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Henry Hopkinson Augustus Thackthwaite
April 1, 1904
Hanworth, London, UK
|Died||November 8, 1982(aged 78)|
|Education||Politics, Philosophy and Psychology|
|Alma mater||Corpus Christi College, Oxford|
|Spouse(s)||Jeanne Charlotte-Marie Piette|
|Parent(s)||Henry Hopkinson Thackthwaite and Fernande Madeline LeMarie|
Major Henry Hopkinson Augustus Thackthwaite OBE (1 April 1904 - 8 November 1982) was a British soldier and SOE veteran. Thackthwaite was brought up in west London. Of notable importance, both his mother and paternal grandmother were French as too was his wife. He was completely bi-lingual from an early age.
Thackthwaite married Jeanne Charlotte-Marie Piette (1907-1989) sometime before 1939, possibly abroad. There are no children recorded.
In addition to the OBE awarded in 1945, Thackthwaite was awarded the Medal of Freedom with Bronze palm by the USA in 1947 as well as the Croix de Guerre and Legion d'Honneur by France in recognition of work done for the French Resistance.
Family background and pre-WWII
Thackthwaite was born to Henry Hopkinson Thackthwaite and Fernande Madeline LeMarie in the Hanworth area of west London. Both his mother and paternal grandmother were French and this bi-lingualism predetermined much of his future life. From 1917-1923, Thackthwaite attended St Paul's School in Hammersmith before going up to read Politics, Philosophy and Psychology at Corpus Christi, Oxford, he graduated in 1928.
Prior to the start of WWII, Thackthwaite has found employment in the Beaminster area of Dorset as a teacher/translator, the 1939 National Registration Act (NRA) taken in September of that year shows him with his wife living at his parents house along with his French mother-in-law and her daughter.
Second world war
Thackthwaite is noted in the 1939 NRA as 'Army Officer, Emergency', he joined the Royal Army Service Corps on 30 March 1940 as a Second Lieutenant. At some point before 1943, he had joined the SOE and is credited elsewhere for recruiting Frederick Cardozo into the SOE while on training exercises in Scotland in 1943.
On the 6th January 1944, Capt.Thackthwaite alias Procureur, along with US Capt. Peter Julien Otiz alias Chambellan (OSS) and Camille Monier (BCRA) alias Magyar alias Léon were parachuted from a Handley Page Halifax belonging to RAF 138 Squadron and piloted by F/Lieut Pick onto DZ (Drop-zone) Agonie. DZ Agonie was near the village of Eymeux, 10kms to the north-east of Romans-sur-Isère. Colonel Pierre Fourcaud alias Sphère had been scheduled to accompany the team but had broken a leg during training, he joined the group on 8th February 1944, landing at LZ (Landing Zone) Orion.
The objective of this operation was to assess and co-ordinate the organisation of the local maquis forces covering the three départments of Isère, Drôme and Savoie. After landing Thackthwaite and Ortiz changed from civilian jump clothes to military uniforms and thereby became the "first Allied officers to appear in occupied France since 1940". UNION-I led to the second stage- that of UNION-II led by Ortiz from 1st August 1944
Thackthwaite was exfiltrated on May 3rd 1944 from the LZ Aigle to the north west of Manziat near Macon (46˚22'42"N 04˚53'51"E) - there is a memorial on the side of the road commemorating the use of the landing zone. The pick-up was performed by RAF Squadron 161 using a Lockheed Hudson aircraft piloted by F/L Affleck, amongst others collected was Paul Riviere alias Marquis. It was this mission that led to Thackthwaite's OBE, awarded in March 1945, his citation reads (in part) thus "Major Thackthwaite was responsible with his colleagues for establishing contact with those elements of the resistance necessary to facilitate the re-organisation of the MAQUIS groups in his region. By his tact, administrative ability and knowledge of the Resistance Movements in FRANCE, he was largely instrumental in securing the acceptance of the mission by the heads of those movements, and in organising the necessary parachute operations to equip a considerable proportion of the MAQUIS groups".
Notes needing elaboration:
- Thackthwaite was later credited with commanding operation V in September 1944 TBC
- Liaison Officer between Section F of SOE and Free French Govt in exile.
- It is thought Thackthwaite was involved with the writing of the 'HISTORY' of the SOE after the war. Details needed.
After the war
Thackthwaite was demobbed 25 October 1946 and probably returned to his parents home in Beaminster, Dorset. By the early 1950s, he has secured a post teaching Latin and French at the local Beaminster and Netherbury Grammar School. He also tutored children from a variety of families privately. In 1962/3 he moved to the Cardozo family home near Tours, France.
From the early 1970s, Thackthwaite lived in the small village of Bourg du Bost between Ribérac and Aubeterre in the north-west of the Dordogne department. While there and seemingly to pass the time, he taught French to the myriad of young English children whose parents had bought property in the area. By 1982, his health was failing and he returned to the UK, taking up residence at the Royal Star and Garter Retirement home in west London on 29th June. He passed away there on 8th November 1982.
- 'History of Beaminster and Netherbury Grammar School' compiled by Derek Woodland, Thackthwaite section written by Gregory Stevens Cox
- 'People who say Goodbye' P.Y. Betts. Pub 2012
- Thackthwaite meets Carduzo
- 'Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance' by Robert Gidea. Pub Belknap Press, 2015
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