The World at War


Jean de Lattre de Tassigny

French General

Born: February 2, 1889 at Mouilleron-en-Pareds, Vendee
Died: January 11, 1952 at Paris

     De Lattre graduated from Saint Cyr 1911, took part in the First World War and the Moroccan Rif campaigns as a cavalry officer and was appointed head of l'Ecole de Guerre (War College) in 1935. The youngest General in the French Army when war was declared in 1939, he commanded the 14th Infantry Regiment which fought with distinction at Rethel on June 5, 1940 and on the Loire just prior to the armistice.

     De Lattre accepted the armistice and remained on active duty as commander of Vichy forces in Tunisia in 1941 before taking charge of the 16th Division at Montpellier in 1942. He was the only Vichy commander to resist the German occupation of the southern zone that followed the Allied landings in North Africa. His effort to implement the Vichy defense plan brought denunciation, arrest and a 10 year prison sentence.

     De Lattre escaped to Algiers where he took command of the French 1st Army in October 1943. He landed in Provence on August 16, 1944, liberated Toulon and Marseilles, joined General Patch's American troops in the march up the Rhone Valley and met Leclerc's 2nd Armored Division at Montbard on September 13th.

     De Lattre paused to direct the incorporation of resistance fighters into his army before it engaged the Germans in the Battle of Alsace in January 1945. His army crossed the Rhine and Danube reaching Arlberg Pass in the Tyrolian Alps by war's end. De Lattre represented France at the formal German surrender in Berlin on May 9, 1945.

     He commanded French troops in Vietnam until 1951 when illness forced his return to France. He died in January 1952 and was made Marshal of France posthumously.

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