Sheppard, Robert Marcellin (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 10445
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 200, Number Of Items 7
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British civilian in Nantes area helped escape of British servicemen from France 1940-1941; imprisonment in France and Spain, 5/1941-10/1941; officer with F Section, Special Operations Executive in GB and France 1941-1942; imprisonment in France and in Saarland, Mauthausen, Natzweiler and Dachau, 1942-1945

Content description

REEL 1: Background in Nantes, France, 1922-1939: British family origins; bilingualism; internment of parents, 1940-1944; witnessing arrival of first Germans in France; circumstances of father's arrest by German military police; status under German occupation; discontinuing studies. Aspects of period as civilian aid British servicemen to evade capture in France, 1940-1941: numbers of British servicemen hiding in Nantes area, 6/1940-8/1940; setting up escape line through Nantes, problems finding hiding British servicemen; relations with British Army in Nantes area including sports events, conduct of troops, 1939-1940; arrest of mother; leaving fiancee for duration of war; attempt to use escape line out through Paris, problems with escape line; story of seeking help from US Embassy, 12/1940, receiving money and having it deducted from war pay in 1945; contacting Ian Garrow's and Reverend Donald Caskie' s escape line at Marseilles, 1941. REEL 2: Continues: contact in Perpignan. Aspects of period of imprisonment in France and Spain, 1941: arrest by police and imprisonment; relations with inmates; getting drunk for first time; story of meeting nurse from Perpignan Prison in Trafalgar Square, London in 1942; stigma of being a prisoner; being returned to Reverend Caskie by gendarmes, 5/1941; initial sense of freedom on crossing into Spain; story of loss at sea of travelling companion; being arrested by Guardia Civil and taken to Lerida; hoping to use British identity to get to GB; executions of Spanish Republicans at Saragossa prison, 1941; labour, food, impressions on meeting Tony Brooks at Miranda del Ebro concentration camp; arrangements for release; English breakfast of baked beans on toast and tea at British Embassy in Madrid, 1941. REEL 3 Continues: arrival in Gibraltar and learning new aspects of the English language from Devonshire Regt, 10/1941; naval convoy to GB. Recollections of period as agent with Special Operations Executive in GB and France, 1941-1942: background to decision to join; recruitment via actors Percy Walsh and John Gielgud in London, 10/1941; recruitment interview by John Gielgud; explanation of term for conduct of Special Operations Executive agents; training programme. REEL 4 Continues: parachute training at RAF Ringway; further training in Scotland, winter 1941/1942; physical fitness of agents; training ship off Scotland; preparations for going to France; cover story; parachute drop onto roof of police station in Anse, 6/1942; amusing circumstances of arrest, 2/6/1942; post-war commemoration of his drop into Anse; story of meeting woman who alerted gendarmes. REEL 5 Continues: passing money to local resistance. Recollections of period of imprisonment in France, 1942: imprisonment in Lyons; interrogation by French Vichy policeman belonging to French Resistance and members of Gestapo; deception of Gestapo with effect of helping Russians at Stalingrad; code-names; problems escaping from custody; contact with nun in resistance movement; escape; sabotage expertise; directions from London to return to GB, 3/1943; arrest with others by German police in Pyrenees; betrayal to police by guide; masquerading as RAF pilot, plans to get into an Oflag; assuming identity of fellow agent lost at sea; discovery of his true identity; treatment under interrogation by Gestapo. REEL 6 Continues: mistreatment of his radio operator, Edward Zeff; torture by French police and German Gestapo in private house; determination to maintain dignity; contents of letter sent to fiancee showing ignorance of nature of concentration camps; transfer to concentration camps in Germany. Aspects of imprisonment in Saarland, Mauthausen, Natzweiler and Dachau, concentration camps, Germany, 1942-1945: initial impressions, latrines work, attempt to break his spirit, Saarland camp; 'Nacht and Nebel' category; distress of daily life at Mauthausen; stone quarries at Mauthausen; Special Operations Executive losses at Mauthausen. REEL 7 Continues: inmates at Natzweiler concentration camp; lack of information about progress of war; evacuation of Natzweiler, 9/1944; anonymity of concentration Dachau camp because of size; view of starvation victims fighting over food; maintaining military ranks amongst Special Operations Executive comrades, organising camp International Committee; killing of comrades, hiding with Brian Stonehouse; view of, feelings on liberation of camp; question of feelings of revenge against guards; circumstances of US troops returning fire on camp guards; restraints on inmate's feelings of revenge; strains on human behaviour of camp conditions; saving life of guard; importance of organisation of inmates in camp.

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