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Sunday, January 31, 2016
From Pacifist Sheep Farmer to One of Britain’s Greatest Secret Agents
Luck, a penchant for survival and sheer guts …. that was Lt. Col. Francis Cammaerts. He died in 2006 at age 90, and is still remembered as one of the most effective British operatives of World War II. “From the earliest days of his work it was apparent that he was one of the most outstanding organizers in the field,” his citation for the Distinguished Service Order stated. “This was borne out on D-Day when his organization numbered 20,000 men of which at least 15,000 were fully armed” — a boon to the regular Allied forces as the French resistance destroyed rail lines, sabotaged German communications and ambushed German troops. Only a handful of men and women who worked with Cammaerts are alive today. But historians and family friends of Cammaerts remember him as a man who expressed fierce loyalty toward the French people, and a fervent determination to wipe out the Nazis because of the personal loss the war brought to his family.
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As valuable as knowledge of history is for avoiding tragedy, it is also vital for seeing what can be done at critical junctures. While the circumstance and details vary enormously, and replication of success through rote imitation is impossible, There are vital constants which must guide us in any age of human affairs.
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