60e anniversaire du Débarquement et de la Libération
Lundi 7 juin 2004
Journée régionale d'hommage aux victimes civiles

villes détruites

le monument de Beaucoudray


Villebaudon - Beaucoudray (Manche)

War Memorial erected at the place where on the
15 june 1944, eleven members of the
French resistance (Saint-Lô Postal Department)
were executed by the Germans


A page from the history of the French Resistance or how a network died..

On the 15th of June 1944 on a grassy bank in the hedgerow country not far from the small village of Beaucoudray, in the cool dawn of one of the longest days in the year, eleven members of the Saint-Lô postal department network were executed by a German firing squad. This was the tragic end to a plan that has been put together over a long period and carried out during the night of the 5th and 6th of June 1944. It was part of the " purple plan " which envisaged the systematic sabotage of German telephone links. This plan should have been carried on behind enemy lines but shortages of manpower and equipment in particular, made the task impossible.

Others have written at length about the activities of the resistance group set up in Saint-Lô, as early as the end of 1940, by Marcel Richer and recruited mainly from postal workers whose first objective was inform the allies of the state of the German defence network: sentry posts, anti-aircraft batteries and troop movements, then to engage in sabotage, and finally to offer technical and armed back-up behind enemy lines when these would be breached. Reinforcements would be provided by paratroopers to achieve concerted action.

Unfortunately, the vital reinforcements expected from the Special Air Service did not materialize. The postmen, isolated in a farm in the village of le Bois where they had taken refuge after cutting the thick German cables, could do nothing but wait. The break-through did not come. Gossip, idle talk and maybe a lack of precautions, enabled a group of

German non-combattants, who were stationed in the nearby village of La Reauté, to track down some young men whose behaviour seemed very different to that of the villagers.

At daybreak on the 14th June, a German motor patrol went right up to the farm where the men were spending the night Nothing happened. A mistake, the men had lost their way... wrong... at 10.30 the non-combattants, backed up by a large number of SS men, arrived with machine-gun batteries. The farm was quickly surrounded. The resistance group's guard was taken by surprise and over come as were nine other men who were inside getting lunch ready. Shots rang out. Guy, a resistance groupe member, fell to the ground with a bullet in his thigh. Ernest Pruvost the national group-leader, who was just finishing shaving outside, was able to melt away into the pentiful undergrowth that grew around the farm at that time. Three others managed to do the same: Richer, Deschamps and Raoult.

When ordered to put his hands up, Crouzeau succeeded in shooting down his opponent which his Colt but then had to surrender like the others. This earned him the doubtful privilege of being considered the leader. After lengthy questionings and attempts to save his men, Crouzeau declared openly to his interrogators: We are against you". Madame Leblond and her eleven-year-old son, to whom the thankless task of keeping watch over the approaches to the farm had been assigned, were also interrogated at length. By somme unaccountable and unforeseen mercy they were to escape execution.

Aware that the group was far larger than expected and that many local inhabitants were involved in the plan, the Germans mounted a search, sealing off the area, questioning everyone they met who might have been a suspect. Alphonse Fillatre with his wife and a young relative, managed to outwit the Nazis and escape from the hounds set upon them to track them down.

They were warned just in time by a young, local boy, Bernard Lalleman.

The search was in vain. No other resistance groupe members were to be found. But might not the network be reformed ? And might not paratroopers descend from the sky to save the resistance fighters? Enough was enough. At nightfall, after a grim day on which allied air power had been particularly active, the Germans decided to transfer their prisoners to the village of La Reauté. They were locked up in a stable and carrefully guarded.

June 15th ...4 a.m... the sudden starting up of a lorry ...gutturaux. orders. A few minutes later... a long burst of machine-gun fire as day is dawning ... eleven men have ceased to exist.

The bodies of the hapless victims were found after the liberation at the beginning of August: four on one side, sever on the other, at the exact spot where the monument stands. They had been tied together in pairs. One was wearing an FFI arm-band, a barren reminder that he belonged to that shadowy army the Germans were never to acknowledge.

Every year, on the first Sunday after the 15th June, a crowd, always a large one, gathers to attend the memorial service. Perhaps to exemplify the poet's words : " Where I die my country is born again ".

La douleur m'a brisé

La fraternité m'a relevé

De ma blessure a jailli un fleuve de liberté