THE SECRET BATTALION by Michael Bird

THE SECRET BATTALION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is about one of the most amazing and affecting incidents of World War II and is here revealed fully for the first time. Essentially, what happened is that in March 1944, in the High Savoy, 470 French Resistance fighters took on 10,000 German and Vichy soldiers. Following France's fall, many men with little military experience hid out in the French Alps and formed a Secret Army. The secret Army, however, unlike the Communist guerrillas who were masters of the hit-and-run technique, decided to stand firm in the mountains and prepare for the day of the Allied invasion rather than spend its energies beforehand. Vichy Government hoped for a peaceful settlement with Free French Forces, but when the Secret Army attacked Entremont and slaughtered the Grade Mobile Reservists, a decisive battle became unavoidable. On March 26th, the Germans began an artillery barrage against Secret Army positions, sent in dive bombers and then troops, which were beaten back. The Secret Army began a retreat but found themselves encircled. They split into three parties but each was either ambushed or tracked down and killed or taken prisoner. In the Alamo-like glory of their destruction they became an inspiration which drew together a new mountain army of 3,000 men.

Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston