You don’t have to be a rugby fan to have heard of the Stade Gilbert Brutus in Perpignan, home ground of the Catalans Dragons, but have you ever wondered where the stadium name comes from.

Gilbert Brutus, rugby union player, referee, coach, politician and resistant, was born in 1887 in Port-Vendres.

During the WW1, he was a ‘balloon observer’, watching the front from the sky and passing on information to the artillery down below. In 1918, after 457 hours of air balloon duty, he jumped from his burning balloon when attacked by the Luftwaffe and arrived safely on the ground by parachute.

Move on to WW2. Still determined to be part of the action, in 1940, he joined the French Resistance, leading escapees over the Pyrenees to the relative safety of Spain.

One of the founders of the Comet Line, he was also a member of General Delestraint’s ‘armée secrète‘, a French military organisation set up to unite the three major resistance movements in southern France: Combat, Libération-sud and the Franc-Tireurs.

Arrested, imprisoned and released several times, before finally being denounced to the Gestapo, he was tortured to death in the citadel in Perpignan in 1944..

Credit: Wikipedia


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