BFBS Creative Negatives Series. Credit US National Archives

WWII

World War Two: The Girl With A Gun

BFBS Creative investigated who "the girl with a gun" was during the Second World War

BFBS Creative Negatives Series. Credit US National Archives

A famous image from World War Two depicts a young female French resistance fighter, holding her M-P-40 submachine gun while eating a baguette with jam.

Her name was Simone Seguoin, and she was a member of the French resistance during the German occupation of France.

At just 18 years old, her first act of resistance was stealing a bicycle from the German troops. Simone then used it to move around without attracting too much attention.

She began her membership of the French resistance as a courier, delivering messages and reporting on the movements of German troops.

Watch: Negatives - The Girl With A Gun

Simone was provided with fake identity papers, using the name Nicole Minet from Dunkirk. As Dunkirk had been heavily bombed and records lost the Germans would never be able to check her past, providing her with a small amount of protection.

With the resistance, Simone completed intense military combat training and became an expert in tactics. She also learned sabotage skills that she hoped would help her and the resistance liberate France from its captor.

As the war raged on, Simone was involved in a number of attacks including derailing enemy trains and blowing up bridges.

Across France, the resistance increased their attacks to disrupt the German troops, a tactic that played an important part in the run-up to D-Day.

The French resistance was being directed by General Charles de Gaulle and had equipment support from the British Special Operations Executive. All of this meant the resistance was strongly organised.

Org chart of the resistance. Credit BFBS Creative

Simone led a team that captured more than 20 German soldiers at Thivars. It was in this attack that she took possession of the gun for which she would later become famous for holding.

At the same time, the Allied forces had won the Battle for Normandy and were making their way to Paris.

Simone joined France’s 2nd Armoured Division who were also headed for the capital.

The Parisian workers were striking and disrupting the German troops as they tried to retreat. There were posters dotted around calling for French citizens to arm themselves and rise up against their occupiers.

The citizens of Paris were inspired by the efforts of the resistance elsewhere and so began to blockade the streets and attack the German convoys. Skirmishes broke out between the resistance and German occupiers.

In the Battle for Paris between 800 to 1,000 members of the resistance died.

Simone Seqouin. Credit US National Archive

Simone was promoted to Lieutenant and was awarded several honours, including a Croix de Guerre - a French medal awarded for acts of heroism - for the part she played in the resistance.

She became a symbol of female resistance across the world after her photograph was captured in 1944 by renowned photographers George Stevens and Robert Capa.

In 2016, the Soldiering On Awards charity awarded the International Award, which recognises outstanding achievements, acts of personal sacrifice or comradeship, to Simone for her efforts in supporting the British Armed Forces.

Simone, now aged 95, lives in Courville-sur-Eure, a small village near Chartres in central France, where there is a street named after her.

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