For the first time I am revealing to friends that I am a maquisard. They are amazed.
During the German occupation of France in World War II, the maquisards, some of them very young, earned a reputation as implacable resistance fighters.
They took over whole areas of near-wilderness, sallying out to sabotage railroad lines or military equipment, then disappearing back into their natural fortress. They emerged undefeated to link up with the invading allies in 1944. I was 15 years old and these were stirring times.
They — or perhaps I should say we — take our name from the vegetation of south-eastern France, the maquis, evergreen scrub growing so thickly in places as to be almost impenetrable but, with few trees to impede the view, allowing lookouts to spot an enemy miles away. As it is also mountainous, with steep slopes and ravines, it is ideal terrain for guerrillas opposing formations of regular troops.