June 6, 1944… Les sanglots longs des violons de l’automne

On June 6, 1944, Philippe and Maurice Rousseau, sons of Lacasse Rousseau, one of the most respected families of Montmagny, were killed in combat.

They were both paratroopers and officers.

Philippe, still attach to his parachute, was killed even before he could touch ground at Gonnevilles-sur-Mer.

He was 33.

His brother Maurice was also a paratrooper and was assisting members of the French Resistance in Operation Loyton in order to disrupt the railway system in the region.

He died in Lorraine in the month of September 1944. He had just married Agnes Horsnby in England before he left for combat.

This is what I found while conducting research, but I just can’t remember where I found that info…

My memory is playing tricks on me…

Philippe was not killed in his parachute on the night of June 5-June 6, and he was not 33 years old.

This is a perfect example of a factoid.

Here are the facts…

Philippe died in combat on June 7, 1944 .

Here is the proof…


7 6 44

This image was on the blog of the young guide of Juno Beach Centre.
This is most probably taken for a newspaper clip. It shows the temporary burial site of Lieutenant Rousseau.

So we have confirmation of the date he died:

June 7, 1944

We can safely conclude that he led his platoon on the night of the parachute drop, and on June 6 and during part of June 7.

Let us continue with the story of the young guide who worked at the Juno Beach Centre…

The invasion

Although the Drop Zone (DZ) should have been only a few hundred meters large and have already been secured by Company C , many problems were encountered so paratroopers were dropped in an area 40 times larger than planned. The paratroopers landed isolated from one another and in a precarious environment. A large number of them either drowned in fields flooded by the Germans unable to move because of extra gear and ammunition they carried, or were taken prisoners by the Germans who had been alerted the imminence of an invasion.

While his men tried to regroup, Lieutenant Rousseau succeeded in his secret mission with two other men, James George Broadfoot and corporal Boyd Anderson.

Corporal Anderson explains their mission this way:

Lt Rousseau explained that some ten miles or so from our drop zone was the town of Dozule, which our intelligence people did not know very much about. It was located on a main highway going to Caen. The name of the mayor of Dozule was also Rousseau, the same name as my officer. It was thought that the mayor was friendly to our cause.

The plan was for Lt Rousseau, the batman Broadfoot, and me to meet in the drop zone with all haste. We were to ignore whatever trouble was going on and to proceed immediately by whatever means we could to Dozule and locate Mayor Rousseau and strike up a conversation with him with the hope of establishing a relationship and find out the numbers and disposition of the German troops in the area.

Lt Rousseau was very excited about this assignment and of course I was pleased to have been selected for this dangerous but unusual task and, like Lt Rousseau, I was all gung ho to get at the job. Little did I know that Lt Rousseau would be killed in the early daylight hours of the first day and that Broadfoot would be shot to death in the ditch the next afternoon just a few feet from were I was located behind a hedgerow.

(Boys of the Cloud)

To be continued…


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