The dark hours of World War II
On August 6th 1944, still occupied by the Germans, St Malo was bombed, in the early afternoon, and the arrow of the cathedral collapsed. The Commandant's Service send all healthy men from St Malo to the Fort National.
On August 7th, after having left women and kids, 380 Malouins were sent to the Fort where they were put in jailed by the Germans. They stayed there 6 days under hail of bullets, with no food, trying to help each other. Unfortunately, 18 of them died.
Their names were engraved where they were killed by allies shells on the night of August 9th 1944. Those shells destroyed in part the Fort and the guardroom that was rebuilt based on the plans of Vauban.
On August 12th, the sixth day of our detention at the Fort National. We are getting weaker but we do not talk about it. nos forces déclinent mais nous conservons assez de tact pour n’en point trop parler. We were very hungry. We have less and less water from the cistern. How long can we last on our small island ?
Fortunately, and this stimulates us, the military operations seem to get better. The Castle is being bombarded and the american soldiers have passed the Hôtel de la Grotte aux Fées on the Sillon, burned for few days. The shots of the Americans are better than the previous days. The Grand Bé became the aim of the artillery situated on the heights near Dinard, and batteries besieged St Malo from the East and the South.
We can see the results of the shootings on the Grand Bé and on Cézembre Island where an ammunition depot exploded. We plan to escape but we fear the German reprisals going to the destruction of the Fort and his occupiers. Those fears weren't fancilful if we think about the excesses made by the German in France during their retreat.
When the tide was low, a man left that night. He had to announce his arrival in the morning by putting a small flag at the beginning of the seawall in Parame, (…) The sky was dark because of the smoke, and pieces of burnt paper flew from the city and towards the Fort National. St Malo became a raging inferno ; we stayed there to look at the fire burning the walls of one of the most charming city of the world. In only few days, the fire destroyed the work of several generations under our stunned eyes.
Extract from Un épisode du siège de Saint-Malo, Les otages au Fort National 7-13 août 1944, by Joseph Baladre, 1946.