EXPIRED: 08/24/09 – Ernest Renggli, 94, rescued & sheltered British airmen shot down by Germans during WW2, and also helped them escape. Although he violently objected to the occupation, he never hated Germans as individuals.
Working on a small farm in northern Burgundy at the outbreak of war, he became a key player in the rescue, shelter and escape of British airmen shot down in his area. He found them safe houses, sheltered several at the farm where he lived, and arranged for their movement on through the network along an overland route home via Switzerland, or for them to be picked up by air at night.
He soon started more active resistance, being the first to sabotage a munitions train in that part of France. Renggli then gradually became involved further in resistance activity, such as the falsification of papers and the training of young recruits to the movement.
Later in the war, Renggli became a key player in the recuperation, storage and distribution of munitions parachuted in by RAF planes for the resistance. This was always a risky enterprise, and he made extensive use of his ox cart, which would be piled with huge loads of straw to conceal the weapons hidden within it.
Renggli’s survival against the odds may well have been helped by how much and how widely he was liked as a person. He was awarded several French military honours, the latest being the Medaille Militaire in 2005, but he was the most pleased of all to be given French citizenship in 1997.