Mockers, Michel

Michel Mockers was born December 17, 1922 in Nantes, in the northwest of France.  His father was a successful director of casinos, both in Nantes and Cannes, so Michel had a positive childhood.  He attended school at the Abbaye de Calcat, where he received an excellent education, and as a teenager he was even learning to fly an airplane.  In that respect he was following in his father’s footsteps as his father had been a gunner in the Great War, with a friend who was a pilot.  But when the news of war came in 1939, Michel remembers that they and the men of his own generation were devastated by the news.  France was invaded in 1940, and on his father’s advice Michel fled to the south, where he worked on a farm for a year.  The country was at this time divided into the two zones – Occupied and Vichy – and Michel recalls that it was difficult to know whom to trust.  He spent time with the Chantiers de Jeunesse, but the authorities were looking to send young men to Germany to work in factories  – and Michel was on their list.  The young Michel made a fateful decision at this time:  that he would resist the German occupation.  He and his brother made a fateful coin flip:  both would resist but one in France and one outside the country.  Michel was the one to stay, and he escaped that area and went north and created his own local resistance cell and began to think of ways to fight back.  A local priest and other connections and a bit of luck enabled Michel to learn of a British mission in the area, and weapons were dropped to Michel and his men from a British aircraft.  Michel and many of the others had little experience or military training, so they had to learn how to use the weapons themselves.  They worked in the shadows, and when the news of D-day came to them, they took their fight into the open, joining with the Allied soldiers in the liberation of France.  Michel was a de facto officer during this entire time, so with the end of the war he was made a lieutenant in the regular French army, even though he had no specialized training.  After the war Michel was able to return to his studies, and he continued to develop his interest in the arts.  Crestwood students were able to zoom with Michel in December 2022.