This incredibly moving snapshot from my WWII collection captures a wide range of emotions. The only identification I have for the photo is that it was taken in a town/village/city named Poules during the tail end of the war. A US GI followed a joyous parade of French citizens and Free French (FFI) underground soldiers as they proudly walk down the streets of their newly liberated city. It’s a photo that speaks volumes.
German Collaborator Parade
After nearly four years of German occupation, a contingent of the French population were eager to fight back against the oppressive rule of their German visitors. In this post’s main photo we see a young, attractive female underground soldier causally smoking a cigarette, toting German “potato masher” stick grenades while holding a captured German rifle and briefcase. To her left we see a group of young French women who have been publicly shamed. Their shaved heads were shaped to show a swastika. A joyous moment for the FFI, yet a horrible moment for the women who were caught up in the frenzy of the German occupation. This photo has never been digitized for display on the web. You’re the first to see it!
FFI Female Underground Fighter
US Signal Corps Footage of Collaborator Hair Cuts
Similar Photos From the Web
Another hero of the French Resistance during World War II and decorated for saving the lives of U.S. soldiers shot down behind enemy lines was Micheline Blum-Picard. Only eighteen-years-old when she first became involved in the Resistance, Blum-Picard started by carrying messages taped to her back and then progressed to photographing inside factories damaged by bombing raids By D-Day, however, she was carrying a rifle, a pistol, and a hand grenade wherever she went. inyourfacewomen.blogspot.com
Female French Resistance
World War II resistant woman fighter – Paris,1940s photograph the New York Public Library Picture Collection
Member of the French resistance with German tunic and thompson machine gun by Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse, via Flickr
The vast majority of material posted here on PortraitsofWar has been painstakingly identified through dedicated research and a little bit of luck. In this case, I’ve been stumped! I need YOUR help to figure this one out. Here’s what we know:
1. The photo was taken by a Des Moines, Iowa photographer. I purchased a series of original 4×5 negatives from an eBay dealer. All showed Des Moines area veterans taken between 1944 and 1946.
2. The photo depicts an attractive redhead (see poster below) WAVE volunteer. WAVE stands for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.
3. The poster in the image was designed by John Falter in 1943. “She’s helping to win….. how about you?”
Was she a Des Moines native? Or was she merely in Des Moines during the war? It would be great to track her down and I need your help. Any ideas?