Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (25 & 26 September 2019)

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Date of Auction: 25th & 26th September 2019

Sold for £1,700

Estimate: £700 - £900

A King’s Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom attributed to Monsieur Clement Boirayon, a Resistance group leader who was engaged with Colonel Maurice Buckmaster’s F-Section, SOE, and was actively involved in sabotage and ‘guerilla’ warfare from 1941 through to and beyond D-Day, in the Lyon and St. Etienne area

King’s Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom, unnamed as issued, in Royal Mint case of issue, good very fine £700-£900


King’s Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom, citation:

‘Monsieur Clement Boirayon started resistance work early in 1941 and worked until the liberation with British controlled circuits in the Lyon - St. Etienne area. He played an important part in building up resistance in this region, and distinguished himself in numerous sabotage operations against enemy communications in industrial installations. He also organised several parachute receptions and personally directed the transport and distribution of the arms received.

Amongst the many acts of sabotage in which Monsieur Boirayon took part were attacks on the steel works at St. Chamond and the important aluminium works (l’Usine de Duralumin) at Rive de Giers. Boirayon distinguished himself by his courage and daring throughout these operations. After D-Day he also took part in a number of guerilla engagements against the enemy, and showed initiative of a high order.

For his long and gallant services in the resistance movement in collaboration with British Officers, and for his courage in action against the enemy, it is recommended that Monsieur Clement Boirayon be awarded the King’s Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom.’

Clement Boirayon served with the French resistance during the Second War, and his official report gives the following:

‘I joined the resistance at the beginning of 1941. The work at that time mainly consisted of distributing leaflets and newspapers, within various organisations. I continued my work starting with the ‘Coq enchaine’ organisation run by Pic. That’s when I met Gustave with whom I did several parachute operations.

We began sabotaging railways (especially at the Terre Noire tunnel) and destroying pylons.

Note that Gustave left a very bad impression on St. Etienne due to his lack of caution. Shortly after Gustave’s departure we had a visit from the radio operator, Marius. On several occasions Marius carried out his work at my home guarded by my brother and myself armed with machine-guns.

In August 1943 Pic decided to join the A.S. with his men and equipment we had received from Gustave. On Pic’s orders we carried out numerous sabotage operations destroying windows in Rive de Gier and St. Etienne, particularly those of the Legion and of the main Police Station in St. Etienne etc. Still under Pic’s command I and my brother played an effective role in the escape from St. Etienne prison during the night of Sept. 25-26 1943 at 5am, which was very successful (31 prisoners freed).

These hit and run operations provoked a reaction from the enemy and were followed by a number of arrests, in particular Pic. The few men who escaped arrest were forced to scatter without delay.

So at the end of October when Pic’s group was completely broken up I met René (Captain Marchand) who was under direct orders. At his request I attempted in the Loire to bring together the potential for forming a new group.

Because of police measures we were not able to succeed in our objective of the St. Etienne mines, despite several attempts. With D-Day in mind, with René’s consent, we set up ‘depots’ in the area of Rive de Gier and Coudrieu. Meanwhile we continued to cut rail communications and sabotaged the steelworks at St. Chamond and the aluminium factory at Rive de Gier. The latter was a great success.

On June 1st our main ‘depositoire’ M. Bourges and his workman Aubert were arrested... There followed the capture by the enemy of all our depots.

As the word ‘guerilla’ had been given to several St. Etienne group-leaders, it was necessary at the last moment to warn all the leaders who were due to gather together about 1,000 men on the objective areas i.e. between Givors and Coudrieu. With René’s consent we decided to regroup on Montbrison south just where we were awaiting parachute drops. This area 1400m. high was perfect for forming a Maquis group which numbered between 150 and 200 men from the start....’

Unfortunately for Boirayon and his men, they did not receive there first drop of equipment until 5 July 1944. Once they had received the parachute drop they utilised the equipment to disrupt the railways. Having received another drop during the first week of August, Boirayon led a surprise attack on German troops destroying an armoured car. He and his brother Emilé continued to play an active roll in and around St. Etienne until the German withdrawal from the area.

Colonel Maurice J. Buckmaster, Head of F-Section, Special Operations Executive, wrote the following about Boirayon:

‘You rendered very valuable services in France to the officers working under my command who were parachuted behind the enemy lines during the German occupation.

In the whole of the region round Lyon and St. Etienne your group-provided invaluable help to these officers and your own services were outstanding.

At great personal risk you kept your group engaged on sabotage and subversive activity, in close liaison with London Headquarters.’

After the war Boirayon emigrated to Australia, and resided at 97 Unley Road, Unley, South Australia.

Sold with the following original documentation: Foreign Office stamped citation for award; letter of reference for recipient written by Colonel Maurice J. Buckmaster (former Head of F-Section, Special Operations Executive), on Ford Motor Company Limited paper, dated 22 October 1951; and copied research and translations.