History at Le Fournet - Operation Aquatint

Operation Aquatint - plaque on the sea wall

Captain Graham Hayes MC

Operation Aquatint - plaque on the sea wall
Captain Graham Hayes MC

Le Fournet played its part in the D Day Landings - but nearly two years earlier....
On 12th September 1942, the French coast came under attack once again by British Commandos.
A force of eleven Commandos landed at the plage ( the beach) at St Laurent sur Mer, later known as Omaha Beach. The intention of the raid was to collect sand samples and take German prisoners for interrogation.
Unfortunately the raid was unsuccessful as a dog heard the Commandos walking on the shingle. Three Commandos were killed on the beach and three captured immediately but four escaped of which three were later captured by German Paratropers.
The remaining escapee, Captain Graham Hayes MC, managed to get inland and knocked on the door of our house here at Le Fournet.
He was taken in by the then farmer, Marcel Lemasson, whose wife fed him and dried his clothes. Two days and nights later he was taken across the road to the Chateau d' Asnieres en Bessin and put in the hands of Madame De Brunville who was head of SOE (Special Operations Executive) for the area.
After a succession of adventures with French partisans he eventually ended up three miles over the Spanish border ( 12 miles in he would have been home free) but was captured having been betrayed by a double agent.
From here Captain Hayes was taken to a prison in Paris where he was eventually shot by the Gestapo almost a year to the day after the raid. The three Commandos killed on the beach are buried in the church yard at St Laurent sur Mer in official war graves and there is a plaque on the sea wall at Omaha Beach.
It is here and at the church every year on the anniversary of the raid that a service is held in memory of the men who took part.
The raid was code named ' Operation Aquatint'.


 
painting by Marcel Lemasson on the wall in one of our outbuildings.
 Wartime painting by Marcel Lemasson on the wall in one of our outbuildings.
Tony Graves (the current owner of Le Fournet) outside the house with the authors of the book "If I Must Die" From "Postmaster" to "Aquatint"
- Gerard Fournier & Andre Heintz