Thursday, 26 April 2018

France 1958 - Heroes of the Resistance (Part 4 - Jacques Bingen)

It is defined as the act of fighting against something that is attacking you, or refusing to accept something. This is resistance. And perhaps none typify and deserve the distinction of this title than the French Resistance, La Résistance in French.

It all began in the summer of 1940. The Nazis had barnstormed into France and the swastika was now flying high in Paris from such prominent places as the Hôtel de Ville and on top of the Eiffel Tower. Amid this turmoil, a prominent French writer by the name of Jean Cassou, penned the words, refus absurde "absurd refusal". Little did he know, these words would inspire the proud citizens of France to rise up against the Nazi intruders in any way possible. Thus the Resistance was born. The Resistance was for the most part organised into small groups of men and women who engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Nazis. Additionally, they published underground newspapers, established effective intelligence networks, and maintained escape routes for Allied soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. For more detailed information on the Resistance, click HERE.

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Jacques Bingen was a vital and high-ranking member of the French Resistance. Born in Paris on 16 March 1908, Bingen trained as an engineer at the École des mines de Paris. Interestingly, he was the brother-in-law of André Citroën, the famous car maker. Between 1930-1931, he served in the artillery branch of the French Army. Then in 1935 he was appointed director of the French shipping company, Société Anonyme de Gérance et d'Armement.

In 1939 at the onset of World War II, he was drafted back into the French Army. He fought in the Battle of France, and was wounded on 12 June 1940 at Saint-Valery-en-Caux. Following the surrender of France, he found his way to British-held Gibraltar, and from there he went to England in July. After joining the Free French under General Charles de Gaulle, he was put in charge of its burgeoning merchant marines. But he wasn't happy in this role. He craved action and desperately wanted to fight for France in a more active way. So, on 1 October 1941 he resigned and joined the Bureau Central de Renseignements et d'Action, which was the Free French intelligence service. On 16 August 1943, his wish for more action manifested when he "parachuted into France to help organize and unite the various disparate groups that comprised the Resistance" (Wikipedia). Also worth note, he was instrumental in the creation of the French Forces of the Interior in February 1944. 

But, as we have seen in the previous parts of this series, success in the Resistance brings one to the attention of the Gestapo. On 12 May 1944, Jacques Bingen was betrayed by Belgian double agent Alfred Dormal. He was captured at Clermont-Ferrand. To avoid the risk of breaking under torture, he committed suicide at Chamalières by swallowing a capsule of cyanide. Bingen was honoured for his service to his country posthumously with the Ordre de la Libération award. He also now has a street in the 17th arrondissement of Paris named after him.

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On 21 April 1958, France issued the second set of stamps in a series titled Heroes of the Resistance. This set comprised four stamps. All stamps were designed by Albert Decaris, but he only engraved two. To look at the first three parts in this stamp series, click on the links Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. In this blog we shall study the fourth and final stamp in the set depicting Jacques Bingen. This stamp was designed by Albert Decaris and engraved by Jean Pheulpin. This tasteful design features the face of an intelligent, resourceful, and brave individual. A great stamp!


Until next time...


Monday, 23 April 2018

France 1958 - Heroes of the Resistance (Part 3 - Simone Michel-Lévy)

It is defined as the act of fighting against something that is attacking you, or refusing to accept something. We are of course talking about resistance. And perhaps none typify and deserve the distinction of this title than the French Resistance, La Résistance in French.

It all began in the summer of 1940. The Nazis had barnstormed into France and the swastika was now flying high in Paris from such prominent places as the Hôtel de Ville and on top of the Eiffel Tower. Amid this turmoil, a prominent French writer by the name of Jean Cassou, penned the words, refus absurde "absurd refusal". Little did he know, these words would inspire the proud citizens of France to rise up against the Nazi intruders in any way possible. Thus the Resistance was born. The Resistance was for the most part organised into small groups of men and women who engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Nazis. Additionally, they published underground newspapers, established effective intelligence networks, and maintained escape routes for Allied soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. For more detailed information on the Resistance, click HERE.

***

Simone Michel-Lévy, born 19 January 1906, worked for the French Resistance as a communications expert. Her role as regional director of telephone communications in Paris allowed her to set up an intelligence network pivotal to the war effort. In the course of her duties she established an important radio intelligence network between Paris and Normandy, which was used in the preparations for the D-Day invasion. She was also responsible for the creation of a covert courier system to get vital messages to England where the Free France movement was based, led by General Charles de Gaulle. Like most influential Resistance fighters, Simone Michel-Lévy came to the attention of the Gestapo. On 5 November 1943 she was arrested and tortured. But she didn't crack, and gave the Gestapo nothing. Realising they'd get nothing from this formidable woman, the Gestapo had her deported to Ravensbrück, then Flossenbürg. While in prison, she managed to organise an uprising against the camp guards. Unfortunately, she was caught and hanged on 13 April 1945, just ten days before the camp was liberated by the Allies. A sad end for a tremendously courageous woman.

***

On 21 April 1958, France issued the second set of stamps in a series titled Heroes of the Resistance. This set comprised four stamps. All stamps were designed by Albert Decaris, but he only engraved two. To look at the first two parts in this set, click on the links Part 1, Part 2. In this blog we shall study the third stamp in the set depicting Simone Michel-Lévy. This stamp was designed and engraved by Albert Decaris.



This very poignant portrait is based on Simone Michel-Lévy's prison mugshot. Decaris has really managed to capture her mask of immense strength, determination, and willpower that saw her confront Gestapo torturers without yielding a shard of information. Note also the striped prison shirt she is wearing. A respectful tribute to an incredibly brave woman.

Until next time...

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

France 1958 - Heroes of the Resistance (Part 2 - Fred Scamaroni)

It is defined as the act of fighting against something that is attacking you, or refusing to accept something. We are of course talking about resistance. And perhaps none typify and deserve the distinction of this title than the French Resistance, La Résistance in French.

It all began in the summer of 1940. The Nazis had barnstormed into France and the swastika was now flying high in Paris from such prominent places as the Hôtel de Ville and on top of the Eiffel Tower. Amid this turmoil, a prominent French writer by the name of Jean Cassou, penned the words, refus absurde "absurd refusal". Little did he know, these words would inspire the proud citizens of France to rise up against the Nazi intruders in any way possible. Thus the Resistance was born. The Resistance was for the most part organised into small groups of men and women who engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Nazis. Additionally, they published underground newspapers, established effective intelligence networks, and maintained escape routes for Allied soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. For more detailed information on the Resistance, click HERE.

***

On 21 April 1958, France issued the second set of stamps in a series titled Heroes of the Resistance. This set comprised four stamps. All stamps were designed by Albert Decaris, but he only engraved two. In this blog we shall study the second stamp in the set depicting Fred Scamaroni. This stamp was designed by Albert Decaris but engraved by Jean Pheulpin.


Fred Scamaroni, born 24 October 1924, started his career in law after graduating from the Faculty of Law in Paris in 1934. Then in 1936 his focus shifted somewhat to the military when he became a reserve officer at Saint-Maixent, serving in the infantry as a second lieutenant. After a time he returned to Paris and became chief of staff of the prefect of Doubs. Then between 1936 and the outbreak of World War II he trained with the Air Force. Indeed, in 1940 he flew combat missions during the Battle of France (10 May - 22 June 1940).  On 19 May, 1940, he was seriously injured during aerial combat. For his bravery he earned the cross of war.

In June 1940 he joined the Free France forces and became a member of General de Gaulle's personal staff. In this capacity he was sent to Dakar to fight in the Anglo-Gaullist raid, which aimed to rally the immense forces of French West Africa to the Allied cause. During this mission Scamaroni was captured by Viscysts and imprisoned. He and his comrades managed to escape, but lady luck was not with them. They were captured and imprisoned yet again until their eventual release in February 1941. 

In 1942 he returned to France, and again joined General de Gaulle's staff, where he was placed in the French Combatant Forces (FFC). His many missions in this capacity placed him in the cross-hairs of the Gestapo. There was now a fat target on his back. Consequently, he returned to Corsica, where he had been stationed in the past, to elude capture. But in March 1943 he was captured by the OVRA, which was a secret fascist Italian police force. He was imprisoned in the citadel of Ajaccio and tortured. Then on 19 March, to ensure he did not crack under further torture, Scamaroni committed suicide in his cell. A tragic end for a brave man of La Résistance.

Until next time...



Sunday, 15 April 2018

Cameroun 1946 - Definitives (Part 3)

It is known as "Africa in miniature" due to its geological and cultural diversity. You name it, Cameroun seems to have it. Beautiful mountains, beaches, deserts, even rainforests. So fat in this series we have visited farming in Cameroun (Part 1) and delved into the importance of archery in the culture of the Cameroun people (Part 2). This time around we will study the horsemen of Cameroun.

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In August 1946 Cameroun issued a set of 19 definitives comprising 6 different designs, three of which were designed and engraved by Albert Decaris. The third and final design created by Decaris, bearing the highest values of the three Decaris designs, features lamido horsemen. Despite my best efforts, I've been unable to find much information on the subject of this design. So far, all I've found is that lamido means "leader". If anyone out there has anymore information I'd love to hear from you. For now I will simply let  this stunning design do the talking. It was printed in three different values, each in a unique colour.




Until next time...