80 years later : 2024, a year of homage and remembrance for the Fusillés du Fort des Dunes

In the year 2024, as the world remembers the events that marked the Liberation, one tragic date comes to the fore: September 4, 1944. On that day in Rosendäel, the action of a resistance fighter triggered a series of tragic events that cost the lives of seven men, martyrs of the resistance.

It all began with an attempt to intercept a German marine artillery soldier on Boulevard de la République. Unfortunately, the operation failed, and the German authorities quickly reacted by cordoning off the neighborhood and launching an assault on a house used as a hideout by the local Resistance. Only one man, Yvon Miron, managed to escape the trap set by the enemy. The seven others, plus the father of one of them, Marcel Reynaert, were arrested.

Initially interned at the Zuydcoote battery, where one of them died during an escape attempt, they were then transferred to the fort. On September 6, 1944, on the orders of the military tribunal, the Germans shot six of the remaining resistance fighters in the fort’s north ditch. The seventh, seriously injured during his arrest, was euthanized. Their bodies were buried at the foot of the ramparts, under a surrounding wall that was destroyed shortly afterwards, erasing all trace of the execution.

After the liberation of Dunkirk, an investigation was carried out to find the bodies of those shot. Thanks to information provided by former German POWs, the remains of the seven men were finally discovered on July 30, 1945, buried together in a pit.

Every year on September 6, the towns of Leffrinckoucke and Dunkirk commemorate the memory of these heroes of the Resistance at the Fort des Dunes: Marcel and Roger Reynaert, Élysée Willaert, Robert Vangheluwe, Georges Claeyman, Vincent Dewaele, Henri Gadeyne and Daniel Decroos.

Today, 80 years after these events, the memory of those shot at the Fort des Dunes remains vivid in the hearts of the region’s inhabitants. Their sacrifice is a reminder of the courage and determination of those who fought for freedom and justice and against obscurantism.

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