Sunday, July 8, 2012

The other La Rochefoucauld

François VI de la Rochefoucauld
François VI de la Rochefoucauld, the resistance fighter's ancestor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There had better be a film on this guy's life!
The mission, code-named “Sun”, saw La Rochefoucauld infiltrate the factory dressed as one of the workers there. Over four days he smuggled in 40 kilos of explosives, concealed in hollowed-out loaves of bread and specially designed shoes. On Thursday May 20, La Rochefoucauld linked the charges and set timers before scaling a wall and pedalling to safety on a bicycle. The blast was heard for miles. After sending a message to London (the reply read simply: “Félicitations”) he enjoyed several good bottles with the local Resistance leader, waking the next day with a hangover.
Cycling to Bordeaux to meet a contact who was to arrange his return to England, however, he ran into a roadblock, taken prisoner, and imprisoned at the 16th-century Fort du Hâ. His explanations that he had been out after dark on a romantic assignation were not believed and, in his cell, La Rochefoucauld considered swallowing the cyanide pill concealed in the heel of his shoe.
Instead he faked an epileptic fit and, when the guard opened the door to his cell, hit him over the head with a table leg before breaking his neck. (“Thank Goodness for that pitilessly efficient training,” he noted). After putting on the German’s uniform, La Rochefoucauld walked into the guardroom and shot the two other German jailers. He then simply walked out of the fort, through the deserted town, and to the address of an underground contact.
What exploits ... what derring-do! Too bad Peter O'Toole is too old to play him. Here's another wild character from the era:  The Hornet's Sting: The Amazing Untold Story of World War II Spy Thomas Sneum.

3 comments:

  1. The article in the Telegraph goes on to say he later escaped capture by dressing as a nun! Surely a younger Sean Connery could do much with the part.
    La Rochefoucauld, dissuaded from further action in Vietnam, was sent home, but got "bored with life in France" and tried to join the fight in Cameroon. Truly he felt, like Tosca's Cavaradossi, never so alive as when close to death.
    We, the children of a more peaceful time, entertain ourselves with comic heroes, all ignorant of many real ones.
    Thank you for reminding us of them.

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  2. Great post and very interesting subject. One thing not stated outright in the Telegraph article, La Rochefoucauld was only in his early 20's by the time World War II ended. So much for casting (even a young) Sean Connery, you're going to have to go much younger, think Shia LaBeouf or Robert Pattinson.

    By the way, it appears that the Telegraph has taken down the page to which you're linking.

    Let me know if you have any luck getting the movie options !

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