Virginia Hall: Arming and Directing the French Resistance
On the eve of the D-Day invasion, Virginia Hall was organizing airdrops of arms to newly organized resistance movements in the Haute Loire region of France. Her mission was to aid and direct the Resistance to cut rail, telephone, and telegraph lines to prevent German troops, command communications and material support from reaching the coast of Normandy.
Sabotage was a key element of resistance but it didn’t always take the form of “James Bond-style” explosions or large-scale destruction of enemy equipment or installations.
The most effective sabotage often took place on a small scale: day-to-day activities that individuals living in a hostile environment could plan and execute with little fear of discovery, and yet would slow the enemy down or thwart his plans.
This sabotage, known as Simple Sabotage, was highly effective–especially on the eve of the D-Day invasion when the Germans wanted to move their equipment forward quickly to meet Allied forces landing on the beaches of Normandy.
Learning the Art of Sabotage
Virginia, with the American OSS since January 1944, was familiar with the OSS Sabotage Manual, which explained the art of sabotage–from blowing fuses in apartments housing the enemy to changing signposts at intersections and reporting imaginary spies or dangers to the Gestapo.