French resistance heroine who helped liberate Paris from the Nazis and smuggled explosives and weapons in her children's push chairs has died aged 101

Publié le par Mail Online by Georgia Simcox For Mailonline and Associated Press

  • Cecile Rol-Tanguy died yesterday at her home in Monteaux, central France
  • French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to her, calling her a 'freedom fighter'  
  • She used their children's strollers to transport messages, weapons and explosive material

A French Resistance member who risked her life during World War II by working to liberate Paris from Nazi occupation, has died aged 101. 

Cecile Rol-Tanguy died yesterday at her home in Monteaux, central France, as Europe commemorated the 75th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany to Allied forces. 

Her cause of death has not been disclosed by French officials. 

French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to Rol-Tanguy today, calling her a 'freedom fighter'.  

Cecile Rol-Tanguy, a French Resistance member who risked her life during World War II by working to liberate Paris from Nazi occupation, died yesterday at her home in Monteaux, France

Cecile Rol-Tanguy, a French Resistance member who risked her life during World War II by working to liberate Paris from Nazi occupation, died yesterday at her home in Monteaux, France

Rol-Tanguy was the daughter of François Le Bihan, trade unionist, co-founder of the French Communist Party (PCF) and deported to Auschwitz in the convoy of 45000, and Germaine Jaganet. 

She was born Marguerite Le Bihan on 10 April 1919 in Royan, France.  

She trained as a shorthand typist and did an internship at the administrative department of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) union of the Parisian Electricity Distribution Company (CDPE).

Rol-Tanguy joined the Resistance aged 21. She typed out calls for rebellion on the day German troops occupied Paris in June 1940.  

With her husband, Henri Rol-Tanguy, who became a prominent fighter in the French Resistance, she started living a dangerous and clandestine existence as a liaison officer for the French Forces of the Interior (FFI). 

In 1938, She married Henri Tanguy, who had been secretary of the CGT metals union she joined in November 1936. He went on to become a leader in the Resistance

In 1938, She married Henri Tanguy, who had been secretary of the CGT metals union she joined in November 1936. He went on to become a leader in the Resistance

The couple had to hide their relationship to keep their activities secret and use fake identities. 

She joined the CGT metals union in Île-de-France in November 1936 and the secretary of that group was Henri Tanguy. 

Rol-Tanguy got to know him after taking part in meetings of the Aid Committee for Republican Spain and working for the Union of Young Girls of France.  

They started going out in January 1938 and in 1937 she became his war godmother after he went to fight in the Spanish War

She joined the PCF in January 1938 and Henri returned in late 1938. They got married in April 1939.  

She later recalled how she used their children's strollers to transport messages, weapons and explosive material. 

Former French president Francois Hollande awards Rol-Tanguy the Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor medal during a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris

Former French president Francois Hollande awards Rol-Tanguy the Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor medal during a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris

In August 1944, when her husband was the leader of FFI fighters in the Paris region, she worked alongside him to set up a command post in an underground shelter in central Paris.

Once in Paris, she became a liaison officer and takes the nicknames of Jeanne, Yvette and Lucie.  

On August 19, 1944, they wrote and published a pamphlet calling citizens to arms in Paris. The French capital was liberated six days later. 

On August 16, she attended the parade of General de Gaulle on the Champs-Elysees. 

When Resistance leader Charles de Gaulle marched in a victory parade down the Champs-Elysees on August 26, 1945, Rol-Tanguy was the only woman at the reception the general gave to thank the Parisian fighters.

Rol-Tanguy helped highlight the roles of women who heroically fought for France during the war

Rol-Tanguy helped highlight the roles of women who heroically fought for France during the war

She became co-president of the Friends of the Fighters of the Republic of Spain Association (ACER) and her daughter Claire became Secretary General.  

Rol-Tanguy later helped highlight the roles of women who heroically fought for France during the war. 

She received the Legion of Honour, France's highest distinction, in 1984. 

In 2014, Former French president Francois Hollande awarded Rol-Tanguy the Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor medal during a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris. 

On May 27, 2014, she participated in commemorations organised on the occasion of the National Resistance Day.  

She made a commitment with her husband to remain a member of the PCF and subscribed to L'Humanité, a French newspaper, until her death. 

She and her husband had five children together: Hèléne, an academic, Jean, a journalist, Claire and Francis, senior civil servant. Their child named Françoise died in infancy. Her husband died in 2002.  

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