The maquisards’ diet

The food of the maquisards was a determining factor in their morale and efficiency. In the Périgord, a land of mixed farming, they could count on the support of the population, which raised poultry and livestock and grew cereals and pulses.

Thus, as Christian Michaud, Zazou, points out, « except for an accident (attack, unforeseen move), we had enough to eat thanks to the farms in the vicinity or the shopkeepers in a village. The baker in Festalemps, Ernest Mathieu, and the butcher in Echourgnac, Henri Gilson, were among the sympathisers who provided the maquisards with the necessary food. They were both arrested by German troops on 4 April 1944 and deported to concentration camps. Only Henri Gilson survived.

Requisitions from collaborators or from farmers who practised the black market were another way of obtaining food. « We managed as best we could. We were supplied by requisitioning from collaborators. The leader and four people would go to a house and, depending on the information we had about the owners, we would take hams, pâtés, etc. », says Albert Laborie, Théo. Sometimes, the seizure of a truck or a wagon on its way to Germany provided food, as Christian Michaud points out: « Sometimes, we stopped a truck or a wagon, and we had to take it back.

Sometimes we would stop a truck or a wagon on its way to Germany, which meant 15 days or more of eating one ingredient: eggs and sugar, sardines in oil, or – worse – foie gras [without bread]. » Any goods taken are in exchange for requisition orders to be signed. The « suppliers » were generally paid after the Liberation, with the exception of collaborators or people considered hostile to the Resistance.

It was Albert Laborie who took on the role of cook for the maquisards following a culinary « performance » that was particularly appreciated by his comrades: « we had been given a lamb, but nobody knew how to cook it. I tried to take inspiration from my mother. I made a lamb on a string. Later, Theo was appointed to the company’s stewardship, which consisted of « going to the Command Post (CP) to fetch supplies and manage what there was in bread, meat. Then I would take it and cook it in the company.

The maquisards lack utensils. Those in their possession are often worn out and limited to a large pot, some cutlery and old bowls.

Provisioning, which was already difficult, became problematic in the summer of 1944. At that time, the Virolle maquis was home to nearly 600 Maquis. Those in charge of supplies had to go as far as the Gironde and Charente to find enough food.

Farmer delivering supplies to the maquis in the Thiviers region.

Fetching ploughs near the canteen girl sheltered by a parachute tarp at the Boudeau camp of the Dordogne-Nord Secret Army near Thiviers in 1944.

Requisition order for 28 kg of peas left in a farm in Saint Géry by the 4th FTP battalion on 15 June 1944.