The grounds of war were never a place for anything or anyone delicate and beautiful because they would surely be ruined and destroyed by the harsh nature of the battles. For Simone Segouin, who was described as “one of the purest fighters of heroic French Resistance who prepared the way for the Liberation,” being part of the French resistance was something that she never regretted doing, even when the battlegrounds were never meant to be a place for a young lady like her at that time.
Being Recruited to the Resistance
Simone Segouin grew up in Chartres, France, alongside her three brothers. She stopped attending school at the age of 14 and instead worked on their family farm when the Germans occupied France. Unbeknownst to her, she would instead learn how to wield machine guns, kill and capture Nazis, and liberate her hometown while barely being an adult.
Her involvement with the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (Free-shooters and Partisans, or FTP) began when she met Lieutenant Roland Boursier, an ex-engineer recruiting brave youths to join the resistance. Boursier joined the communist resistance group to fight against fascism, and he became a high-ranking chief. Later on, he decided to retreat to the countryside, and that was where he met Segouin. He later on said,
I studied her for a while to see what were her feelings. When I discovered she had French feelings I told her little by little about the work I was doing. I asked her if she would be scared to do such work. She said, ‘No. It would please me to kill Boche (German soldiers.)’
He was the one who taught her how to use a submachine gun and then introduced her to the other members of the group. The resistance was composed of both militant communists and French nationalists. Perhaps taking his father, a decorated soldier in World War I, she was definitely a French nationalist and extremely proud of her country.
She obtained false identity papers and went by the name Nicole Minet from the port of Dunkirk— a place that they purposefully chose because it was bombed earlier in the war, making it difficult for the Germans to identify the authenticity of her papers.
Becoming a Messenger and More
At first, she was assigned as a messenger and carried out other small tasks like stealing German administrator bicycles and repainting and using them. It didn’t sound like a huge thing, but bicycles were the most common way for people to get around France at that time, as the Germans banned all cars and shut down public transportations. Segouin would use the stolen bikes to roam around and efficiently deliver messages between their hideouts spread out across the whole town. Her family farm also became a secret hub where they discussed operations. Meanwhile, Boursier was able to recruit more people to the resistance, from 40 people into four sizable groups.
Later on, she got more involved in the action and became more active in attacking enemy detachments, bombing trains, and some other acts of sabotage. She acted as the lookout at that time when her comrades rigged one of the primary railroad routes from Paris using explosives.
On July 14, 1944, Segouin and her two comrades were camped out in a ditch on the side of a road when they spotted two Nazi soldiers walking toward their bicycles. The three opened fire and killed the soldiers. After that, she collected these soldiers’ papers and weapons and hid them away in her home. Later on, she admitted that “one of the best days was when we arrested 25 German soldiers towards the end of the war. It felt good as we knew we would soon have our country back from occupation.”
Soon, Paris was freed two days after her hometown Chartres was liberated. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre for her aid in the liberation.