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The Maquis (French Resistance)

The role of the Maquis in Operation OVERLORD must never be underestimated. They received most of their instruction via the BBC’s French service transmitted from London, which would regularly send hundreds of personal messages. Only a few of these messages were really significant and one was transmitted a few days before D-Day. It was the first line of Verlaine's poem, Chanson d'Automne, "Les sanglots longs des violons de l'automne" (Long sobs of autumn violins), which told the commanders of the Maquis that the "day" was imminent. When the second line "blessent mon coeur d'une langueur monotone" (wound my heart with a monotonous languor) was heard, the Maquis knew that the invasion would take place within 48 hours.

The messages told the Maquis that it was time to go about their respective pre-assigned missions which included destroying selected water towers, telephone lines, roads and railways. These tasks were designed to disrupt German communications and hinder their ability to get reinforcements to the invasion area. It was the success of the Maquis and the Allied Air Forces in cutting the German lines of communication that gave the invading troops time to come ashore and establish the beachhead.

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