France / Story
Saint-Raphaël was a major Resistance centre throughout the war, with the momentum of fighters with varying beliefs. Actions of sabotage and military intelligence hindered the enemy, facilitating the landing at Dramont.
As early as 25 June 1940, handwritten flyers calling on people to listen to the BBC and warning against the armistice were thrown into the streets. These were the first signs of the Resistance. In the summer of 1940, Pierre-Jean Herbinger (Bressac), director of the Malpasset mines, created the Dumas/Nilo/Mithridate military intelligence network, which was national in scope (consisting of nearly 2,000 agents).
In 1942, the ‘Réseau Carte’ (maps network) organised clandestine embarkation and disembarkation operations at night in the Agay, Anthéor and Trayas coves. The local Resistance fighters transported, sheltered and protected intelligence agents, Resistance leaders, and political figures who wanted to get to London or who were on their way there. English submarines and ‘felouques’ (small 14m mediterranean fishing boats), crewed by Polish Resistance fighters, made the connections.
The first sabotages of railway equipment targeting trains heading for Germany took place in 1941.
Roger and Léon Landini's FTP-MOI group, made up of Communists of Italian origin, carried out several explosive attacks against the Marseille-Nice railway line and buildings frequented by soldiers of the occupying Italian army.
The occupation did not slow down the Resistance, despite the blows dealt by the Italian fascist police, the OVRA: propaganda remained very active, particularly through leaflets calling for demonstrations by housewives.
Roger Lombard, director of technical services for the city, took part in the NAP network (Noyautage des Administrations Publiques).
From September 1943 onwards, the German occupation led to the hunting down of Jewish people, destruction and forced evacuations. However, intelligence networks kept an eye on the coastal defence work being undertaken and provided information to the Allies. The occupiers were targeted by attacks. Repression was harsh. Several members of the Resistance were deported.
In 1943-44, the local Resistance expanded, bringing together young people and sending them into the maquis. However, poorly armed and weakened by the Gestapo’s arrests and the departures to the inland region, it was mainly through intelligence that it played a part in the Liberation. One piece of information, provided by Louis Marchand, deputy director of the Dramont quarries and English agent, proved vital: the beach was not mined. The 36th Texas Infantry Division landed safely on 15 August 1944.
Esplanade Delayen, 83700 Saint-Raphaël