14 July 1944: a parachute drop on Vercors
Maurice Bleicher collection
On 14 July 1944, a large-scale operation was carried out by the Eighth US Army Air Force to drop weapons, ammunition and sabotage materials for the maquis (rural resistance groups) of Vercors, Saône-et-Loire, Cantal, Lot, Corrèze and Haute-Vienne. It was called Operation Cadillac.
In Vercors, on a field codenamed Taille-Crayon (“Pencil-Sharpener”), near Vassieux, 72 American B-17 bombers flew in from Britain on the morning of the 14th and dropped 862 containers, holding 94 tonnes of weapons, ammunitions and explosives. But no sooner were the B-17s out of sight than German aircraft appeared overhead and began bombing the field. The bombing continued until dusk, forcing the Resistance fighters tasked with recovering the containers to evacuate the site. They took refuge in the surrounding woods, a number of them wounded, and were unable to recover the parachuted items until the following nights.
A number of containers were hit during the bombing, and either exploded or burned, along with their contents. The object shown here is a fragment of a British C-type container dropped on 14 July and subsequently hit by a German bomb, twisting the metal. Still visible is the intact triangular ring by which it was attached to the parachute’s snap hook.