Thursday, 13 March, 1941

Unnamed Operation

F/Lt Jack Oettle flies a sortie in Whitley a/c ‘Z’, taking off from Stradishall at 18.54. He lands back at 02.15, and at 04.40 Oettle reports ‘1419 operations successful’. There is no other report of this sortie taking place.

In his memoirs as ‘Passy’, André Dewavrin records that on the night of 13-14 March ‘Le sergent aviateur Laroche, fut donc parachuté dans la nuit du 13 au 14 mars et rejoignit aussitôt Lucas.’  (‘Lucas’ was the Free French agent Pierre Fourcaud, who had returned to Vichy via Lisbon in mid-January.) Marie-Madeleine Fourcade writes in her book ‘L’Arche de Noë’ (‘Noah’s Ark’) that on 14 March she learned, through a phone call from Clermont-Ferrand, that her brother, Jacques Bridou, has been parachuted into France. Bridou has been dropped with Sgt Laroche from less than 100 metres (about 300 feet) above the ground. Their landing was bound to be hard, and Bridou has injured his foot. He has also become separated from Laroche.

The two agents would have been regarded as separate operations. In a letter brought by Fourcaud for Marie-Madeleine’s boss, Georges Loustaunau-Lacau, de Gaulle has typically made clear that ‘whoever is not with me, is against me’. The distinction is fine: Bridou is being delivered by SIS for SIS, Sgt Laroche by SIS for the Free French; hence Oettle’s use of the plural ‘operations’ in his report.


Stradishall Ops Officers’ log
‘L’Arche du Noë’, by Marie Madeleine Fourcade, p.57 (English translation ‘Noah’s Ark’, p.41)
‘Memoires’, by ‘Passy’ (André Dewavrin), p.165