Nicola Trahan obituary

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nicola-trahan-obituary

Nicola Trahan, who has died aged 97, joined the French resistance as a schoolgirl and was awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Palme for her bravery throughout “quite a few harmful missions”, particularly a sequence of battles between her Maquis and the infamous 2nd SS Panzerdivision Das Reich. After the second world struggle she settled within the UK, the place she served with the Troopers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Households Affiliation (SSAFA) for 50 years.

Aged 16, whereas nonetheless at college in Valençay, Indre, in central France, she joined the Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur (FFI), the resistance organisation run by the Gaullist French authorities in London and often known as the Armée Secrète.

In response to her French army file, Trahan grew to become a member of the North Indre Maquis, led by Francis Perdriset, a former French military officer who took cost of FFI resistance operations in that space in July 1943. Her most important position was as a courier delivering messages twice every day between the assorted resistance groups.

She additionally labored as a part of the Maquis’ medical group and, amid a heavy German army presence, used her journeys biking between the groups to gather intelligence. A be aware in a file has one resistance fighter telling one other that Trahan would typically be late as a result of she appreciated to sit down by the highway watching the Germans whereas consuming her lunch. “Don’t fear,” he stated. “It supplies us with worthwhile info.”

In an interview with a French newspaper following the liberation of France, Trahan stated that when when she was stopped by the Germans she screwed up her FFI identification move right into a ball and swallowed it to keep away from arrest. She additionally recalled participating in firefights and on one event taking pictures and wounding two German troopers: “I actually appreciated ambushes; after we put collectively a group and went off in full truckloads. I had a revolver and a machine gun.”

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Biking between resistance groups gave Nicola Trahan alternatives to collect further intelligence by seeing what German troopers had been doing

In July 1944, Perdriset and his Maquis started working intently with a British Particular Operations Govt (SOE) officer Pearl Witherington (later Cornioley), who was additionally primarily based in North Indre.

Witherington had arrange the SOE’s Wrestler circuit in Might that yr. However on 11 June, 5 days after the D-day landings, she and the small variety of resistance fighters she had assembled had been attacked by a a lot bigger German drive. They fought them off however Witherington determined she wanted an skilled army officer to assist her to reorganise her forces.

“Lastly, on 25 July [1944], after I had requested repeatedly for a army commander, to my nice reduction one arrived,” she recalled in her memoirs. “He was a military captain known as Francis Perdriset.”

From that time on, the North Indre Maquis was intently built-in with the SOE Wrestler group. Trahan recalled assembly Witherington as soon as, at a parachute drop of weapons and different provides, the place resistance members would have been known as upon to take away the provides to a protected location.

Shortly after Perdriset took over as Witherington’s army commander, components of the German 2nd SS Panzerdivision Das Reich arrived within the area on their approach north to Normandy, having been ordered to destroy the resistance alongside the way in which.

They’d beforehand massacred a whole village at Oradour-sur-Glane and, from mid-August, launched a sequence of assaults towards resistance teams within the Indre space, most notably in Valençay itself, the place Perdriset was current.

“The Germans did numerous injury in Valençay,” Witherington recalled. “I wasn’t there however Francis was. He was advised to face towards a wall, he actually thought he had had it. The Germans set fireplace to issues, shot, killed. It wasn’t as dangerous as Oradour-sur-Glane however it wasn’t a fairly sight.”

In his suggestion for the award of the Croix de Guerre, Perdriset stated Trahan, then solely 17, “notably distinguished herself at Valençay from 20 to 30 August 1944 by bringing her commander worthwhile info which she gathered on the coronary heart of enemy operations”.

Born Nicole in Berck-sur-Mer, within the Pas de Calais, she was the daughter of André Trahan, who labored within the insurance coverage trade, and Jeanne (nee Bourzes), a professor of English.

Nicole initially boarded on the Collège Cévenol at Le Chambon-sur-Lignon in south-central France. She later recalled that her dad and mom took her to the UK when the Germans occupied northern France in 1940, however by 1942 she was at Cours Guynemer, a non-public faculty in Valençay.

After the struggle, Trahan went to the Sorbonne to review philosophy however, having determined that it was not for her, she skilled as a nurse on the Ecole d’Infirmières des Associations Diaconesses in Paris, and at Brighton Normal hospital, in East Sussex, qualifying in 1953. She subsequently labored as a well being customer in Cheshire. She anglicised her identify from Nicole to Nicola and was naturalised British in 1957.

The next yr she joined SSAFA, first as a member of its nursing service, then as a well being customer working with service households in Germany, Belgium and Hong Kong. Trahan served with the affiliation for 30 years and after retirement continued to work for them as a volunteer for an additional 20 years.

Trahan settled in Orcheston, Wiltshire, the place she was additionally a volunteer at Salisbury Cathedral, and loved swimming and strolling her canine.

In 2005, she was invited to the disclosing by Queen Elizabeth II of the monument in Whitehall to The Girls of World Struggle II, adopted by a lunch for feminine veterans at Buckingham Palace. In 2008 she was appointed MBE.

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