MAQUIS D'ORNANO : testimony from Mr YVAN JACOB
"The MAQUIS D'ORNANO, the first maquis of the Secret Army of Tarn-et-Garonne, stood between Montricoux and Saint Antonin in the town of Penne (Tarn), near Cazals (Tarn-et-Garonne).
He occupied two abandoned farms known as La Bouriette and Lantanel, located about 500 meters from each other.
In the first one housed a group of resistance fighters with their group leaders, in the second were the PC, the kitchen and another group of resistance fighters.
From the beginning of 1944 the ORNANO maquis carried out parachute drops.
On March 21, 1944, while he was making two consecutive parachutes on land about 6 kilometers from the camp, enemy forces attacked him.
In front of the superior number of the strongly armed adversary the guerrillas had to fall back on the camp leaving prisoners and wounded. They were to be shot afterwards.
After a fierce battle which was to last all morning, the Germans succeeded in remaining masters of the land, after having bombarded the farms which sheltered the guerrillas with mortars. This engagement was to cost the lives of six young French people.
Four remained buried on the scene of the fight, the remains of three others, charred, are found in the same coffin.
The former members of the ORNANO maquis, as soon as they were liberated, formed a friendly aimed at perpetuating the bonds of camaraderie which united them to the maquis.
Among the goals she set for herself included the construction of a monument in memory of her dead and give the comrades who remained on the site of the maquis a burial worthy of their sacrifice.
Every March 21, the elders meet in the maquis on the provisional tomb of their late comrades in a moving commemorative ceremony.
This year this ceremony was to take on a special splendor; indeed thanks to the perseverance and the efforts of the office of the amicale, in particular of Messrs Yvan Jacob and Georges Molinié, an imposing monument comprising two vaults was inaugurated in the presence of the civil and military authorities of the department.
A large audience wanted to attend this ceremony of remembrance, which honors the memory of the young people who fell so that France may live in freedom. "
Paul GUIRAL, after the arrest of his wife Henriette and his daughter Suzanne, was forced to go into hiding, being wanted by the Gestapo and his head being put at a price.
In mid-June 1944, he joined the Ornano maquis, sharing the life of the maquisards and the dangers.
My father, Georges CAUSSANEL, continued to ensure the links between Paul GUIRAL and the Toulouse General Staff.
These documents (of which I have the originals) were entrusted to my father, Georges CAUSSANEL, by Mr. Yvan JACOB
WHEN I WAS AT MAQUIS by YVAN JACOB
Work in Germany recovers all the French and many are the young people who answer the call of General de GAULLE prefer to leave their job, their family, to join the maquis.
As far as I am concerned, I hide myself, but events precipitate and the Gestapo redoubling its activity, I resolve to take the bush.
Guided by a friend, I go to a small cafe where a few resistance fighters meet and find a young man from the Chantiers de Jeunesse also preparing to join the maquis.
A car takes us in the company of three of the Resistance and we take the road which at that time, we were in February, is covered with snow.
My companion looks at me in silence, the same apprehension embraces us; the maquis we have heard so much about, what exactly is it?
Finally we reach a crossroads and the car enters a stony path; we pass in front of a farm and after a few meters, we enter a small wood to a clearing where we leave the car.
We went to the guard post. We see some silhouettes through the snowy foliage and make contact with the guerrillas bearing the cross of Lorraine.
We headed to the P.C. where the young and friendly chef JACQUES welcomed us and a group leader took us to our new home.
We arrived at the maquis just on Shrove Tuesday and our new comrades give us the benefit of pancakes made on this occasion. The dinner is delicious, good humor reigns, the singers are involved, Richard, the "Tino Rossi" of the team sings "a game of pétanque" with other rather saucy lyrics, Marc details brilliantly "Sidi Brahim "and finally the leader of the Charlemagne camp in his deep voice sings a song taken up in chorus by the audience with rather amusing lyrics.
Our apprehension has disappeared, the hour goes by, we return to the abandoned farm which has the name "La Bouriette" located about a hundred meters from the P.C where we have to sleep.
We climb the ladder to our dormitory on the first floor. We take a vacant spot on the straw and set up our business. We each touch two blankets and arrange on makeshift shelves the few personal items we have brought. Some, few in number, have a sleeping bag.
Our new companions decide to pull the covers for us when we are in bed, tribute to the new arrivals. We stoically and cheerfully put up with the jokes of our companions and after I have told a few stories which have their little success, everyone falls asleep.
The nights in general are agitated first by the comings and goings of comrades taking turns on duty, and then by the presence above our heads of rats who come and go constantly.
I am part of the first group which includes as leaders: Le Saber, Tonin, Toto and René "Petit Père".
My comrades are: Joë, Pierrot, Henri, Jean, Mick, Bernard, Louis, Maxou, Marius, Olive, Antoine, Emile, Léon, Biffin, André, Gérard and myself Yvan.
The second group, which lives in the same place as the P.C, at the farm called l'Otanelle includes:
Chefs: Loulou, Françis.
Richard, Gaby, René, Bébert, Baptiste, Marc, Benoit, Jules, Ignace, Maurice, Charlie.
The cooks: Yves, Picou, Peter.
The leader of the Charlemagne camp also lives on the first floor with the deputy of the maquis GEORGES, "the steward", who takes care of our supplies and gets away with it and finally our leader JACQUES esteemed by all.
We were able to appreciate the frank camaraderie which reigned in the maquis and how false were the descriptions spread by false propaganda.
The main occupations consisted of fetching wood and water as well as guarding. On Sunday, in the daily report, we had the salute in the colors and the flag was hoisted at the top of a mast.
I conceived the idea of decorating a room in our cantonment where we met during leisure hours.
This is how I made multiple pavilions in allied colors which crossing the room gave it an air of celebration and in collaboration with Mick (decorator in civilian life), we make humorous signs: "noon seven o'clock, the hour of Berger ", 3 o'clock, 5 o'clock, kiss time", etc ...
Mick painted my portrait, as well as that of Henri and Olive. We baptize our local "Loufting Club", a staff table makes us adopt a few pseudonyms and we draw up the following list: Joë the polyglot, Mick la Bohème, Biffin the schoolboy, Olive la Gomme, Bernard the mountain, Pierre le Figaro, Yvan Cleopatra, Léon le Frisé, Henri l'Aristo, Louis the insatiable ...
At the door a sign "Club des deprived of love" throws a picturesque note.
All this does not make us forget the purpose of our presence in the maquis: to prepare ourselves to drive the boche out of our country!
All the guerrillas know this atmosphere of frank cordiality, this unanimity: a single goal, liberate France, a single enemy, the boche.
Then one day, they came to talk to us about probable parachuting; we only think about it ... some dream of it ... but it is hard to believe it, and, however, the day came when we had our first parachute drop.
I'll skip over the organizational details; as soon as we heard on the radio the phrase agreed upon in the personal messages, the list of which was growing every day… the expected phrase was "he was crying like a fountain"…
The chief distributed the stations: radio, protection, collection; we were all a little moved when the hum of an airplane broke the silence of the night.
He approaches, passes over us without stopping ...
We are a little anxious, is it an enemy? ... well, here it is again who goes around the field, we give the agreed signals, he answers us, it is good for us.
It descends at low altitude; how impressive this dark mass is, then a general cry, the parachutes fall like small umbrellas… we run, we are happy, what we have been waiting for for days has finally arrived.
At the time of the parachutes, we were alerted several times and we had the visit of two neighboring maquis (Denis and Gilbert) who came to lend us a hand.
We got over it for the emotion and the fatigue because the guard had been reinforced and each team of four had to ensure a continuous guard of 24 hours.
Unfortunately our fears had to be justified and on March 21, 1944, while we were parachuting two planes on a field located 5 km from our camp, we were attacked by a large group of German soldiers.
The protection team activates the machine guns, Bébert is hit, it will be the first victim of this engagement.
We hurried back to the camp, everyone packed up, but these had barely been completed when a burst of submachine guns told us that the enemy was already there. We must abandon everything.
While protecting our flight, some comrades shoot at the Germans causing many victims; the attack that started at 5 am was to last all morning. "
Yvan JACOB was born in Bordeaux on March 6, 1908.
He was imprisoned for 7 months at Fort du Ha in Bordeaux, from Noël 41 to the end of July 42. Before being tried in the German section and after his judgment in the French section for using and manufacturing false identity cards. He later joined the maquis of Tarn-et-Garonne and then was the actor and witness of the fighting of 1944.
With my thanks for the information and the photo credits which were kindly transmitted to me by her niece, Ms. Martine JACOB-MARTIN
Captain Abel ROUS alias "Richard", was in the ORNANO maquis and took part in the fighting in March 1944 during the attack on this maquis by the Germans.
Coming from Montauban, he was appointed by the Toulouse General Staff as departmental head of the Ariège Landing and Parachuting Service (SAP) and he was one of the leaders of the Ariège resistance.
Finding himself in Montauban during the night of June 1 to 2, 1944 and warned by a resistance fighter while crossing the Pont des Consuls, he narrowly escapes arrest, the Militia being at the door of his accommodation, rue de la Comedy.
André ETCHEVERLEPO, who lived on the floor above hearing the militiamen who invest the place, jumps out the window. He will be caught up and assassinated at the Pont des Consuls, a tragic combination of circumstances as we have often seen during this war.
Abel ROUS was decorated with the Croix de Guerre with a silver star for his action in the S.A.P and for his participation in the battles of the Ornano maquis.
(information and documents provided by his son, Mr. Pierre FISCHER)