- Second World War (1939-1945)
- RF Section, Special Operations Executive (SOE), British Government
This French Officer was sent to France by parachute on 6th October, 1943, in company with Maitre Ouvrier du Genie JARROT."
Their mission was of a technical nature and on a very large scale, involving the cutting off from the Paris area of supplies of hydro-generated electricity thereby forcing the enemy to deplete his already low stocks of coal by using the thermic generating stations.
The method employed was the simultaneous cutting by expplosives of key pylons, carrying the high tension lines from Eguzon, Roye and Crenay to the Paris area. This was supplemented by subsidary sabotage of repair dumps for the pylons and high tension lines.
They also organised follow-up operations to the successful sabotage of the electric power supply to the Le Creuset armaments factory which they accomplished on 2nd September.
Their successes in the main operation has been confirmed by various independent sources. M.E.W. have received information of the progressive reduction of the Paris coal stocks down to 6 days supply, reports, including an air photograph, have been receiving showing thermic stations working for the first time since the outbreak of war, and further independent report received in March stated "that 80 per cent of the Paris electricity supply is now generated by the thermic stations." In fact M.E.W. have received information that it has been found necessary to import coal from Germany.
In order to carry out his work BASSET and JARROT needed several teams of determined men. These they were able to recruit, so such good effect that the attacks on the pylons were continued after the departure of the main organisers for Spain, and were widened in scope to cover the whole of France. Many of the objectives attacked were constantly patrolled, and Basset and those working under him were in constant danger from german guards, while laying their explosive charges.
Adiitional targets which they successfully attacked during their mission were the St. Quentin Canal, one of the main routes for coal barges supplying Paris (confirmed from another source) and as a follow-up to the LE creusot target, the putting out of action of the Le Breuil steel works (is subsidary of Schneider).
On the night 10/11th November, having ascertained that the dam at Gigny on the River Saone (presviously sabotaged) had been repaired, and that the river was again in use for the transport of M.T.B. 's and submarine parts in barges, BASSET decided to attack this objective. With five other men, including Maitre Ouvrier JARROT, they approached the dam, rolling oil-drums filled with explosives in front of them. Taking the police guard of over 20 men by surprise they held up at the point of automatic rifles, relieved them of their weapons which they took for the Maquis, and placed their charges, blowing a breach of 12,5 metres in the dam.
In conjunction with the breaching of antoher dam at Fort Bernalin, 80 kilometres away by another French officer, the attack caused the level of the river to fall, rendering navigation impossible for at least 2 months.
On at least three occasions Liet. BASSIT conducted successful surpise attacks against parties of the Gestapo agents and German soldiery, using hand grenades and automatic weapons. Throughout his mission, risks of torture and death which every officer on a clandestine mission ran, were very greatly augmented by his active and fearless conduct in selecting for attack objectives which were known to be very heavily guarded.
Throughout these very extensive operations Liet. BASSET has shown himself not only fearless and determined, but an outstanding capable organiser and leader of men.
It is recommended that he be awarded the Distinguished Service Order."