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Commemorating OSS Group Emily
and the Cuzance maquis

the viaduct that was targeted
Viaduc de La Motte near Souillac Photo: Jean-Pierre Baille

Plaque Unveiling Ceremony to be Held in September
As Hitler's evil war moved towards a climax in the heat of the summer of 1944, redoubtable French resistance fighters backed by Allied special forces were tasked with sabotaging and harassing enemy occupying forces in south-western France, particularly in the departments of the Lot (46), Cantal (15) and Lot-et-Garonne (47).

OSS Group Emily, St Cere, Lot, August 1944
OSS Group Emily
- St Céré, Lot, August 1944 -

The Algiers-to-France Section Group, part of the OSS or Office of Strategic Services French Operational Group Emily, departed from Blida Airport in Algeria on June 9, 1944 , to parachute men and weapons into the "Chenier" drop zone near La Bastide du Hautmont, in the Cantal. Its mission: "to deny enemy use of the by-pass Cahors-Figeac, Figeac-Brive rail lines in the Lot and to harass enemy movement on Highways 20 and 140".

Now 67 years later members of the Americans in the Lot association will join the mayor of La Chapelle-Auzac, Ernest Maury, and anciens combattants on Sunday, September 18 (journée de la patrimoine) at 1100 for the official unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the act of sabotage carried out by the American OSS group Emily together with a unit from Cuzance area FTP maquis.

The bridge as it is today

In 1944, German armoured trains were terrorising the region and menacing the French resistance. The joint action by OG Emily and the maquis put an end to this by dynamiting the Viaduc de LaMotte, a railroad bridge in the commune of Lachapelle-Auzac.

Guerrilla warfare
OG Emily was the first of 13 sections sent behind enemy lines in France by the newly created OSS. The group comprised 15 men, including their commanding officer, 1st Lt. Arthur P. Frizzell and this was their first mission. They had been trained in guerrilla warfare and would be living off the land, sleeping in tents made from their parachutes. During their three months in the Lot they would work together with the local maquis: those of le Cheniers (on the border with the Cantal), with the FTPF (Francs Tireur et Partisans Francais) Lot, and finally with the maquis in the Lot-et-Garonne. They supplied the resistance with arms via numerous container drops, trained them and carried out joint sabotage operations with them, temporarily cutting off rail lines and highways.

On August 2, under the protection of 50 maquis, two members of OG Emily mounted and laid charges on the 64 metre steel section of the double track Viaduc de La Motte near Souillac, to prevent German armoured trains equipped with cannons from terrorizing the countryside, harassing civilians and raiding the maquis. In the explosion the bridge section collapsed into a perpendicular position, still attached to the frame. The following day, the maquis returned to sever the section and drop it to the valley floor, rendering the bridge unusable for the foreseeable future.

Little information
There is very little information available about the FTP maquis from Cuzance area, who took part in this sabotage. Jean-Pierre Baille, a retired teacher from Souillac, has been researching events related to the bridge for the past 10 years. In that time the sole survivor he located was one André Boutaric, known as “Achilles”, under the command of “Ajax”, who is now deceased, and who left a letter documenting the event. Of the two Americans who laid the charges one was 1st Lt. George M. Huguet, who had become close friends with the family of Pierre and Marthe Piro, and returned several times to the Lot before his death.

Sunday, 18 th September 2011 Ceremony -
"So the Memory Never Dies"

The unveiling of the plaque will take place at the site of the sabotage, underneath the first section of the huge stone and iron viaduct. To reach the site pass through Lachapelle-Timbergue on D15, turn right at the sign of the fish for the Pisciculture de Blagour, continue on following arrows to the site. Following the unveiling there will be a pot at the salle des exposition in Lachapelle-Haut, reached by returning to the D820 and driving 4 kms northward (watch for sign on the left-hand side). Here there will be an exhibition on the history of the bridge, based on Mr. Baille's in-depth research, including a timeline of photographs.

Join the "Americans in the Lot" and the survivors for the event.
Further information: Call +33+(0)565310461

Story: Susanna Stevens

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