French 101
(or the Rat Patrol meets the French connection)

Now and then one hears French spoken in Rat Patrol episodes.  Not surprising. After all, the real war in North Africa ranged into countries that were, at the time, French protectorates or colonies (Tunisia, French Morocco, Algeria).  It is, therefore, logical that the locals in some episodes would speak French.  Fortunately the Rats always travelled with a resident linguist (Sgt. Moffitt) and were always able to converse with them.

Moffitt isn't here to translate so a kind French fan* of The Rat Patrol passes along the following translations. 

The Last Harbor Raid - Parts I, II, and III

Episode Mission Briefing

The patrol prepared for a mission so dangerous it takes three episodes (or a movie) to complete it.  Apparently a critically important German-controlled harbour is being kept in operation through the efforts of Allied POWs. This will not do. 


The Rat Patrol must sneak into enemy territory and persuade the local French-speaking fishermen to help transport hundreds of prisoners as soon as they free them from the Germans.

The rats sneak into enemy territory aboard Bertaine's fishing boat. 

"Jacques, Pierre, venez ici !"
(Jacques, Pierre, come here!)

"Couvrez les avec des poissons."
(Cover them with fish.)

At the German Officers' Club Marianne sings a French traditional song "Aupres de ma blonde" 
(lyrics and translation here:

Making first contact with a very special local.

"Je suis désolée, je ne parle pas l'Allemand"
("I'm sorry, I don't speak German.")

"Et... je ne parle pas français très bien. Parlez vous Anglais ?"
("And... I don't speak French very well. Do you speak English ?")

   Our translator points out that a native French speaker would more likely say, "Je ne parle pas très bien français." than the phrasing Moffitt used.

On board the fishing boat Marianne translates Troy's plea for the fishermen's help.

"Tell them Bertaine may be dead, but he'd want them to finish his job."

   Marianne translates with:
 "Ils peuvent emmener les hommes jusqu'à la plage, mais sans vous et sans vos bateaux, ce sera un massacre, vous le savez bien."
  ("They can take the men to the beach, but without you and your boats, it will be a massacre, you know that.")

Obviously Marianne takes some liberty with Troy's words.  Fortunately, it didn't matter in the end.
Our translator reports that Marianne's other translations are close to what Troy said. 

Moffitt's translations of her words are not word-for-word but are accurate summarisations.  

Marianne does her darndest to convince the fishermen that she is their friend and that they should help the patrol rescue the prisoners.

"Et la fois où vous m'avez donné une partie pour mon anniversaire, pour mes onze ans sur le bateau de papa. Je me rappelle, on avait tous chanté. Et t'as même joué sur ton accordéon, tu te rappelle? Et on a tous chanté en choeur. Vous vous rappelez?"
 ("And the time when you gave a party for my birthday, for my eleventh birthday, on dad's boat. I remember, we all sang. And you even played on your accordion, do you remember? And we all sang together. Do you remember?")

When the fishermen seem unmoved, Marianne tearfully sings another French traditional song (Sur le pont d'Avignon).  Luckily the fishermen are a sentimental lot and are then convinced to come on board. (Sorry. Bad pun).

See the song lyrics and translation at

For the guest stars in 'The Last Harbor Raid' see here.


The Double Jeopardy Raid

Episode Mission Briefing

The patrol slips into enemy-held territory to meet up with some young gun-toting, French-speaking partisans. Their help is evidently critical for the upcoming 'big offensive'.


Unfortunately, young love, and ego come into play and a collaboration that should have worked smoothly becomes decidedly rough. An unexpected rescue mission appears on the patrol's horizon.

Two young partisans talk to the 'old' rats (it's all relative) then Jean-Claude turns to his 'children' and issues these orders.


"Excusez-moi.  Allez, allez, vite, mes enfants, dépéchez vous!"
(Excuse me. Come on, come on, quickly, children, hurry up!)



Jean-Claude, driven for revenge, first struggles to control the situation but then gives in to the patrol's authority.


"Comprenez vous, sergeant?"
(Do you understand, sergeant?)

"Françoise** - donne lui."
(Françoise - give it to him)





Jean-Claude orders that pain-killers be given to their German prisoner.

** Suncompass has a nit-pick about The Rat Patrol spelling of this male partisan's name. 
To see what Suncompass is in a tizzy about, click here.

Then Jean-Claude orders that grub be given to the men of the patrol.


"Jeannette, la bouffe"
(Jeannette, the chow/grub.)


"Merci, mademoiselle"
(Thanks, miss.)

"Pas de quoi, monsieur"
(You're welcome, sir.)

A more literal translation of Jeanette's line is, "It is nothing worth thanking, sir".  It is one of many ways to say "You're welcome." in French.
Hitch is clearly surprised at Andy's command of the language, and Jeanette is clearly taken with the charming Andy.

"T'as compris ?"
(Did you understand?)


Suncompass note
Note that Jean-Claude here uses 'tu', the 'familiar' address, for Monique (as well he should given their obvious affection) while he used the more formal 'vous' when addressing Troy above ("Comprenez vous?"). 

The linguist advisors for this episode evidently had a good grasp of the French language. (Even so, see here for a name language lapse)

(Let's go)

Françoise (under the arrow):
"Enferme les dans notre cave et surveille les."
(Lock them up in our cellar and keep an eye on them.)


The other freedom fighter then tells our boys where to go:
"Par là!"
(That way!)


For the main guest stars of 'The Double Jeopardy Raid', see here.  To read a detailed description of this episode see here

The Lighthouse Raid

Mission Briefing

The Rat Patrol is on a mission to transport a seriously ailing Underground leader to safety.  In order to do so they must smuggle him into the hands of a 'friendly' lighthouse keeper.


Things go awry when the 'friendly' lighthouse keeper turns out to be more greedy than friendly. It appears the Rat Patrol may fail in their mission.

The greedy lighthouse keeper explains to the rats that his escape is assured because:


"L'argent n'a pas d'odeur."
(Gold has no smell.)

or more commonly:
(Money has no smell.)

Suncompass note:
Marius translates this line as "Gold has no smell." but he took some liberty with the word 'argent'.  The more accepted translation is:  "Money has no smell."

Whether Marius knew it or not (Moffitt probably would have), that quotation was first uttered by Roman Emperor Vespasien (AD 9-79) when putting down an objection to a tax on public lavatories. 

Marius demands that Moffitt relinquish his weapon. When he doesn't, Marius moves threateningly at Sergeant Troy and says:


"très bien..."
(very well...)

Marius (to his wife):
"ça suffit, madame!"
(That's enough, madam!)





The actors (other than the rats) in this episode are French borne, so what they speak has an authentic accent and is how real French is spoken. It is not the 1967 Hollywood version of the French language.

Suncompass note:  There seems to have been a mix-up in the naming of the lighthouse keeper.  The lighthouse keeper calls himself 'Marius' but the credits and subtitles call him 'Mathias'.  But, as Shakespeare once wrote, "What's in a name?"  This stinking turncoat is still a stinking turncoat no matter what you call him.

For the names of the guest stars in 'The Lighthouse Raid' see here.

To see another language-related mistake (from the 'The Decoy Raid') check here.

* Many thanks to the multilingual Valdhery for sitting through The Rat Patrol episodes with pen in hand and contributing the fine translations on this page.



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