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|Formation||11 November 1942|
|Extinction||February 1, 1944|
|François Morin-Forestier, later Pierre Dejussieu-Pontcarral|
|Henri Frenay, Jean Moulin|
|Affiliations||Mouvements unis de la Résistance (MUR)|
This combat structure is the result of the regrouping of the paramilitary formations of the three most important "Gaullist" resistance movements in the southern zone: Combat, Libération-Sud and Franc-Tireur.
In the middle of 1942, in the R1 Region, these three major movements wanted to coordinate the military units at their disposal in order to make them more effective. Henri Frenay, the leader of Combat, claims the command of the new structure, but he faces the opposition of Emmanuel d'Astier de La Vigerie, leader of Liberation-Sud and Jean-Pierre Levy, head of Franc-Tireur. Jean Moulin insisted that this post should not be occupied by a personality already engaged in a movement, Frenay proposed the name of Charles Delestraint, a general recalled from his retreat during the Battle of France, who admired De Gaulle - Under his orders, and detested Vichy. He was the only general officer to have been promoted in spite of defeat; The proposal was unanimously accepted.
On August 28, 1942, in Lyon, the first encounter between Jean Moulin and General Delestraint took place. At the end of the interview, Jean Moulin ordered the three regional chiefs of the paramilitary formations of the great movements to be immediately available to Delestraint, thus enabling him to choose the best suited to the regional direction of the Secret Army. In this position, which was eminently clandestine and dangerous, the general named Captain Claudius Billon. As early as September, Cl. Billon, knowing the small number of men engaged in the Resistance and capable of accepting responsibilities and risks, after making the necessary contacts, appoints each of the departmental heads AS of R1, with the exception of the departmental chief AS de l'Ain, named directly by Delestraint.
In October, Delestraint was appointed (officially) by General de Gaulle (General de Lattre had also been approached for this post, but had refused). The effective taking of command, however, only took place on November 11, 1942. His secretary was Francois-Yves Guillin; The head of the 2nd AS office was Joseph Gastaldo. André Lassagne was the deputy of Gastaldo, before becoming Delestraint, and the information was entrusted to Albert Lacaze (4th office). Its chief of staff was François Morin-Forestier, from Combat, staff in which is also integrated Raymond Aubrac.
On November 27, 1942, in Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or, the constituent meeting of the Southern Zone Coordination Committee was held - the head of the secret army was presented by Jean Moulin to the officials summoned. This committee is intended to prepare the union of the three major resistance movements.
In December, Delestraint, inexperienced in the face of the constraints of illegal life, crossed the demarcation line in order to make contact with the major movements in the northern zone: those of the Liberation, the Civil and Military Organization (CMO) National, Libération-Nord. Then, back in the free zone, he took part in the creation of the United Movements of the Resistance (MUR), at the meeting on January 26, 1943 in Miribel, in the department of Ain.
In the R1 Region, at the beginning of February 1943, the Secret Army was decapitated by Hugo Geissler, Kommandeur of the Sipo-SD in Vichy, and his men. On February 1, in Lyon, Place du Pont, he arrested Captain Claudius Billon, head of the AS of R1 (eleven departments), and Pierre Lavergne, his deputy. On February 3, in Saint-Étienne (at 31, rue Basse-des-Rives), during a secret meeting of the headquarters of the departmental AS, the same arrests the head of AS Loire, the Lieutenant Vidiani, and his companions. On February 10, in Puy-en-Velay, they continued the dismantling of the AS in R1 with the arrest of the chief of AS Haute-Loire, Alfred Salvatelli, at home, as well as his companions. From this last arrest (February 10), the department of the Haute-Loire passes in region R6 (Auvergne). On 27 May 1943, these three arrests, orchestrated by Geissler, feature prominently at the beginning of the Kaltenbrunner report addressed to von Ribbentrop, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Reich
Delestraint then fought against the advice of Frenay (who had been provisionally delegated general of the Secret Army) to put the Army under the tutelage of the MUR. Frenay, being on the one hand the No. 2 of the Secret Army and on the other a member of the Coordination Committee of the same army, wishes then the recall of Delestraint and his own appointment as head of The Secret Army, which were rejected by the other members of the Coordinating Committee, Moulin, d'Astier and Levy.
In London, in February 1943, to meet the Allied authorities, Delestraint was entrusted with making his troop the "nucleus of the future French army", estimated at 150,000 men. Unfortunately, Francois Morin-Forestier was arrested in March with Raymond Aubrac, Maurice Kriegel-Vallimont and Serge Ravanel of the MUR, and can only be released in May, thanks to the action of his former co-detainee Raymond Aubrac. His release did not allow his return to the staff: too exposed, he is ex-filtered to London. In April, Delestraint returned to Paris where he arrived on April 11. By the June 4 report, Moulin deplores the risks that Delestraint is taking, accomplishing his work alone when he should be better assisted
On June 9, 1943, Delestraint, Gastaldo and Jean-Louis Théobald, one of their deputies, were arrested in Paris. On June 21, a staff meeting was held to find a successor to Delestraint in Caluire-et-Cuire. Léonard Émile Schwarzfeld, candidate for the succession of Delestraint, Aubrac, candidate for the leadership in the northern zone, and Lassagne for the southern zone, as well as other leaders of the Resistance such as Moulin, Henri Aubry, René Hardy, Albert Lacaze and Bruno Larat are taken prisoner. In July 1943, Colonel Pierre Dejussieu-Pontcarral was appointed chief of staff of a secret army now without official leader. The Chief of Staff of the Southern Zone was General Jouffrault, until August 1943, when he was also arrested
On February 1, 1944, the Secret Army (of the Gaullist trend) was merged into the French Forces of the Interior (FFI), with the Army Resistance Organization (ORA) and the Francs-tireurs et partisans French (FTPF, communists, not to be confused with the Franc-Tireur movement).
This structure is mainly found in the southern half of France: Rhône-Alpes (region of resistance R1) and Auvergne (region of resistance R6), but also Limousin (region of resistance R5), South-East ) And the Southwest (resistance region R4). It corresponds to the organization used by Combat.
The unification of the regions of the free zone took only a few weeks, the various chiefs being chosen from among the regional chiefs in office. In Region "A", the workforce was almost entirely composed of members of the CMO.
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- "Structuration de l'Armée Secrète et unification au sein des Mouvements Unis de la Résistance" [Organization of the Armée Secrète and Consolidation Within the United Resistance Movement] (PDF). Académie de Lyon (pdf) (in French). Retrieved 2011-07-01.[permanent dead link].[dead link]
- (Muller 2003, p. 26).
- (Muller 2003, p. 151).
- (Muller 2003, p. 152).
- (Boyer & Binot 2007)
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