RR – One of Maquis (French Underground) Who Saved General Chuck Yeager’s Life

October 11th, 2013

RR is a very special person to us. He adores “Charlie” very much. And me. He and his wife asked me to call them Mammie and Pappie – these are French nicknames for “grandparents”.

RR is a former member of the French Underground, the Maquis, during World War II.

RR brought Chuck Yeager to his house – they bicycled many miles by night from Nerac to RR’s family home in Ambrus where they slept during the day, Yeager hidden in the eaves.

That night, they joined others at the “drop field”. The signal had come by radio: It is raining tonight.

Some of the men lined the field with lamps. When they heard the Halifax engines, they, as one, flicked on the lights for a nanosecond, then out.

The Halifax rained supplies. Yeager and RR were part of the crew that gathered the items and put them on the pencil factory trucks.

The pencil factory owner was a Belgian. None of the non-Maquis really liked him – they thought he might be a German sympathizer. The Belgian didn’t worry about that – he quietly aided the Maquis and Free French. After the war, when pens were all the rage, no one knew what happened to him. Here’s a tribute to that quiet, unassuming Belgian.

RR and Yeager went back to RR’s house. Often “Charlie” as RR called him, would ride off on his bicycle which would frighten RR. What if he got caught? What if he never came back? But Yeager would always return.

Yeager was enlisted to make the fuses – no one else knew how to do them but Yeager had learned as kid helping his Dad drill gas wells.

One such usage was to blow up a bridge near Damazan. The telephone wires were under the bridge – the ones the Germans used to communicate from Bordeaux to Marseilles. Also, the bridge spanned the main canal from Bordeaux to Marseilles.

RR was in charge – they blew up the bridge. Success! But oops, no success. The bridge was still standing. Two of the Maquis walked out on it…and it collapsed. Success. (The two were not hurt apparently).The next day, in a fire fight, another of the Maquis still living was wounded.

And what was RR’s day job?

RR’s worked security for the bridges for the Germans.

I told RR I had heard a rumor and wondered if it was true. May I ask?

RR: Oui. (Yes.)

Me: I heard you killed 57 of the enemy on the last day or the last week of the war.

RR thought for a moment. RR: 57. That’s a lot.

Me: Yes.

RR thought again. RR: I didn’t count.

I smiled.

RR: I was too busy.

c. GCYI

==== RR is a very special person to us. He adores “Charlie” very much. And me. He and his wife asked me to call them Mammie and Pappie – these are French nicknames for “grandparents”. RR is a former member of the French Underground, the Maquis, during World War II. RR brought Chuck Yeager to his house – they bicycled many miles by night from Nerac to RR’s family home in Ambrus where they slept during the day, Yeager hidden in the eaves. That night, they joined others at the “drop field”. The signal had come by radio: It is raining tonight. Some of the men lined the field with lamps. When they heard the Halifax engines, they, as one, flicked on the lights for a nanosecond, then out. The Halifax rained supplies. Yeager and RR were part of the crew that gathered the items and put them on the pencil factory trucks. The pencil factory owner was a Belgian. None of the non-Maquis really liked him – they thought he might be a German sympathizer. The Belgian didn’t worry about that – he quietly aided the Maquis and Free French. After the war, when pens were all the rage, no one knew what happened to him. Here’s a tribute to that quiet, unassuming Belgian. RR and Yeager went back to RR’s house. Often “Charlie” as RR called him, would ride off on his bicycle which would frighten RR. What if he got caught? What if he never came back? But Yeager would always return. Yeager was enlisted to make the fuses – no one else knew how to do them but Yeager had learned as kid helping his Dad drill gas wells. One such usage was to blow up a bridge near Damazan. The telephone wires were under the bridge – the ones the Germans used to communicate from Bordeaux to Marseilles. Also, the bridge spanned the main canal from Bordeaux to Marseilles. RR was in charge – they blew up the bridge. Success! But oops, no success. The bridge was still standing. Two of the Maquis walked out on it…and it collapsed. Success. (The two were not hurt apparently).The next day, in a fire fight, another of the Maquis still living was wounded. And what was RR’s day job? RR’s worked security for the bridges for the Germans. I told RR I had heard a rumor and wondered if it was true. May I ask? RR: Oui. (Yes.) Me: I heard you killed 57 of the enemy on the last day or the last week of the war. RR contemplated this, then said: 57? That’s a lot. Me: Yes. RR contemplated this again and responded further: I didn’t count. I smiled. RR: I was too busy. c. GCYI

RR is a very special person to us. He adores “Charlie” very much. And me. He and his wife asked me to call them Mammie and Pappie – these are French nicknames for “grandparents”.

RR is a former member of the French Underground, the Maquis, during World War II.

RR brought Chuck Yeager to his house – they bicycled many miles by night from Nerac to RR’s family home in Ambrus where they slept during the day, Yeager hidden in the eaves.

That night, they joined others at the “drop field”. The signal had come by radio: It is raining tonight.

Some of the men lined the field with lamps. When they heard the Halifax engines, they, as one, flicked on the lights for a nanosecond, then out.

The Halifax rained supplies. Yeager and RR were part of the crew that gathered the items and put them on the pencil factory trucks.

The pencil factory owner was a Belgian. None of the non-Maquis really liked him – they thought he might be a German sympathizer. The Belgian didn’t worry about that – he quietly aided the Maquis and Free French. After the war, when pens were all the rage, no one knew what happened to him. Here’s a tribute to that quiet, unassuming Belgian.

RR and Yeager went back to RR’s house. Often “Charlie” as RR called him, would ride off on his bicycle which would frighten RR. What if he got caught? What if he never came back? But Yeager would always return.

Yeager was enlisted to make the fuses – no one else knew how to do them but Yeager had learned as kid helping his Dad drill gas wells.

One such usage was to blow up a bridge near Damazan. The telephone wires were under the bridge – the ones the Germans used to communicate from Bordeaux to Marseilles. Also, the bridge spanned the main canal from Bordeaux to Marseilles.

RR was in charge – they blew up the bridge. Success! But oops, no success. The bridge was still standing. Two of the Maquis walked out on it…and it collapsed. Success. (The two were not hurt apparently).The next day, in a fire fight, another of the Maquis still living was wounded.

And what was RR’s day job? (or “real” night job)?

RR’s worked security for the bridges for the Germans.

Recently we were visiting with RR, having a typical French lunch – steak et pommes frites. Steak and fried potatoes or in American: French fries. RR, at 96, was savouring his steak, with the French fries pushed aside. I was going to sneak a French fry since he didn’t seem to be eating them and they looked delicious but decided to wait. Glad I did – when he finished his steak, to my dismay :-), he finished every single last French fry. I imagined if I had reached for one, I might have been forked – and worse, looked really bad taking food from an elderly gentleman.

While he was finishing his meal, I told RR I had heard a rumor and wondered if it was true. May I ask?

RR: Oui. (Yes.)

Me: J’ai entendu que vous avez tue cinquante-sept des enemies la derniere jour ou semaine de la guerre. (I heard you killed 57 of the enemy on the last day or the last week of the war).

RR paused, while he contemplated this, then said: Cinquante-sept? (57)

Me: Oui. (Yes).

Pause.

RR: C’est beaucoup. (That’s a lot).

Me: Oui. (Yes).

RR contemplated this some more and responded further: Je n’ai pas conte. (I didn’t count).

I smiled.

RR: J’etais trop occupe. (I was too busy).

It was my turn to contemplate – just even more glad I didn’t try to “steal” a french fry. Or two.

c. GCYI

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