Obituary for a French superspy

The Telegraph's obit for Count Robert de La Rochefoucauld recounts the florid and exciting life of the aristocrat turned French resistance fighter turned UK special forces killer turned escape artist turned colonial enforcer in Indochina. In particular, La Rochefoucauld was a skilled escapologist, and ballsy as all hell about it:

Dropped into the Morvan with two British agents, including one radio operator, La Rochefoucauld teamed up with a Maquis group near Avallon led by a man who called himself The Pope. After destroying the electrical substation at Avallon, and blowing up railway tracks, La Rochefoucauld was awaiting exfiltration by the RAF when he was denounced and arrested. After a series of interrogations, he was condemned to death.

En route to his execution in Auxerre, La Rochefoucauld made a break, leaping from the back of the truck carrying him to his doom, and dodging the bullets fired by his two guards. Sprinting through the empty streets, he found himself in front of the Gestapo’s headquarters, where a chauffeur was pacing near a limousine bearing the swastika flag. Spotting the key in the ignition, La Rochefoucauld jumped in and roared off, following the Route Nationale past the prison he had left an hour earlier.

Count Robert de La Rochefoucauld (via Kottke)

(Image: downsized, cropped thumbnail of a larger image on The Telegraph)



  1. It’s hard to criticize a man whose balls probably eclipsed the sun every time he left the house, but it’s too bad that he defended Maurice Papon, who was a very nasty piece of work.

    1. Not to mention that defending France’s Indochinese interests wasn’t the same kind of noble cause as fighting Nazis.

  2. He used to blow up casemates…until he took an arrow to the knee.

    Really, though, this man is awesome.  And phooey to the Bordeaux celebrants kitted up after the Germans left!  Phooey, I say!  

    Most true badasses we never hear anything about.  I’m glad this one’s story is known.  I’ll have a toast to him now.

  3. Whatever his later errors of judgement, he deserves at least a partial pass for his wartime activities.  He risked his life and the prospect of vicious torture to fight Nazism in a particularly hands on way. Its a much abused term- but this guy was a genuine hero.

  4. I loved his wife’s advice to the detectives: ““Don’t try to lock him up. He escapes, you know.”

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