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France honours its youngest war hero!3 min read

November 20, 2020 3 min read


France honours its youngest war hero!3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Rewind with Owliver

In this edition of Rewind with Owliver, we remember a six-year-old boy, who although was forgotten for many years, was back in the news recently for being the youngest World War II hero in France!

A certificate recognising Marcel as a war hero. Photo: AFP

The country has finally paid tribute to this young hero – Marcel Pinte – who played a vital role in the French Resistance. His name has now been inscribed on a war memorial alongside other World War II fighters.

Marcel, whose nickname was ‘Quinquin’, carried messages under his shirt to leaders of the resistance against German occupation. His father – Eugene Pinte – was a resistance fighter too, so Marcel grew up learning a lot about the cause.

A lot of responsibility on little shoulders

Marcel worked as a liaison agent, and carried secret messages and letters. A family member said that Marcel didn’t raise any suspicions because he looked like just an ordinary school kid, with a satchel over his shoulder. However, he apparently had a quality that made him stand out – his memory – which was why he was trusted with this huge and risky responsibility.

Marcel also got along well with people far beyond his years, and is said to have enjoyed being around other resistance members, learning about their ways. Marc Pinte, Marcel’s nephew, said that the latter possibly thought it was all a game at first, but quickly understood just how much danger he could be in.

A tragic death

On the night of August 19, 1944, a group of enemies arrived by parachute at Marcel’s father’s farm, which was a hub for resistance activities. Then, ensued a battle. The fighters were heavily armed and when machine gun went off accidentally, Marcel was hit by several bullets and died.

Marcel was buried alongside other war heroes. Photo: AFP

On August 21, Marcel was buried with honours. Though his death was an accident, Marcel is considered to have laid his life down for his country, as a hero.

Fight for recognition

Alexandre Brémaud, another one of Marcel’s relatives, spent years researching his story, trying to get him the recognition he deserved. Officials records, however, only documented the names and deeds of resistance fighters, rather than on the many people who played indirect, yet important roles in bringing freedom to France. These were often women and children, who, like Marcel, took great risks.

Marcel’s role was eventually recognised by the French state. In 1950 he was posthumously awarded the rank of sergeant of the Resistance. In 2013, the National Office of Former Combatants and War Victims issued him a posthumous official card for “volunteer combatants of the Resistance”.

World War II in a nutshell

World War II was fought between the Axis Powers – Germany, Italy, Japan – and the Allied Powers – Britain, United States, Soviet Union, France. However, a lot of countries around the world were involved in this long and deadly war in some way. Around 70 million people were killed in it.

When was it?

World War II started in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Great Britain and France then declared war on Germany. The war in Europe ended with Germany’s surrender on May 7, 1945.

Where was it?

World War II started in Europe, but spread throughout the world. Much of the fighting took place in Europe and in Southeast Asia.

Sources: BBC, Euro News, AFP