Life and death of Richard Bros and a Mystery in the French Midi

Life and death of Richard Bros and a Mystery in the French Midi
Sommières, France, rue Taillade, childhood home of Richard Bros

It was my inquiries into the death of Mario Bachand that led to my interest in the death of Richard Bros. There was an oddness to both, which made me suspect that they were related.

Bachand was shot to death in Paris by a couple, by the evidence from Montreal, who arrived at the apartment where he was staying. They had never met Bachand, yet they came with a .22 calibre pistol, apparently silenced. In other words, they had made a considerable preparation and effort to kill someone who they did not know. The murder was followed by an extensive media campaign to persuade readers that he was killed by the FLQ. But there was no evidence of that, apart from two or three statements from the so-called DEFLQ in Algers. And I had found evidence that the DEFLQ was an RCMP creation, and that his murder had been planned for at least four months.

Bros was found dead, hanged by his shirt in a locked in the police station in the North London borough of Islington. police and the media called it suicide. Bachand shot to death by a mysterious couple from Montreal, who had never met him. There appeared to have been no substantial investigation into the Bachand murder, and no arrests, despite the fact that the killers were in the close presence of witnesses would certainly could identify them.

Due diligence in investigating murder

As with the Bachand case, for which I travelled to Paris to ask a few questions, and visit the scene of the murder, I travelled to Sommières to ask a few questions about why Richard Bros came to die in a London police cell. I found it more than coincidental the FLQ beyond Quebec, whether in Cuba, North Africa, and Europe. It represented an entire aspect of the history of the FLQ that had not been explored. The second was to learn about the person, in particular, how a child born in the French Midi, one of the most lovely parts of France and therefore of the world, should leave for Canada, and association with the FLQ. find out One day in Sommières, Pierre Serrano, the brother of Richard Bros’ Josephine, led me for a walk up rue Taillade, one of the oldest streets in the village. Its’ origin as a Roman cart track, for passage from the bridge over the Verdule and the central market square, is easy to see. The building on the right with the bright green window frame belonged to the Serrano family. Above the entrance is the year of its construction, 1536. The Italianate style suggests that its then owners were a prosperous Italian family from Renaissance Italy.

There was here and there evidence of the distant and the more recent past.

Life and death of Richard Bros and a Mystery in the French Midi
Roman store front, rue Taillade
Life and death of Richard Bros and a Mystery in the French Midi
The remains of the castle and tower above Sommières

During the Second World War, two German military units, at different times, occupied Sommières. Five hundred soldiers of an SA division (Feldherrnhalle) that had been decimated on the Eastern Front, sent to Sommières from February to December of 1943 to recover. From February to June, 1944, a unit of several hundred men of the 9th SS Hohenstaufen waffen SS.

A plaque in remembrance of more recent sorrows, losses of Sommières residents during the Second World War. across from the Serrano home where Richard Bros spent much of his childhood.

Life and death of Richard Bros and a Mystery in the French Midi
Plaque rue Taillade across from Serrano home

Pierre Serrano spoke of Marcel Bros, Richard’s father, having, on the 21st of August 1943, left Sommières to join a group of the Francs-tireurs et partisans français (FTPF) in the Département du Gard, The FTP being the most important French resistance movement of the Second World War. The FTP was created by the French Communist Party, and was therefore at the intersection of serious divisions in French society between Left and Right. It was not only against the Germans, with forces such as a unit of the 9th SS Hohenstaufen waffen SS, based half-a-year in Sommières, but against the Milice of the Vichy regime. In other words, in a vicious war without pity.

Life and death of Richard Bros and a Mystery in the French Midi
Marcel Bros and Josephine Serrano at their marriage in Sommières, 1944

How Richard Bros came to Canada

Marcel Bros was on of five siblings. His father, a veteran of the First World War, held serious prejudices against Spanish immigrants from Spain, in particular against refugees from the Spanish Civil War, who arrived in France following the victory of Franco. How much of this racist sentiment was inspired by Catholic versus Protestant, Left versus Right, or other, is impossible to know. Perhaps, also, there was opposition the Spanish immigration because it brought competition, and lower wages, for work in the vineyards of Sommières. Whatever the case, the father of Marcel Bros was very strongly opposed to the marriage of Marcel and Josephine (Josée) Sanchis, born in Cofrentes, Spain. At a family dinner, Marcel’s father told him that he would be disinherited if he were to marry the beautiful, sultry Josephine. A serious threat, given, that for the French peasant or farmer of the time, the question of land ownership is of first importance.

Richard Bros’ father, Marcel, moves to Canada

An heated argument between father and son ensued. The father picked up a wine bottle and hit Marcel on the top of the skull, which could have ben a lethal blow. Marcel got up and left the house, saying he would never return.

In 1952, Marcel Bros left for Canada, and Montreal. He obtained work as an electrician for Quebec Hydro, working on the hydroelectric projects in le Grand Nord. The following year, Richard Bros and mother Josephine left Sommières and boarded the Vulcania of the Italian line. They landed landed at Halifax, apparently – for the writing on the reference document, a passport application form is unclear – on the 15th of June, 1953, and continued by train to Montreal. There they met Richard’s father, Marcel, and took up residence at 6644 19th avenue, Rosemount, Montreal.

Unfortunate, because Richard was now an outsider, in a province of Quebec awakening from from the political, religious and cultural confinement of long standing. Where rising nationalist sentiment, and the struggle for recognition and the correction of long-standing wrongs, would soon envelope him. Richard Bros’ solitude, as a foreigner amongst a people demanding recognition, was increased by his father’s absence, in le Grand Nord, and his mother’s absence by working at night as hostess in bars and nightclubs in the city. He was alone. Which made him receptive to the siren call of a fellow student, who asked him to help establish a small group he had in mind, Résistance du Québec: his name, Jacques Lanctôt.

Mystery in the French Midi

Life and death of Richard Bros and a Mystery in the French Midi
Richard Bros and his paternal aunt, Sommières

It was while walking along rue Taillade with Pierre Serrano that I learned of a further mystery. He told me that in the Spring of 1970, probably in the month of May, he returned from a business trip and was told by his parents that one day Richard appeared in the company of a certain Quebec politician. They had travelled together, they said, from Paris. His name? René Lévesque. Lévesque stayed the night in the room on the 1st floor, while Richard stayed with his grandparents on the ground floor.

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