Eurostar named after French resistance hero

26th April 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 25 (AFP) - A French resistance fighter credited with saving London from Hitler's deadly hail of V1 rockets will be honoured Tuesday when a Eurostar train linking the French and British capitals is named after him, the company said.

PARIS, April 25 (AFP) - A French resistance fighter credited with saving London from Hitler's deadly hail of V1 rockets will be honoured Tuesday when a Eurostar train linking the French and British capitals is named after him, the company said.

Michel Hollard, who died in 1993 aged 95, supplied the Allied forces with crucial information detailing the position of the rocket launchers, which were positioned in northwest France.

The flying bombs were Hitler's secret weapon and his big hope of forcing Britain to capitulate in World War II.

But through scores of perilous missions slipping back and forth over the Franco-Swiss border to brief British diplomats in Bern, Hollard scuppered that plan and allowed waves of Allied bombers to target and destroy 90 percent of the launchers before they could wreak devastation.

An officer who served Britain's D-Day commander Marshall Bernard Montgomery, General Brian Horrocks, described Hollard as "the man who saved London".

US General Dwight Eisenower wrote that, if the Germans had been able to use their V1 arsenal six months earlier than they did, the Allied landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944 that helped turn the course of the war would probably have been cancelled.

Although the bravery of Hollard has gone largely overlooked up to now, a French journalist preparing a documentary on the resistance fighter, Jean-Pierre Richardot, explained to AFP how he lobbied last year to have the Eurostar baptism in the resistance fighter's honour.

The British and French governments agreed, and chose this year - the centenary of the Entente Cordiale agreement between their countries - which also happens to be the 60th anniversary of the Normandy landing, to oblige.

The ceremony is to take place early Tuesday in Paris's Gard du Nord railway station in the presence of the British ambassador, John Holmes, and members of Hollard's family, Eurostar said in a statement.

The "Michel Hollard" train will then depart for London, where it will be met at the Waterloo station by Britain's minister for European affairs, Denis MacShane, and the French ambassador, Gerard Errera.

Hollard, who was a WWI veteran, founded his own network of around 100 agents, many of them railway workers, to inform the Allies of German movements in occupied France in World War II.

It was in 1943 he discovered the preparations to install 104 V1 rocket launchers aimed at London, and he managed to copy plans stolen from the pocket of a German engineer to supply details to British intelligence.

In late 1943 and early 1944, British bombers systematically hit the V1 sites, taking out most of them.In 1944, Hollard was arrested in Paris by the Gestapo, tortured and sent to a concentration camp under a sentence of death.

But he made a lucky escape from a ship sunk by British bombs and was picked by a British vessel.He died in 1993 with the rank of colonel, a French Legion of Honour award, and a British Distinguished Service Order.

© AFP

                                             Subject: French news

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