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...


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