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On this day in 1940

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Hotel de ville de CognacImage via Wikipedia

my father finally ended his attempt to reopen the Paris branch of the RBC in Cognac. This brief episode began when he got there on or about June 16 after getting out of Paris just ahead of the German Wehrmacht by car on June 12/13.

This attempt ended on or about June 18. By that time, tank units of the German Wehrmact couldn’t have been hours or at most a day or so away. In fact, the ministries of the French Government had moved to Bordeaux from Tours on June 14. By the 18th they felt the angry presence of German troops and with Petain as Prime Minister they proposed and accepted armistice under terms dictated by the Germans under direct instructions from Adolf Hitler. The Armistice was signed on June 22.

It is a fact that by June 22 German control extended on a line from Angoulème to Bordeaux, putting Cognac under German control for the duration of the French Vichy government. If we hadn’t gotten out of Cognac on time or no later than June 20, it is likely that we could have ended up either in a German concentration camp or in some kind of French safe house on the French side of the Armistice line.

From Cognac, he must then have made his way by car to the southwest coast of France with my mother, two sisters, one a babe in arms, my brother and myself in tow. Sometime between the 18th and the 30th of June we managed to get aboard a ship, probably a Royal Navy ship off the beach in Biarritz, to end up in England, likely Portsmouth.

By the 7 of July we were all on board the M/S Batory in Greenoch, Scotland to leave with a convoy to return to Canada, arriving in Halifax on July 11.

In 1986 I visited Cognac on a short road trip from Bordeaux. It was quite easy to detect the aroma of cognac distillation on arrival in Cognac.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2008/06/18 at 16:15

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