Charles Gonard, French resistance fighter – obituary


Charles Gonard, who has died aged 94, was a French Resistance fighter whose assassination of Philippe Henriot, a Vichy régime radio propagandist referred to as “le Goebbels Français”, helped to galvanise the Paris Resistance.

Charles Auguste Gonard was born in Paris on October 11 1921 right into a Protestant household from Lyon. When conflict broke out, he was 17 and wished to hitch the French Military however was prevented by an assault of pleurisy.

He was 18 and nonetheless at college when he heard de Gaulle’s radio enchantment from London on June 18 1940, urging his compatriots to withstand the Nazi occupation, and determined to try to be part of de Gaulle’s Free French forces. He couldn’t make it by Nazi traces to London, so moved south to hitch the Resistance as a part of the Libération-Sud motion.

Codenamed Morlot, he started by distributing Resistance tracts and portray anti-Nazi graffiti on partitions, later graduating to  assaults on railway convoys, high-tension traces, buildings and installations held by the Germans or the Milice, the pro-Nazi French militia. Having joined the Mouvements Unis de la Résistance (MUR), Gonard additionally executed members of the Milice, thought-about traitors by the Resistance.

In February 1944, when it appeared clear the Allies would try an invasion, he was despatched to Paris to hitch the Comité Motion Militaire (Comac) and assist arrange Resistance teams inside de Gaulle’s French Forces of the Inside. To take action, he recruited policemen, crooks, explosive consultants, financial institution robbers – anybody with the specialist abilities required.

Within the Pigalle space of Paris, Gonard led a raid which killed a number of French collaborators of the Gestapo. His major goal was Joseph Darnand, chief of the Milice, whom he as soon as had in his sights however, since his goal was surrounded by members of the general public, he declined to drag the set off. (Darnand was captured by the Allies on the finish of the conflict and executed by firing squad). 

On June 12 1944, six days after the Allies had landed in Normandy, Gonard led a staff within the Paris suburb of Villejuif, the place they intercepted a heavily-guarded jail van containing Jean-Pierre Lévy, the chief of the Resistance’s Mouvement Franc-tireur, outgunned the French and Nazi guards and freed the captive. Together with Gonard, Lévy would go on to play a significant position within the liberation of the capital.

Gonard turned one of many Nazis’ most wished males on June 28 1944 when he and 15 fellow maquisards acquired previous French and Nazi guards into the Vichy Ministry of Data at 10, Rue de Solférino, Paris. There they discovered, in his pyjamas, Philippe Henriot, the Vichy minister of knowledge and propaganda. Some reviews mentioned Henriot defended himself with a weapon, different reviews mentioned he didn’t. Whichever, he died in a hail of bullets, with Gonard administering the coup de grâce.

Huge reprisals in opposition to the Resistance adopted however the authorities had misplaced the initiative. When the Resistance led Parisians in a significant revolt on August 19 Gonard was on the entrance traces.

On August 21 he was main an assault on a convoy of German army lorries when he suffered head wounds. He was in a hospital mattress on August 25 when he heard the cheers of his compatriots as Paris was liberated.

 De Gaulle later made Gonard a Compagnon de la Libération, the best award for individuals who resisted the occupation, and gave him the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel within the Free French forces.

After the conflict, Gonard served in Indochina earlier than going into enterprise.

He was made a Commander of the Legion d’honneur in 1996. 

Charles Gonard was twice married, secondly to Françoise Rommillat, who died in 2014. He’s survived by their son and a son from his first marriage, and by 4 step youngsters.

Charles Gonard, born October 11 1921, died June 12 2016


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