as they approached Clermont, a German outpost opened fire on their truck, wounding everyone except Capt Waller and Lt Moniez. The Jedburgh team fled, losing its truck, radio, and the last of its personal equipment. During the previous night, a regiment of the 15.Panzer-Grenadier-Division had driven the Dulac Maquis out of Clermont and occupied the town. The Jedburgh group infiltrated through the German lines and reached Epernay on September 2, where Capt Waller met them. On the following day, they reported to Lt Col Powell of the 11th Special Force Detachment at the US 3-A HQ in Châlons.
The Jedburgh group rested and re-equipped over the week. Capt Nasica and Sgt Bassett were evacuated from local hospitals to England. On September 11, Col Powell directed the group to assist the [PEDLAR] (Pedlar was an Intelligence Circuit led by Maj Bodington in the Châlon-sur-Marne area) circuit in the Chaumont area (Team Arnold report on Pedlar). The group subsequently participated in a daylight supply drop at Garganville on September 13 and, following the capture of Chaumont, assisted Maj Bodington in the demobilization of his Maquis.
From September 18-22, Teams Benjamin and Bernard stored excess parachuted arms at Nancy. They returned to England on October 2, observing that they should have been deployed at least two months prior to August 20. They also noted that the SFHQ had basically ignored the Meuse-Argonne region until August 1944, by which time it was too late to create an efficient organization. Teams Benjamin and Bernard served in France for roughly six weeks, although only nine days before the US 3-A overran the area. Effective Axis security forced the two teams to hide from August 24-30. Between August 30 and September 2, four of the six Jedburghs were wounded, with two requiring evacuation.
(Image) A platoon of American Armored Infantry (right) and a platoon of FFI men (left) present arms as Maj Gen Lindsey McDonald Silvester, CG 7th Armored Division, arrives in Verdun to decorate fighting Frenchmen of the town who contributed greatly to the American advance.
In many ways, the story of Teams Benjamin and Bernard provides more questions than answers. Their after-action report makes no reference to the FFI of Verdun and the capture of the Verdun bridge, even though Verdun was only some thirty kilometers to the east. In a similar fashion, US Army records fail to mention any Jedburgh teams operating in the area. We also know that on August 30, the SFHQ directed Jedburgh teams to seize the bridges in front of the US 1-A to assist the advance of the ground forces. There is no indication, however, that similar messages, were sent to the SOF teams in front of the US 3-A. How it came to pass that an FFI group knew when and how to cut the wires of the demolitions on the Verdun bridge remains open to question.
Jedburgh Team Alfred, August 24 1944
The SFHQ dispatched Team Alfred on August 24, 1944, to the Oise River Valley north of Paris to assist in organizing the local FFI, particularly through providing them an additional radio link to London and assisting in the delivery of arms.
The team consisted of (UK) Capt Lewis Ritchie MacDonald (Argyll); (FR) Lt Jean-Marie Herenguel (Aude) and (UK) Sgt Albert W. Key (Wampum).
The team left Milton Hall in somewhat of a rush on the morning of August 9 for London, after which they prepared for their jump. It was not until August 23 that they received a rather hurried second briefing on the FFI and German situation in the Oise sector. They were also informed that it would take about eight days for the delivery of arms drops. The briefing officer told them that if they found themselves within forty miles of the battle zone, they were to recruit fifteen volunteers and move toward the Allied army, gathering tactical information along the way. Upon landing in France, they were to contact the local FFI chief DuPont-Montura. The team was instructed to avoid open combat.
That night, at 2300, Team Alfred departed on a two-hour flight through a rather severe storm for the DZ at Moulin-sous-Touvent (about 15 kilometers northeast of Compiègne), where the pilot dropped the packages and containers with some difficulty. He then gained altitude for a second pass so the team could safely jump, but amid fierce winds, he could not spot the landing lights and was forced to cancel the jump. The following night, they tried again, and after a fifty-minute search for the DZ in Moulin-sous-Touvent, the RAF bomber dropped both the Jedburgh team and their packages and containers. It proved an excellent drop, and it took little time for the reception committee to assemble the team and equipment and take them to the safety of a nearby quarry. As it turned out, the reception committee had secured the containers and packages dropped the previous night but had moved the equipment to a village some twenty kilometers away. Thus, the team would have to do without their personal kits for some time.
On the morning of August 26, Lt Herenguel traveled to Clermont, where he met Commandant DuPont-Montura, the FFI commander for the Oise area. Following their meeting, Team Alfred sent the following message to the SFHQ: have contacted Chef FFI departmental. Five to six thousand partisans in area poorly organized but very enthusiastic and demand arms and yet more arms. 400 of the total armed in area Compiègne – Clermont. Area Beauvais destitute of arms. That night, the team vainly awaited an arms drop at the DZ. The following morning, word arrived that there were parachutists nearby at Francières, so Capt MacDougall went to investigate. He returned later with five Special Air Service men. Their aircraft could not find the DZ, so the team dropped blind, although the pilot did not drop the arms containers.
The following day, Team Alfred radioed London, reporting the non-arrival of their arms shipment and stating that large bodies of disorganized German troops were moving north through Montdidier toward Lille. A coded BBC broadcast heralded another drop for that evening, so once again, the team assembled at the DZ. This time, they waited until 0230, when a heavy thunderstorm struck. Team Alfred later learned that the arms shipment had been dropped some fifteen kilometers away, where the local Communist-Party-sponsored resistance group had retrieved it.
At this time, German activity forced Team Alfred to seek a safer location each day. On August 28, they took shelter in a cave located in a small wood. That same day, the team sent the SFHQ at least three messages, reporting that the Germans were destroying their airbase at Creil, preparing bridges for demolition, and at several locations erecting antitank obstacles and minefields. The team also reported that it had dispatched five volunteers toward the Allied lines to gain tactical information. That same day, the team received its first message from the SFHQ, enigmatically requesting exact map references-information the team was certain that agent Pasteur had already sent to London.
On August 29 and 30, the team informed the SFHQ that the Germans were preparing the Oise bridges for demolition and suggested that to prevent their destruction, London should send arms and an SAS group if possible. Team Alfred also reported that the Oise valley remained heavily congested with German troops and gave the location of forty tanks south of Compiègne. The team still hoped to set up several ambushes, even though it would have to use aged rifles and shotguns. Then at 1100, August 30, it received the following message from the SFHQ: would like you to take all possible steps on receipt this message to preserve following Somme River bridges from enemy demolition. All bridges Amiens area. Also at Moreuil, Boves, Fiquigny, Conde, Longprè. Try to keep bridges in the state of preservation for about 4 days. This target of the highest importance. Can drop arms to you from low flying typhoons if you need them.
Team Alfred had still not received any arms drops, so attempting to stop the German Army from blowing up a number of bridges proved a rather difficult task. On August 31, the team radioed London twice requesting arms drops and that evening set off to conduct two ambushes. Lt Herenguel and Sgt Key remained with the ambush party, while Capt MacDougall took the radio with a horse and cart and attempted to contact the FFI in Amiens.
When he arrived in Ferrières at the same time as an American armored column, an American staff officer provided him with a vehicle so he could rapidly reach Amiens. But just as he was preparing to leave Ferrièes, word arrived that the British Army had already captured the town. Team Alfred’s ambushes went rather well, at Francières shooting up a German column while receiving few losses.
The second ambush killed a small group of Germans while liberating thirty American prisoners of war. The following day, large US Army forces overran the area. Team Alfred subsequently remained in the area working with the FFI attempting to locate German stragglers. After spending three days in Paris, the team returned to the United Kingdom on September 27.
The team concluded its after-action report with the following paragraph: this was the tale of the Team Alfred, not a very glorious one but not through any fault of the team. If we had been dispatched when we were first alerted some two weeks previous to our actual departure (team was alerted and briefed on August 9 but did not leave until August 24) we could have done something useful. Team Alfred spent four weeks in France, but only eight days before US Army conventional forces overran the area. Perhaps their own postmortem was too critical, for the team did provide valuable information on German troop movements and defenses. Lt Herenguel died on September 8, 1945, in Nape, Laos. Albert Key died shortly after the end of the war. The Jedburgh community subsequently lost contact with Capt MacDougall.
Jedburgh Team Arnold, August 24 1944
The Marne Department of eastern France proved a difficult area for the French Resistance. The SOE resolved to open an intelligence circuit in this area and picked one of its more experienced operatives to lead it, Maj Nicholas R. Bodington (almost always misspelled Boddington). A former Reuters Paris correspondent, Bodington had already undertaken several journeys to occupied France. The SFHQ sent him to the Marne region in early July 1944 to reopen the [Pedlar] circuit. Jedbugh Team Arnold would assist Bodington’s circuit in late August. The SFHQ dispatched Team Arnold late in the evening of August 24 1944 to the Marne area near Epernay to assist the local FFI. The team consisted of (FR) Capt Michel de Carville (Sussex); (UK) Capt James H. Monahan (Londonderry); (UK) Sgt Alan de Ville (Escudo). The team flew from Tarrant Rushton Airdrome at 2230, August 24, in two Halifax Bombers of the Royal Air Force’s 38th Group, taking with them thirty containers of supplies. They dropped at 0030, August 25, in civilian clothes southwest of Epernay near the small village of Igny-Comblize. The DZ was easily recognized, and the team jumped without difficulty. Maj Bodington (code-named ‘Nick’) led the reception committee, which fetched the containers and retrieved all the equipment except Team Arnold’s leg bags with their personal weapons, maps, uniforms, and crystals for the radio. As a result, the team could not contact the SFHQ. Major Bodington provided a secluded hunting lodges and several guides to the Jedburghs and suggested that they control the zone from Epernay west to Dormans.
On August 26, Team Arnold sent four agents (selected by Bodington) south to contact the advancing forces of the US 3-A. The team also decided to form a Maquis as soon as possible. The local FFI had already armed some 260 men from parachuted arms and hoped to field 200 more. On August 27, while the team was visiting local FFI leaders, the resistance group in Cerseuil shot and killed a member of the Organization Todt (a labor organization that performed construction for the Wehrmacht). Team Arnold decided to use this incident to raise the Cerseuil FFI to insurrection. On the way to Cerseuil, however, a German patrol spotted the team and drove it into hiding. The team spent that night in the village of Try.
In the morning, they were awakened by the sound of German Army columns crossing the Marne River bridge at Try. Team Arnold sent word for the FFI to assemble at Try. Later in the morning, elements of the US 7-AD’s CCB and the local FFI arrived and attempted to seize the Marne bridge. As the Allied forces approached, however, the German defenders blew up the bridge and successfully warded off a subsequent American attack. The FFI assisted the troops of the 7-AD by providing a flank screen and taking care of the wounded. The German unit that prepared the defense of this sector of the Marne was Gen Eckart von Tschammer, Osten’s Feldkommandantur 531, which administered the Marne Department, but from some distance away in Châlons-sur-Marne. Its nearest office or outpost was in Epernay.
In Châlons the Germans did not view resistance activity as very threatening and continued to work until American armor arrived on August 28. The Germans concentrated on repairing roads and bridges and preparing demolitions. One major problem was transporting French collaborators and their families east, with some 200 leaving Châlons-sur-Marne only on August 27. Besides assembling livestock north of the Marne, the Feldkommandantur was also responsible for constructing defensive positions behind the river’s north bank. Only 7690 of the requisitioned 12000 French workers appeared on the first day. The Germans soon noticed that the French were sabotaging their vehicles. Gen Franz Beyer’s LXXX Corps headquarters assisted in the construction of this sector of the Kitzinger Line. The German forces that crossed the Marne bridge at Dormans were the remnants of Gen Kurt von der Chevallerie’s 1.Army retiring from the upper Seine. Included in this force was a battle group of the Panzer-Lehr-Division.
From August 29 until September 2, Team Arnold collected weapons from the FFI. They reported no disturbances.
On September 2, along with Maj Bodington and his Maquis, the team moved to Montier-en-Der, where they were to help collect German stragglers. The team discovered few if any Germans at Montier-en-Der, however, and resolved to move on to Saint-Dizier. They found that town occupied by about three companies of resistance troops and contacted Col de Grouchy, the head of the resistance in the Haute-Marne.
Their tranquility was disturbed on September 8, when news came down through FFI channels to prepare rapidly to move south. Team Arnold went to the US 3-A’s headquarters for more precise orders and in the hope of securing more arms. Personnel at Patton’s headquarters instructed them to move on Chaumont with all available forces to prevent German forces from escaping to the north. Maj Bodington dispatched one company from Saint-Dizier toward Chaumont on September 10. The following day, Team Arnold followed with two half companies. They found FFI troops occupying villages on the road between Juzonnocourt and Boulogne, the latter village being ten kilometers north of Chaumont and the closest point to the German positions.
The 2d French Armored Division secured Chaumont on September 13, ending any possible threat to Patton’s southern flank. On September 14, the FFI forces returned home. Team Arnold reported in at Paris on the 19 and later continued on to London. They observed that they had been inserted far too late to organize and coordinate resistance activities, that it had taken too long for them to receive their requested arms drops, and that since they had been parachuted in civilian clothes, they should have been issued false identity papers.
Team Arnold was in France only three days before linking up with the US 3-A. Its remaining twenty-three days were devoted to collecting weapons and finally leading FFI troops to Chaumont.
Jedburgh Team Archibald, August 25 1944
Jedburgh training, as previously mentioned, proved quite rigorous and, at most times, injured Jeds could be found in the local hospital. In May, while the Jedburghs were forming their own teams at Milton Hall, (UK) Maj Arthur du P. Denning (Cumberland); (FR) Capt François Coste (Montgomery); (US) Sgt Roger L. Pierre (Sen), while in the hospital, resolved to form their own team. Denning was a rather imposing figure at six feet three inches in height, with a trim regimental mustache and ever-present pipe. Coste was a career officer in the French Army, a Saint-Cyr graduate, who was usually found smoking a cigarette. Roger Pierre was a nineteen-year-old New Yorker. Upon their return to Milton Hall, their self-selection was approved, and they volunteered to jump into France in civilian clothes.
After receiving their briefing in London, however, their mission was canceled. Finally, after waiting fourteen days in London, Denning and Coste received another briefing on August 25. Team Archibald would jump in their uniforms near Nancy, contact the Réseau Planète, and assist the FFI through training, liaison, and delivery of weapons. Their pre-mission briefing, however, was based on information six months old, and hence out of date. They were not informed that other Allied agents were operating in the same area nor that Team Archibald would be delivering a large sum of money to Planète. The team was instructed to avoid pitched battles with Axis forces. That same day, the team drove north for Harrington and took off in a bomber at 2045. The pilot had difficulty identifying the DZ but dropped the team and equipment on the second pass at 0110 of August 26 in the Nancy region near the Forêt de Charmes. Two sixty-man reception committees, each desiring weapons, met the team. Maj Denning gave half the weapons to each group and decided to join the Maquis in the forest, which already possessed some weapons, was led by a Capt Noel and was capable of some military action.
On retrieval of the parachuted equipment, the team discovered that their radio set was destroyed and numerous weapons seriously damaged in the drop. Another agent from the SFHQ, however, (code-named Careful) was in the area and informed London that Archibald had arrived. Team Archibald received another radio with the first parachuted delivery of supplies. Capt Noel led the team to his Maquis camp, where Major Denning and a former Yugoslavian captain attempted to repair the damaged firearms. Team Archibald also began to receive parachute drops – some expected, some a surprise. In the latter category was a ten-man Canadian SAS team with three jeeps led by a major code-named Peter. After much handshaking and backslapping, the SAS team drove off toward Saint-Die and never returned.
Team Archibald later discovered that the entire SAS team was killed in combat. Archibald’s guerrilla band soon rose to a strength of 300 armed and 250 unarmed men. Planète finally arrived to receive his 35 million francs, but he could offer little information on the resistance situation in the area. He promised, however, that one of his deputies would subsequently deliver that information. That deputy eventually arrived but only after the end of guerrilla operations with the arrival of US Army field units. Upon learning of the approach of a German division, the group left 150 armed men to await further arms drops in the Forêt de Charmes and moved the remainder to Lemenil – Mitry in the Bois de Chivoiteux.
The Germans subsequently swept the Forêt de Charmes, burning the village of Saint-Remy. Maquis Noel lost much of its impetus when Planète called its leader away to Nancy. On September 2, however, Capt Montlac led a resistance group to the German depot at Tantonville, in the afternoon ambushing a German column along the way and subsequently participating in action at Tantonville. News received during the morning indicated that advancing US Army field forces were only some thirty-five kilometers away, so Maj Denning resolved to contact them. He encountered the 42d Cavalry Squadron and gave them his interpretation of the situation, but on the return trip, he ran into a skirmish and received a slight wound in the thigh.
Upon returning to the Maquis camp, Denning discovered that Capt Coste and several of the group had been wounded.
Owing to the severity of their wounds, Denning sent the wounded behind German lines to a Catholic hospital in Luneville. If asked, the driver carrying them was to declare that they were innocent victims of FFI terrorists. Denning remained with the Maquis, hoping to assist the US Army in securing bridges over the Moselle. The only bridges between Nancy and Charmes not defended and rigged for demolition were at the towns of Charmes and Langley. Denning’s group managed to capture the bridge at Charmes, driving off the small garrison in a coup de main in the evening. The US 3-A, however, ran out of gasoline and was unable to push forward to Charmes. The Germans subsequently retook the town and destroyed the bridge during their defense of the Moselle.
With the Americans temporarily out of fuel and German reinforcements now available, the front soon stabilized along the Moselle River. In early September, Patton’s forces secured bridgeheads across the Moselle north of Bayon at Lorey, Saint-Mard, and Velle and asked the FFI for assistance. Major Denning consequently took four companies of Maquis across the river, placing one company in each village and a fourth in Domptail. Capt Noel meanwhile formed an 800-man mobile group that assisted in providing rear-area and flank protection in the no-man’s-land between the US 3-A and 7-A. Following a brief trip to Paris, Major Denning returned to the Nancy area, but the large Jedburgh-FFI operations had come to a close. The French government intended to incorporate the Maquis into a field army, and SHAEF saw no further use for Jedburgh teams. Team Archibald made numerous requests for arms drops after September 3, but the SFHQ or the RAF managed to avert the delivery of arms.
Finally, on October 31, the US 3-A directed Team Archibald to return to the United Kingdom. The Team served in the field for more than two months, although only nine days before the arrival of US 3-A units. The Team provided invaluable assistance in organizing a large Maquis that fought as a conventional infantry force with the US 3-A along the Moselle River.
Jedburgh Team Stanley, August 31 1944
Team Stanley was in a London hotel as late as August 31, wondering if they would in fact ever be sent into action when they received the alert notification. As they drove north for Tempsford airfield, Craster and Cantais received their briefing in the back of a truck. Team Stanley took off at 2045 on August 31 in a Stirling Bomber.
The SFHQ dispatched Team Stanley as the fifty-third Jedburgh team to France on August 31, 1944, to the Haute-Marne region. It consisted of (UK) Capt Oswin E. Craster (Yorkshire); (FR) Lt Robert Cantais (Meath); (UK) Sgt Jack E. Grinham (Worcestershire). In addition, two French aspirants, Lt Denis and Lt Ely, jumped with Team Stanley and accompanied them throughout the operation, usually commanding platoon-size FFI groups. Oswin Craster had served since 1939 in the 5th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. When it became apparent that his unit would not be sent into combat, he and several of his comrades volunteered for operations behind German lines.
Cantais was a regular in the French Army, who eventually retired as a colonel. Jack Grinham had previously served in the Royal Armoured Corps. Their mission was to assist the FFI near Chaumont on the Plateau de Langres particularly, in setting up air-supply drops. The SFHQ also directed them to prevent the destruction of several engineering structures in eastern France. By this late date, the SFHQ knew of the imminent arrival of Allied ground forces, so Stanley received instructions to immediately dispatch agents to serve as guides for the advancing ground forces.
They parachuted shortly before midnight from too high an altitude, so the five parachutists and numerous containers scattered considerably near Rivière-les-Fosses, about twenty-five kilometers south-southwest of Langres. The reception committee assisted in the retrieval of the equipment and provided the team with shelter and transportation. They spent the night in the village and on the evening of September 2, drove about twenty-two kilometers northeast in the rain to join an organized Maquis, which they found in the woods west of Bussières-lès-Belmont.
On September 3, the team reported that 300 armed Maquis were in the area along with three companies of the French 1st Regiment, which had defected to the Allies along with sixty French gendarmes. They estimated that another 2000 Maquis could be raised if the SFHQ dropped sufficient arms. The French 1st Regiment possessed only light infantry weapons and enough ammunition to last one day. The Team also discovered that the Germans had already destroyed the facilities the SFHQ had requested saved.
One SAS troop in jeeps arrived one morning and asked to use the Jedburgh’s radio since theirs had been smashed on landing. Sgt Grinham sent their message for them, and the SAS disappeared the following day.
Through September 14, Team Stanley provided excellent information on German forces in the area to the SFHQ, including the heavy road traffic toward Langres (held by 8000 Germans, with one general identified) and Chaumont (which the Germans were preparing for defense). The team attempted to avoid pitched battles as a result of insufficient arms and ammunition. Beginning on September 7, however, they began to capture small groups of German troops attempting to escape east from the Bay of Biscay on the road from Champlite to Bonne. On September 8, the team received its first message from the SFHQ, which requested more information on a prospective DZ.
The following night, however, the team received its weapons drop. On September 11, a large body of German troops and their Russian auxiliaries occupied the villages of Grenant, Saulles, and Belmont. A platoon of the French 1st Regiment on its way to guard the Saulles Chateau ran into these German forces and was repulsed. Team Stanley radioed the SFHQ and requested that Allied aircraft attack the Germans dug in around the Belmont Cemetery.
Three hours later, four US P-47s arrived and inflicted considerable damage to the German force, particularly the motorized transports. Team Stanley reported that they had no idea whether the P-47s’ arrival was a result of their message or simply a coincidence but it certainly improved their relations with the Maquis. On the following day, Team Stanley radioed London that the German forces around Belmont remained stationary and indicated that they would surrender to the US Army, but not to the FFI. On the same day, the FFI captured five Indians in German uniforms (from the Indian Legion). On September 13, the Maquis contacted reconnaissance elements of French troops of the US 7-A advancing from the south.
While the French unit attacked the three villages occupied by the Germans (Grenant, Saulles, and Belmont), Team Stanley and the Maquis helped mop up German stragglers in the woods, guarded POWs, and protected the unit’s rear. On September 15, the SFHQ told Team Stanley that their mission was completed and to return to England via Paris.
It remains unclear when Team Stanley dispatched local FFI volunteers to contact advancing Allied ground forces. In all probability, they did so on September 1 or 2, since the volunteers returned to inform Team Stanley that they had successfully made contact. Since Team Stanley jumped into the no-man’s-land between the US 3-A and 7-A, they sent messengers in both directions. Team Stanley served in the field for fifteen days. Later, they reported that they had been dispatched to France at least a month too late. They obviously had little time to prepare the Maquis for combat. In addition, Team Stanley had instructions to prevent the destruction of several engineering structures, but when they landed, the Germans had already destroyed them. The Team also observed that while the former Vichy officers were far too passive, the young volunteers performed quite well.
The Team also felt that the SFHQ ignored their messages, particularly their requests for arms drops and an undamaged radio set. The Team suggested that in the future, such Jedburgh teams be capable of direct communication with Allied aircraft so that enemy columns could be attacked immediately.
Jedburgh Team Rupert-Philip, August 21 1944
The SFHQ dispatched Rupert on the night of August 31 as the fifty-first Jedburgh team to France. It was to enter the Meurthe-et-Moselle region, assist the local FFI, particularly with communications and resupply, and provide information to advancing Allied ground forces.
The team consisted of (FR) Cdt Jean Liberos (Kintyre); (US) Lt Robert A. Lucas, (Caithness); (US) T/3 Joseph M. Gergat (USN) (Leinster).
Liberos was a career officer in his early forties, a Saint-Cyr graduate originally from Rouen. Robert Lucas was a twenty-seven-year-old infantry officer from Sheldon, Iowa, who had served in the Iowa National Guard and received his commission in 1942. Joseph Gergat was about twenty-one years old and from Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
A young Frenchman in civilian clothes briefed Team Rupert in a safe house in the suburbs of north London, telling them that their main mission was to prevent German sabotage of French utility structures between Nancy and Verdun. So, the team departed Harrington Air Base at 2125 of August 31 and flew east without incident. West of Mirecourt, they parachuted at about 0200, landed safely, and were met by a reception committee of about fifty FFI. Ten minutes later, another team of two French officers landed at the DZ from another B-24, so the area proved rather noisy and overcrowded. Team Rupert recovered all its gear except their civilian clothes, two carbines, and two bags including the cipher document. They decided to accompany the Maquis to Offroicourt, which had three trucks and drove them most of the way to the camp.
On Friday September 1, the SFHQ radioed Team Rupert to tell them the team’s name was changed to Philip. The team’s radio, however, had been misplaced by the Maquis during the move, so they were out of contact with London. They spent the day with the group of the Maquis Offroicourt, which consisted of about 100 men organized in 3 platoons. They spent the night in Viviers-les-Offroicourt attempting to contact a representative of Planète. The following day around noon, the team met a light column of the US 3-A at Jevoncourt. Team Rupert – Philip recovered its radio, but their search of the DZ did not produce the lost cipher document. The team spent the night at Forcelles-Saint-Gorgon and on the morning of Sunday, September 3, set off to contact the Maquis at Lemenil-Mitry.
That Maquis, which worked with Team Archibald, had withdrawn from the Forêt de Charmes and consisted of about 300 armed and 400 unarmed men. Team Rupert – Philip, at about 0900, found them at a large abandoned building, where they were under periodic fire from a German heavy-weapons platoon. In fighting west of Bayon and south of the Bayon-Vezélise road, the Germans inflicted rather heavy casualties on the Maquis, including three officers. At about noon, Team Rupert – Philip radioed the SFHQ, stating that they were with Team Archibald at Lemenil-Mitry and requesting an arms drop for 500 men at a DZ 3 kilometers west-southwest of Bayon.
With the death of Capt Maurin and the absence of Maj Denning, Capt Liberos of Team (now) Philip attempted to prevent the Germans from destroying the bridges at Bayon and Bainville. Liberos sent two young French women on bicycles to determine if and how the Germans were defending the bridges. He also dispatched three groups of Maquis to the two towns to fire on the Germans if the latter attempted to blow up the bridges. In addition, he sent three volunteers to Bayon to sabotage the electric charges for its three bridges. At 1700, Team Philip radioed the SFHQ, reporting that the bridge at Bayon was mined but not heavily guarded and that Maj Denning and Maj Montlac had been slightly wounded. Maj Denning returned at 2000 and approved Capt Liberos actions.
On Monday, September 4, with the return of Maj Denning, Team Philip prepared to travel to Nancy. The team left Lemenil-Mitry at approximately 1900 in a truck. As they were driving out of Houdreville at about 2015, a column of military vehicles approached from the rear and opened fire. The three Jedburghs and their French driver all jumped out of the truck to seek cover. The approaching column proved to be the Recon Platoon of the 25th Cavalry from the 3-A. Its lieutenant regretted firing on Team Philip, fearing that the gunfire had alerted the German column he was stalking on a parallel road. Capt Liberos, Lt Lucas, and the driver remained uninjured, but they could not locate Specialist Gergat. They consequently spent the night in the Forêt Domaniale de Serres west of Houdreville (2 km north of Vezélise) with an American platoon. The following day, as more US Army field units passed through the area towards the Moselle River, the team searched for Specialist Gergat, but without success. In the evening, they entered their slightly altered truck and drove to Parey-Saint-Césaire, where they spent the night. On Wednesday at noon, they radioed the SFHQ, reporting that they were in the Forêt de Goviller (5 km north-northeast of Goviller), that they had still not contacted Planète, and again requesting resupply of their codes. That evening, as they were starting a trip to Toul, they encountered Col Charles H. Reed, commander of the US 2d Cavalry Group, and followed his advice that it would be best to spend the night in the forest.
On Thursday, September 7, the team drove to Toul, where they contacted the local Maquis leader and Lt Ripley of the US 3-A’s 11th Special Forces Detachment. Team Philip radioed the SFHQ in the afternoon, informing London that it was impossible to contact Planète in Nancy and requesting new orders. They awaited instructions from the SFHQ until September 9, when they drove to the headquarters of the US 3-A. There, the Special Forces detachment commander informed them that Specialist Gergat had escaped and was on his way back to London. Lt Col Powell gave Team Philip the following mission: in liaison with the Chef de Bataillon Joly, Lt Couton, FFI Chief at Verdun, and Chef de Battalion Duval, F.M.R. for the region Conflans – Briey – Longwy – Longuyon, to arm the Maquis of Verdun (2000 men) and of Conflans (1000 men). Once the men are armed and regrouped in the north, to protect the left flank of the US 3-A.
Team Philip operated out of Verdun for the next weeks and met with a local FFI officer in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain arms drops from the SFHQ. On Sunday, September 17, the 11th Special Force Detachment at US 3-A headquarters directed the team to report to the 12th Special Force Detachment at the Hôtel Cécil in Paris. Liberos and Lucas remained in Paris for several days and then returned to London. Team Philip served in the field seventeen days, a period marked by repeated frustrations. Its members concluded that they had been dispatched to France far too late. They also observed that they were never able to contact Planète or his deputies and consequently were unable to reach Nancy. They noted that the Maquis from rural areas proved more able than their urban counterparts.
Team Philip also concluded that the resistance volunteers were very enthusiastic but took too many casualties in combat. Robert Lucas subsequently served with the OSS in northern China. He left the US Army as a captain in January 1946 and settled in the greater Kansas City area. After World War II, Joseph Gergat resided in Bowling Green, Ohio, where he died in early May 1988. Capt Liberos survived the war to retire as a colonel in Toulon.