French Resistance: Behind Enemy Lines

Mission Photo Album

Photo from the Imperial War Museums collection.

A member of the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) poses with his Bren light machine gun in Châteaudun, France in 1944.

As a result of German occupation during World War II, hundreds of thousands of French citizens organized one of the largest resistance movements the world has ever seen. About 220,000 men and women were officially recognized by the post-war government as having been resistance fighters, but estimates have ranged up to 400,000 and 2 million, depending on level of involvement.

This fighting force represented a diverse range of ages, occupations, religions, social classes, and political ideologies. These included the Gaullist Resistance (those who rallied to the cause of displaced Gen. Charles de Gaulle), communists, socialists, Jews, Armenians, and collaborators with the German-influenced Vichy regime who assisted the resistance.

The movement engaged in a wide variety of activities, including workforce strikes, underground publications, guerrilla warfare, intelligence, and sabotage, the latter two of which are featured prominently in Allied Assault.

I’ve already touched on the dubious nature of the intelligence Lt. Mike Powell has been asked to gather, but nothing’s stopping him from wreaking a little havoc behind enemy lines.

Col. Stanley Hargove advises his one-man demolition crew that “as an OSS agent, you’ll have to get used to the idea of being out there on your own in enemy territory.” Of course, it’s a bit late for that, as Powell has worked solo for most of the game, but it holds true with history, as agents of the Office of Strategic Services were often sent out alone.

Powell gets similar advice from fellow agent and resistance contact Manon Batiste, who recommends he uses the High Standard suppressed pistol for the second portion of his mission, as “stealth and surprise” are his greatest advantages.

Lt. Joe Baylor stands next to his crashed plane.

Lt. Joe Baylor stands next to his crashed plane.

In the dead of night, Powell must find his way to a resistance safehouse in St. Ebremont (Saint-Ébremond-de-Bonfossé), south of St. Lô. Hargove also asks him to keep an eye out for a downed Allied reconnaissance plane to prevent it from falling into enemy hands.

Sure enough, Powell soon comes across the crash site – a field where the pilot, Lt. Joe Baylor, is being held captive by German soldiers. The other passenger, a G3 operations officer, is nowhere to be found, but his fate was covered in the first Medal of Honor game.

Baylor directs Powell to a nearby Maquis safe house. While the Maquis came to symbolize the French Resistance, it’s unlikely that any actual maquisards were operating as far north as Normandy.

Maquis is derived from the name of the high-altitude scrub in which these fighters tended to hide, and this type of vegetation was most prominently found in southeastern France, not the northwest, where Normandy is.

Like the resistance fighters found in Allied Assault, the Maquis relied on guerrilla tactics and aided downed Allied airmen like Baylor. During the invasion of Normandy, maquisards blew up railroad tracks and harassed German troop and equipment transports on their way to the coast.

When Powell eventually reaches Manon Batiste via the passageway under the church, she tells him to destroy some tanks and sabotage a train while en route to the French estate.

To get close to the tanks, Powell must stow away on an Opel truck, which can, and will, run him over if the jump isn’t done correctly. After scrapping the three Tiger tanks with some explosives, Powell sets out along the tracks. Resistance between here and the train depot is minimal, and most can be taken care of from a distance with a Kar98k sniper rifle that can be found upon leaving the tank depot.

The train depot, which is located just past a smoldering railroad gun, is a hive of enemy activity, but once all of them have been eliminated, it’s easy enough to plant explosives and switch the tracks to destroy the approaching train. It’s also worth noting that there is a railroad that forks just north of Saint-Ébremond-de-Bonfossé near the Vire River, so the mission location is probable.

Following a “discrete” signal from Batiste’s friend Henri (I don’t know where he learned stealth from, but honking a horn and turning on headlights while behind enemy lines isn’t especially covert), Powell escapes under fire as the train passes below him and is destroyed upon striking his explosives.


~ by John on July 14, 2014.

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