Col Achille Muller, a veteran of the Special Air Service (SAS), signed the Log Book at his home in Billère, France in the presence of Mr. Pierre-Alain Letourneur who graciously facilitated the book’s presentation.
The following is extracted from a post on www.normandyamericanheroes.com/
“The Special Air Service was created in 1941 in Africa. Composed of small groups of 3 to 5 men, their objectives were to be dropped at night behind the enemy lines to destroy the installations such as but not limited to, weapon dumps, ammunition dumps, airplanes, airfields…
The force of the SAS was the sabotage, the famous “Hit & Run”. It meant to explode railroad tracks, blow up oil dumps, destroy power plants then get the hell out, drive back to base, take supplies and do it again and again and again to tire the enemy. This means of combat was at the time revolutionary: the S.A.S. were fast and elusive.”
By the end of the Africa Campaign the SAS expanded in Britain. Free French men between 17 and 30, joined to fight the Germans. One of these was Achille Muller who served with 2nd Parachute Chasseur Regiment aka the 4th SAS.
Escape and evasion
Achille Muller was born in Forbach, a French town on the Franco-German border. He was only a teenager when Germany took defacto control of the Alsace-Moselle region. This following the defeat of France in the spring of 1940.
In early 1942 people from Alsace and Moselle are made German citizens by decree of the Nazi government. Young Alsatian and Lorrainian men are inducted into the German armed forces also known as the malgré-nous, which could be translated into English as “against our will”
Aged 17 and refusing to be forcibly conscripted he left by bicycle. Crossing the Doubs river in July 1942 with the aid of a ferryman. His aim was to reach London and do his part in military service of France. Reaching Madrid in Spain he continued by train to Gibraltar where he passed interrogation by British secret services. Finally being sent to London achieving his goal and eventually after training becoming integrated with the SAS.
2nd Parachute Chasseur Regiment – 4th SAS
Taking part in Operation Dingson 35A he deploys to Brittany with 10 Waco CG-4 gliders on 5 August 1944. Towed by a Halifax aircraft’s each glider carried a jeep and three SAS troopers. Their intended drop zone of Locoal-Mendon is missed. Misinterpreting a burning hamlet in Kermainguy five gliders are dropped to early. One of the gliders crashes into an apple tree with six soldiers seriously injured. Muller assists on the scene by taking care of some of the wounded. In his jeep he transports them to local Resistance for further care.
Crucially these elements of the French SAS teams succeeded in preventing the Germans from reinforcing the Normandy front following D-Day. They would remain behind enemy lines in occupied territory until Allied forces arrived.
Col Muller incredibly still has the M1A1 Carbine he used during his service. It’s the same weapon used to kill two Germans confronted in Normandy. On a subsequent occasion he had the same weapon trained on two German soldiers in a forest in Holland. On this occasion however, Muller had the advantage of camouflage and could have easily killed the unsuspecting Germans. He chose not to fire and still wonders if these men survived the war.
Anchors and narratives
Col Muller’s entry is a particularly special one for us at TLBP. His signature is what Project Webmaster Lars McKie terms an “anchor” event – that which locks or ties so many seemingly unrelated aspects of this surreal journey together. I’m constantly amazed at how these connections unfold in a completely organic unplanned way.
There are two parallel narratives we keep track of. The first of course being the stories and service records behind every name in the book – the raison d’être of the initiative.
The second is no less important – the story of this journey.
Today’s signing marks an “anchoring” culmination of efforts of two facilitators who have played such key roles in the success of this project. Specifically Margaret McEvoy and Ross Stewart who forged the project’s first physical link with Europe through a chance encounter where Ross Stewart agreed to carry the logbook back to England in 2017. Ross Stewart who since has personally facilitated numerous signatures in UK and been the principal for managing the books logistics through Europe.
Ross Stewart, who’s grandfather, Major Adam Ross Stewart, served with SAS as Lt QM. With the 20th Liaison HQ he would subsequently move to Epernay in France, where they coordinated the movement of supplies and recruits for the French SAS and Maquis (French Resistance Fighters). There is every possibility that the paths of Col Muller and Major Stewart would at some point have intersected.