Émilienne Moreau-Evrard is one of France most revered
heroines, highly decorated for her acts duringthe Great War and the Second
World War. During the occupation of Loss in the Great War Emilienne continued
her chosen profession as a teacher, creating an improvised class room in a cellar
During a British counter attack launched on the 25th September 1915 to retake
Loos, and still only seventeen Emilienne provided the British with sufficient intelligence
on German emplacements’ in a local stronghold, that they were rendered virtually
useless. Émilienne continued to aid the British by organising a first aid post
in her house, with the help of a Scottish doctor she tended to wounded soldiers
in her care.
In a later incident, with the help of some British Tommie’s,
she rushed from her home armed with a handful of grenades to rescue a British
soldier who was pinned down by enemy fire, forcing the Germans to retreat into
a nearby house. Arming herself with a revolver
she shoots two German soldiers though a closed wooden door.
For her action Émilienne Moreau is awarded the Croix de
guerre 1914-1918 with an army acknowledgement given directly by Marshal
Ferdinand Foch and the Croix du Combattant by the French Army. The British too acknowledge
her heroism and is awarded the Military Medal; she also receives the Royal Red
Cross (first class) and the Venerable Order of Saint John. This last award is
rarely given to a woman. She was personally invited to meet the President of
the French Republic Raymond Poincaré and later the British King, George V.
The French newspaper
Le Petit Parisian wrote in detail of her exploits, making her a national hero.
The army and the press use her image for propaganda and in 1916 her exploits
were made into a film. The Joan of Arc of Loos (1916). After graduating, she
ended the war teaching in a boys' school in Paris.
After the Great War Émilienne marries the socialist activist
Just Evrard in 1932, two years later she is appointed as General Secretary of
the women's socialist movement of her department.
Émilienne, who was known by the Germans for her actions in
the Great War, is immediately placed under house arrest, following the occupation of France during World War 2, eventually allowed to return to Lens,
she started to distribute propaganda brochures against Marshal Philippe Pétain
and his capitulation and started to feed the British Intelligence Service with
crucial information. At the end of 1940, Emillienne and her husband created a
secret section of her socialist party in Lens.
She was known by her aliases “Jeanne Poirier” and “Émilienne
la Blonde “in French Resistance circles and as a member of “France au Combat” (“The
Fighting French”) which was founded in 1943 by André Boyer, she worked with
Augustin Laurent, André Le Troquer and Pierre Lambert. From March 1944 until
her escape to the U.K in August 44 she was on the Gestapo’s most wanted list.
For her work in the French resistance, she was awarded the
rare title of Compagnon de la Libération by General Charles de Gaulle in
Béthune in August 1945. When World War II was over, she became a politician in
the French Socialist Party.
Émilienne Moreau-Evrard died on 5th January 1971 and was
buried in Lens, aged 72 years old.
FULL IST OF HONOURS:
Officer of the Légion d'honneur
Compagnon de la Libération - legislative bill of August 11,
Croix de guerre 1914-1918 with one palm
Croix de guerre 1939-1945
Croix du combattant
Croix du combattant volontaire de la Résistance
Royal Red Cross
Venerable Order of Saint John
In todays' Daily Telegraph:The Union of Democratic Control peace rally being held in Farringdon,
London was disrupted by a collection of
medical students and soldiers who clearly
decided that the expression of such views should not be allowed and took
measures to prevent it being taken, including “stink pots” and physical force
Given the way the Telegraph reported on American peace
groups the day before, it is no surprise to see the students and soldiers being
portrayed in a sympathetic, if not heroic light, and the Union of Democratic
Control vilified for its views.
Also in today’s paper
- The case of novelist Annesley Kenealy, (see November 20)
takes a new twist at a hearing where she is charged with attempting to commit
suicide, as the house physician at the hospital where she was taken claims the
bottle of poison she claimed to drink was nothing of the sort – page 4
- The new set of awards for distinguished service includes
99 men being granted the Distinguished Conduct Medal, with the details of how
each man earned it given on page 6
- Can one ever get used to a boat collision or such like
being described as an “exciting incident,” as the collision of two pilot boats
off Deal is described on page 7?
- Lord Derby writes to the chairman of the British Red Cross
informing him that he considers that the proper place of many men doing work
for it is in the fighting ranks and that the Red Cross should enable this to be
so – page 9
- After all the complaints beforehand there is “no organised
resentment” to London’s new drink restrictions, the first day of which is
covered at some length on pages 9 and 10
- “The entire world must prepare to shudder when all that is
happening on the Albanian refugee trails comes to light” claims an American
journalist detailing the “terrible suffering” of the Serbs, reported on page 10
- A young American is pardoned for spying for the Germans in
London through the intervention of Theodore Roosevelt, and the British
government’s “mercy and magnanimity” in this case is favourably contrasted with
the German treatment of Edith Cavell – page 10
- The Foreign Office issues “a choice collection of German
mendacities” bringing “amazing charges” against the Allies in the Cameroons –
- The Y.M.C.A. takes out a full-page advert on page 12 to
highlight its huts for soldiers, and appeal for more money for the cause