Teenage Resistance Fighter: With the Maquisards in Occupied France
By Hubert Verneret, Translated by Sarah Saunders and Patrick Depardon
Hardcover in dustjacket, 146 pages, photographs
Published by Casemate, November 2017
Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.5 x 9 inches
When Germany invaded Poland on 01 September 1939, Hubert Verneret was a fourteen-year-old Boy Scout living in Burgundy, France. As the war came to France, he kept a dairy of his experiences. The Scouts were active in civil relief efforts, helping with refugees and troops at train stations, and later rescue operations in areas hit by Allied bombing raids. After the Allied invasion of Normandy, he and a friend decided to join the Resistance, traveling to the Mont Beuvray area to enlist in the Louis Maquis in August.
Maquis roughly means “the bush”, and the Maquis lived in camps in rough terrain where German pursuit would be difficult and easily detected. The Marquis could then emerge to conduct ambushes or sabotage, for their part the Germans overestimated their numbers and generally avoided areas where they were operating when they could. During the withdrawal from France roadblocks and mines funneled the Germans into routes which were more easily attacked by Allied airpower while smaller formations on lesser roads were ambushed.
Verneret kept a journal of his experiences living as a boy in occupied France and his adventures after joining the Maquis. While he was never in actual combat, this was a matter of chance as he participated in field operations on several occasions. The Maquis were disbanded at the end of September, its members joining the Free French or other Allied forces, or simply returning to civilian life.
The book is divided into two sections. The first is a reconstruction of Verneret’s wartime experiences, the second a series of interviews with prominent figures associated with the Louis Marquis. Also included are diary entries describing the German retreat from a Madame Forneret, and a summary of the Marquis contribution to the war effort. This is a short read, but an interesting description of life in France during the German occupation and withdrawal.