In August 1943, Roosevelt, Churchill and their advisors met at the Quebec Conference. The Allied invasion of Sicily had begun the previous month, and during the conference, plans for a subsequent attack on Italy proper were discussed and approved.
"First Jed to Kill a Boche . . ."
Up until that time Marshall and the American Joint Chiefs had been willing to consider such other limited operations as the seizure of Corsica and Sardinia; increased aid to the Balkan partisans; bombing central Europe from Africa; and even limited landings in the south of France. "But by the time 'Quebec' actually arrived, Marshall had reordered his priorities, and he was firm in insisting that the cross-channel attack, now known as Operation OVERLORD, plans for which had already identified 1 May 1944 as a likely target date.1
With France established as the priority target, OSS moved to secure an equal voice in continental intelligence operations which were then an exclusively British preserve. In May 1943, David Bruce, Donovan's man in London, had begun a series of negotiations with Sir Stewart Menzies (known as "C") aimed at securing just such a status. Menzies, head of MI-6, eventually accepted the American proposals and soon afterward, Operation SUSSEX was begun as a joint Anglo-American effort.
SUSSEX, a plan to infiltrate 50 two-man teams into France was plagued with problems from the outset. Not only were the British resentful of OSS's new role, but U.S. Army G-2 did its level best to ensure that recruitment of SUSSEX personnel would be hamstrung. Donovan himself eventually became directly involved in the intra-American squabble.
"At a confrontation in the office of General Jake Devers, the American Theater commander in London, the Army intelligence man left no doubt that he trusted neither Donovan or his ideas. Donovan replied in a low voice without any inflection or emotion, "Unless the general apologizes at once, I shall tear him to pieces physically and throw his remains through these windows into Grosvenor Square."2 The apologies were both immediate and prolix.
SUSSEX was an intelligence collection operation conducted jointly by OSS SI branch and British SIS. The paramilitary and sabotage aspects of clandestine warfare were assigned to OSS SO Branch and British SOE. The counterpart of SUSSEX in this respect was Operation JEDBURGH. To coordinate this rising tempo of planning, a joint Anglo-American enterprise designated Special Force Headquarters was established. SFHQ would organize all underground resistance in France to support the coming invasion. Fifty JEDBURGH teams were initially envisioned. Each to be composed of one American, one French, and one British officer. These would be dropped, in uniform, to rally and advise the maquis. In Belgium and Holland, respective officers of those nations would take the place of the French officer in each team.
Milton Hall, an Elizabethan manor house about 100 miles north of London, was chosen as the JEDBURGH training and assessment center.
"It was one of those enormous private houses which dot the English countryside and put American millionaires to shame. Almost without effort, Milton Hall swallowed the 240 men of the JEDBURGH Operation, together with what the British called the "permanent party," the instructors, batmen, cooks, and drivers, who had been collected together to run the operation and to serve it."3 There amid Cromwellian armor and oak-beamed hallways, the JEDBURGHs learned the fine points of the sabotage trade.
Paratrooper boots thudded from a training harness into neat lawns and men practiced silent killing in the sunken gardens. From the croquet pitch came the crackle of small arms. . . . and the acrid smell of burnt powder blended with the traditional odor of boxwood and roses.4
JEDBURGH field training was conducted at several other locations and it was from one of these, the royal burgh on Scotland's Jed River, that the operational name was derived. "Each man was to be hand-picked both for his high intelligence, his skills as a partisan, his personal courage, his ability to command respect, and his fairness--for a "Jed," as they were known for short, was expected to be captain, judge, confessor, and quartermaster--to say nothing of demolitions expert, gunsmith, linguist, marksman, poacher, and doctor."5
SUSSEX and JEDBURGH were part of a vast Allied plan to deceive Hitler as to the location and timing of the main assault against France. Codenamed BODYGUARD, this operation extended to virtually every theater of the war, and was the greatest deception ever attempted.
JEDBURGH's major goal was to tie down potential enemy reinforcements by employing guerilla warfare and sabotage. Since Brittany
contained sizeable numbers of German troops which could strike at the flank of the actual OVERLORD landing area, it was given special attention by the Special Forces Headquarters.
Troop concentrations in the south of France were also considered. OVERLORD's small brother--Operation ANVIL--was an integral part of the strategic offensive. But shipping, air support, and other logistical considerations precluded launching ANVIL until at least 8 weeks after the Normandy attack. Consequently, it was determined that resistance forces of the FFI would bear the burden of creating havoc there until the Mediterranean landings took place, and thereafter supporting the drive northward.
To coordinate Special Force operations in the south, a Special Operations Center (SPOC) was established in Algiers, and both JEDBURGH and OG teams were staged there. One of these was JEDBURGH Team BUGGATI, commanded by Major Horace W. Fuller, USMCR, codename FANSUL. With him were French Army Captain Guy de la Roche, British Major Hiram Crosby and French Lieutenant Marcel Guillemont. BUGGATI's target was Tarbes, the "adopted ancestral home" of the de la Roche family.6
Provincial capital of the Haute Pyrenees, Tarbes was a market town. Farmers brought their corn and tobacco there. But despite its relatively small population (about 25,000 in 1944) it also boasted some industry. Of particular importance to the Germans--and thus to OSS--was the Hispania-Suize plant which produced aircraft engines and the Arsenal National, fabricator of 150mm and 250mm guns. There was also a railway yard with facilities for repair and refurbishing of rolling stock. Nearby was the oil refinery at Peyrouzet. Several regiments of Germans garrisoned the area.
SOE had been active in the Tarbes area since January 1943, when Maurice Southgate (codename HECTOR) had been parachuted into the area along with a courier, Jacqueline Nearne. HECTOR's mission had been to determine the status of resistance forces in the Pyrenees foothills and along the Spanish border. These proved to be sound; "they numbered nearly a hundred and all had passed the same stiff initial test: escape from a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany. Some serious immediate sabotage was attempted in Tarbes arsenal at midsummer but only a day's delay was caused . . "7
As D-Day approached, SOE stepped up its own activities in the Haute Pyrenees and at was to be resistance forces of the British WHEELWRIGHT circuit that BUGATTI was specifically directed.8
"Hod" Fuller came to his command by an unusual route. Born and raised in Massachusetts, he was educated at Milton Academy and Harvard. During his undergraduate days, Fuller played varsity football and ice hockey. He was also one of the founding fathers of the Harvard Flying Club. Upon graduation in 1930, Fuller entered the Harvard Business School.
A year later his love for adventure led him to secure a commercial pilot's license and a job with East Coast Aircraft Corporation, a small company based at Boston Airport. By that time America was in the depths of the Great Depression. In 1932, East Coast Air folded and Fuller was out of a job.
Rather than returning to Harvard, Fuller instead wangled a position as engineer on the 85' diesel auxiliary yacht Pilgrim. Within weeks, he was off on a round-the-world cruise during which he worked not only on the main engine, but also taught himself to handle
all of the electrical and refrigeration work. Pilgrim's voyage lasted 23 months.
IN 1934, his wanderlust partially slaked, Fuller went to work as an engineer at the Bethlehem Steel plant in Quincy. Eventually he became head of the department which tested diesel and gasoline engine designs. Fuller was at the Fore River factory when Germany attacked Poland . . . but not for long.
As soon as the Nazis attacked, I joined a group of Americans and went to France to volunteer my services. I was attached to the 19th Transport Regiment, 10th Division, 10th French Army Corps and served at the Front all through the battles for Flanders and on the Somme. When the Armistice came I was demobilized, a hearbreaking experience since I had just received an appointment for the next officer's course and a posting to the Foreign Legion.9
Soon after returning to the United States, Fuller wrote to Marine Corps headquarters, requesting an application for training and commissioning as a Motor Transport Officer. His interests and motivation toward service as a Marine had by then already been well demonstrated, since he had served as a volunteer reserve enlisted man during his Harvard days and was carried on the inactive roles as a Corporal until 1935.10
After several months of teaching, Fuller wrote the Major General Commandant seeking a place at the formal Reserve Officer's Refresher Course. In it he pointed out that:
Having served from January until July 1940, in the line of the French Army with the 19th Regiment, 10th Division, commanded by General Georges, as a driver and small unit leader of tanks, armored cars, and ambulances, and have been engaged with the enemy covering the withdrawal of French units from Dunkirk through Flanders (where I received the Croix de Guerre on 8 June 1940), it is my desire to better fit myself with current Marine Corps methods. I hope to serve in Marine Corps armored units in the line.11
Fuller got his school and a set of orders to one of the Marine Corp's newest units: the First Amphibian Tractor Battalion at Dunedin, Florida. There, Fuller was given command of Company "C" and directed to inspect the new LCTs as they came off the Food Machinery Company's Lakeland assembly lines. Following several months of training, Company "C" entrained with its vehicles and moved to the 1st Marine Division's base camp at New River, North Caroline.
By Mary 1942, Fuller had been promoted to Captain and was holding down the post of Battalion Executive Officer. He still had the job when the 1st Division sailed for New Zealand on 10 June. In Wellington, new officers and equipment reached the battalion and Fuller was given another COmpany to command. When the Marines landed at Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942, Hod Fuller's LVTs were among the first to hit the beach.
During the following weeks, the Division engaged in a series of operations which relegated the LVTs to a largely logistical role. But that did not spare Captain Fuller. On 3 October, he was inside a bunker which suffered a direct hit during a Japanese air attack. A collapsing timber smashed his leg and proved to be a ticket home.
At first, the leg seemed to heal well, but by FEbruary 1943, Fuller had developed a noticeable limp and was in constant pain.
Detached from his temporary job as Assistant G-2 of Amphibious Force Pacific, he was promoted to Major and shipped Est to the Naval Hospital at Chelsea, Massachusetts.
Five weeks later, an operation having repaired his battle damage, Fuller left Chelsea for Quantico. There he was assigned to the tactics section of the Reserve Officer Training School. But despite being elevated to Battalion Commander, Fuller was not content with watching the war go by from the shores of the Potomac. He had, in fact, already laid the ground work for a transfer to Europe. In a letter to Major Andrew Wylie, Fuller pointed out:
While sailing on various small yachts and making voyages on French and Italian sailing vessels in the Mediterranean, I have spent considerable time on the southern coast of France as well as in Sardinia, Corsica, Crete, Sicily, and Elba.12
Wylie was in a position to help. Scion of a wealthy Washington family, he was head of ONI's East European desk and had direct contacts with OSS. On 1 September 1943, Hod Fuller received orders to report to Donovan.
New Year's Day 1944 found Fuller in England and awaiting assignment to the OSS Parachute Training Unit, then commanded by another Marine, Major Bruce B. Cheever, USMC.13 Shortly thereafter, he was tapped for duty as a "Jed."
Team BUGATTI left Blida, near Algiers, early in the evening of 28 June 1944. A single black B-24 flew the mission., After an unremarkable five hour flight, the drop zone was spotted, and Fuller, Crosby, de la Roche, and Guillemont "hit the silk."
On the ground, things worked equally smoothly. A resistance reception committee was on hand to great the Jedburghs and gather their equipment. By 0200 on the 29th, BUGATTI was safely stashed in a farmhouse some 6 kilometers from the small town of Montrejeau. The next day, Fuller left early for a rendezvous with George R. Starr (codename: HILAIRE), one of SOE's most daring organizers in the south of France and architect of WHEELWRIGHT.* Accompanying him was Anne Marie Waters (codename: COLLETTE), Starr's courier.
Since the area was swarming with Germans, Fuller travelled in civilian clothes. This was not accepted practice for "Jeds" because capture would automatically result in execution as a spy. But COLLETTE convinced the members of BUGATTI that there was little chance of avoiding Germans and that uniforms would result in instant combat The wisdom of her rationale became immediately apparent. Soon after Fuller departed, a company of SS troops was spotted moving toward the farmhouse. Only a quick exit from the second story saved detection.
We were then taken at night to the maquis camp near Arbon. Here all attempts to reach Algiers were most unsatisfactory as our B-2 (radio) set had been damaged in the drop. Although I brought another B-2 back from HILAIRE's headquarters, our first messages were always reported as indecipherable. The maquis consisted of about 100 men, all of whom were poorly armed, but with their remaining store of plastique, we immediately blew up four pylons on the 15,000 kilowatt power line through the Armon Valley. This supplied power to the aircraft factory in Toulouse,14
After a fortnight of frustration caused by faulty radios, BUGATTI finally managed to raise Algiers. Then began a series of pleas for arms and ammunition:
Guns and ammo needed urgently. . . . send petrol and generator as soon as possible. . . . Area unsafe for free movement. Bren guns needed quickly.
No arms and Boche everywhere. Am sabotaging power and rail lines continually. Need supplies.
Daylight dropping impossible. Boche patrols make movement dangerous. All vehicles forbidden to move and shot at on sight. Immediate strength at least 3,000 maquisards but no arms.15
By 10 July, still without supplies, Fuller decided on a risky move. A new radio and some previously delivered weapons were cached in the village of Lannemezan. Unfortunately, the two was garrisoned by 1,200 German soldiers. Captain de la Roche and a four man team volunteered to try to retrieve these desperately needed items.Moving at night in a purloined truck, they succeeded not only in getting the equipment, but also returning with it to the Arbon hideout. With the new radio, BUGATTI was finally able to regain contact with the SPOC and on the night of 16 July, a lone plane dropped containers to the maquis. Though many of these broke open before reaching the ground, the resupply proved a godsend for the next day, 600 Germans began to systematically invest the farm area.
Fuller pulled his men back to an open hillside with a wooded area protecting the flanks. De la Roche and a special contingent armed themselves with British Gammon grenades in case the enemy brought up tanks.
At about 1730, the Germans began slowly advancing toward the maquis positions. Taken under fire, they brought mortars and heavy machine guns into play. Eventually, the maquis withdrew into the forest leaving 16 dead Germans on the field and having suffered no casualties themselves.
Fuller immediately shifted his headquarters deeper into the Pyrenees, this time to the vicinity of St. Bertrand des Comminges about 16 miles to the west. While on the move, he learned that the Arbon farm had been compromised by an Italian who lived in Montrejeau. Fuller ordered the resistance to deal with him.
Several days later one of our patrols shot him in Montrejeau and he was taken to hospital wounded. We then sent a visitor to the hospital who slit his throat during the night.16
BUGATTI's main camp now contained about 35 men,all of whom were well armed, but had little ammunition and few explosives. Another maquis unit at Arbas was better equipped and they began a systematic campaign of sabotage directed at railway lines and power stations. Fuller radioed a report of the fighting which ended with the sanguine phrase, "Hope I'm first Jed to kill a Boche."17
On 20 July, Fuller determined that the situation could best be handled by splitting his team into two separate parts. Captain de la Roche was directed to take charge on the Tarbes area while Fuller directed the maquis in the valleys of Nistos, Luchron, and as far east as Saint Gaudens.
Both of these groups were busy. On one occasion, de la Roche was ambushed while riding a motorcycle. He lay in a ditch while the Germans unsuccessfully searched all around him and had the traumatic
experience of watching his companion captured,tortured, and executed on the spot.
In addition to the enemy, Fuller and de la Roche were also forced to address the ticklish problem of internal rivalries in the resistance. Their position in this regard was decidedly hampered by a continuing inability to produce either weapons or money. During the entire course of BUGATTI's operation, only a single supply drop was received. The air of suspicion and mutual antagonism which surrounded the Communist FTP,* the MUR,** and the Franc Pommies was never fully overcome, but de la Roche, in particular, succeeded in bringing about an uneasy accommodation. The open internecine warfare which characterized all of the East European guerilla movements was thereby avoided.
By 20 July, BUGATTI had hit all its designated targets and was busy blowing railroads faster than the Germans could repair them. One of the biggest successes was complete interdiction of the line which ran south into Spain. This blocked 50,000 tons of iron ore at the frontier.
BUGATTI had also been ordered to destroy the oil refinery at Peyrouzet. Fuller was loath to undertake this mission because of the potential impact on the area's power economy. Happily, M. la Chaux, the manager, was a confirmed patriot of the resistance and had participated in several stiff firefights as a maquis commander. La Chaux proposed a simple but effective plan for eliminating production without sabotaging the equipment.
*FTP: Francs Tireurs et Partisans
**MUR: Mouvement Unis de Resistance
The refinery required large amounts of water. Under the manager's supervision, its irrigation canals were systematically bled dry. The Germans, unable to locate the control valves, were powerless to resume operations. Two days after they pulled out, la Chaux was producing enough gasoline for the entire Toulouse area.
With the ANVIL landings about to commence, General De Gaulle issued orders for a full-scale rising in southern France. When the coded message was broadcast by the BBC on 14 August, Fuller and his team were still desperately short of explosives and ammunition. Nevertheless, actions were initiated throughout the entire Haute Pyrenees which literally paralyzed German road movement. Every road which could be covered was allocated to various ambush parties. Soon, havoc was the norm.
On 18 August, Fuller received word that the commanding general in Tarbes was attempting to flee. The Germans assembled a column of trucks and civilian autos and were preparing to withdraw toward Montrejeau along the Route Nationale. Every available maquisard was directed to stop this movement.
Obviously, the Germans were now in a state of confusion. Truscott's VI U.S. Corps was driving north from its Riviera beaches spearheaded by a mechanized brigade. The Free French II Corps had forced the enemy back into Toulon, and was pushing westward toward Marseilles. With the prospect of crumbling defenses along the Rhone Valley, the possibility loomed that all German forces between the Mediterranean and the Bay of Biscay would soon be faced with either surrender or encirclement.
Major General Mayr in Tarbes found neither of these options palatable. Within minutes of leaving the village both became more inviting. The evacuation column was immediately attacked by the maquis. Mayr and his Chief of Staff,Colonel Kountze, were both hit in the initial fusillade of Sten and Bren gun fire. A bad situation soon became a rout. Cars and trucks were set alight, and German soldiers seemed to rush aimlessly about in the maelstrom. Twenty were killed, 35 wounded, and the rest taken prisoner. Tarbes was liberated.
A few days later, Fuller jubilantly messaged Algiers:
What a show. Our maquis liberated Tarbes and Loubon. Boche fleeing into Spain. Prisoners, arms captured . . . Have Boche general and staff prisoner here. Want large heavy arms drop to attack Boche division at Dax.18
BUGATTI's headquarters now became the Hôtel Moderne, but Fuller and de la Roche did not spend much time there. For the next three weeks, both were involved in a series of actions which culminated in an organized maquis force of nearly 5,000 men. While the bulk of these forces drove northward toward Bordeaux, a series of ambushes was strung out along the Franco-Spanish frontier. Patrols in this sector captured more than 400 Germans, bringing BUGATTI's haul to approximately 1,000.
Operations were now going so successfully that Fuller was no longer content to wait in vain for request air support from Algiers. Having overrun several airfields and being a pilot, he simply organized his own airforce. Although hampered by lack of fuses for the German bombs, the planes did pay dividends in reconnaissance and liaison roles. The SPOC, while praising this innovation, firmly refused Fuller's request to send a flight back to North Africa.
Lieutenant Colonel Horace W. Fuller, USMCR (front row, third from right), Commanding Officer, Jedburgh Team BUGATTI at ceremonies marking the liberation of Tarbes, Haute Pyrenees, France, 1944.
(Photo courtesy Captain François de la Roche, USMCR)
As the enemy was driven from French soil, the enmity of the various factions within the maquis resurfaced.
We saw the whole situation was becoming one of politics with the different groups within the FFI starting to fight among themselves for power and, as the mission which had been given us was a military one, we carefully avoided anything to do with politics. . . . We therefore began demobilizing our men. All weapons were taken and stored in a caserne at Tarbes and all military affairs in our region handed over to the FFI.19
For their work in France, Fuller and de la Roche were awarded the Silver Star and Crois de Guerre. Fuller was also mentioned in despatches by SOE and mae a Knight of the Legion of Honor by France. He finished the war with a Chinese commando battalion having been promoted to lieutenant Colonel while in the Pyrenees. Demobilized in December 1945, he worked for a succession of airlines both in the United States and abroad. Fuller was later promoted to Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve and retired as a Brigadier General in 1957. He died in 1971.20
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