Lance-Corporal Michael Trotobas, The Middlesex Regiment, 1933 (c)
Photograph, 1933 (c).
Keeping troops occupied and out of trouble was a constant headache for the authorities. Eager to distract men from drink, gambling and prostitutes, senior officers recommended a range of leisure activities, including boxing. The latter was thought to embody certain 'British virtues' such as strength, persistence, courage, self-control and sportsmanship.
Michael Alfred Raymond Trotobas (1914-1943) was born of Irish and French parents and spent part of his early life in both Northern France and England. In 1939 he became a regular soldier in the Middlesex Regiment. After Dunkirk (1940) he was recruited to the Special Operations Executive's (SOE) French Section and given a commission in the Manchester Regiment.
In 1941, under the code name 'Sylvestre', he was parachuted into the Chateauroux area. Six weeks later he and nine agents were arrested. However, in 1942 Trotobas took part in a mass escape of SOE agents from Mauzac prison. He then went on to establish and lead the Lille- based 'Farmer' circuit.
From 1943 Trotobas, or 'Capitaine Michel', successfully led a sabotage campaign against the Germans, targeting the Lans-Béthune railway, tool factories at Armentières, and naval depots and wharfs at Amiens.
Trotobas was killed in November 1943 whilst trying to evade arrest by a German raiding party who had been given the address of his safe house by a captured agent, code named 'Olivier'. Trotobas was recommended for a posthumous Victoria Cross (VC), but this was rejected as there was no one senior to him present to report on his actions. There is a memorial dedicated to him in Lille.
One of 18 photographs relating to Captain Michael Alfred Raymond Trotobas (1914-1943), Special Operations Executive.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum, Out of Copyright
National Army Museum, Study collection
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