Mulling over in my mind about the maquis
(French Resistance), in my post above, reminded me of when I met two of the real thing
in 1972 in Vire, Normandy: Henri and Albert d' Agneaux, brothers, now sadly probably passed on - they must have been 70+ then. Albert had got caught and sent to prison in 1944 but was saved when the GIs arrived, Henri getting away by sailing a dinghy to England. One evening, over several verres de calvados
( and most of my bottle of duty free scotch! ), Henri reminisced over their exploits making 'black-powder' bombs and derailing bosch
trains. Next morning hanging over,( in all senses) bols de cafe
, the two insisted they would show Denise and I how it was done. We went to a small paddock in the bocage
, where Albert drilled a 2" hole deep into the bole of a felled oak, while Henri gave instructions. The whole of a bag of powder went into the hole, followed by a rammed newspaper and a fuse. There then followed a short voluable argument on how much fuse was needed, till Albert deftly cut it off 1" from the stump with his baccy knife! Immediately, Henri lit it and shouted "Allez!!" I have never lived down being overtaken by two seventy year olds and a slip of a girl, ( I was 31 ish then ) and we barely got 50 yards when it went off! The stump took off in two massive chunks, sailed over the bocage
hedge and landed in the rural lane, taking out the phone line, this damage to public property being given the 'gallic shrug'! We shook as much earth out of our scalps as possible and, terrified, made our excuses and left! - but the two old buggers had their blood up! From the safety of the old farmhouse we heard the 'crump' of several tree-stumps being uprooted, till they came back flushed and ready for their lunch!