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- People in story:
- Sgt Jean Contet
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- Contributed on:
- 04 June 2004
The hero, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and great, great grandfather of
THE FRENCH SAS — THE SHADOW BATALLION
“Who Dares Wins”
My Grandfather, Jean Contet, born in Paris on 21st November 1911 is our hero for the important role he played in saving so many lives during the 2nd world war.
Sgt Contet was first trained at Largo near the Firth of forth in Scotland by Polish Paratroopers attached to the SAS Regiment. On 5th June 1944 800 men of the Free French SAS including my Grand father, were dropped from converted Stirling Bombers behind enemy lines at approximately 11.30pm.
Their objective was to link up with the French Resistance and to stop German troops getting through to the Normandy Beach Head. They achieved their objective by sabotage, cutting enemy communication lines (rail links and stations), munitions and fuel dumps and transport. They stopped 9 of 10-armoured division of German troops from getting through!
Their unit still holds the world record for the fastest low level air jump, 20 paratroopers out of the airplane in 7 ½ seconds!
The Battalion was later sent to help the Americans to cause disruption and chaos where needed and were involved in the Battle of the Bulge Belgium. For their heroism and bravery some were highly decorated. Sgt Contet, my grand father, was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Military Medal as well as three citations, one including ‘The Palm’ the highest awarded.
The Shadow Batallion was not allowed to wear the coveted red beret and badge of the SAS Regiment. As a mark of respect of their heroism and bravery, these Free French Paratroopers, were given permission to wear it with a plane being detailed to drop the coveted beret and permission after having proved themselves.
The photograph is of my grandfather and ‘Schleu’, a wounded German shepherd dog that he found in a hut with eight German troops whom he captured. He removed a bullet from Schleu’s leg and he was much loved by my grandfather. Schleu returned to England with my grandfather after the Battle of the Bulge in his kit bag.
My grandfather now 92, lives in Montpellier and he, together with his comrades of the Free French SAS are represented in the Musee de la Resistance Bretonne Saint Marcel Malestroit.
He has fond memories of a Herdman family who lived in Largo and has unsuccessfully tried to find them. They treated him with much kindness and he has always appreciated this. If any of your listeners are able to provide any information of their whereabouts we would be sincerely appreciative of being contacted.
I can be contacted via the following email address:
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