The 4th FTP battalion: from 11 June 1944 to the liberation of the Dordogne

11 June 1944: Mussidan massacre.

15 August 1944: landing of a large contingent of American and French troops on the beaches of Provence (operation Anvil-Dragoon).

16 August 1944: Hitler ordered his troops to withdraw to the west of a line Orléans / Clermont-Ferrand / Montpellier. General Blaskowitz, commander of army group G, passed on these directives to the various units concerned the next day.

19 August 1944: German troops leave Périgueux.

25 August 1944: liberation of Paris, liberation of the Dordogne.

Two and a half months passed between the Allied landing in Normandy and the liberation of the Dordogne on 25 August 1944. During this period, the Resistance changed its strategy, giving priority to guerrilla actions. They undermined the morale of the enemy, who shut themselves up in the most important towns of the department and only moved in convoys on the main roads.

After the unfortunate episode of the Mussidan reprisals on 11 June 1944, a change was made in the leadership of the 4th FTP battalion. François Hugon replaced Henri Borzeix, who joined the team in charge of sub-sector C. This reorganisation, which expressed the will of the FTP command to turn its men into fighters in an army of national liberation, was not without divisions.

The promise of the liberation of France, with the Allied landing in Normandy, gave rise to new commitments. In the summer of 1944, the Resistance fighters received an influx of volunteers from the surrounding villages of the Double and the neighbouring departments of Gironde and Charente. This forced the command to reorganise the units. Initially made up of political prisoners released on the 27th July from Bergerac prison (see the panel devoted to this event), the 14th battalion was created at the beginning of August.

Weakened, the German occupation forces did not disarm. On 27 July 1944, at Saint-Germain-du-Salembre, the François and Roland groups lost 29 men who were lured into a trap (see the panel devoted to this event).

On 6 August 1944, the Resistance camp at La Double, in Virolle, was dismantled following a German attack. They were awaited by several hundred maquisards, most of them unarmed. Mortar shells and explosive bullets were fired all day long. The enemy took the inhabitants of Saint-Étienne-de-Puycorbier hostage, using them as human shields. But he did not manage to take the camp. Before nightfall, he withdrew. The maquisards of the 4th and 14th battalions, who deplored the loss of two of their own, withdrew near the Trappe de Bonne Espérance, in Echourgnac. They then settled at La Latière and Grand-Brégout, near Saint-Aulaye.

In August 1944, weakened by the opening of the front in Normandy, the German troops, based in the South-West of France, were even more so with the landing of American and French troops on the beaches of Provence on 15 August 1944 (Operation Anvil-Dragoon).

Adolf Hitler’s decision, on 16 August, to withdraw all his troops west of a line Orléans/ Clermont-Ferrand/Montpellier, led the last German troops to leave Périgueux on 19 August 1944. They left behind a mass grave of 45 men, Resistance fighters and Jews, 40 of whom were shot between 9 and 17 August.

Ribérac, Mussidan and Montpon were liberated on 18, 22 and 23 August 1944 by units of the 4th battalion. The Dordogne was officially declared liberated on 25 August 1944.

Maquisards of the 4th FTP battalion during the liberation of Ribérac on 18 August 1944.

Entry of the 4th FTP battalion in Mussidan on 22 August 1944.