Mission Alexander

Rédigé par Alain dans la rubrique Brigade Rac, Opération spéciale, Portrait

In the summer of 1944 the Mission Alexander left RAF Keevil and parachuted into South West France landing at St. Giles les forêts Near to Sussac in the Haute Vienne, 60km from their proposed DZ (drop zone). Records show the date of the landing to be 12/13th august but in many books it states the end of July which I believe due to the operations they were involved with in France could be correct.

This O.S.S. Jedburgh team consisted of :

- Captain Stewart Alsop (U.S. Army)
- Capitaine René de la Tousche ‘Richard Thouville’ (F.F.L.)
- Sergeant radio Norman Franklin (U.S. Army)
Their mission was to join local Résistance groups and hassle the enemy trying to make their way north through France to join the fight against the Allies. The Mission Alexander successfully reached the HQ of La Brigade Rac where Capitaine Tom took care of their security and lodgings at the Chateau de Razac close to Thiviers which was owned by Capitaine de Vigneral of La Brigade Rac.

They remained there for three weeks and received messages and orders from London everyday. The radio equipment was set up in the roof and in the august heat it must have been hard going. They arranged many parachute drops and in particular a drop made by 25 planes near to Cognac dropping off seriously needed weapons and equipment.

By September the Mission had achieved its objective and Alsop and Franklin were called back to London. René de la Tousche ‘Richard Thouville’ remained with La Brigade Rac until May 1945 and the push to the Atlantic where finally the Germans were forced to surrender in one of their last strongholds

After the war Stewart Alsop became a Political Commentator for the ‘Washington Post’, ‘Saturday Evening Post’ and ‘Newsweek’. With the collaboration of Thomas Braden he wrote a book about the O.S.S. in 1946 entitled ‘Sub Rosa, the OSS and American Espionage’ which in 1964 was translated into French and retitled ‘OSS l’Amerique et l'espionnage. In the book there is a chapter dedicated to his time with La Brigade Rac but all the characters names including his own have been changed :
- Rac is Le Chat,
- La Brigade Rac is the maquis le Chat,
- Captain Alsop is Lieutenant William Wheeler,
- Capitaine de la Tousche is Capitaine René Gramont,
- Sergeant Franklin is Sergeant Robert Williams.
 There is a mention to a tall blonde man who was un chef du maquis, René Tallet ‘Violette’ one presumes!

On the 28th July 1964 in ‘The Saturday Evening Post’ Stewart Alsop wrote of his time alongside Rac entitled ‘Remembering Rac’. I have a contact in America who is tracking this article down at the moment and if we are successful in obtaining a copy I will add it to this piece.

In the book ‘La Brigade Rac’ by Capitaine Fred there is a chapter dedicated to La Mission Alexander and an excellent photo of Alsop with ‘Raquette’ – Mme Cezard, the wife of Rac (photo shown here).

In 1972 Rac wrote to Alsop and Alsop replied that he was unwell but still dreamed of returning to France to see him and all the other ‘bourgeoise’ as Alsop always called the maquisards he had met.

Rac wrote of him ‘Alsop will remain for us a symbol of courage, faith and future. His humour was unabated. He helped us surmount the most difficult hours. At the head of the Mission Alexander he gave us the certainty of victory.

Alsop was awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm and a citation signed by Charles de Gaulle. His brother John was also part of the O.S.S. and parachuted in to France and fought alongside Nancy Wake. Sadly the illness that Stewart Alsop had spoken of to Rac in 1972 claimed his life on the 26th May 1974.

After much research a friend of mine over in the States has tracked down an original 1964 copy of The Saturday Evening Post. It has an article written by Stewart Alsop, political commentator at the time and during the war an OSS agent who parachuted into France and became part of La brigade Rac.

Part of the article is featured in the book by Capitaine Fred titled 'La brigade Rac' within the chapter 'La mission Alexander' which is printed out below.

I am extremely grateful to Mike for tracking down an original copy for me.

Here's the cover (the photo is of a steelworker taken by John Launois, the article 'Remembering Rac' and the chapter mentioned  from 'La brigade Rac'.

Stewart Alsop and René de la Tousche : London July 1944
Version Française (lien)