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“When it’s not your time …”: the missed appointments of soldier Michel Vaubrun




“What do you want, when it’s not your time, it’s not your time!” », Cowardly, fatalist, Michel Vaubrun, residing in Concarneau (29). This former parachutist enlisted at 18, but the war seemed unwilling to him. It all started in May 1944, in Orne. For lack of perspective, he leaves his Normandy, his CAP as a turner in his pocket, to join his friend Jacques in Paris.

Volunteer to join a parachute unit

One night in August 1944, while in charge of guarding a factory in Ivry (94), Michel saw the Allied troops arrive from the top of a water tower. “I saw the cannon fire coming from both sides.” After the Liberation of Paris, on August 25, 1944, he volunteered in September 1944 to join a parachute unit. “A ticket for the adventure,” he then considers.

I will never forget these pictures

In training at the Ministry of Air, Porte de Versailles, he discovered a torture room designed by the Nazis. “Traces of hands and scratches encrusted in the walls … The three machine guns, the flamethrower nozzles and the large fans, at least a meter wide, to protect the torturers from gas and backfire, I don’t will never forget these images ”. This direct witness holds, more than anything, to “this duty of memory”.

Find his old comrades

Sent to the Vosges to get tough – “48 km in four hours, you shouldn’t drag your feet” – he joined the 3rd battalion of the 1st parachute hunter regiment (1st RCP). “The 3rd battalion was made up of maquisards and volunteers like me.” Today, he seeks to reconnect with those he worked with at that time.

Residing in Concarneau (29) with his wife Micheline, Michel, 96, masters computer tools and has digitized all the archives of his military life (Le Télégramme / Gwenn Hamp)

The Germans had mined the barracks before fleeing. The detonator didn’t work. Fortunately for me

While the battalion is stopping off in a barracks in Colmar (Alsace), Michel, at the foot of the grand staircase, is intrigued by the third step which is not blackened like the others. At the other end of the building, he hears a click, followed by an explosion. “The Germans had mined the barracks before fleeing. Stashed in the third step, the detonator did not work. Fortunately for me “.

Patented nine days after the end of the 39-45 war

Arrived at the Avord air base, near Bourges (Cher), Michel made his first parachute jump on April 24, 1945. On May 7, 1945, the officers in the plane already knew that the Germans had surrendered, but waited. that Michel and his 39 comrades jumped out to tell them. “On May 18, nine days after the end of the war, I obtained my Infantry Parachutist Certificate”.

War with the Japanese won’t be for me either!

“I then applied for the Pacific. While I was on leave, the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6 on Hiroshima, then on August 9 on Nagasaki. The war with the Japanese is over. This one won’t be for me either! Jokes the spirited nonagenarian.

Driver in Indochina

Sent to Indochina in 1946, he passed his driving license in Saigon and became a driver in a GMC vehicle, “in poor condition”. On July 14, 1946, in Nha-Trang, in present-day Vietnam, while having lunch in a restaurant, he watched a parade of members of the Foreign Legion pass. “At the end of the boulevard, they were machine-gunned by Viet Minh fighters. Of the thirty legionaries, nine survived ”.

Our enemies had put arsenic in the flour

After suffering from malaria, Michel embarked on a boat for France on November 23, 1947. Ironically, this return trip almost proved fatal. “Our enemies had put arsenic in the flour. 4,500 soldiers were sick, including 800 seriously and one of them died, ”concludes the former soldier, who took advantage of these missed appointments with the war to lead a full life with his wife Micheline. , now 91 years old.