The liberation of the Bergerac prison by the FTP (30 July 1944)

29 July 1944: the Resistance feared that the occupying forces would execute the political prisoners before their departure and took action.

The operation to free the prisoners in Bergerac prison was prepared in a hurry on 29 July 1944, during a meeting at the FTP sub-sector C headquarters in Bellacaud (Saint-Jeand’Eyraud). It was in response to a request from the FTP departmental hierarchy.

The meeting was attended by the FTP leaders of the sub-sector C leadership triangle: Pierre Legendre (Henri); Pierre Huet (Hugues); Roger Faure (Jim); the Commissioner for Regional Operations (COR), Édouard Valery (Lecoeur); Michel Schneersohn (Michel), who was in charge of the FTP intelligence service (service B) for the sub-sector. Pierre Pascaud and Max Moulinier, who knew the town of Bergerac well, were also present.

Time was short for them. But the FTPs had the support of a former prison guard and that of several of his colleagues on duty. The operation was not without risk. The prison was located in the centre of Bergerac. The Chanzy barracks, where the German troops were housed, was only a few hundred metres away. It was therefore necessary to choose trustworthy men to carry out this delicate mission. Jean Clerc, along with three other comrades, was one of the four people designated by Michel Schneersohn, the designer of the operation. Disguised as gardeners, they waited for nightfall in the Perdoux garden, opposite the prison. Thanks to the complicity of a guard, they penetrated the premises.

They freed the former prisoners who were taken to the Virolle camp in Saint-Étienne-de-Puycorbier, where they were placed under the protection of the 4th FTP battalion. At the beginning of August, the majority of them joined the 14th FTP battalion, which had just been created. The operation was a success. All the prisoners were freed without bloodshed, thanks to the efficiency of the action plan and the coolness of Jean Clerc and his companions.

Jardin Perdoux, hiding place of the maquisards before the action.

Bergerac prison.