With the defeat and evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and the capitulation of the French Army, June 22nd 1940 sees the surrender of France to German occupation, a dark and tragic time for the proud and powerful nation. France was divided; with Germans claiming and occupying vast areas of the country, and what remained governed by French authorities installed by their conquerors in the town of Vichy.
Some refused to accept their defeat, the rule of the Vichey regime or that of the German occupiers. These became known as the French Resistance, FFI (French Forces of the Interior). Be they individuals, a small group or multiple groups, each found their own way to defy their occupiers.
Up to 500,000 French people, 2% of the population, joined the Resistance. Most didn't have a military background; They were farmers, housewives, students and academics, artists, shop keepers, civic figures and the remnants of the French Army, just regular ordinary people from all walks of life and all political leanings.
The most overt acts of resistance to the Germans were those who took up whatever arms they could against their occupiers. Their weapons were a motley collection of salvaged French equipment, captured German weapons and items that were parachute dropped to the FFI by British Intelligence. Using their limited resources the Resistance would ambush German road convoys, destroying or delaying their progress. Railway lines would be sabotaged and telephone lines cut; some fought back by producing and distributing anti German propaganda; subtle V for Victory symbols would appear in public places, in chalk or by using broken matchsticks.
With each act of defiance the men and women of the FFI faced grave consequences, imprisonment, torture, deportation to a concentration camp, or summary execution were all constant threats. reprisals for Resistance sabotage included reprisals against innocent civilians