Saturday, September 12, 2015

'Madame X" ~ Marie-Louise Le Duc

‘Madame X’ shot a German from a colonel’s jeep
From MONTAGUE LACEY : With the Maquis, Monday
HER name is ‘Madame X.” And this golden-haired young Frenchwoman with a price on her head, who rode with an American tank column into Plouigneau is one of the most daring leaders of the Maquis in Brittany.
   For man weeks until the Americans arrived she had roamed the countryside with armed bands of Patriots, sleeping and camping in the woods.
   They have attacked German troops, guarded vital communication points, and taken many prisoners.
   Madame X is spoken of as a kind of Joan of Arc in those parts, and everyone talks about how, on another occasion, she rode in the leading jeep with an American colonel into one Breton town and shot a German soldier with her pistol.
   I have just spent several days with the Maquis and have been into the isolated parts of the country where guerrilla warfare still goes on. In some of those places the people had yet had no chance of welcoming an American or a Briton who had arrived with the liberating forces.

Like film star
   Madame Marie Louise X is the wife of a doctor. She is tall and slender, with blue eyes and her golden hair falls over her shoulders.
   “I joined the Maquis the day the Germans first came into Brittany,” she said, “My sister went to England by one of the escape boats to help the French forces in London.
   “Our job in those early days was to map all German positions, keep a wath on their troops, send some of our men to England, and hide the Allied pilots who were shot down in these parts.
   “Three times I was arrested by the Gestapo. The first time was in 1941. I saw the Germans come to m home. I asked the maid to answer the door, and that just gave me time to burn all the incriminating papers I had.
   “It was a cold January morning, and only eight o'clock, and they took me away and questioned me for hours.
   “The Gestapo stayed in my house a week. They put my husband in prison. They could get no evidence about me, so they made an order that I was to report every day to their headquarters for several months.
   “In October 1943 I was arrested again and taken to the Gestapo headquarters at Brest for questioning. I was accused of sheltering British and American pilots, but I denied it.
   “They let me go again.
   “The third time I was arrested was on June 1, a few days before the Allies came. My husband was beaten with a steel rod, and put on a train to be taken to Germany.
   “I have since heard that he managed to escape.
   “The Germans just stripped and looted our house. They took every bit of clothing, and broke up the furniture.
   “I was taken again to a German headquarters by the soldiers, but while thy=hey were still waiting for the Gestapo to arrive, I feigned illness, and after a lot of persuasion my guard let me go to the wash-room.
   “I managed to escape, and after walking and running nearly 20 miles that day joined up with an underground camp in a forest.

Harried Nazis
   “Here I met a young Frenchman, Lieutenant Robert, who had come from England. I posed as his sister as we roamed the countryside making war on the Germans.
   “We heard the Gestapo had circulated a picture of me, and offered a reward for my capture. But there were many trusted friends in these parts, although there were a few French people who would have been willing to give me away.
   “All through June and July I slept in camps in the woods or in farmhouses. We harried the Germans all the time. Once we ran into a village where there were 400. Our car was shot up and burned out, but we got away across the fields.
   “The Germans seemed terrified of the Maquis, and they had reason to be.
   “Then came the day when we saw the Americans tanks coming down the road to Plouigneau. I jumped on the leading one and showed them the way in.”
   Madame X, who is 30, has three sons, who were cared for by friends while she was away with the Maquis. American officers are full of praise for her.

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