Belfast Telegraph

Samuel Beckett goes from Nobel-man to French Resistance hero

By Allison Bray

He is best known for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature for his writing.

But playwright Samuel Beckett's time as a member of the French Resistance -- along with an Irish nun and a Dublin-born relative of Napolean Bonaparte -- feature in a new exhibition tracing Ireland's 300-year-old military relationship with France at the National Museum in Collins Barracks.

It's well known that the Dublin-born Beckett, who won the Nobel Prize in 1969, lived in Paris for many years with his partner Suzanne Dechevau-Dumesnil.

But the fact he won a Croix de Guerre war medal from for bravery and his "steely nerve" as an intelligence officer during the Nazi occupation of France during World War Two is lesser known.

Beckett joined the French network 'Gloria SMH in conjunction with the Special Operations Executive' and translated intelligence reports which would be transcribed on to microfilm and smuggled to London.

Despite having "numerous incriminating documents at his house" that could lead to his arrest and execution, Beckett managed to escape when the network was exposed and its members arrested.

He went into hiding at the home of a French writer in 1942 and joined the French Forces of the Interior -- the official name of the Resistance -- and was later decorated by the French military as "a very brave man who for two years acted as an intelligence officer".

The story of William Lucien Wyse-Bonaparte, a great grandnephew of Napolean Bonaparte, is also included in the archives that are on display as part of the free exhibition 'The Irish and France: Three Centuries of Military Relations' running until June 30.

He was born in Dublin in March, 1908, was cited as a member of the Resistance.

Irish Franciscan nun Katherine Anne MacCarthy was also hailed a heroine for joining the Resistance in 1940 after which she was captured and sentenced to death, but survived numerous intern-ments at concentration camps before being freed by the Red Cross at Ravens-bruck camp in 1944.

Their fascinating stories are among the exhibits presented by the French Embassy in Ireland in conjunction with the National Museum of Ireland and the Army Museum in Paris as part of Ireland's 2013 EU Presidency Cultural Programme.

Belfast Telegraph


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