Jedburgh Special Forces Board B-24D Liberator, Bound For France

Jedburgh Team Aubrey seen just before boarding Consolidated B-24D-35-CO Liberator "Fightin' Sam" (#42-40506) of 8th Air Force, 801st Bombardment Group, 788th Bomb Squadron, for parachuting into France. Left to Right: E. W. Appel, plane crew; unidentified woman; Sergeant Ivor Hooker; Captain Jean-Francois Chaigneau (back to camera) Captain Godfrey Marchant (behind Chaigneau) and unidentified American aircrew member. "Fightin' Sam" was painted black for this mission. The Jedburghs were special forces 3-person teams, formed from the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the Free French Bureau Central de Renseignements et d'Action (Intelligence and Operations Central Bureau), and later personnel from the Dutch or Belgian Army. During Operation Overlord, Jedburghs were inserted via parachute or by landing in Douglas C-47 Dakotas behind German lines to work with the Forces Francaises de l'Intérieur (French Forces of the Interior, FFI, the Resistance) to organize sabotage, intelligence, and engage retreating German forces. Team Aubrey consisted of of Captain Marchant (British, code name RUTLAND), Captain Chaigneau (French, nom-de-guerre J. Telmon, code name KILDARE), and Sergeant Hooker (British, code name THALER, radio operator). They dropped into France at 0115 Hours on August 12, 1944 at La Plessis-Belleville. Two other B-24s accompanied the mission to drop weapons, food and supplies. Aubrey operated in the Seine-et-Marne region east of Paris; they completed their hookup with the "Spiritualist" SOE network the night they landed. As German forces retreated from Paris on August 27, 1944, Major Rene Dumont-Guillemet, the leader of the "Spiritualist" circuit, ordered the FFI to ambush them. Only the Jedburghs were trained with PIAT anti-tank rockets, and only two Bren machine guns were available. LVIII Panzer Corps, shattered in the Normandy breakout, had elements of the Panzer Lehr and 9th Panzer Divisions in the area and engaged the FFI, killing eighty-six French. Captain Chaigneau was killed by a tank shell as he attempted to rescue a nurse. Hooker and Marchant were separated in a river bed, using the deep, thick mud to hide from the Germans until they were able to independently escape eight hours later and rejoin the American VII Corps at Nongloire-par-Puisieux. By August 30 both Hooker and Marchant were back in London. Marchant was killed in Burma in April 1945 on another Jedburgh mission; Hooker survived the war and died in 1988. 91 Jedburgh teams operated in France in July and August 1944, destroying bridges, railroads, communications, and reporting to London that the Germans had fled Paris. These operations laid the groundwork for the creation of dedicated intelligence operations in the United States, United Kingdom and France after the war.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
National Archives ans Records Ad
Archival Identifier: 
NARA 226-FPL-T-25
Date Photographed: 
Friday, August 11, 1944