Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gabaudet


A massacre occurred here on 8 June 1944, two days after the D-Day landings at Normandy. Weeks prior, the French resistance had heard news of an impending invasion by the Allies. Their ranks began to swell as ordinary citizens realized there was hope for the liberation of their country. Many wanted to help any way they could. At a farm here located at Gabaudet, the crossroads of two tiny roads deep in the Gramat causse, Madame Joutet, the widowed owner of the farm, was approached by the leaders of the FTP (a group part of the Front Nationale) They needed a large secure place for their fighters to meet and plan further acts against the German army. She agreed to let them use the farm; she and her eight children welcomed them to the outbuildings of the farm as well as the farmhouse itself for their big meeting. They gathered at Gabaudet on 8 June...300 of them by conservative estimate. Feeling safe in their remote location, security was lax, and they were caught by surprise at 5 pm by German panzer units rumbling up both roads approaching the farm. Small arms were no defense against the German tanks, and they were trapped in the farmyard. At least 35 resistance fighters were killed along with the farm animals and two of Madame Joutet's children.The buildings were burned to ground while survivors took to the woods, running for their lives. Madame Joutet and the rest of her children were taken prisoner by the Germans

There is strong evidence that the meeting was betrayed by collaborators, a couple named Bonaventure. They were already being held by another resistance organization on suspicion of collaboration. They were handed over to the FTP and tried by military tribunal. They, along with their 17 year old daughter, were executed by the FTP in June or July very near the site of the Gabaudet massacre. This story is well documented in World War II histories of the area. This account can be read in far greater detail in Helen Martin's book, "Lot: Travels Through a Limestone Landscape in Southwest France." Ms. Martin was able to interview a former resistance fighter whose very open and frank account of the massacre she has recorded.
The Joutet farm before the massacre
In 1945, a memorial was erected at the site. The years have changed the landscape considerably. What is left of the burned out, stone buildings is mostly covered now with thick vines and underbrush. The farm well is still visible, as is the lane that entered the property. Otherwise, the only reminder of what occurred here is the stone stele with its names of the fallen...

If you wish to visit the memorial, it is located a short way from the village of Reilhac on the D42. There are small signs in the village pointing the way. Coordinates: 44°43'0"N   1°44'42"E
Names of some of the fallen resistance fighters

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