René Tallet "Violette"

Rédigé par Alain dans la rubrique Brigade Rac, Portrait 

This is the incredible story of René Tallet known as Violette, leader of the AS Violette, After the 6th June 1944 the Bataillon Violette, 3rd bataillon of la Brigade Rac. I have translated it from L'affaire de Saintes by Capitaine Fred, published in 1989.

Pierre Tallet, a farmer at La Favardie, a village to the south west of Saint-Yrieix, and his wife Valentine Roques had two sons – René, born on the 1st of April 1919 and Emile, born on the 28th of October 1920. Pierre died in 1922 when his two sons were quite young.

René Tallet 1940
René and Emile in the years that followed went to live at Queyroi de Sarlande, un hameau in the Dordogne close to the border of the Haute Vienne, living with their mother who had re-married.The local school was very close to where they lived and it was there that they both learnt to read and write.
At 12 years of age, René, who was quite intelligent, started going to a school at Excideuil. He stayed there until graduation.

In 1936 his mother Valentine became a widow for the second time. She then needed René around her so he put his heart into running the family agricultural business.He was particularly enterprising and possessed a fair amount of equipment so he ended up employing all of his neighbours.

1939… War breaks out… He is called up to join the Army at Périgueux. He only stayed there a short while as he dreamed of being a pilot so he enlisted at the Pilot’s college at Rochefort.He passed his pilot’s exams in June 1940. He had only been flying for a short while when his Squadron left for Morocco. But events changed dramatically and there was no longer a need for him and he was de-mobbed at the beginning of 1941.

Emile Tallet "Milou"
He returned to Queyroi, joining his brother Emile ‘Milou’ and they both go back to working on the land. At this time it is as if the region, cut off, humiliated and trampled on by the Germans had no other vocation than agriculture.

René had a true passion for mechanics and in spite of the rarity of petrol he could not envisage a life without running a vehicle of some kind. With his friend René Ségui, a small garage owner at Sarlande he started to convert vehicles to run on wood as a fuel. He did this for his tractor and one of his motorbikes. As the roads were not busy he flew round non-stop.

One Friday, market day at Saint-Yrieix, he pulled up in front of the college with a little too much haste. He caused a bit of commotion amongst some girls who were leaving the college. He had, by accident, reversed into one of them.

René slammed his brakes on and jumped out to help up his young victim. Fortunately she was not hurt. She smiled at him and he could not miss noticing how beautiful she was.

Violette and Hortense
“Mademoiselle” he said to her, “to make up for my dreadful mistake I demand that you marry me.” Her name was was Hortense Acker, her family was from Wantzenau near Strasbourg. She was a refugee staying at Saint-Yrieix since September 1939.

Dumbfounded, she replied to him “I don’t think so!”.However, things went so well that they were married on the 3rd of December 1942.

Their first child Michèle came into the world in 1943 and Jacky, a boy, in the following year. Christene would arrive to complete the family in 1947.Incredibly at the same time as this love story was unfurling René Tallet lived the most amazing adventure story.

In effect, since the beginning of 1942 he had entered along with his friend the garage owner René Segui into the Résistance network ‘Jove’. Colonel Giovanni, who was living at Saint-Yrieix on the rue du Bost-Saint-Hilaire situated next to the Railway station, had created there a centre of information of all that was going on in that region and in the Midi de la France. Also staying there was a radio operator who was in daily contact with London.

This was a considerable task as it was necessary that this clandestine operation moved around so not to be picked up by German vehicles who were beginning to circulate in the area and were equipped to pick up these clandestine transmissions. Therefore it was necessary to continually find suitable new places and the down side being this meant making contact with more and more people.At this time Ségui had taken 'Violette' as his nom de guerre and Giovanni was eventually suspected by the Germans and had to flee into hiding. The same fate fell on Ségui who then hid in a small wood near to Sarlande. His parents took food to him everyday.

Charles and Charlotte Serre in 1943
René Tallet also visited him. It was then that his friend Ségui said to him "It is you who now will be called 'Violette'." At this time, the beginning of 1943, that René Tallet made contact with the group of résistants at Thiviers, of whom their leader was 'Yvette' - Charles Serre, a notaire at Champagnac-de-Belair. He was the head of the Armée Secrète du Secteur nord de la Dordogne, his deputy was none other than 'Christian' (Rodolphe Cézard) who would in 1944 become 'Rac' leader of la brigade Rac.

There had no longer been an unoccupied zone in France since late in 1942 and the Nazi occupation was becoming more and more severe. Many young men (evading the Service Travail Obligitoire) were looking for hide-outs and fell into the circle of the two Tallet brothers at Queyroi.

Present there: Jacques Lery "Jack", Raymond Gangloff, Serge Quinot, Pierre Jacob (killed at Sarrazac on the 29th of March 1944), Gaston Bernard "Métro" (one of the heroes killed in combat at Saintes in September 1944).There was also Victor Sieb "Napoleon" or "Napo" a refugee from Lorrain who would remain in the entire campaign 44-45 with le groupe maquis and later disappeared during combat in Indochine.

Joining these 'collarless lost dogs' were these trusty men of Sarlande: The Chouty brothers, Bissou and bissetou, Léon Rousseau, Roger Blondy and many others. These were the first members of the Groupe Violette. The group was not alone in the area, it had made contact with Raoul Audrerie "Crapaud", founder of the Maquis at Chatret near to the gorges of the river Auvézere. Also, Robert Mazy, leader of the Maquis at Chene-Blanc near to Saint-Paul-Laroche and also Hivert "Zorro" who was in charge of the réfractaires (from the S.T.O.) from the Courbefy region.

On the 6th of June 1944 it was with these maquis groups as well as the groups at Thiviers and those at Chalus that Violette would put together his bataillon - Le bataillion Violette, 3eme compagnie de la brigade Rac.

It is a good time to mention now the portrait of Violette written by Charles Sarlandie, his Chef d'état-major at the time of the most important operations. This is taken from the book 'La brigade Rac' by Capitaine Fred under the heading 'some portraits' page 68. Published by Fabregue in 1977.

'What a leader... I was his deputy as I had been previously to Ségui. He was frank, loyal, open, enterprising and a born 'go-getter'. René would freely give his time or money, he always had an open door for people passing through and any réfractaires in hiding. He was clear headed and clear sighted with unfailing courage, sometimes a little rash, always close to his men, sharing their tents, their cabins, their bread, their hard boiled eggs and their glasses of water taken from the streams where they camped.
He was a remarkable organiser, he needed no one to teach him how to lead his bataillon. I have always admired the liveliness of his intelligence, his aptitude to find instantly the best solution to any problem.

He taught his men well and they all admired him, he was never contested by the other soldiers whatever their previous rank, Selvez is a good example, nor by his colleagues Dupey (Head of the 1er bataillon Brigade Rac), and Vieugeot (Head of the 2eme bataillon Brigade Rac), nor by his superiors like Charles Serre and Rac and later - Adeline and de Larminat (the Generals), nor by Ségui, who after a spell in hiding came back to join the combat,  putting himself immediately under Violette's orders and nor by me who would always follow him with confidence even with my eyes closed.

Now, thirty years later, my admiration has not waned. No other person from the whole of la brigade Rac was capable of instilling confidence in and uniting so many different types of men like those who helped to make the good reputation of la bataillon Violette.
Even during their integration into la brigade Rac and later the 50eme RI, at the same time keeping the same personality and conserving his maquis spirit.

Violette knew how to impose himself on all his successive chiefs by his radiance, his assurance, his determination and his presence. His maxim would have been "Respect la bataillon Violette, it has credibility." And, in fact the discreet Violette would not allow to fade the old writing on the doors of the vehicles used by the bataillon. He remained ever faithful to Ségui.

"Yes, he was truly a leader, a great leader."

The 16th and 17th of February 1944 :

These are two essential dates in the story of Violette.We know that on the 16th of February at dawn, the résistance camp set up at the old disused mill known as Le Pont Lasveyras was encircled by two German companies and two others formed a blockade to stop any attempt at escape.

Staying at the camp at this time were fifty of the Groupe Crapaud, surprised, they defended themselves as best they could and after many hours of combat, having run out of ammunition, were forced to surrender.  We know of the inhuman slaughter that followed.

There were two traitors, one from Limoges, the other from Saint-Yrieix who guided the enemy that day to the maquis camp.The night before the tragedy, they slept at Saint-Yrieix at the hotel de la gare.Those who were not shot in cold blood and were taken prisoner after the fighting were the following day interrogated and it was discovered that the leaders of this maquis group were Crapaud and Violette. This information was passed onto the two traitors who then must have said to themselves "If we could arrest one of them it would be a master stroke. This Violette, is he not the same guy that was part of the réseau 'Jove', the mechanic at Sarlande? His parents own the café-restaurant which is on the square. How simple could this be, we go there and if we find him we'll arrest him." (They are confusing Violette now as the Violette of old - René Segui and note that the price on Violette's head at this time was 100,000 francs.)

It is the 17th of February at the start of the afternoon. A black Peugeot 301 stops in front of the bar at Sarlande. A little careless, but they are fuelled by their 'success' of the previous day. A machine gun in  hand the two traitors enter the café where they find Madame Ségui.

"Where is your son?" they demand.
"He is in bed, he is ill with the flu" she replies.

They go up the stairs and finding him shout "Get up!". He gets out of bed and while he dresses, as slow as is possible, they go through all the cupboards in the room. They are searching for gold or jewellery which they suppose they might find.They go down the stairs, holding on to René.

The goings on of these two shits has not gone unnoticed in the little square and Madame Montpion, a postal worker who everyone called "Madelon" is in the street in front of the café has seen everything. Without losing a second, she telephones the home of René Tallet at Queyroi and by chance he answers.
"They are in the middle of arresting Ségui" she tells them.
Violette, his brother Milou and  Bissou  his bodyguard jump in his car parked right by the front door.

They arrive, like a tornado, in front of the Café Ségui where they find the black car parked outside.A young blonde lady of dubious persuasion is sitting inside the car and lets out a loud cry to warn her two accomplices "Quick, quick, we need to leave Now!".

Violette takes position at one of the windows inside the village hall which faces the church while Bissou hides in a recess in the wall to the right of the hall's entrance.

At this point the two 'gangsters' exit the café, one in front of Ségui, the other behind. Violette shouts "Get your hands up" and takes aim from the window. At the same time Bissou exits like a bat out of hell and puts the barrel of his gun at the temple of one of them.They raise their arms.

Léon Rousseau and Roger Blondy, members of the groupe Violette are there as well, along with a crowd of people from the village. Violette pushes the two men now disarmed onto the backseats of their car and tells Léon, who also jumps in the car, "keep your gun on them."
Violette jumps in the front and drives off with his machine gun between his legs. The car speeds off through the middle of the crowd of villagers who shout "Death, death to the bastards."

Milou takes Violette's car and follows them, sitting to his side is the blonde woman, sitting behind them are Bissou and Roger Blondy, each armed with their machine guns. The cars drive down towards the river Loue and then turns off onto the little back road to Saint Yrieix.

René's intention is to get to the courtyard at the farm at La Favardie. His biggest fault was always to drive too fast. Having in his hands a car running on petrol, and driving too fast round a bend on the road he hits a bump and the two prisoners who unfortunately had not been tied up seized their chance. One went for Léon trying to get his gun whilst the other tried to grab René's machine gun.

The mélée was indescribable. The safety catch on the machine gun had been knocked off, bullets were fired but luckily just scraping the chest of René and came off his belt. By chance the second car pulled up, stopped, and Bissou kicked open the door and shot dead the man attacking René. The other man jumped out of the car and ran off and hid in a field. Roger Blondy, Ségui and Bissou followed him but then he disappeared. Roger thought he might be hiding amongst some brambles so shouted "I can see him, I'll throw a grenade at him."

Hearing this the man stood up, arms in the air. He is shot on the spot. Now, only one of the three remained, the blonde woman who was then taken to the farm at La Faverdie. 

 "You have to kill her" Violette tells Ségui and hands him his gun.But Ségui is not cold blooded and hesitates. He surmounts however his peaceful nature and without looking shoots her in the head at point-blank. The three bodies are buried under a horse chestnut tree near 'La Serve Noire'.

Justice is done.

Violette, in the days that followed, awaited a swarm of German police at Sarlande and the surrounding area, but it never happened. It wasn't until the 8th of May that la Milice, stationed at Saint-Yrieix the day before, started an investigation. That day they encircled the village and its inhabitants were all interrogated. About a dozen were arrested. Violette by a stroke of luck had escaped. From this point on all those who followed him would have absolute confidence in him. He had 'la baraka' (good luck).

Some of the Sarlandais would be deported to a camp at Nexon. Among them was Bissou, who had been captured at his home in the little hameau of La Navarie. He had put up a good fight and managed to floor some of those who had come to arrest him with some well placed punches.

At this time, hidden away at Bissou's home was a radio transmitter and Englishman parachuted in to set it up and operate it. He too was arrested. This had been a triumph for la milice who later that evening ransacked Violette's home and then dug holes under its foundations with the view of planting explosives to blow the place up.
But, the explosives coming from Saint-Yrieix never arrived, so it nothing happened. The Germans would have operated differently, working faster and more efficiently, they would have simply burnt the buildings down.

On the evening of Thursday the 11th of May, the miliciens put out a message saying that the 'celebrated' Violette had been killed. They spread the story in all the cafés of Saint-Yrieix and revelled in the 'big news'.  At their staff HQ, set up at the Hotel des Voyageurs, they cracked open a few bottles of champagne. What had happened? A young maquisard, part of the F.T.P. from Excideuil, with the surname 'Tallet' had in fact been killed. His papers had been passed on to Saint-Yrieix and then Limoges which had then started the rumour (Link)
Violette was alive and very much alive! On the 12th of May he had organised an ambush against the milice in which a coach that had been going down to Pont-la-Bance on the border of the Dordogne and the Haute Vienne had been cut in two by a torpedo from a bazooka. After this, the milice left to occupy Thiviers and no longer returned to the area.

Combats :

In the morning of the 5th June 1944, Violette received an order from Rac to assemble immediately every man at his disposal and come first thing in the morning of the 6th to the town of Biral, halfway between Brantome and Périgueux. Biras was an ideal location where ambushes could be launched along the winding route nationale dominated by rock faces and wild undergrowth.

Payzac - 6th June 1944
Operation 'Overlord' was about to begin - Block roads and prevent Germans from circulating freely. However, we know how the Germans would react - The hangings at Tulle and the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane.
That evening around 200 men were assembled at Payzac, who then made their way to Biras in six trucks that had been requisitioned along with some light commercial vehicles.

Close to Périgueux, at the junction of the road from Piles and the route nationale 704 towards 3 o'clock in the morning this group of vehicles clashed with a column of Germans who were on their way to Excideuil. Battle ensued resulting in losses on both sides.

Volunteers began to arrive from everywhere. It is the 'Mobilisation Générale'. The problem is arming them all and training them as they are almost all young men who have yet to serve their military service. Fortunately on the 9th of June the 52 gendarmes in the district of Nontron decided to join the Maquis.Rac received them at Saint-Saud and delivered to them a clear speech. He appointed 20 of them to le Bataillon Violette for training; they would later become sous-officiers.

The Bataillon included, other than the men of Crapaud who would take the name of Groupe Maquis (G.M), the 9th compagnie set up at Thiviers as well as the 10th and the 11th. The first was commanded by Jean Courant, ex 'maréchel des logis d'artillerie' who would make an exceptional leader. The second was under the orders of Robert Mazy, leader of the Maquis at Chene-Blanc. The third was formed by André Lavaud, officer in the Légion étrangère in 1940.

The 12th compagnie who were still stationed at Clairvivre was mainly made up of Alsaciens-Lorrains. It was commanded by a true captain of the reserves, 47 year old Paul Selvez, who was sadly killed during combat at Pizou on the 22nd of August 1944.

The funeral of Capitaine Selvez at Clairvivre
Two other formations would complete the bataillon - a "groupe franc" set up at Veyssieras near to Miallet under the cadet officer Robert and his deputy Himmelspack and finally the S.S.S. (Section Speciale de Sabotage) created by the lieutenant Dutheillet de Lamothe, known at first under the name "Frédéric" and then later as "Fred" (Capitaine Fred).

The services were exceptionally organised - the "parc auto" by Ségui, communications under the deputy Latour and supplies were organised by Milou Tallet and his cousin Camille Duclos. A doctor named Garrigue ran the sick bay. He was supported by the doctors Raber, Vexler, Lauvray, head nurse Yvonne Bournique and Paul Chartrain: service de santé.

The Liberation of Périgueux

Libération of Perigueux - In front of the mairie
On Monday the 15th of August, at the start of the afternoon, Violette assembled his bataillon at Agonac. He set up his HQ at the station. The 9th and 10th compagnies were sent to Puy-de-Forches where, during the evening they were in combat on the main road with an armoured  German column who had tried in vain to get through to Thiviers.

The Groupe Franc, under the orders of Himmelspack go down towards Périgueux on a reconnaisance mission where at Toulon they come across a company of Germans stationed there. Combat ensues but the Groupe France, inferior in number, manages to evade being encircled and frees itself by calling on the help of the 11th compagnie and some of the S.S.S.
It returns that evening to Agonac with its dead and wounded. A chapel of rest is set up at la mairie.

On the two days that followed, the 16th and 17th of August a large patrol made up from the 10th and 11th compagnies under the orders of the lieutenant Dutheillet de Lamothe (Capitaine Fred) is set up at Champcevinel and makes contact with the inhabitants of the surrounding area. On Friday the 18th, the 9th compagnie arrived at Périgueux. The Germans had abandoned their advance posts that they had occupied close to the maternity hospital situated at the entrance to Périgueux. The F.F.I. occupy the post office, the town hall and the police headquarters.

Following behind his 2nd bataillon, Rac arrived and set up his HQ at the hotel Domino. This is where he meets Martial and Gizele, leaders of the départementaux F.F.I. and capitaine Marc, thought at the time, to be an English officer parachuted into the region. It turns out he was actually French posing as English as cover. Violette does not let the success and the amazing feeling in the town to go to his head. The town is overwhelmed with joy and enthousiasme. His compagnies stay grouped together under his watchful eye and are in contact with the enemy who occupy the freight station and the surrounding area.

From Sunday onwards, the enemy would face many obstacles in trying to retreat along the route nationale towards Bordeaux. At la Cave, les Moulineaux, Razac, many combats take place.At Montanceix, the compagnie Cyrano occupies higher ground and made the progress of the retreating Germans hard work.
Le bataillon Roland entered Saint-Astier and took 2 German officers and 77 German soldiers that were found there as prisoners. In the evening, they had to evacuate the town as they had run out of ammunition but still managed however to hang on to the prisoners.

To stop the retreat of the Germans was Violette and his bataillon's goal and on Monday morning as they approached Saint-Astier they learned that 19 locals and the parish priest l'abbé Lafaye who had tried to negociate the freedom of the 19 had all been savagedly killed that morning, the 21st August.
"They will pay for their crime" promises Violette.

That evening at Mussidan, someone informs Violette that the German column spent the night at Montpon.
"We will ambush them along their route and when the column passes we will shoot them".
It was necessary all the same for some nerve as the German columns were ten times greater in number than those at the disposal of Violette.

Monument at Le Pizou
On the 22nd of August the combat at Pizou lasted until the evening. The Germans who possessed some fierce fighting groups would have liked the maquisards to have paid dear for their rash madness as they tried to cross the river guarded by Violette's men. They tried to counter attack and finally had to be content in gathering together their dead and injured and continue before it became dark to flee towards Bordeaux.The combat at Pizou was truely to the honour of the Bataillon Violette, its losses had been less than the enemies, for in an ambush, it is always those who shoot first that hit the target.

This same day, the 22nd August in the centre of Périgueux a patriotic parade was held - present were the Bataillon Roland with its German prisoners captured at Saint-Astier.Also there, were numerous maquisards of the F.F.I. who had left their camps in the woods to march through the town. If they had acted like Violette that day, the retreating Germans would have been encircled and destroyed.
"We did not have the orders" they said..... But neither did Violette, that didn't stop him.

Rac, thinking ahead, decided that he should move towards Angoulême with his brigade and he was right. It had been presumed that the Germans would head towards Bordeaux. Rac's presence at Angoulême with all his men was essential, as to the retreating Germans the town was a linch pin back to Germany. The town of Angoulême, completely encircled by the Résistance (A.S. and F.T.P.) was liberated on the 1st of September. However, it was always the same story, whilst there was a never ending victory parade going on Violette gave no rest bite whatsoever to the enemy.

During the 2nd of September he was at Cognac and in the evening of the 3rd he prepared to enter Saintes on the following day. The Germans had left the town on Saturday the 2nd.

The 10th compagnie were given orders by lieutenant Ferrand to enter Saintes at 7 o'clock in the morning and set up barricades at the entrances to the town on its west side.
Marie-Antoinette (Philippe Tenant de Latour) officier de renseignements of the bataillon was present too. The inhabitants of the town had hung flags up at their windows. The weather was beautiful and it was the first week day of the month and therefore the town's market day. Suddenly a man started running around the streets like a madman looking for Marie-Antoinette. On finding him he shouts "there are around twenty trucks, crammed full of German troops, that have just passed Pisani".

Marie-Antoinette estimated that they would be at the barricade at la route de Marennes in about half an hour. It was absolutely imperative to take all the flags away from the windows. If they were not and the Germans manage to enter the town there would be a bloodbath. The Municipal Police were alerted and put into place 'Opération Ville Morte' - flags away and hidden, shops closed and the market square empty.

Violette had passed the night at his HQ set up at the Hotel Francois 1er at Cognac. A telephone call had informed him of the situation. He jumped into his car and 'brûle la route' and managed to get to Saintes at the moment where the first shots were fired in the west of the town. The Germans had been told that there were no F.F.I. in the town. Their trucks drove on in confidence, one behind the other.

The barricade set up by the 10th compagnie was re-inforced, there were now two machine guns facing in different directions and a bazooka ready to fire. It is believed that there had been, in the enemy camp, a certain hesitation; nevertheless, hearing the shots, all the 'feldgrau' jumped from the trucks, got into a defensive position and found shelter where they could. From the adjoining road two machine guns opened fire on them.

If the Germans had known that they were only facing a handful of men they would have charged through and entered the town. Finally some maquis reinforcements arrived, notably the Corps Franc who had two cannons taken from the Italians at Angoulême. They opened fire on the German trucks.

The 9th and 10th took position on the road adjoining and intense shooting rattled out from all over the place. This would go on until the end of the afternoon. Violette did not have enough men to encircle the enemy, who eventually retreated leaving three abandoned trucks and seventeen dead, they left only collecting their injured.

The combat at Saintes on the 4th of September was a great success and repercussions good and from this point on the Germans no longer risked leaving their entrenched camps at Royan and La Rochelle, and on the 11th of September they evacuated the town of Rochefort.

The whole of La Brigade Rac were together at this point and ready to get on with the task in hand. They found themselves infront of La Seudre, an estuary river which seperated them from the enemy. It was practically uncrossable, as wide as 1km and bordered on its north side by Oyster farms for 2 to 3 kms. So for several months the seige went on. Only the occasional patrol ventured into 'no man's land'.

Tom, Touville, Rac and Violette at Saintes
Général de Gaulle came to Saintes on the 17th of September and declared to the combattants "You will not be left here alone, you will be given whatever is necessary to finish this battle".
In effect, the division of the Francais Libres lead by Général Brossais initially sent some men to Saintes at the beginning of December, but the German offensive lead by Von Runstedt had by the end of the month pushed back the Americans so far that Eisenhower was obliged to recall everyone towards the German border and therefore neglect the 'secondary' fronts like Royan and La Rochelle. The Francais Libres returned quickly to Alsace.

Royan : (link)

It was not until the 14th to the 16th of April 1945 that the German camp entrenched at Royan would be forced out. On the 14th the attack took place between Saujon and Saint-Georges-de-Didonne. The Bataillon Violette was placed in reserve. It then received a special mission: cross La Seudre with force in front of Chambion and Chaillevette and cut in two the German resistance (the tables have turned!) positioned near Ile d'Avert. The enemy was therefore under fire from two directions. This mission was executed perfectly and a complete success.

At high tide that morning, before day break, the first wave composed of 9th, 10th and 11th compagnies crossed on some 'lasses', boats with flat bases which were normally used by workers visiting their oyster farms. They boarded without too much difficulty as they were shown by some civilians how it was done.

The same however was not happening at La Presqu'ile and at Chambion. The 4th section of the 9th compagnie had fallen upon a snag. A white flag was being shown to them by some Germans soldiers. The deputy chief Isnard got up and shouted "come towards us, we will not hurt you". At that moment he fell, shot in the head by one of the salauds. Shot in fear or hatred we will never know.

In the fighting that followed, the Jean Guilhelm "Le Grand Jean" was injured along with a caporal-chief and five members of the Bataillon Violette. No German prisoners were taken.Apart from these lacks of military honour the group progressed and was followed by numerous prisoners being taken and brought to the landing point. When the Commander of a group of tanks pierced through the German resistance and arrived in front of Violette and Sarlandie (who were deservedly quite full of themselves) he saluted them and simply said "chapeau!".

On the 30th of April the Bataillion went onto the Ile d'Oléron. Heavy fighting took place and sadly more lives were lost. During the evening of the 11th May, columns of German prisoners were transported to the mainland. On the 8th May everyone prepared themselves for an attack on the last German stronghold - La Rochelle, but during the day news came through of the Armistice. War was over, VICTORY!

Violette, legendary hero, leader of men without equal could return home. He took his place back at his agricultural business. However, a while later he was sought out by the 2nd bureau of the army from some special missions. He replied that he was willing if they needed him but preferred to stay amongst his friends and family. Of course he could have remained in the army, he would have been re-graded as a Captain, not bad for 26 years of age. In Indochine and Algeria he would have regained his stripes of 1945 and then who knows?

He preferred however to return to his farm work amongst his fellows. It is there sadly that he found a premature death on the 21st November 1984 aged only 63. His fellow soldiers lead his body to the little cemetery at Sarlande, the village where he was born, where waiting for him for the last 7 years was his brother Milou.

Violette's wife Hortense succeeded him and sadly died on the 12th January 2008.

Violette in front of  the Monument aux Morts at Saintes
Hommage from the Americans to Violette
Hommage from the British to Violette

Marble plaque on the wall of commandant Violette's house at Sarlande. 
Photo taken at the inauguration of the plaque in 1965.


René Tallet, dit « Violette », est né à Sarlande en 1919.

Il perd son père à l’âge de dix‑huit ans et devient ainsi chef d’exploitation de la propriété de famille du Queyroy. IL demande à servir dans l’aviation à la guerre de 1939 et est breveté pilote juste au moment de la débâcle de juin 1940. Démobilisé, il revient chez lui et avec son frère Milou, son cadet d’un an, se met à faire de l’entreprise (labourage, battage, travaux divers). Dans la région de petites exploitations familiales où il se trouve, il rend des services énormes et ne peut arriver à suffire.

Froid, maître de lui, audacieux, connaissant admirablement le pays, il va bientôt se signaler comme devant être un chef dès l’apparition de l’insurrection armée. Autour de lui, se rassemblent de vieux soldats comme Serge, Raymond, Napo, Bernard, Jacques, Léon, Bissou et tant d’autres qui deviennent des maquisards à part entière dès les premiers mois de 1943.

Les jeunes réfractaires au S. T. O., qui préfèrent gagner les bois plutôt que de partir en Allemagne, sont ainsi encadrés par de solides anciens. Le groupe Violette prend de l’ampleur, et au débarquement du 6 juin 1944 il deviendra le bataillon « Violette » au passé déjà riche d’exploits.

Caractéristiques principales : René Tallet aime se travestir et jouer le rôle qu’il a décidé de créer. C’est ainsi qu’on le voit à Périgueux ou à Limoges revêtu d’une soutane d’ecclésiastique et donnant ses rendez-vous dans des églises. Il prend l’accent alsacien, ce qui lui est facile parce que sa femme, Hortense, est une réfugiée de la Wantzenau, près de Strasbourg. Lorsqu’il vient à Thiviers, par une nuit sans lune, à la tête d’un commando pour abattre un traître de la Gestapo (Voir l’ouvrage « Bataillon Violette », page 59), il se donne, à l’hôtel Moulinier, pour un Anglais parachuté et contrefait admirablement l’accent insulaire, à tel point que tous les témoins qui sont entendus le lendemain par la gendarmerie, y compris M. Moulinier, propriétaire de l’hôtel (Fricasse) où se déroulent les événements, affirment qu’il s’agit bien d’un Anglais ; ces témoins sont de très bonne foi. Violette, qui a le don de s’adapter au personnage qu’il joue, a naturellement celui du commandement puisqu’il a décidé d’être un chef. Il saura admirablement s’entourer, et fera preuve d’une grande autorité. Lorsque, démobilisé, il reprendra ses occupations civiles, on pourra dire qu’il a brillamment réussi dans son rôle de chef de maquis, puis de chef de bataillon. Voici ce qu’écrit Sarlandie, au sujet de Violette.

Quel chef ! Je serai son adjoint comme je l’ai été de Ségui. Franc, loyal, ouvert, entreprenant, le fonceur né, René payait de sa personne, de son argent, toujours table ouverte pour les gens de passage et réfractaires camouflés; lucide, clairvoyant, d’un courage à toute épreuve, parfois téméraire, toujours près des hommes, partageant leur cabane, leur tente, leur pain, leur ceuf dur, leur verre d’eau puisé à la rigole du pré. Organisateur remarquable, il n’a eu besoin de personne pour apprendre à mener fort bien son bataillon. J’ai toujours admiré la vivacité de son intelligence, son aptitude à la découverte instantanée de la meilleure solution à un problème.

Entraîneur d’hommes dont il est admiré, il ne sera jamais contesté par les plus anciens chevronnés (Selvès en est un exemple), ni par ses collègues, Dupuy et Vieugeot, ni par ses chefs comme Charles Serre et Rac plus tard, Adeline et de Larminat, ni par Ségui, qui, revenu au grand jour après sa disparition dans le maquis, se mit spontanément sous ses ordres, ni par moi qui le suivis toujours en toute confiance, les yeux fermés. Et à trente ans de distance, mon admiration est toujours aussi vive; aucune personne de toute la brigade n’était capable de réunir l’adhésion, la confiance, l’amitié d’hommes aussi différents que tous ceux qui ont fait la réputation du bataillon Violette, qui même avec la meilleure organisation militaire et sa parfaite intégration à la brigade Rac, puis au 50e R.I. réussit à garder sa personnalité et à conserver toujours son esprit maquis.

Violette sut s’imposer à tous les chefs successifs par son rayonnement, son assurance, sa détermination, sa prestance. Sa maxime aurait pu être : « Respectez le bataillon Violette. Il a ses lettres de noblesse ». Et de fait, jamais la discrète Violette n’accepta de s’effacer sur les portières des véhicules du bataillon. Restée fidèle à Ségui elle fut, ô combien! glorifiée par son héritier.

Oui, vraiment, un chef, un grand chef.