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...

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