WORLD WAR II FROM A TO Z

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M

Chanson d’automne

By Paul Verlaine

Les sanglots longs

Des violons

De l’automne

Blessent mon cœur

D’une langueur

Monotone.

Tout suffocant

Et blême, quand

Sonne l’heure,

Je me souviens

Des jours anciens

Et je pleure;

Et je m’en vais

Au vent mauvais

Qui m’emporte

Deçà, delà,

Pareil à la

Feuille morte.

Autumn Song

Translation (by C. F. MacIntyre)

With long sobs

the violin-throbs

of autumn wound

my heart with languorous

and monotonous sound

Choking and pale

when I mind the tale

the hours keep,

my memory strays

down other days

and I weep;

and I let me go

where ill winds blow,

now here, now there,

harried and sped,

even as a dead

leaf, anywhere.

MESSAGES PERSONNELS

Si le message retenu passait à 13h00 , il fallait se préparer pour un parachutage la nuit même. Le message devait être rediffusé à 17h00 et 21h00 pour ... GOOGLE TRANSLATOR If the selected messages going at 13:00, it was necessary to prepare for a drop that night. The message was to be rebroadcast at 17:00 and 21:00 ...

Si le message retenu passait à 13h00 , il fallait se préparer pour un parachutage la nuit même. Le message devait être rediffusé à 17h00 et 21h00 pour … GOOGLE TRANSLATOR If the selected messages going at 13:00, it was necessary to prepare for a drop that night. The message was to be rebroadcast at 17:00 and 21:00 …

This is so cool.  You are probably wondering why I included the French poem and its translation with today’s post.  You will see.  I can’t tell you how excited I was when I searched for a World War 2 word to write about for “M” and I found Messages Personnels.  Everyone knows how well-known and respected the British Broadcasting Corporation is in the world.  I now give them even more respect.  During the Nazi occupation of France, your average citizen would listen to the BBC and pay no mind to some of the statements being broadcast by the commentators.  Why would they?  The messages were meaningless to them.  Members of the French Resistance were listening.  They listened because the messages were code.  Millions of listeners throughout Nazi occupied Europe, at great peril to themselves, secretly listened to the news broadcasts every night at 7.30 and 9pm. The programs were introduced by the first measure of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, three dots and a dash, V-for- Victory. Then followed what was known as ‘messages personnels’ coded instructions to all resistance groups to prepare them for the Allied landings in Normandy. To the informed, the so called meaningless messages could mean prepare to blow up a section of railway line at such and such a point, or prepare to receive an incoming SOE agent at a certain landing strip. With the approach of D-day and the long awaited moment of Liberation approached, the most awaited message was the first two lines from the Paul Verlaine couplet. The first, sent on June 1, was an alert message “The long sobs of the violins of Autumn”. The second, an action message “Soothes my heart with a monotonous languor”. This summoned all resistance groups to arise immediately throughout France.

Sentence: “Saint Liguori founded Naples”
Terrain name: “Caracole”
Area: St Pons, Hérault
Meaning: Parachute drop of weapons and agents
Maquis concerned: Latourette – Bertrand

Sentence: “Yvette likes big carrots”
Terrain name: “Naphtalene”
Area: Le Vignan-Montdardier, Gard
Meaning: Parachute drop of weapons
Maquis concerned: Aigounal – Cévennes

Sentence: “The tall blond man is called Bill”
Terrain name: “Rabelais”
Area: Pezenas, Hérault
Meaning: Parachute drop of weapons
Maquis concerned: Caux – Linarès

3 June: “The time of fighting will come…” announced D-Day and was the order to start railway sabotage operations in the west.

4 June: “The long sobs of autumn violins…”: a strophe from Verlaine’s Autumn Song gave Resistance fighters the order to step up sabotage of railway and telecommunications facilities that had not yet been destroyed.

5 June: “…wounding my heart with a monotonous languour”: The second part of the strophe had just been broadcast on BBC radio in London. General mobilisation of all networks and start of the offensive: attacks on munitions dumps, transmission stations, the rail network and German convoys.

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10 responses

  1. a gray says:

    Very neat post. The audio was great.

    Like

  2. John Holton says:

    This was especially interesting. I’ve been interested in secret communications since I was a kid.

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  3. Birgit says:

    This was so cool to read and listen to because I knew about it but never told this way. It gave me a better understanding. Thanks!

    Like

  4. rolandclarke says:

    Interesting to be reminded of that vital and clever piece of communication. Remember the way that was well portrayed in the film “The Longest Day” – drama attempting about to show what happened on D-Day..

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  5. […] Covert listening to BBC broadcasts for news bulletins and coded message.  See my post about messages personnels. […]

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