By Jérôme Levesque and Stéphane Robine
During World War II, Miserai was at the center of Normandy’s resistance. Jerome Levesque, the son of Judicael, the owner turned Miserai’s woods where he was hiding from the Germans, into the heart of the local résistance. On this page, you can read about many of the anecdotes and historical events that took place on the estate.
Having graduated from the prestigious Saint-Cyr military school, lieutenant Jerome Levesque takes part in the campaign of France. After the invasion of the free zone and the disso
lution of the military armistice in November 1942, he returns to the family estate, the Chateau de Miserai in L’ Home-Chamondot.
In March 1943, Lieutenant Levesque is contacted byhis friends, Robert and Marinette Longcamp who reside at the Chateau de la Grande Noe. Throughtheir brother in law Gaston-Thomine Desmazures. Robert and Marinette belong to the AOB or Air Operations Bureau. They are instructed by the AOB to find a suitable parachuting area in L’ home-Chamondot, a field is chosen under the code name”Garde”.
With the help of Pierre Orgeval, JeromeLevesque code name “Victor” puts together an Air Operation Group in L’ Home Chamondot andMoulicent with Mary and Rene Cross, RichardGanivet, Romain Darchy, Ernest Martin and RobertVoyer. Once the weapons are on the ground, Lieutenant Levesque takes possession of the armament in order to secure the area and use the weapons for instruction and training of the men in his group.
However, on June 5 in the morning, the Gestaposurrounds the Chateau de Miserai. Jerome Levesquebarely escapes, he however has time to hide the weapons in the barn at La Poussiniere, the house of Miserai’s game warden now abandoned. Mistaking him for Jerome, the Gestapo captures his cousin Claude Levesque and takes him prisoner. He will be released two weeks later after they realize they have the wrong guy.
Jerome’s father, Judicael Levesque is also taken and released three days later.Thanks to local accomplices, Lieutenant Levesque goes to La Ferte-Vidame (Eure-et-Loir), then Marchainville and Moulicent before leaving for Brittany where he has family. Returning to his men in early July, he contacts Maurice Clavel, alias Sinclair, commander of the FFI of Eure-et-Loir and Sylvia Montfort, his secretary. Maurice and Sylvia make arrangements to schedule two weapon drops for him on the “Guard” drop zone a first drop on July 10, 1944 and a second on July 31.
On August 6, Jerome Levesque makes contact with Lieutenant Gilbert Sadi Kirschen who was parachuted at night on August 3rd as part of the Bunyan mission. The two men plan to conduct operations against German soldiers. On the night of August 8 to 9, Lieutenant Levesque receives a reinforcement of fifteen paratroopers at Les Menus drop zone.
At the command of his troops, he attacks several German convoys between August 12 and 14 around Marchainville and L’ Home-Chamondot.
Learning the Germans are still occupying Miserai, Lieutenant Levesque goes over with his men, attack the enemy and chase them away. The Germans leave three dead behind as well as a stock of 30,000 liters of gasoline, three trucks, two cars, three motorcycles and a stock pile of weapons and ammunition.
On August 15, Americans free the area. Jérôme Levesque leads night patrols near La Ferte-Vidame and Verneuil-sur-Avre and heads demining operations in order to facilitate the advance of American troops. On August 20th, he joins the 2nd DB of General Leclerc. Alongside them, he participates in several combats in Rambouillet, on the Saclay plateau and enters Paris by the Pont de Sèvres. In September 1944, Lieutenant Levesque is given the command of the 2nd infantry battalion of Normandy.
After peace returned, Jerome Levesque pursued his military career and retired with the rank of general.
The Poussinière anecdote by Jerome Levesque
The Gestapo and militia are occupying Miserai and using the estate as a base to search for weapons. When questioned by the Germans about me my father has to be quick and must come up with fast and credible answers: “My son Jerome is the black sheep of the family, he rarely is present at Miserai, when he leaves, he never say where he is going!” Finding nothing near the chateau,militia and Gestapo decide to expand their investigations and at gun point force my father to take them to the Brotz watermill, then to la Poussinière.
La Poussinière is the former home of Miserai’s game warden, it has been abandoned for several years. My father knew I hid the weapons there, in the barn next to the main house. He also knew he would immediately be shot should the German find them and thought for sure his life had come to an end. Fortunately, driven by a bad feeling, removed the guns and ammunition from the barn 1/2 hour earlier to hide them in the bushes fifty meters away. To my father’s surprise and great relief the weapons were never found.
During Miserai’s occupation, it is interesting to note that one evening, an SS entered the main bedroom on the 2nd floor. Seeing his own reflection moving in a mirror, he discharged the magazine of his semi automatic 9mm luger on the piece of furniture. We still have today the pierced cabinet door as well as pieces of the shattered mirror.
Sources: AD 61: 371 Day 2: Activity Report of Jerome Levesque, .
Jérôme Levesque, “Memories of Resistance”, undated, private archives.
Ganivet Michel and Jérôme Levesque, “The resistance at L’ Home-Chamondot”, Michel Ganivet (eds), 1944 The Perches’ liberation,Fédération des Amis du Perche, 1997, pp. 175-194″Les Levesque de la fin du XVII siècle à nos jours”, pp. 368-369