| The War That Came Early |
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
|Appearance(s):|| Hitler's War|
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
|Date of Birth:||c. 1918|
|Date of Death:||1941|
|Cause of Death:||Bullet wound to the throat (WWII)|
|Military Branch:||French Army (World War II)|
Under the command of Sergeant Aristide Demange, Harcourt and his squad were part of the initial French incursion into Germany in October 1938 while Germany was subduing Czechoslovakia. However, the push was poorly supported by the French government, and the French high command proved incapable of taking advantage of Germany's weakness in the west. Thus, by November 1938, Harcourt and his unit were already retreating back into France, burning everything they could as they moved.
For the remainder of 1938 and into 1939, Harcourt was part of an ongoing battle against German forces on French territory, as he and his colleagues were moved across the countryside. A raw recruit when he began his service, he swiftly became a veteran soldier as others fell around him.
In April 1939, Harcourt was part of the combined British and French counter-offensive that successfully stopped the German drive on Paris. During this time he killed a German tank commander. Harcourt was eventually promoted to corporal, and given command of a machine gun during the French attacks on German lines.
Harcourt eventually made sergeant and commanded the squad formerly headed by Aristide Demange, who had been promoted to lieutenant.
After the Big Switch of 1940, Harcourt saw action in the Soviet Union. Though he was uncomfortable with the idea of forming an alliance with Adolf Hitler, he knew he had no choice but to obey his superiors or face a court-martial. He also knew that the Soviets would try to kill him no matter what his political inclinations, and thus he served competently against the Red Army while keeping Communist sympathizers in his unit from deserting to the Soviets.
Nonetheless, Harcourt did not share the Nazis' racial attitudes or ideology. He once used the threat of force to prevent the Waffen-SS from massacring Jews in a village taken by a joint Franco-German operation.
Harcourt's squad was the extreme northern flank of the French army one morning in December 1941, when the Soviets set off thousands of green flares, a prearranged signal for the French Expeditionary Force to defect en masse. He was involved in a skirmish with Germans to his left flank, and made a fighting retreat to Soviet lines. During this retreat he was shot in the throat by German sniper Willi Dernen and bled to death in the snow.