Throughout the Second World War, the Resistance in occupied countries played an important role in keeping the Germans off balance and tying up forces vital to the war effort.

Nary had a day gone by without a bridge or a train being blown up somewhere in occupied Europe. To combat the problem, German forces carried out brutal reprisals often and without mercy.

As so often is the case, this method obtained questionable results in that most continued to be inspired and willing to fight, while a small number of them, along with some converts from an apathetic population, turned collaborator either from fear or a genuine belief in the Nazi cause.

In 1943, one of the locations where reprisal and collaboration was having enormous success was in and around the town of Amiens, France. The Resistance network in this region found itself being hunted to destruction, with rampant arrests occurring throughout the year and critical intelligence all but drying up.

Things came to a head when two Allied intelligence officers were captured and taken to the one place in the area where torture and execution was carried out in earnest, within a glum collection of gray buildings outside of town that served as Amiens’ prison.

Resistance members began relaying information to London about the murderous happenings inside the prison, in addition to its layout, guard strength, and anti-air/anti-ground defenses.

Amiens Prison Complex
Amiens Prison Complex

Amiens lay too far inland for a ground raid, and resistance forces in other areas simply lacked the necessary firepower to attempt a rescue. So a bold plan grew in the minds of British intelligence involving a scenario whereby the prisoners would not be rescued but broken out.

Not from within the walls, but from above.