Algeria in Turmoil: A History of the Rebellion

By Michael K. Clark | Go to book overview

ing a small area for the Hammer and Sickle. The Communists could not otherwise hope to be cut in some day on the spoils of victory.

The case of Cadet Officer Henri Maillot is illustrative of this design and of the perils attending it. On April 4, 1956, at dawn, an army truck loaded with arms and ammunition left Miliana under escort and headed for Algiers, seventy-four miles to the northeast. It arrived at a little before 9 A.M. As soon as the men of the escort had departed in quest of something to eat, Cadet Officer Maillot, commanding the convoy, climbed into the cab of the truck and ordered the driver, Private Jacques Domergue, to proceed to the Bainem wood just west of Algiers. The vehicle was later recovered. The driver was found bound to a tree. But Maillot had vanished and with him the load of arms and ammunition. Light machine guns, rifles, pistols, and a stock of hand grenades were lost. It was recalled that the clandestine Communist organ, Liberté, had ordered party members to "procure in every possible way arms for the forces engaged in the struggle for the liberation of Algeria."

Two days later, a communiqué issued by the Freedom Fighters, the Communist guerrilla organization, announced that Maillot had joined the "resistance forces." The communiqué also contained a list of the stolen weapons. On May 18, Maillot himself sent a mimeographed circular letter to his former comrades of the 504th Transport Battalion, to the police, and to the press. In it, he explained that in joining the ranks of the "fighting Algerians," he had responded to his party's call.

Maillot, it was learned, had been born twenty-eight years earlier in Algiers, the son of a municipal employee who had once been secretarygeneral of the Communist-dominated Municipal Employees' Union. The younger Maillot had become secretary-general of the Union de la Jeunesse Démocratique Algérienne, a Communist-front organization, and had been employed as an accountant by the Communist daily, Alger Républicain. He also had represented Algeria at youth congresses in Prague and Warsaw. However, in volunteering for active service in the Army, Maillot, a reservist, had sworn that he had severed all ties with the party. "Conscientious, methodical, devoted, hard-working, perfectly disciplined, robust, well prepared to bear arms" -- such were the appraisals of his superiors. But this praise carried little weight with the Algiers military tribunal, before which Maillot was tried in absentia on May 22, 1956. The tribunal sentenced him to death.

On June 5, 1956, an armed band was sighted in a previously uncontaminated area near Lamartine east of Orléansville. Pursued by a security unit, the band was attacked outside a native village called Boudouane. Seven rebels fell in the encounter, among them two Europeans. Despite bleached hair and eyebrows, one of the European bodies was quickly

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