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peter-t

Charles De Gaulle in WW1

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peter-t

Does anyone know much about De Gaulle's service in the French Army in the Great War. I believe he was captured by the Germans. I have always imagined that he was so insufferable the Germans must have been obliged to release him or put him in solitary confinement. Did he ever smile or tell a joke?

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HERITAGE PLUS

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Martin Bennitt

Funny you should mention that -- there's a whole account of it in the current edition of the French 14-18 magazine: for a pint or two I might translate it .....

Briefly, though: started the war as a Lt in the 1st Coy of the 33rd Infantry Regt in d'Espèrey's 1st Infantry Corps, was wounded in the knee by machine-gun fire early on, returned to the line October 15, awarded Croix de Guerre in January 1915, wounded again in the hand in March, wounded for a third time at Verdun and captured. He was indeed a difficult prisoner, making half-a-dozen escape attempts, on one of which he got two-thirds of the way to Switzerland. In another he got out of the camp in a dirty laundry basket. He was regularly given solitary confinement. There are eight pictures with the article -- isn't smiling in any of them. Eh voilà

cheers Martin B

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SOMMESOLDIER

Hi All, :)

Interesting thread.

Must admit i'd love to see him laughing and joking !! I don't think I've ever seen or read about a more humourless person.

I must admit though, his actions during the last year or two of WW2 have not endeared him to me !!!

Maybe the attributes that made him a difficult Leader of the Free French were honed in or before the First World War ??

Cheers

Tim

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Take on me
Does anyone know much about De Gaulle's service in the French Army in the Great War. I believe he was captured by the Germans. I have always imagined that he was so insufferable the Germans must have been obliged to release him or put him in solitary confinement. Did he ever smile or tell a joke?

One of the most interesting figures of French History, the best biography to my knowledge is Charles De Gaulle The Last Great Frenchman by Charlers Williams.

De Gaulle began the First World War as a Lieutenant and was wounded in an attempt to capture Dinant bridge in the first few days of the war. He was wounded once again in 1915, possibly during one the Artois or Champagne battles and, now a Captain, he was finally captured after being wounded in ferocious fighting around the village of Duoaumont during the Battle of Verdun. He tried many escape attempts and, you guessed it, he spent a good deal of time in solitary confinement.

He did smile when he visited Bayeaux in June 1944 and also during the Liberation of Paris in August of that year. (that might be it)

Jon

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Frank_East

De Gaulle had a certain mystique about him and there is no doubt that he was his own man.

When the US entered World War 2, FDR wished to see General Giraud as head of the Free French.De Gaulle was a soldier politician and was a resister from the dark days of 1940.Giraud had returned to France secretly after escaping from a German POW Camp and had joined the Vichy opposition.

He saw off Giraud and he ensured that France would be an equal representive at the post war Allied councils.Had De Gaulle not organised the French resistance and opposed both Vichy and the German occupation from the outset,then France might have been an Allied occupied country after the Germans had been expelled.

From the trench stalemate of the Great War,De Gaulle saw the advantage using the tank for rapid break throughs where infantry masses had previously failed.His thinking was close to Guderian regarding the use of the tank in modern warfare but as a mere Colonel, he was not allowed to discharge his theory.De Gaulle was a lone opposition in the French Army in opposing defensive lines built around the fixed fort defences of the Maginot Line.

I did see a reference sometime ago that De Gaulle and George Patton were on the same tank warfare studies course held at Saumur Barracks in 1923.

In the 1960s,he asserted French policy regarding control of nuclear weapons on French soil when he declared that the US could not deploy nuclear weapons from French bases without his sanction.The result was that the US departed from its French bases by 1966.

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Heid the Ba

That must have been some size of laundry basket given his height!

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hazelclark

Thank you for that. It is very interesting indeed.

 

Hazel C

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charlie962

Thank you for drawing attention to that review and thus to that book. I'll just have to wait for the price to drop a bit. Jackson's Fall of France..1940 was excellent.

charlie

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