Friday, 20 August 2021

The Liberation of Loches

Loches rather curiously celebrates its liberation from German occupation on 20 August, but on this day in 1944, the Germans actually retook the town. That day in August 1944 was more tragedy than triumph, although not as bad as it could have been. Due to the negotiation skills of local surgeon Martinais, architect Rigaud and headmaster Belièvre with Oberleutnant Kleine a German act of reprisal such as was seen in Maillé [link] or Oradour sur Glane [link] was avoided.

The Donjon.
The Donjon, Loches. Indre et Loire. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

In mid-August of 1944 the German army was in retreat. On 15 August the German troops occuping Loches blew up their stocks of ammunition, set fire to their barracks in Place de la Justice and withdrew from the town. Whereupon the next day the maquis group known by the code name of their leader as Lecoz (real name Georges Dubosq), decided to come to town and 'liberate' the population. They arrived firing in the air and were drunk by lunchtime, but they were welcomed as heroes. They executed a police inspector and locked dozens of suspected collaborators in the Donjon (castle keep).

The streets of Loches were packed with celebrating people on 20 August 1944, when shots rang out.
Loches. Indre et Loire. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

The Resistance had been specifically forbidden to operate in towns, for fears of retaliations against the civilian population. Loches was a strategic location for German troops fleeing from the south-west and on 20 August several German units turned up and assaulted the town with heavy artillery.  The maquisards had blocked the roads, but only had light weapons. In the fighting forty people were killed, twenty of whom were maquisards. Twenty civilians were taken hostage by the Germans to halt the fighting. Local historians today consider that Lecoz's actions were foolhardy and Dubosq got his men killed for nothing.

 There are bullet riccochet marks in the gable end of the Logis Royal.
Logis Royal, Loches. Indre et Loire. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

By 2 September Loches was no longer of any strategic interest to the Germans and the last of them withdrew. The town was liberated for a second time, by a different Resistance group and in a very different mood. Lecoz/Dubosq was later arrested for his actions in Loches and executed.

 The house on the right foreground also has bullet riccochet pock marks.
Loches. Indre et Loire. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Initially the Lecoz group had pulled off some spectacular successes with their Resistance activities, but at his trial Dubosq was revealed to have been a double agent. Before the War he had been a burglar and possibly a murderer. He spent part of the War passing himself off as a doctor in the hospital at Beaulieu lès Loches. After the Germans withdrew Dubosq used his Resistance group to run a protection racket for a couple of months until his arrest. 


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