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Created and led by historian Yannis Kadari (Cadet CEO), Vanguard is an international group of historians and authors who are passionate about WWII history.
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Jul 10 4 tweets 3 min read
The last of the few - from the Battle of Britain to Normandy

84 years ago saw the start of a sustained Luftwaffe air campaign against the British Isles that would become known as "The Battle of Britain". One of the fighter pilots, John 'Paddy' Hemingway is still with us and in a week's time will celebrate his 105th birthday. 1/4Image
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Born in Dublin in 1919, he flew with No. 85 Squadron during the Battle of Britain, and had to bail out of his Hurricane over the Thames Estuary the day after his 21st birthday. Burned out by the end of the Battle of Britain, as many of the young fighter pilots were, he was put on light duties and by the time of the Normandy landings held the rank of Squadron Leader. 2/4Image
Jul 6 8 tweets 4 min read
🇺🇸 From a Mustang cockpit to execution alongside SAS soldiers.
On 10 June 1944, 2 Lt Lincoln Bundy was flying a mission with his 486th Fighter Squadron over Normandy and had just finished strafing German vehicles near Crulai (61300) when he was bounced by an Me 109 flown by Luftwaffe ace Staffelkapitän Lutz-Wilhelm Burkhardt. Bundy bailed out of his stricken P-51 and came down near Les Apres (61270) where he was hidden away by a local man. 1/8Image The following day Bundy decided to head south and cross the border into Spain - he now had a set of civilian clothes and only had a silk map and button evasion compass to find his way, moving by night and sleeping by day. After around two weeks, he had made it as far as the hamlet of Anzec some six miles from Poitiers and he was found filling his water bottle there by a young boy name Serge who, as luck would have it, had a father in the Resistance. 2/8Image
Jun 27 11 tweets 6 min read
🇫🇷 A Companion of the Liberation
27 June 1944 - 21-year old Jacques Voyer is taken to this clearing north of the village of Chavannes (Chartres). Barely able to stand after weeks of torture, he is tied to a wooden post and shot. Here is his story. 1/11
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Jacques was born on 27 December 1922 in Marseille and lived with his parents and sister in Toulon where he went to school and observed helplessly as his beloved France was defeated by the Germans in June 1940. He was 17 years old. 2/11
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Jun 18 6 tweets 4 min read
🇫🇷 She chose the storm... and love
In the early hours of 18 June 1944 a further twelve French SAS soldiers are dropped into Saint-Marcel, Brittany as part of Operation Dingson that had begun during the night of 5/6 June to bolster the local Resistance groups and spread chaos behind enemy lines. 160 French 4th SAS have now been dropped into the sector. Among the local Resistance is a young woman named Marie... 1/6Image 21-year old Marie Krebs is the daughter of Louis Krebs, a ship owner at Concarneau and also a Resistance leader. Marie has already been active in a Paris group but has returned to her native Brittany and uses her bicycle to ride around delivering messages to maquis groups. 2/6 Image
Jun 16 6 tweets 4 min read
"I have loved the truth"
On the evening of 16 June 1944, keys turned in the cell doors at the notorious Montluc prison in Lyon. Thirty French Resistance prisoners are led away to waiting trucks - among them is 57-year old historian Marc Bloch. 1/6 Image Bloch was born in Lyon on 6 July 1886 into a Jewish-Alsatian family and was working as a high school teacher in Amiens when the Great War broke out. Having already done his two years obligatory military service, he was mobilised as a sergeant into the 272nd Infantry Regiment and saw action during the bloody Battle of the Frontier and on the Marne, then later the Somme and other battles right up to the end of the war. 2/6Image
Jun 12 7 tweets 4 min read
🇫🇷 The French spy and Hitler's V-weapons
On this eve of the V1 flying bomb onslaught against London (the first 5 were launched on 13 June 1944 as a test), it is a good time to tell the story of a young French woman without whom the terrifying weapons may have indeed been launched in late 1943. 1/7Image
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Jeannie Rousseau was born on 1 April 1919 in St Brieuc, Brittany. Her father, a Great War veteran, later became mayor of the chic 17th district in Paris and it was there that on the eve of WW2 that she attended the prestigious Sciences Politiques school.
In June 1940, with the Germans closing in on Paris, her father decided to move back to Brittany in the belief that they would be safe there, but before long Wehrmacht troops flowed into the strategically important coastal area. 2/7Image
Jun 11 4 tweets 3 min read
The day after
On the evening of June 10, Limoges is awash with rumours of a terrible catastrophe that has happed at Oradour-sur-Glane, just over 13 miles to the west. These rumours are backed up with the smell of smoke that wafts across the city. The following day, two men take the tram and stop at the edge of the village... 1/4Image Working for the Red Cross, Doctor Bapt and Canon Philippe Schneider come across an apocalyptic scene - buildings are still burning and they see a body in the river. The heat is unbearable and an acrid smell lays heavy over the ruins. The church is the worst place, it is here that hundreds of women and children have been reduced to ash - it is knee deep in places. 2/4Image
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Jun 9 8 tweets 4 min read
Before Oradour - 9 June 1944
At approximately 8 p.m. French time, a civilian car, requisitioned the day before in Limoges, drives up through the village of Sauviat-sur-Vige and begins the long descent towards St Léonard de Noblat. The man at the wheel is SS-Sturmbannführer Helmut Kämpfe of the Das Reich division. 1/8Image Kämpfe is commander of III. Bataillon, SS-Panzergrenadierregiment 4 "Der Führer" of the Das Reich division that has been making its way north towards Normandy since the evening of 6 June. The previous evening his men were billeted in the school at St Léonard and were ordered to head towards Guéret to assist in freeing the town from maquis fighters. 2/8Image
Jun 8 5 tweets 2 min read
🇫🇷 8 June 1944
Violette Szabo wakes up in Madame Rebière's store in the small village of Sussac (87194) near Limoges. It has been a short night after being parachuted in during the early hours of the morning with her other SOE colleagues. After a welcome breakfast, the team leader, Philippe Liewer makes plans... 1/5Image Liewer is keen to make contact with local maquis chief Georges Guingouin (photo), but the notoriously prudent resister has yet to be seen. Time is of the essence as Liewer's SOE Salesman II team need to organize cohesive actions to stem the passage of German reinforcements moving north towards Normandy. 2/5Image
Jun 7 5 tweets 3 min read
🇫🇷 🇺🇸 22.26 hrs, 7 June 1944.
A B-24 flown by Capt Marvin Fenster (far left top row) takes off from Harrington USAAF Station 179. On board is the Special Operations Executive Salesman II team. 1/5
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This is the second attempt to infiltrate the team after the previous evening when there were no identification lights over the DZ - for the team's courier, Violette Szabo, this is her second mission in occupied France. Tomorrow will be her daughter Tania's second birthday. 2/5 Image
May 24 8 tweets 4 min read
The man who refused to raise his right arm...
August Landmesser was born on 24 May 1910 at Moorege near Hamburg, the only child of August (snr) and Wilhelmine. In the chaotic economic times of the early 30s, he joined the Nazi Party in 31, hoping that it would open the doors to a job. 1/8Image However, August fell in love with a German Jewish woman, Irma Eckler, and in 1935 they became engaged, but the marriage was forbidden shortly after due to the introduction of the Nuremburg race laws. On 29 October 1935, the couple's first daughter, Ingrid, was born. 2/8 Image
May 21 5 tweets 3 min read
The day the soldiers came... 21 May 1944
It is 5 p.m. in the sleepy village of Frayssinet-le-Gélat (46114 Lot) when two columns of SS Das-Reich division vehicles breaks the calm. The vehicles continue on a little further then halt on the road to Cahors. 90 minutes later, more SS arrive from south west and this time halt in the centre of the village. All roads in and out are now blocked. 1/5Image Soldiers jump out of the trucks and begin searching the houses - all the men are gathered and telephone lines cut. A shot rings out from the home of the Lugan family. Inside are three women, they are dragged out and hanged from an electricity pole on the front of the what is the village hall today. The eldest is 80-year old Agathe Paillé and she dies along with her nieces Juliette and Marguerite. 2/5Image
Apr 23 8 tweets 4 min read
"My dearest parents, forgive me for having put my country before you." 🇫🇷
On 23 April 1945, Paulette Duhalde died of illness and exhaustion in the Ravensbrück concentration camp - she was 24 years old. 1/8 Image Paulette was born and raised in the Normandy town of Flers where her parents had a café on the market square. In the early days of the occupation, she lost her job at the Banque de France in Flers and found work as a secretary in the Warein textile factory in the town. 2/8
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Apr 15 8 tweets 4 min read
Crowdfunding - 1941
On 15 April 1941, British journalist William Mundy wrote about a recent visit to the Air Ministry where he had seen with his own eyes the public's response to the Spitfire Fund. 1/8 Image The drive to buy Spitfires had started in May 1940, based on an idea by the Anglo-Canadian media tycoon Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) and before long, towns, businesses and people were raising money to buy their own Spitfire, costed at a theoretical 5,000 pounds. 2/8 Image
Apr 9 4 tweets 3 min read
In the early hours of 9 June 1944, Algerian-born Free French secret agent and wireless operator Eugénie Djendi parachutes into occupied France along with George Penchenier and Marcel Corbusier. Arriving at Pierrefitte farm near Sully-sur-Loire ( Loiret 45600), they are unaware that they have been betrayed and that the Gestapo are waiting. 1/4Image
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Eugénie had turned 21 the day before. She had trained in Algeria as a "Merlinette" transmissions expert before being transferred to England in March 43 and joining the SSMF-TR (Sécurité militaire en France - Travaux ruraux) intelligence branch. 2/4 Image
Apr 3 8 tweets 4 min read
🇫🇷 A Rose... and a thorn in the side of Nazi plunderers... Rose Valland was born in 1898 near Grenoble with a father who worked as a blacksmith and a housewife mother. Thanks to scholarships, her talent for art led her to the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts. 1/8 Image By the time that jackboots sounded on the cobbles of the Champs Elysées, she was working as a volunteer at the Musée Jeu de Paume, Place de la Concorde where she had organised exhibitions on foreign contemporary art. 2/8 Image
Mar 31 8 tweets 4 min read
🇫🇷 1 April 1944
A train carrying elements of the 12th SS Recon Bn of the 12th SS PZ "Hitlerjugend" Division suffers minor damage from a night time sabotage incident as it passes through the station of the small town of Ascq east of Lille - the events that follow will leave 86 civilians aged between 15 and 74 dead, as well as 75 widows and 127 children without a father. 1/8Image The strategic train line running through Ascq had already been the object of two acts of sabotage carried out by a small Ascq resistance group led by Paul Delécluse (executed on 7 June 44) and investigating German police were present in the town. 2/8 Image
Feb 2 13 tweets 6 min read
🇫🇷 2/3 February 1944 - Brittany - Occupied France
As night fell on 2 February, thirty two men, members of the Resistance and downed Allied aircrew, prepared to leave France and rendezvous with further north with a British MTB. Among the men waiting on the beach was giant of the French Resistance, Pierre Brossolette... 1/13Image The exfiltration mission, named 'Dahlia', soon went wrong as the rough seas damaged the hull of the ageing fishing boat 'Jouet des Flots' and she started to take on water. In the early hours of 3 February, she was beached in a nearby cove and the men dispersed... 2/13 Image
Jan 21 6 tweets 3 min read
🇫🇷 When France fell in June 1940, 23-year old Germaine Ribière was a student in Paris. Her first act of resistance against the occupier was taking part in the student parade on the Champs Elysées to commemorate the dead of the Great War - an event banned by the Nazis. 1/6
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Germaine returned to her home town of Limoges in the unoccupied zone and began helping Jewish children cross the demarcation line to relative safety where they were hidden in villages or moved on via an escape network into Spain. 2/6 Image
Jan 5 7 tweets 3 min read
🇫🇷 The boy with the kite
Jean-Jacques Auduc was born on May 9, 1931 in the village of Cérans-Foulletourte near Le Mans. His father, Alfred, was demobbed after the fall of France and soon looked for ways of resisting the German occupation. 1/7 Image Jean-Jacques father's path eventually crossed that of SOE F Section wireless operator Jean Dubois (photo) who was parachuted into France on April 15, 1943 and who then went on to set up the Hercule Network with Captain Floege, OSS. 2/7 Image
Dec 27, 2023 11 tweets 5 min read
From the football pitch to the firing squad
The story of Alexandre Villaplane, executed this day for collaboration - captain of the French football team in the first FIFA World Cup in Uruguay of 1930. 🧵 1/11 Image Born in Algiers in 1904, he moved back to mainland France with his parents at the age of 14. He played in various clubs before being spotted by the French football federation and earned his first cap in 1926. In 1930, he captained the French side in the first World Cup. 2/11 Image