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15 October 2014
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French Resistance

by cornwallcsv

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Olive Sage (nee watts), Frederick Sage
Location of story: 
Lille, France and Scotland
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
23 October 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War website by Doreen Bennett on behalf of Christopher Sage, the author and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

French Resistance

I am 59 and both my parents are now deceased but I recall throughout my later life them telling me their stories.

It is now known that my mother, Olive Sage, nee Watts played an important role in the French Resistance. She had dealings with operators who had been dropped into an enemy held area in France and she knew about Lysander aircraft and had flown in them. She wore a trench-like coat and a French beret and spoke French fluently and she still used to say things in French until she died in 1999.

She also knew about rifles, Sten gun Bognoet and also dressed in green/brown clothes.

Once my father, Frederick Sage, was in the Royal Norfour Regiment and was soon made up to Regimental Police Sergeant then went on to become commando Special Force. He was at Army training camp at Atrencarey Scotland near Spean Bridge, Fort William.

Whilst he was there my mother had a rented cottage called Tea Pot Cottage with a friend. A little way away, about a mile, she and her friend were out walking along a country lane when a Messerschmitt 109 came down and started to machine gun them. My mother pulled her friend down into a ditch full of brambles and stinging nettles. The plane then machine gunned some cows.

Another time, my mother had three German officers who were POW’s come down daily. They were dropped off from a British camp not far away for some training. They would do some domestic chores. Also at this cottage was a petrol pump and mother would fill up the Army vehicles.

When my father was in France near Lille at a railroad junction, he was nearly captured and he said that if it was not for your mother, I would have been captured and killed.

My mother had a code name something like FEFE. She also had a special travel pass and an ID card and knew the Colonel of the training camp, Colonel Voune and the two IC’s and was always up a the camp and also had special privileges for food and meat.

Once my father was up on a military charge for an offence but mother got him off and the charge was dropped.

What is very puzzling and some parts of the jig-saw missing — “What did my mother actually do?” What was her real role? How did she become involved in all this? Where did she learn French and where did she do her training? How did she become involved with Lysander aircraft and the French Underground?

I would love to know more as it would be very interesting, but apart from these things mother was very secretive even up to the day she died. So was she ruled by the Official Secrets Act? “Careless Talk Costs Lives”.

She and my father travelled around England often and also at that time Army wives would not have had all these privileges like she did, well not many.

On a lighter note, when going back to Scotland when they got to Bristol Templemeads railway station there was an air raid on and they had to get to Stapleton Road. Bombs were dropping, buildings on fire, a fireman fighting the fires but it was winter and freezing, so water froze in the fire hoses. My mother said “Fred, watch where you are going or you might fall and break your leg, for goodness sake watch the ice”.

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