The transition to armed struggle and sabotage

16 March 1944: attack on a German tank at Servanches by the maquisards of La Double.

After the time of requisitions, intimidations and executions of collaborators, came the time of sabotage, to slow down the German war machine, and guerrilla actions against the occupying troops. To carry out this plan of action decided by the interregional headquarters of the Francs-tireurs et partisans (FTP), weapons and explosives were needed.

It was also necessary to structure the Resistance. In January 1944, André Bonnetot (Vincent), regional commissioner for the FTP, decided to send the Corrézien Henri Borzeix (Alfred or Fredo) to the Mussidan region. The latter had just been trained at the interregional clandestine school for cadres in Fanlac and his mission was to organise and structure the various groups of refractory fighters in the Mussidan and Double sector under the FTP banner. Henri Borzeix joined the group of Jean Mignon (Kléber) and that of the brothers Jules and Marcel Arnault, as well as Robert Crouzille (Roland). Together with Marcel Legendre’s group (Valmy), based near Bergerac, these groups formed the 3rd FTPF company (Francs-tireurs et partisans français). This was the beginning of armed action and sabotage in the region.

For example, during the night of 16 to 17 February, the Bordeaux-Périgueux railway line was sabotaged near the Beaupouyet station: « One rail of each track was cut in two places over a length of 70 to 80 centimetres », according to the report from the Mussidan gendarmerie. The German military leaders felt that they were no longer able to eradicate or even contain the Resistance in the Dordogne. Thus, 489 actions, including 36 fatal attacks against people and 30 sabotages against railway installations, were recorded in March alone. According to the confession of Colonel Böhmer himself, who commanded part of the troops operating against the maquis in the Centre-West of France (including the Dordogne), his men were poorly armed, poorly equipped and too few in number to intervene in an area of operation that covered one eighth of the national territory.

The German authorities then decided to take the initiative by organising a large-scale terror operation in Dordogne, Corrèze and Haute-Vienne. Warned by their intelligence network, the leaders of the Double maquis decided to withdraw with their men to safer bases in the south of the department. They did not reach Mussidanais until after the Allied landing in Normandy on 6 June 1944. During this time, Émile Bazillou remained in the area and continued to organise and guide the rebels while waiting for more favourable circumstances.

André Bonnetot.

Jean Mignon.

Henri Borzeix, in the centre.

Robert Crouzille.

Marcel Legendre.