During World War II, Miserai was at the heart of the local French resistance. Jerome Levesque, my great uncle, graduated from the prestigious Saint-Cyr military school to become Lieutenant Jerome Levesque and became actively involved in the French war campaign upon his return to Miserai.
In March of 1943 weapons were parachuted to a secret location where Jerome Levesque collected them in order to secure the area and train his men. He then proceeded to hide the weapons in a barn in the woods – known as the Poussiniere – which can still be visited today. The Poussiniere used to be the home of Miserai’s caretaker which had been abandoned for many years. Some how, on the morning of June 5th, the Gestapo got wind of this secret weapons drop and began making their way to Miserai. Little did they know, my great uncle had a feeling that they were coming, possibly tipped off, and moved the weapons minutes before their arrival.
The Gestapo have Miserai surrounded, and force Jerome’s father, the owner of Miserai, Judicael Levesque, to take them to the weapons hiding place at gun point. Judicael was unaware that his son had moved the weapons moments earlier, and so, he begins the longest ten minute walk of his life, believing that this is the end. Once the Gestapo find the weapons, they will kill them all.
The relief he must have felt when the weapons were nowhere to be found must have been indescribable. There are many Levesque’s, myself included, who are here today thanks to my great uncle Jerome’s quick thinking!
Jerome Levesque’s personal account of that day:
The Gestapo and militia are occupying Miserai and using the estate as a base to search for weapons. When questioned by the Germans, my father has to be quick and come up with fast and credible answers: “My son Jerome is the black sheep of the family,he rarely is present at Miserai, when he leaves, he never telle us where he is going!” Finding nothing near the chateau, militia and Gestapo decide to expand their investigation and force my father to take them to the Brotz watermill at gunpoint, then to la Poussinière. La Poussinière is the former home of Miserai’s caretaker that had been abandoned for several years. My father knew I hid the weapons there, in the barn next to the main house. He also knew he would immediately be shot should the Germans find them. He thought his life had come to an end. Fortunately, driven by a bad feeling, I removed the guns and ammunition from the barn 1/2 hour earlier to some bushes fifty meters away. To my father’s surprise and great relief the weapons were never found.