Frankreich / Denkmal

​​Monument to the victims of the fighting in Bois du Bourlon on 11 June 1944​




On 11 June 1944, a group of ten Resistance fighters from Pas-de-Calais who on their way to a maquis in the Ardennes, were killed in action at Bourlon. Today, a monument is dedicated to their memory.

Prompted by the coded message "The mermaids have long bleached hair", which was broadcast on 5 June 1944 by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), groups of Resistance fighters from Pas-de-Calais went into action. They attempted to join the maquis in the Ardennes, with the aim of blocking the German retreat following the Normandy landings. As part of this general mobilisation, 350 men from three Francs-Tireurs Partisans (FTP) companies, made up of Resistance fighters from the coalfield, were to join the maquis by various routes.

Unfortunately, the Germans quickly spotted this operation thanks to reconnaissance planes. The Geheime Feld Polizei (GFP) of Lille and Arras, with the support of the Feldgendarmerie, carried out repressive actions and multiple arrests.

On 11 June, at about 9.30pm, about 60 maquisards wearing the FFI (Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur) armband gathered in Bois du Bourlon (Bourlon Wood) for a temporary halt. They were quickly surrounded by German troops.  Due to a lack of ammunition, the Resistance fighters' response ended quickly. Some of them managed to escape across the fields or found refuge with inhabitants of the village, however 22 of them were taken prisoner. Of these 22, twenty were sentenced to death and shot in the citadel of Arras and two were deported to Bergen-Belsen. Ten Resistance fighters aged between 19 and 37 were killed in the fighting in the wood.

In accordance with the orders of the German higher authorities, the victims were to be buried immediately without any ceremony. Young people from the village of Bourlon were requisitioned by the German forces to transport the bodies. There was no church service, and the ten Resistance fighters were buried in the communal cemetery. It was only in December that the bodies could be exhumed and identified, although two remained unidentified.

In 1949 a monument was erected in Bourlon at the edge of the wood, paying tribute to the Resistance fighters. In June 1984 a plaque was installed with the names of the Maquis killed there: 


CAUDRON Florent 



LEROY Edouard 

VASSEUR Camille 


VASSEUR François 

Unknown 1 

Unknown 2 

​​Bois de Bourlon, Bourlon, 62860