Removing Inflammable Material: The Pyrénées-Orientales



Whereas Marseille had been liberated by the joint action of the Resistance in the streets, and the French Army of Africa, in pitched battle against a German garrison, the Liberation of the Eastern Pyrenees (the Department of the Pyrénées-Orientales) was more a case of repossessing an area which was largely being vacated by the enemy in the late summer of 1944. With the growing success of Allied efforts in Normandy, and the Landings in the South, German troops in the region had been thrown into some disarray. By mid-August, they had started leaving their bases on the Mediterranean coast. Perpignan, Béziers, Sète and Toulouse were all evacuated. In the Pyrénées-Orientales, German troops retreated, often in considerable disorder. On 20 August, a trainload of soldiers, leaving the frontier town of Cerbère, set off to reach Perpignan. En route, the commanding officer on the train heard that the Germans had already abandoned Perpignan and that the station was now in the hands of the Resistance. Accordingly, the train stopped in open country, and the troops were ordered to disperse as best they could, over the vineyards. In the event, some tried to get into Spain through the Col de Perthus. Others made their way towards the outskirts of Perpignan. Most were eventually captured by local Resistance forces.1


French Authority French People Foreign Legion Inflammable Material German Troop 
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© Hilary Footitt 2004

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