Tuesday, 24 August 2021

The Seven Executed by Firing Squad at Ingrandes

 Who were les sept fusillés d'Ingrandes?

They were all members of the Resistance network code named 'Cram', set up by Marc Farineau. Three of them, Jean-Claude Moreau, Robert Chevalick and André Rigaud, were 18 year olds from Montmorillon. René Demousseau was also 18, a blacksmith from Lathus. Pierre Séjot was the oldest, at 25, and came from Brigueil-le-Chantre. Erwin Creutzer, known as Marius, was a malgré-nous ('against our will'), a deserter from being forcibly enlisted into the German army in Moselle. Edouard Kerhir was 20 years old and came from Brittany. He had dodged the draft into the forced labour system set up by the Germans and had joined the Resistance in the Vienne in order to escape the authorities.

Memorial to 7 executed Resistance fighters, Ingrandes, Vienne. France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Memorial to Les Sept Fusillés. Sculptor Paulette Richon.

Enlisted in the army in 1937, Marc Farineau was mobilized in 1940, then taken prisoner by the Germans. After three attempts, he managed to escape from the prison camp. Back in the Vienne, in Montmorillon, he created the resistance movement "Cram", his first name spelled backwards. At the beginning of 1944, he received weapons and uniforms via Allied parachute drops. In the summer of 1944, volunteers flocked in. The group trained in the Bois de Flamagne, in the commune of Bourg-Archambault. 

On August 24, 1944, about thirty members of the "Cram" group showed up at the hamlet of Varennes to ask for lunch. In one of the farms, the maquisards sat down in the courtyard, as reckless as they were enthusiastic. Louisette Savatier, now 91 years old, recalls that her  mother-in-law served them rabbit and an omelette.

Around noon, Émile Gaillard, an inhabitant of the village, alerted the resistance fighters at the table that a German patrol had left for Oyré and would no doubt return shortly. Unworried, tired and hungry, the young men ignored the warning. It was already too late. Louisette Savatier recalled that the Germans saw a sack placed at the entrance to the farm, on a large stone. They went in and searched everywhere, under the beds, in the cupboards, in the attic. Some of them escaped, thanks to Emile Gaillard. His daughter Claudette, now 86 years old, remembers that her father took several guys behind the farm and they managed to escape. She remembers that day as if it were yesterday.

But the others were caught. The Germans ordered the maquisards to get into a cart driven by Louisette's fiancé. Her father-in-law intervened and took his son's place. At one point he heard a noise in the cart, and he thought one of them had jumped off, but he couldn't turn around in case it gave it away.

La Mégane, Ingrandes, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
La Mégane.

The maquisards were brought to the courtyard of  La Mégane, a large bourgeois house in Ingrandes. The mayor attended the interrogation. The seven men were sentenced to death within minutes in a mock trial. They were left with only their trousers on and taken to the banks of the Vienne. The mayor was forced by Captain Schmitt to attend the execution. The mayor's wife brought white sheets to cover the bodies.

The inhabitants feared reprisals, and the Germans talked about burning down the whole village.  Those present recall that the Germans had cans of gasoline. The inhabitants spent a night of terror, many of them not daring to sleep in their homes. A few days later the same unit of the German army would be partly responsible for the Maillé massacre, about 20 kilometers to the north.   

The memorial stands on the spot where they were executed, in a public park.

The sculptor was Paulette Richon, who lived in Preuilly. [Link] She is also the sculptor of the monument to the martyrs of Maillé, Christ the Redeemer overlooking Chinon, the  memorial on the end of the bridge at Descartes to another group of Resistance fighters [link], and the stations of the cross in the church at Ferrière Larçon.


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