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Historic site and monument, Historic patrimony, Square in Montauban
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On July 24, 1944, the city of Montauban woke up in horror and dread, discovering the sinister spectacle of four men hanging back to back from the two acacias, located on the promenade frequented by the Montalbanais.
These four unfortunates were resistance fighters arrested on July 17, 1944, during a raid jointly carried out by the French Militia and the Gestapo, in the Négrepelisse and Montricoux sector.
A total of 14 men were arrested. Several of them attempted to escape, taking advantage of an ambush organized by a small group of Resistance fighters from Cors franc Dumas at a place called “Les Brunis”: René Cournut and Eugène Fournier managed to flee across the fields towards the river. They will...These four unfortunates were resistance fighters arrested on July 17, 1944, during a raid jointly carried out by the French Militia and the Gestapo, in the Négrepelisse and Montricoux sector.
A total of 14 men were arrested. Several of them attempted to escape, taking advantage of an ambush organized by a small group of Resistance fighters from Cors franc Dumas at a place called “Les Brunis”: René Cournut and Eugène Fournier managed to flee across the fields towards the river. They will be saved.
On the other hand, Pierre Bonhomme and Pierre Feuillée, will unfortunately have less luck, they will be immediately shot down. Two other resistance fighters will lose their lives during this skirmish: Marcel Loupiac and André Bauer.
The ten remaining prisoners will be brought to Montauban where they will first be deposited at the headquarters of the Felgendarmerie at the Hôtel du Commerce to undergo an initial interrogation, before being transferred to the former cavalry district, at the Doumerc barracks. From the next day, they will undergo “muscular” interrogations and will remain several days without food.
At the end of the week, three prisoners were freed. The families of the other captives began to hope for a similar treatment, unfortunately, the expected clemency gave way to a terrible sentence.
On the night of July 23 to 24, the prisoners were taken here to undergo their torture. Faced with the sinister preparations, several of these unfortunates tried everything for everything.
While waiting for the rattles of the first hanged, Hugues Lespinet leapt in the dark to escape his executioners when he was hit by a burst of machine gun fire. However, he will succeed in losing his pursuers and will be discovered in the early morning lying in a pool of blood, his hands tied behind his back, in a garden in the rue des Doreurs.
Although very seriously affected by several projectiles, he will find the strength to tell Prefect Maurice Vincent, called to the scene, the ordeal they had suffered with his comrades, since their arrest on July 17, until the ultimate torture that the Gestapo was going to inflict on them that disastrous night of July 23 to 24, 1944.
Transported to the hospital, Hugues Lespinet will succumb, unfortunately, the same evening to his injuries with his young wife called to his bedside. He was 33 years old and the father of two children.
Four of his companions in misfortune will be hanged from the acacias:
Henri Jouany, 38 years old from Montricoux, married, father of a young boy
André Huguet, 49 years old from Montricoux, married, father of two children
André Castel, 37 years old from Négrepelisse, married
Michel Melamed, of Polish origin, engineer at the Central Armament Laboratory of Caussade
The feet of the four unfortunates almost touched the ground, one of them had a bullet in the back of the neck. It is highly probable that the poor man, having tried to stand on tiptoe to escape the atrocious torture, had been finished off with a revolver shot. The Gestapo had decided to leave the hanged bodies exposed until the next day, but on the intervention of the civil and religious authorities, the sinister spectacle ceased at the end of the morning.
However, we had no news of the last two prisoners, Lucien Lespinet, Hugues' brother and André Jouany, Henri's brother. Could they have fled and escaped the clutches of the Gestapo? Rumors spread in Montricoux, hope was born again!
Unfortunately, the reality was quite different, an even more atrocious fate was reserved for them, they were buried alive on July 26, 1944, at the edge of the forest of Montech.
The guerrillas of Cabertat paid the high price, their attachment to France and its republican values. They died in dramatic conditions so that we could live free!
Let us never forget this sacrifice, made by a few in the name of the freedom of all.
A commemorative stele can be found in the town center of Montauban, the crossroads of the martyrs, on the site where the poor unfortunate people lost their lives.
All year 2023
- All year 2023