Towards the end of the Second World War, in a peaceful part of France, there took place the horrific murder of 642 men women and children. On the 10th June 1944, a group of soldiers from the Der Fuhrer regiment of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich entered and then surrounded the small town of Oradour-sur-Glane.
Since the D-Day landings the Germans had been suffering with increased paranoia aided by the increased Resistance activity. On the morning of June 10th a British agent had been captured by Das Reich who were searching for their missing commander Helmut Kampfe. Kampfe had been taken by the Resistance following a fire fight at the nearby town of Gueret.
At village of Salon-la-Tour the soldiers saw a car coming towards them. It stopped and two people got out and ran, they were Jacques Dufour, a Colonel in the Maquis and Violette Szabo. Following a fire fight Jacques escaped but Violette was captured having held off the Germans for Jacques to escape. Violette had flown from Tempsford Airfield three days earlier. Following her interrogation Violette was sent to Germany where she was shot early in 1945 at Ravensbruck concentration camp.
Madame Marguerite Rouffanche, the only survivor from the church on the 10th June, she was shot 5 times and spent over a year convalescing from her wounds before returning to Oradour after the war. Madame Rouffanche died in 1988 aged 91. At her funeral Andre Desourteaux, son of the mayor, said that it was "very hard, for when we carried her to the cemetery, we carried all of them".
Roger Godfrin was another survivor, at the time of the massacre Roger was 7 years old. Roger died in 2001 aged 65. In 1988 Roger described his survival as "just fate, I did like others did. Cleverer ones died in it. It's just destiny, nothing heroic at all".
Please click on the link below to read about the history, background and events leading up the destruction of the village of Oradour sur Glane.
To the memory of F/Sgt JG Chadwick and the crew of Halifax LL306