Femmes formidables : Joséphine, Francine and Odette Sabaté

Pierre Sabaté fought for France in WW1. He was badly injured and imprisoned in a POW camp. He died in 1931 in the Conflent village of Joch, his birthplace, having never fully recovered from his injuries. He left behind his wife Joséphine, and two daughters, Francine and Odette.


Before he died, he is reported to have said: “At least my children will never go to war….”

In the winter of ’39 came the Retirada. Spanish refugees poured over the border. From their small grocery shop in Perpignan, the 3 courageous ladies, staunch communists, joined the fight against fascism, giving help and shelter to Spanish republicans fleeing Franco, and later to escapees, and downed English pilots.

In 1943, Joséphine, Francine and Odette were all arrested by the ‘special section’ of the Vichy police. Imprisoned in Perpignan, Odette managed to escape but Joséphine and Francine were handed over to the Germans and deported to Ravensbrück.

francine sabate
Francine Sabaté

Joséphine was designated for the convoy of ‘sacrifices’ in March 1945, and Francine died a month later as Soviet troops liberated the camp. She was just 25 years old.

odette sabate
Odette Sabaté

At 18 years old, Odette joined the Resistance, and fought in secret with the Communist Party until the liberation. She was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944, tortured and imprisoned in Fort Montluc in Lyon and liberated by the FFI (Forces françaises de l’intérieur).

She settled in Ria, and passed away in 2020.

Do you know of a femme formidable, past or present, who deserves a mention in our Femmes Formidables series? Write to us at info@anglophone-direct.com

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