Bertrand, Emile (Interview transcript and video), 2019


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Bertrand, Emile (Interview transcript and video), 2019


Smither, James (Interviewer)


Emile Bertrand was born in Morlaix, France on October 26th, 1922. After graduating high school in 1939, he began working in the arsenal of Rennes as a toolmaker. While at work, he witnessed the German bombing of Rennes in June 1940. To escape the threat, he and a couple of friends biked to Nantes, stopped to stay with his family in Morlaix, and then traveled to Marseille by train. From there, he went to Corsica by boat and stayed there for three months making charcoal. Then, he went back to France and worked in manufacturing in Laval until one day he was warned that Germans had arrived to search for laborers. He immediately ran and returned home to Morlaix where he worked on a farm for a few months. After that, in 1943, he began work as a lathe operator in Lanvéoc, a small town near Brest. At this time he and his best friend joined the French Underground, a resistance movement against German occupation of France. Most of the Underground’s operations took place at night while he worked his job during the day. When the American military was near, he joined their units and began moving toward Telgruc. One day, the Germans had left Telgruc for the sea, but the Americans thought the town was still occupied, so Bertrand and the Americans he was with experienced a friendly fire from B-26 Bombers. Another time, he and the American units he was with were being shot at by Germans from sea. Bertrand and his allies all went to hide in a ditch built by Germans when he was hit by a shrapnel. The next few days were filled with fighting until finally the Germans surrendered in Crozon. From there, he stopped by home in Lanvéoc before going to Quimper to join the French Army. He was sent to Ponthivy where he joined the 15th Dragoons. He went to Lorient where his regiment’s task was to guard the Germans. After that, he went back to Ponthivy and was sent to Argentan. He was there until the war ended in 1945.




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Grand Valley State University Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives, 1 Campus Drive, Allendale, MI, 49401.


Veterans History Project (U.S.)






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Bertrand, Emile L., “Bertrand, Emile (Interview transcript and video), 2019,” Digital Collections, accessed February 21, 2024,
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