Maquis de George Millar

Rédigé par Alain dans la rubrique Document et livre, Opération spéciale 

George Millar, an SOE agent, wrote what was to be the first book of an agents exploits with a Maquis group in occupied France. During the night of 1st/2nd June 1944 he parachuted into the region of the Haute Saone and operated to the east of Dijon around Besançon and was sent to set up the ‘Chancellor’ network.

 His book ‘Maquis’ was first published in 1945 and was also published in France in 1946 under the title ‘Un Anglais dans le Maquis’.
The following is an extract from the book and one of my favourite stories in the book. It involves a member of the local Maquis named ‘Le Frisé’ who had managed to obtain a German uniform and on hearing that some members of his group were being held in the nearby town of Rioz decided to wear the uniform to drive into the town along with some others and help the prisoners escape.

This they did and after tying up the guards ‘Le Frisé’ noticed a machine gun he had never seen before. It was a 9mm Italian sub-machine-gun, and it seemed to ‘Le Frisé’ to combine the beauties of the little American carbine, the Sten, and the Schmeisser. He took it and checked that the magazine was full. Then he saw something else that interested him.

Sixteen Germans were sitting in a café across the street having a glass of marc (or schnapps, as the Germans called it). With ‘Le Frisé’ the two coincidences were strongly linked - finding a weapon and seeing a target. The others had gone back to the car, for they were anxious to leave Rioz. ‘Le Frisé’ wiped his sweaty hands, walked across the road and kicked open the door of the café. The Germans sat at marble topped tables around the room.

One good swinging burst, and I have the lot, thought ‘Le Frisé’. His prospective targets sat frozen momentarily in terror gazing at the figure in the doorway with its fierce frizz of hair. ‘Le frizé’ squeezed on the trigger. Nothing happened. He had forgotten before he crossed the road to see how this weapon worked. Now it was obviously on “safe”. He searched desperately for the safety-catch with his spare fingers. He was still searching when he noticed that the Germans were drawing their guns. He leaped backwards and sideways out of the doorway, a stream of bullets followed him. Doubling round the corner he found the car, started up and ready to go. They drove on sixty yards and ‘Le Frizé’ told the driver to stop. “What now?” the driver asked. But ‘Le Frizé’ had figured out how the gun worked and was hanging half out the window and had started to shoot back at the Germans. The car then sped off and ‘Le Frizé’ explained “I just wanted to see that it worked.” “You see it’s got two triggers. The front one fires single rounds, and the other shoots bursts. That’ll take a little getting used to!”

I have a copy of the memoires published by Maurice Buckmaster, the head of ‘F’ section of the SOE where in a dedication he cites Millar’s book as inspiration for writing his own memoires.

It is always good to hear that people who risked everything and put their necks on the line then go on to live a full and long life as did George Millar who died in 2005 aged 94.