The Man Who Saved London, the story of Michel Hollard
Michel Hollard (10 July 1898 – 16 July 1993) was a French engineer and member of the French wartime resistance who founded the espionage group Réseau AGIR during the Second World War. His contribution was recognised by the British by the award of the Distinguished Service Order for having “reconnoitered a number of heavily guarded V-1 sites and reported on them”. Hollard’s efforts included 49 trips smuggling reports to a British attach in Switzerland by foot across the border in all weather. Sir Brian Horrocks called him “the man who literally saved London”. Thanks to Hollard’s reports and information from his agents, the V1 launch sites in France were systematically bombed by the Royal Air Force between mid-December 1943 and March-end 1944. V-1s caused the destruction of over 80,000 homes in Britain between June and September 1944, but British air raids destroyed nine V1 sites, badly damaged 35 and partially damaged another 25 out of the 104 located in the North of France across North-Eastern Normandy to the Strait of Dover. In his book Crusade in Europe General Eisenhower wrote that had the Germans been able to develop their weapons six months earlier and to target Britain’s south coast, Operation Overlord would have been near impossible, or not at all possible.
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