Louis Morin, Engineer/Gunner
Free French Air Force (FFAF)
A Story About FFAF Colonel Bouvard's Mission (Not the crew above)
It was on August 23, 1944, that an entire garrison of German soldiers surrendered to the seven man air crew of a shot down Marauder -- the Marauder was "77" of the 2nd Squadron of the Franche-Comte Group, FFAF.
The mission, the seventh for "77," was in support of the Allied landings on the French Riviera and its objective was to silence the Saint Mandrier coastal batteries defending the naval base of Toulon.
On the run into the target, "77" took a direct hit in the bomb bay and, with the Marauder on fire, there was no alternative but to bail out. Within seconds the B-26 exploded.
Landing in the sea, the men swam and paddled for hours, finally reaching the beach or being picked up by the Germans. The day was August 19th and they were prisoners in the city of Toulon -- six of them for Colonel Bouvard, the pilot, was not there.
On August 20th, the six men were taken to a fort that dominated the city. Overhead, Allied aircraft were attacking the city and the German soldiers were very nervous.
Arriving at the fort, the six crew members found Colonel Bouvard.
Shortly, a group of heavily armed German soldiers arrived and forced the Bouvard aircrew to move to another location but, within 500 meters of the fort, the Free French Forces of the Interior attacked and a fire fight ensued. Fortunately, none of the Bouvard aircrew was hit.
When the out-gunned French forces withdrew, the Germans continued the march to a new fort.
There, the Bouvard aircrew was lined up in a ditch and, for a while, it seemed as if they were to be executed.
But then, when a French-speaking German Officer arrived, the men were moved and given some meager rations to eat.
The next day, the 21st, more prisoners, French and American, began to arrive but it was apparent that Toulon had been surrounded. By nightfall, still more prisoners were brought in -- to include two resistance fighters who were to be shot.
Colonel Bouvard, on hearing this, protested to the German commander and the next day these French prisoners were released -- later to be lost in battle.
With the Allied noose on Toulon closing, the German soldiers became more friendly -- even giving the Bouvard aircrew cartons of cigarettes.
On the 23rd, French artillery began shelling close to the fort in which the prisoners were held. The result was several moves to other locations.
With the coming of night, the attack intensified and, eventually, the French-speaking German Officer returned and asked a surprised Colonel Bouvard and the senior American Officer to accept the surrender of the garrison.
It turned out that a French Officer was approaching the fort bearing a white flag and, to avoid bloodshed, the German commander decided it was best to surrender immediately to Colonel Bouvard.
Shortly, the arriving French Officer was informed that an attack on the fort was unnecessary as the German garrison had already surrendered to Colonel Bouvard whereupon Colonel Bouvard and the other French and American prisoners were told to hold the fort and the now German prisoners.
The next morning, on the arrival of French infantry, the French flag was raised with the infantry on one side of the courtyard and the previous prisoners of the Germans, now the captors, presenting arms on the other side. So ended the seventh day of this adventure of the seven man aircrew of "77."
THE FFAF MARAUDER GROUPS WERE:
GB 1/22 "Maroc"
The FFAF Marauders participated in 270 missions, flying 4,884 combat sorties. Today, a remaining Marauder is being readied for display in France. The brother of President Mitterand is said to be one who flew the Marauder.
Merci pour nous aider indiquent l'histoire les hommes du Marauder de FFAF. Peut-Ítre plus les hommes du Marauder de FFAF suivront votre exemple.