Operation Overlord and the launching of the national insurrection

6 June 1944: Allied landing in Normandy, national insurrection triggered by the French Resistance.

At dawn on 6 June 1944, more than 5,000 Allied ships from Great Britain arrived on the Normandy coast. They carried a gigantic army charged with gaining a foothold on « Fortress Europe » in an action mobilising almost 150,000 men. Overlord, the largest landing operation ever organised, was intended to relieve the Soviet armies engaged on the Eastern Front by creating a second front in the West.

Originally from Neuvic, Hubert Faure was one of the 177 Frenchmen of the legendary Kieffer commando (Free France) to take part in this decisive action. Their mission was to land on the « Sword » beach, in Colleville (Calvados), and to take control of the blockhouses of the Atlantic Wall, then to join up with the British parachutists of the 6th Airborne Division.

From London, on the radio, General de Gaulle addressed the French: « The supreme battle is engaged! After so much fighting, so much fury, so much pain, here comes the decisive shock, the much hoped-for shock. Of course, it is the battle of France and it is the battle of France! […] For the sons of France, wherever they may be, the simple and sacred duty is to fight by all the means at their disposal. It is a question of destroying the enemy, the enemy who crushes and defiles the fatherland […] ».

The announcement of the Allied landing and the influx of volunteers who wanted to fight alongside the maquisards imposed a new organisation to launch the national insurrection. At the end of May 1944, the FTP leaders of the Dordogne and the military delegate of the southern zone of the FTP, Marcel Godefroy (Rivière), divided the Dordogne department into three sub-sectors of operations. The FTPs of Mussidanais were integrated into sub-sector C, which covered the south-west of the Dordogne. It was commanded by three men: Pierre Legendre (Henri Payot), military commander, Pierre Huet (Hugues), technical commissioner (CT), and Roger Faure (Jim), staff commissioner (CE).

Blockades, attacks, sabotage of railways, telephone and electricity lines, ambushes are the operations carried out by the Resistance fighters in the Dordogne to delay the German troops’ ascent to the Normandy front.

These men also had the mission of occupying the canton capitals. The Fourth Republic was proclaimed. In Dordogne, on 7 June 1944, the Vichy prefect, Jean Popineau, left his post in a hurry. The sub-prefect of Bergerac, Callard, was appointed by the regional prefect to replace him. On 8 June 1944, in Breuilh, Maxime Roux, an academy inspector, was appointed by the first Departmental Liberation Committee (CDL) as « prefect of the maquis ».

At Le Fleix, for example, the Maquis locked down the Dordogne valley on the Mussidan-Le Fleix-Eymet line. The action was intended to allow an airborne division to land and then to protect the flank of the column operating westwards. Much later, they learnt that the allied operation announced by Radio-London was in fact only a plan of intoxication intended to retain the German troops in the south-west of France, far from the landing beaches.

After two days of fighting, on 8 and 9 June, the German armoured vehicles turned back and reached Castillon (Gironde).

Propaganda poster.