Morse Key

Captain Pierre Louis Le Chene was a Special Operations Executive radio operator. Pierre, code name Gregoire, worked with the Nicholas/Buckmaster network, based in Lyon, France. This was the largest and most consistent area for resistance activities against the occupation and Vichy Government forces.

Many radio operators in the network were rapidly caught, so Pierre took on their work. As a result, he frequently stayed too long at his radio set. On the 9th November 1941, Pierre was transmitting to England news about the German troops massing on the demarcation line, and looking as if they were going to make a move and take over Vichy "free" France. He was captured by the Vichy police and the Gestapo who had been tipped off about Pierre. Given the length of time he was transmitting, they were able to locate him, headset over his ears and still tapping at this morse key.

He was interrogated and tortured by Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, incarcerated in solitary confinement for 10 months in Fresnes prison in Paris, and then finally sent to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. There Pierre was to know horror and pain that no words here would be adequate to describe. During all this time, and through all his suffering Pierre's steadfastness did not desert him. He stayed true to his story and did not betray anyone. He survived the war and received several gallantry awards in recognition of his actions.

Le Chene's morse key was recovered by the Americans whilst clearing through Mauthausen at the end of the war and was later presented to him.

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