1940 - 1945
Huis van het Belgisch-Franse Verzet
The Lapierre Story Research an reconstruction of the participation of Armand Lapierre in the resistance actions of Réseau Alliance, in Paris and moving up to the Normandy coast in the upcoming events of D-Day.  Published in English : March 27, 2017 All rights reserved.
PUBLICATIES  - PUBLICATIONS Armand Lapierre War Heritage Detection Program
___________________________________ The Lapierre story Forgotten resistance at the Normandy coast, a prelude to D-Day.
Historical research by the War Heritage Detection Program Jo Peeters – Sofie Van Krunkelveldt ___________________________________ Museum Huis van het Belgisch-Franse Verzet  - 2017
Preface The end of february 2013. My GPS unit is guiding me into a small street on the right, leaving the N860 between Houffalize  and La Roche-en Ardenne. A small road, cutting slopes between the endless meadows, leading   downhill to one of those typical small villages of the Belgian Ardennes region. The first time I heard about Filly in those days. It seemed one of those tiny communities, transformed into “gîtes”, old farms and sheds being transformed into  ‘bed & breakfasts ’ during the years. Cornering the last piece of the road into the center, I reached my destination. The former Balthazar farm became the scene of a barnfind that would change my world forever. The shed in front of the farm was housing the remains of an old demounted motorcycle and several parts and documents. Simply being interested to find a WWII era French Motobécane to restore, I didn’t know it would be the start of a 4 year historical trip, becoming a research leading me into France. This paper is more then a summary of our research to me. It’s a homage to those, who had chosen to revolt against the warmachine of a dictator. Some of them, just got lost in time. They never claimed their actions. No one asked about their whereabouts. We entered into the reflections of those clandestine  lifes  we know now by the recorded testimonials  in the years after the war by those who lived it. Some of them even never did – they kept their memories for themselves. Several of those ‘soldiers of the shadows ’ , never reached  official recognition, they simply got lost by death or their will to forget the horror. Our resources are supported and based upon profound fieldwork, digging into archives and comfirming the authenticity of our discoveries, since it has been more then seven decades that have passed away. In some stages of the process, my research was refuting some historical facts or shaping them differently. Introducing them and initiating new facts  wasn’t and still isn’t the easiest way. But I keep in mind that we don’t own history, we have to remain curious and keep it preserved the best way we can. Jo Peeters Curator of the Museum HBFV
The first encounter… Shortly in the afternoon of February 23, 2013, we got the first view on the part of the motorcycle that was up for sale, a Motobécane type B33. Hidden behind a garagedoor in a small borough of Houffalize, were the rusty remains of the bike. “It was found by Joseph Balthazard” he said, “ it was pulled out of the woods here after the war”. I was quiet mistrustful to this arguments, sounding like a good sales pitch. I decided to get the things and bits in the open, to get a clear view on the matter under the pale wintersun. A quick refer to the chassisnumber assured me of it’s production date : 1933.
The main parts pulled out in the open. The ”Cross of Lorraine” sign   on the small plate caught my attention.                                                       
The B33 after restoration, on our                                                      historical tour in Poix-du-Nord, where                                                                                                                                I drove it in Armand’s trails, 72 years                                                                                                                                later !                         
As claimed by the seller, the motorcycle was pulled apart in the 80’s to get it restored. Put it was a project that never got further then this. It was kept in the small shed, on the other side of the street. The small bits where collected in two wooden boxes, also containing plastic bags with papers, giving a very moldy impression. A kind of wooden box, transformed with metal hooks to be attached to the bikes frame was also there. The man reached into one of them and said : “ it’s a bike from a French guy, during the war . Look here ! “ Taking the small document in my hand, it was the first time I got a view of this man, on a tiny black and white picture.   
The picture I took of a drivers license in the garage. With German stamps and the Seine-et-Oise indication, refering to the Paris region. Lapierre – Armand – Jean on the top, dated 19/02/1942
I got convinced of the fact, this was a real war relic. The other documents were kind of stuck in the plastic, due to the mold, so I deceided not to make effort to get them out on the spot. The deal was done and I started loading my purchase on the trailer. Driving home, I was excited and wondered who was this man on the picture.
The diary and other documents. Lots of the sheets inside the plastic bags where not recoverable. Destroyed by rats and mice, matted by the results of water and mold. In the second bag, I found even newspapers from the 70’s, an old telephonebook and christmascards. A small booklet containing molded paper sheets. Several of them had some pencil writing on it. Hard to read. Only the first sheets inside were accessable. I still remenber the feeling and thrill, when I managed to read a ‘1944 date’. Some sheets were still attached to the cover, most of them were loose and mixed up. But I realised it was the diary of this ‘Lapierre 477 ’ 
The selection of 9 sheets essential to the Normandy sabotage.
Due to the nature of the old wartime paper and the writing in pencil, a serious restoration was needed. I wanted this to be preserved as best as possible. Also to get as much of information as possible. In the second bag, I went through the contents piece by piece. About 8 sheets with the same diary-style, but typed with a typewriter. By the nature of them, they had always been folded in to a small shape. They became the start of my research, during the resoration of the ‘pencil-papers ‘ , unaware at that moment of the fact they would play a key role in the link between Armand’s whereabouts, his link to the Réseau  Alliance and the Réseau PTT at the Normandy region, introduced by ‘Guillot’.
After research of this sheet I call ‘the KEY’ , this document puts Armand in the 16th district of Paris at the end of May 1944. The ‘BV’ stands for Boulainvilliers. He seems to be hiding with Maurice and Marie at number 19, probably Rue de Boulainvilliers, giving him access to a typewriter. The link to Tadorne( Jean Truffaux ) is mentioned.
Keys of the research The diary and added sheets would be my guideline throughout my investigation. I always wondered:  how did this motorcycle and papers end up in Belgium ? This Lapierre ending up in the Filly maquis ? The restoration of the “pencil papers” pretty much solved that question and shaped my vision on this matter on how he ended up in Belgium,  attached to the US 83th Rec Armored Batallion of the BIG RED ONE, 1st ID. His identity was hard to find. Armand Lapierre remained a mistery in matters of Paris  population registers. A small paper, attached tot he last page with a staple indicates his name and “MALESTROIT – 23 Hataile“. This gave a lead to the family branch of Gaston Lapierre, who gave shelter to several downed airmen in his home in Malestroit and organised evasion for them to Paris. This so called “Pat O’Leary“ network got compromised and Gaston Lapierre was arrested in 1943. The same moment Armand arrives in Paris permanently. We can presume the arrests made Armand move to the capital, away from the Morbihan region to continue his work.
Armand knew the city of Paris very well.  His limited recovered writing shows good local knowledge and probability however. I decided it to be an open trail. Secondly his recovered citation, dating September 22, 1944 on the French-Belgian border, executed by commander Point of the FFI, shows his courage during the liberation period. Most important were the facts that were written or typed, a logical deduction of the facts by continued analysis.  Three years later in september 2016, a second and unexpected ‘lifeline’, as I call it,  came from de village of Noville in Belgium, by a testimony from mister Bastin, 9 years old and neighbour of this Balthazar family in 1944. They used to shelter resistance members at that time… he had seen this ‘rather small postured man in the shed’. He brought food to him several times, in december 1944. Suddenly, this story led us into the Battle of the Bulge, resistance members back to the maquis, real close to where I found the motorcycle remains.
“Liaison” to the intelligence network The lack of access to his original and complete writing made it harder to determine the fact of his collaboration with intelligence networks. Everything was reduced to 32 pages, often not combined by the loss of pages or destruction by moisture. Studying the timeline of the Réseau Alliance, making it’s third revival after the heavy losses due to betrayal , Gestapo retaliations and moving to Paris on July 16th 1943, poses a link to this service. Armand is the “letterbox”, designated as the ‘Relais de Muette ‘,  for one of the agents from the ‘FERME’ region, situated at the Calvados sector of Normandy. His contact with "Tadorne" from Alliance is well written in his diary, but not the other side he was transferring the information for...  During our research, one name of a street in Paris gave it away, combined with this "E.H.", being a mistery figure for us all the time. The key paper is the testimony by Jean Louis Vigier, written in 1968 ( Historique du Réseau Maurice, Les Portes de la Liberté -  PRIVAT. EAN : 9782708986046  ). Jean tells about the "Réseau Maurice" and it's section in Paris called "Group Maurice 9 ", organised by HUMBERT. Jean explains about the several "boîtes aux lettres” and the new members attached to the service when they moved from Toulouse to Paris. In the last months before D-Day, about 11 of these "boîtes aux lettres" were listed in the 16th and 11th district of Paris. But one place in the list, is the "Rue Charles Tellier nr 4 ". The "Charles Tellier" is mentioned in Armand's diary, where he meets this "E.H.", giving him instructions. And it's only 1.5 km from his hidingplace in the Rue de Boulainvilliers.
As mentioned before, in the earlier writings he mentions ‘TADORNE’, refering to Jean Truffaux, attached to the Ferme section and Jean Caby in Villers-Bocage. He made several trips to Paris during 1943 and 1944. Armand tells in his writing about March 16th 1944, the fact of him not showing up at the rendez-vous point, presumably in the surroundings of Boulainvilliers railwaystation.  Consultating the history of the Alliance timeline, that was quiet logical : Jean Truffaux got caught by the Gestapo, together with several other agents.
 The beginning of the end of the offical Alliance network. The Ferme region will be the scene of multiple arrests in the days after, beheading the network and leading up to captivity for it’s members in Caen. In his ‘pencil-papers’ Armand refers to them just before D-Day as “our heros in Caen, about to be set free”. Sadly – wishfull thinking, since the prisoners were executed by the Germans on the morning of D-Day, leaving their bodies never to be recovered… 
Page 30 from the “Pencil papers”, written on June 5, 1944. Armand says: “ Et, pas oublier nos héros à Caen, leur libérté s’approche ! He was well aware of their enprisonment. 
Our presence at the commemoration at the formar prison of Caen on June 6th, 2016 for the first time. A very emotional moment… We saw Jean Caby’s picture on the wall.
Tadorne presumably carried vital information on the entire structure of the FERME network of the Calvados region. One should ask the question why – as it seems an irrational act to carry this critical information to Paris. One plausible explanation is a demand by the Alliance headquarters.  The ‘Conseil Nationale de la Résistance’ ( CNR ) planned a secret meeting on March 15, 1944. Armand never mentions any contact with the higher command of Réseau Alliance at the “garçonnerie”. If we consider the 19/BV at Maurice and Marie as his hideout, he was very close to the place. The only contacts that confirm are the meetings at “ Café de Cluny “, situated at the Boulevard St. Michel in Paris ( 5th district ) . The agent he calls E.H. is still unknown, but he or she remained active and influenced Armand to go the Calvados region .
The complete network diagram, linking Armand to the Réseau Maurice, the CND , Réseau PTT and Réseau Alliance.
Click here to continue to page 2 of the Lapierre Story
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