The French term "partisan", derived from the Latin, first appeared in the 17th century to describe the leader of a war-party.
The initial concept of partisan warfare involved the use of troops raised from the local population in a war zone (or in some cases regular forces) who would operate behind enemy lines to disrupt communications, seize posts or villages as forward-operating bases, ambush convoys, impose war taxes or contributions, raid logistical stockpiles, and compel enemy forces to disperse and protect their base of operations.
One of the first manuals of partisan tactics in the 18th century was The Partisan, or the Art of Making War in Detachment..., published in London in 1760 by de Jeney, a Hungarian military officer who served in the Prussian Army as captain of military engineers during the Seven Years' War of 1756–1763. Johann von Ewald described techniques of partisan warfare in detail in his Abhandlung über den kleinen Krieg (1789).
The concept of partisan warfare would later form the basis of the "Partisan Rangers" of the American Civil War. In that war, Confederate States Army Partisan leaders, such as John S. Mosby, operated along the lines described by von Ewald (and later by both Jomini and Clausewitz). In essence, 19th-century American partisans were closer to commando or ranger forces raised during World War II than to the "partisan" forces operating in occupied Europe. Mosby-style fighters would have been legally considered uniformed members of their state's armed forces.
Partisans in the mid-19th century were substantially different from raiding cavalry, or from unorganized/semi-organized guerrilla forces. Russian partisans played a crucial part in the downfall of Napoleon. Their fierce resistance and persistent inroads helped compel the French emperor to flee Russia in 1812.
The French Resistance (French: La Résistance) was the collection of French movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during the Second World War. Résistance cells were small groups of armed men and women (called the Maquis in rural areas), who, in addition to their guerrilla warfare activities, were also publishers of underground newspapers, providers of first-hand intelligence information, and maintainers of escape networks that helped Allied soldiers and airmen trapped behind enemy lines. The men and women of the Résistance came from all economic levels and political leanings of French society, including émigrés; academics, students, aristocrats, conservative Roman Catholics (including priests) and also citizens from the ranks of liberals, anarchists and communists.
The French Resistance played a significant role in facilitating the Allies' rapid advance through France following the invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944, and the lesser-known invasion of Provence on 15 August, by providing military intelligence on the German defences known as the Atlantic Wall and on Wehrmacht deployments and orders of battle. The Résistance also planned, coordinated, and executed acts of sabotage on the electrical power grid, transport facilities, and telecommunications networks. It was also politically and morally important to France, both during the German occupation and for decades afterward, because it provided the country with an inspiring example of the patriotic fulfillment of a national imperative, countering an existential threat to French nationhood. The actions of the Résistance stood in marked contrast to the collaborationof the French regime based at Vichy, the French people who joined the pro-Nazi Milice française and the French men who joined the Waffen SS.
After the landings in Normandy and Provence, the paramilitary components of the Résistance were organised more formally, into a hierarchy of operational units known, collectively, as the French Forces of the Interior(FFI). Estimated to have a strength of 100,000 in June 1944, the FFI grew rapidly and reached approximately 400,000 by October of that year. Although the amalgamation of the FFI was, in some cases, fraught with political difficulties, it was ultimately successful, and it allowed France to rebuild the fourth-largest army in the European theatre (1.2 million men) by VE Day in May 1945.
AUSTRALIAN WAS WITH PARTISANS
Having escaped from a prison the
day before he was to have been shot,
Private Desmond Peck (7th Batt)
was one of the repatriated prisoners
of war who returned to Melbourne
yesterday (11th April 1945).
Wounded and taken prisoner, he
escaped from Crete in 1941 and
roamed Italy for 12 months before
being recaptured and sent to an
Italian prison camp. Twice he es-
caped. On the second occasion he
and Noel Dunn, Wellington (NZ),
planned to leave on a submarine.
While they were in the hills await-
ing an opportunity RAF planes
came over and dropped a radio near
by. They were again captured by an
Italian patrol, which, seeing the
radio, treated them as spies.
They were taken, to Rhodes Island,
and broke away again, this time in
a rowing boat, and made for Turkey.
The boat sank in a storm. Four men
were drowned, but he. and three
others were picked up by an Italian
destroyer. They were to have been
executed as spies, but, on appeal,
the Germans sent for their papers
to Berlin, which proved that they
were prisoners of war.
Peck was then sent to a camp in
the north of Italy. A month later
he and three others got away, but
were caught as they were approach-
ing Switzerland. He was sent to a
punishment and discipline camp,
and later, giving more trouble, to
a camp for political prisoners. There
he remained until Italy broke with
Hitler. He worked with the par-
tisans in helping 1,800 Australian
and Allied soldiers through to
Switzerland, but in 1944 was
arrested by the Gestapo. He was
court martialled at Como and sen-
tenced to death. He again escaped
and reached Switzerland.
GERMAN PRISON CONDITIONS
Poor treatment, crowded accom-
modation, inadequate food, and de-
plorable sanitary arrangements was
the description applied to German
prison camps by Lieut G. F. Mum-
ford, of Sunshine.
Lieut Mumford (8th Batt) was cap-
tured in Greece on April 12, 1941,
and was in five different camps in
Germany. In the last one at
Eichstatt, near Munich, there were
120 Australian and 1,800 British
officers. But for the Red Cross par-
cels most of them would have been
dead in six months.
Working 10 hours every night in a
paper mills in Austria kept Sig A. J.
Kelson (28th Batt) busy, particu-
larly as their captors sometimes for-
got to feed them. He fell from 13st
51b to 9st 10lb in six months. His
workmates were mostly Russians,
whom he described as "the best
people in Europe."