René Rossey, French commando – obituary

rene-rossey,-french-commando –-obituary

René Rossey, who has died aged 89, was one of many final surviving French marine commandos who stormed ashore on Sword Seashore, Normandy, on D-Day to provoke the liberation of their homeland.

Rossey was a part of the 177-man French Kieffer Commando, a part of Britain’s 4 Commando and the first Particular Service Brigade commanded by Brigadier Lord “Shimi” Lovat. When he and his comrades leapt off the touchdown craft at 7.31 am on June 6 1944, braving heavy German fireplace, Rossey was solely 17 and, having been born and introduced up within the then French colony of Tunisia, had by no means even been to France itself. British troops inevitably bought a lot of the credit score for taking Sword Seashore. However Lord Lovat had made the political determination to let the French commandos land on the seashores forward of the British commandos.

 That call gave “le petit Rossey” and the Kieffer Commando the arrogance to push inland. As a part of the Kieffer Commando’s Ok-gun part, Rossey carried a backpack weighing 80 lb, round two-thirds of his personal body weight. As well as, he carried a 30-pound Vickers Ok machine gun.

The French have been dug in on the seaside, having taken heavy casualties, by the point Lord Lovat waded ashore to the skirl of the pipes. “We have been pinned down on the seaside, lots of our comrades useless or dying,” Rossey recalled. “However when Lovat’s piper walked up and down the seaside, piping his lungs out, the Germans appeared surprised, as in the event that they’d seen a ghost. They briefly stopped firing and we made it to the barbed wire on the prime of the seaside.” After working the gauntlet of German artillery, tank, machine-gun and mortar fireplace, Rossey recalled “preventing” via crowds of ecstatic French civilians holding out bottles of wine.

Rossey was presumably the youngest Allied soldier within the Normandy invasion. He had lied about his age to get into France’s 1st Battalion Marine Fusilier Commando (later often called the Kieffer Commando after their chief Philippe Kieffer). On D-Day one in 4 of the 177 French commandos have been killed, or wounded badly sufficient for evacuation.

Overpowering Nazi blockhaus bunkers, pillbox snipers and flame-throwers, Rossey and his comrades moved inland to seize Ouistreham, notably its on line casino which the Germans had become a fortress – a significant breakthrough in Operation Overlord.

The commandos then superior alongside the Caen canal and linked up with Lord Lovat, British glider-borne troops and US forces on the Bénouville (later often called the Pegasus) Bridge, a scene made well-known within the movie The Longest Day (1962). 

René Rossey was born on August 30 1926 to French mother and father in Tunis, and was 16 when he linked up with the British Eighth Military in North Africa, going with them to Palestine and Beirut earlier than the Free French basic, Georges Catroux, despatched him to London. There he met Common de Gaulle and dedicated himself to battle till France was liberated.

He was despatched to affix the Kieffer Commando, and was skilled within the Scottish Highlands by Lord Lovat, incomes his inexperienced beret and Fairbairn Sykes commando dagger. After Normandy, Rossey went on to battle with the Commando in Holland, touchdown on the strategic  Nazi-occupied island of Walcheren – a mission which turned out to be an important success for the Allies.

Nonetheless solely 19 on the finish of the conflict, Rossey returned to Tunisia. Uneducated and penniless, he couldn’t discover a job and have become an “SDF” (“sans domicile fixe” – of no mounted abode). 

After getting married, nonetheless, in 1954 he moved to France, the place he was discovered a job with the Complete petrol firm by Keiffer himself. He remained with the corporate till his retirement.

In 2014 he was made an Officer of the Legion d’honneur.

René Rossey born August 30 1926, died Could 19 2016


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