Nous écrire
Création :
Jean Bordes,
Etienne Doléac
Mise en page :
Jean Bordes,
Antoine Fontanet
Avec la participation de l’A.N.A.C.R.
Le Président :
Gilbert Arguinart
Reproduction Interdite - Tous droits réservés à l’A.N.A.C.R.




Speech given at the Musée de la Résistance in Toulouse on the day of handing over of the picture of René Cabau  to the Museum.

M. President of the Conseil Général
Madame Thérèse Cabau her children and grandchildren
Your Excellency the Consul of Canada
M. President of the Conseil Départemental of the Résistance
M. President of the Association of the Musée of the Résistance and  Deportation
Members of Parliament, local representatives
M. Representative of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Presidents of Patriotic Associations
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends and comrades

René Cabau

Roger Pons

Jean Anouilh

We are gathered here on October 8, 2003 to honour the memory of René Cabeau. As an ex-Résistance fighter, belonging to the same Resistance group, I knew you well René, you were my best friend.

Tonight, I will try to explain who you were and what you did between 1943 and 1944 during this dark period of our history. You were born in Toulouse on June 5, 1922. You joined the Résistance in June 1943 with two of your best friends Jean Anouilh and Roger Pons.


The three of you were the first Résistance fighters in this region. You were of those the Vichy government called “terrorists and outlaws”. I first met you in October 1943 in the Maquis of the Haut-Nistos in the northern piedmont of the Central Pyrenees. 
Your home was then a mountain barn one good hour’s march above the village of Nistos (65).
It is from here that you did several sabotage missions on railroad installations, power lines and factories in the Aure valley and on the Plateau de Lannemezan. 

 I will rapidly become a member of the group in which you are highly appreciated by your comrades. I will quickly see for myself that you were a clear-minded and very courageous patriot.

The winter of 1943-44 was exceptionally cold, we had little to wear and our shoes were of poor quality. During autumn we had very little food. Our meals were very basic and made up of a few apples, nuts and chestnuts, dried beans and bread.
As our friend Lezan, of Aureilhan (65) always said “we aren’t happy campers” he had by the way been revoked by the Vichy government as primary school teacher. In spite of this, under the leadership of Paul Chastelain (who will later on become the Mayor of Tarbes) we execute several sabotage missions.

Paul Chastelain

Fernand Pérébosch

All our operations are done in silence and at night. We always moved on foot and in single file in the grassy ditches of roads and are on a constant lookout for the enemy.

We are always happy to be back at our base camp barn before daybreak. We are exhausted from the long marches but pleased to have successfully accomplished our mission.

Réné you participated in all our operations. We, sixty years ago, were then 20 years old. We were always together during those painfully dangerous, and constantly risky and exhilarating days. There were also times of happiness and joy when a mission was a success. 

It would take too long to give a detailed account of what you have gone through with your comrades.
Tonight, René, I wish to talk about the way our last mission together turned out:

It was a direct combat mission in broad daylight against the enemy. This operation will be known far and wide because of the guts and courage displayed by a few lightly armed Résistance fighters who will put to shame the Germans security apparatus :
On April 7, 1944 at 10:00 H, we are eight on the Rampe de Capvern on the National 117 road and we’re ready to attack the enemy.
Once again René we are side by side, Jean Anouilh and Fernand Pérébosch will signal the beginning of the attack.

Once the enemy truck is in sight, we jump on the road and hit the Germans at close range in their vehicle with our Sten  submachine guns. The attack was so fast that they were totally surprised and didn’t have time to use their weapons.


We have to rapidly withdraw on the run back to our mountains 15 km away. Blindaeur the SS Commander of the Gestapo is furious and he rapidly sends his local troops and police to intercept us. Thanks to our mobility and knowledge of the terrain, we once again disappear in the thick forests of the mountains.  

From that time on, the Germans will no longer freely and casually move about in the region, henceforth they will only do so in heavily armed convoys.

On April 8, we are again attacked by the enemy. We pull back to 1,921 M altitude at the Northern flank of the Signal de Bassia above the Baronnies. We will do so without fighting to avoid reprisals on the local population. We are back in deep snow and cold weather.   


Mondran street in Toulouse

René, this is where our ways will part, we cast lots and you were drawn out for perilous missions where danger awaits you at every turn in Toulouse.
In our group our identities are a well kept secret, yet some comrades know that you are the father of a little girl. They want to take your place, but you refuse.

After 11 months on the Northern foothills of the Pyrenees, we part company. The wide open spaces and freedom of the mountains are over for you. As a youth in town you will not go unnoticed. The police forces are numerous and masters of the town. Denunciations also exist, soon you will be hunted down.
On June 4, you will be arrested by the Gestapo and French Police on the sidewalk of Mondran street. Your long martyrdom will now begin.

You will be horribly beaten and tortured. Your mind through all that torture will start doubting and fear will insidiously seep into you with that little voice saying again and again « Have I betrayed my friends and family?». In fact, you didn’t say a word, your friends and family are safe, nobody was arrested by the Gestapo.
On June 9, (3 days after D-Day) you will be brought to the Canal du Midi at Pompertuzat (31), it is here that your torturers will ask you « How do you want to die? »

You will courageously face your executioners.

Canal du Midi at Ponpertuzat

They will execute you with several revolver bullets, one in the chest and two in the head (where one will remain for the rest of your life). Bullets will cut off two of your fingers when instinctively you raised your hand to protect your head.

They left you on the spot certain beyond any doubt that you are dead, a little later and with difficulty you will crawl away. You could have crawled towards the Canal du Midi and drowned but you went in the opposite direction. Crawling you then fell in a ditch along the canal’s towpath. All this occurred on Friday at 1500H.

Two days later, on Sunday June 11, Paul Drouet and his friend will find you. For the last 45 hours you’ve been alone in the sun, crawling on your knees and barely alive. All the blood you lost is now lice-ridden and you are surrounded by a swarm of hungry flies.  

La Grave Hospital in Toulouse by the Garonne


108 street Saint Michel in Toulouse

René you stayed out in the sun for a long period, you are thirsty and a woman will give you water. Paul Drouet will run and warn the Mayor of Pompertuzat. For him, all this is a mystery, he’s cautious and he hesitates on taking any kind of decision.

Thank God, the young Doctor Péres of Castanet will have you transferred to the La Grave Hospital in Toulouse. You speak with difficulty, but you refuse to give your name and address, you insist on protecting your family and friends.

We don’t know who he was, but a Doctor operated on you, however he could not take out the bullet that had lodged itself under your cerebellum.
The operation over, the nuns don’t want to take care for you. They insist that you leave, a behaviour that we can well understand, but because of the seriousness of your wounds is difficult to explain.
Very tired and half conscious, this is when you will give the name of your mother. She didn’t even know you were in Toulouse, it’s a neighbour who will secretly come and bring you back home stretched out on the back of his company’s truck. You are considered a dying man.

Thérèse, your wife, will be very devoted and courageous in spite of all the danger. She will in secret care you for many months and bring you slowly and gradually back to the world of the living.  
In November 1944, I got some special leave time to come and see you. You were in your apartment’s first floor on 108 Grande Rue Saint Michel (in Toulouse) and at the far end of the yard. You are upright in your bed, your head is completely bandaged and you didn’t recognize me.

René Cabeau Commandeur of the Légion d’honneur
  on the day of the Awarding of the Canadian MSN to M. Bordes

In 1956, at the age of 34 you will be awarded the rank of Commandeur de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur by the President of France René Coty. You are the only one at this young age and in our region to receive this award for your accomplishments in the Résistance.  

Tonight your picture will be placed on the wall of the museum beside that Great Host of Résistance fighters who like you, put their lives on the line in the fight against the Nazis.
René, I think it is important for me to say, that you started from scratch when you came to the Pyrenees mountains in June 1943 and joined the Résistance. It was from there, and with your friends that you will display great courage, willpower, clear mindedness and initiative.

This will become a fearsome force which the enemy will have to respond to.  You have accomplished many great things, but to me the most important your leadership by your personal example. When we met the local inhabitants you brought happiness to all and you instilled and brought forth the true Spirit of the Résistance.

That day in June 1943, when you were all alone in that barn at the Lita in the Haut-Nistos was a long time ago.

Thanks to the actions of the numerous patriots of the Piedmont of the Central Pyrenees, the Toulouse-Bayonne route became very dangerous for the Germans.
To destroy this resistance the enemy will deploy a battalion of very active troops at Lannemezan along the nationale 117 road.

More than 120 Résistance fighters of various Résistance groups of the Aure valley, the Neste, of the Plateau de Lannemezan and the surrounding areas have died in combat or disappeared forever in concentration and death camps.

The inhabitants courageously fought alongside the Résistance and this sector became one of the most decorated of the region. The towns and villages of Lannemezan, Tilhouse, Héches all within in a 10 km radius will be awarded the Croix de Guerre 39-45 (War Cross 39-45) by the Minister of Defence.

We can say that in the story I have recounted that you René, among your friends of the Résistance; “were a great leader of Résistance Fighter”. You joined the fight and were the yeast that made the army of the Résistance grow against the enemy in the Comminges and Bigorre areas.

Tonight, we give an emotion filled tribute to a man and my personal friend who fought courageously for freedom. Through all the suffering he has endured he has become an authentic and legendary hero of the Résistance against the Nazi oppression.
René you will remain for us veterans of the Résistance and the youth of this country an unforgettable and heroic example to follow.

Bordes jean
Veteran of the 3201 FTPF Company of Nistos and Esparros


Lita Barn in the Haut Nistos