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Gustave Daniel Alfred Biéler, born in 1904 in Lutry, Vaud, Switzerland - died September 6, 1944 in Bavaria, was a Special Operations Executive agent during World War II.

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Gustave Biéler

At the age of twenty, Gustave Biéler emigrated to Canada where he settled in the city of Montreal, Quebec working as a school teacher and then as an official translator for Sun Life Assurance and becoming a Canadian citizen. At the outbreak of World War II, although married with two children, Gustave Biéler joined the Canadian Army and was shipped to a base in Britain. His wife Marguerite Geymonat worked as a broadcaster to the troops in Europe on Radio-Canada International. Because of his familiarity with France and his fluency in the French and English languages he joined the "Special Operations Executive" in London.

Known by his wartime nickname "Guy," following his specialized training, Colonel Maurice Buckmaster, the SOE commander, wrote in his file that Biéler was the best student SOE had. On November 18, 1942, Guy Biéler, along with wireless operator Arthur Staggs and Michael Trotobas were parachuted into France. Unfortunately, in the dark of the night, Biéler severely injured his back after landing on rocks and he spent several months recovering.

Gifted with strong communication and organization skills, as the head of the Musician Network he was able to work with fellow SOE agents and members of the French Resistance to organize very productive sabotage missions. Operating from a base in Saint-Quentin in the northern Aisne département, Biéler's 25 teams, scattered over different areas of northern France, were successful in damaging or destroying German gasoline storage tanks, rail lines, bridges, canal locks, and the electric tractors used to tow barges on the shipping waterways. Their repeated efforts hampered the movement of enemy arms and troops but the most important job for Guy Biéler would eventually be the preparations for D-Day.

His operations were so successful that the Germans instituted a special manhunt to get him and his team and on January 13, 1944 the Gestapo arrested him and agent Yolande Beekman in the Café Moulin Brulé. At the Gestapo headquarters in Saint-Quentin the two were tortured repeatedly but never broke and a few months later Guy Biéler was transferred to Flossenbürg concentration camp in the Oberpfalz region of Bavaria, where the brutal torture continued. Getting nothing out of him, the Germans executed a crippled and emaciated Major Guy Biéler on September 6, 1944.

Guy Biéler's contribution to freedom was recognized with the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE). In Saint-Quentin, France, he was adopted by the citizens as a folk hero not only for his exploits and bravery but also because he was someone who did everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. The "rue du Commandant Guy Biéler" in Saint-Quentin was named for him and as one of the SOE agents who died for the liberation of France, he is listed on the "Roll of Honor" on the Valençay SOE Memorial in the town of Valençay, in the Indre departément. As well, Major Biéler is recorded on the Groesbeek Memorial in Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands.

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