Obituary: Captain Marcel Jaurant-Singer

French Resistance hero who trained partisans to carry out sabotage operations against Nazis


One of the last two Second World War Jewish SOE agents (Special Operations Executives) Captain Marcel Jaurant-Singer has died aged 101.

Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Captain Jaurant-Singer and his parents, Marcel Singer and Marie Jaurant, first worked in the Paris Resistance area but were put under house arrest in Lyons for opposing the Vichy regime.

His mother was later freed and worked secretly for the famous evasion network, the VIC line, from 1943, helping Allied evaders, such as British and US airmen, who had been shot down, escape to Spain.

By 1942, young Marcel had become a courier for the Resistance between Paris and Lyons and was extracted in August 1943 to London via the Pyrenees and Gibraltar, for training at the Wandsworth Common Royal Victoria Patriotic School, London, as a radio operator.

After mastering coding and morse, he completed the commando course and parachuting at various other secret SOE training schools around Britain, and was commissioned into the British Army.

On the night of March 2, 1944, codenamed Shareholder and field-named Flavian, Marcel, aged 23, was parachuted into the Roanne region of France armed with nothing more than a portable radio.

His mission was to establish a Resistance network in the eastern French region of Chalon-sur-Saône, as part of Churchill’s plan to “set Europe ablaze”.

He immediately began sending messages to London from various safe houses. He never spent more than 25 minutes on air to avoid detection by the Nazis, cycling from one clandestine radio to another.

He began training new radio operators for other Resistance circuits. By D Day, June 6, 1944, he was in charge of over 300 men as the only SOE officer in his area, known by his nom de guerre, Armand.

As these men had not been trained in fighting, Marcel linked up with local partisans, the Maquis, in order to prepare and train his own men.

Within a month they were carrying out sabotage operations against the Germans on roads, canals and telephone cables, and receiving parachute drops of arms and equipment.

In September Marcel took part in the battle of Sennecey, helping liberate Chalon-sur-Saône.

He was returned to the UK at the end of September, 1944 to work as an officer of the French Army in exile.

He was demobilised in the following December, 1945 in France, and became a senior civil servant, representing France on various international organisations including the EEC, until he retired in 1981.

He was elected President of the Federation Nationale Libre Resistance, a body of SOE veterans, up until his death.

For his persistent courage and determination as an agent, he was awarded the British MBE, Legion d’Honneur and Croix de Guerre.

Captain Marcel Jaurant-Singer: born May 27, 1921. Died December 28, 2022

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