​​The Scamaroni Company and the Liberation of Caen​





​​As soon as D-Day was announced, members of the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) and the Caen Resistance gathered within the Scamaroni Company to fight alongside the Canadian and British troops, who were preparing to liberate the city.

​​Made up of a handful of Resistance fighters alongside young volunteers, Scamaroni Company took an active part in the liberation of Caen. The name pays homage to the Corsican Resistance fighter, Fred Scamaroni, former Chief of Staff of Calvados prefect between 1937 and 1939. In 1943, following arrest by Italian political police, Scamaroni died by suicide in Ajaccio, choosing death rather than risk speaking under torture.

Léonard Gille, president of the Departmental Committee of the Liberation, commanded the Company with about fifty volunteers. They crossed front lines to transmit civilian and military intelligence to the Allies, established links with Resistance fighters in the Cinglais and Bocage areas and carried out sabotage against German troops behind the lines.

On 9 July 1944, the Scamaroni Company supported the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division entering Caen city. That day in their presence, the French flag was first raised in the Lycée Malherbe square, alongside allied troops and the civil authorities. The “Marseillaise” (French National Anthem) was played and sung for the first time in four years.

As soon as the left bank was liberated, the members of the Scamaroni Company took part in cleaning up the ruined districts, numerous patrols in no man’s land, and later in the attacks on the right bank of the River Orne, still held by German forces. Several Resistance fighters were killed during these patrols and fighting: Lieutenant Chatelain and Robert Castel fell in Caen, and Captain Poinlanne in Lisieux.

The Scamaroni Company participated in the liberation of Fleury-sur-Orne, and on the morning of 19 July helped Canadian troops to clean up the Vaucelles neighbourhood and the vicinity of the Colombelles steel plant. That afternoon, Caen was entirely liberated.

The next day, the Departmental Committee of Liberation met officially for the first time. Their tasks were to assist the new prefect of Calvados, and to appoint a provisional Mayor (this was before the creation, in September 1944, of the Special Delegation of the city of Caen who administered the city until the next elections). The Scamaroni company then ceased to exist.

On 23 September 1944, General De Gaulle ordered that the FFI troops be incorporated into the regular troops to continue the fighting. Some “Scamaroni fighters” did not wait for this order to join the Leclerc division fighting in the Orne. From August to September 1944, many volunteers from Caen and Normandy enlisted to continue fighting after Normandy’s liberation.


Caen, 14000