General Georges Catroux in London, October 1940, after he joined de Gaulle's staff.
|Born||29 January 1877
|Died||21 December 1969
|Years of service||1898 - 1961|
|Commands held||19th Corps|
|Battles/wars||World War I
World War II
|Awards||Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur|
Georges Albert Julien Catroux (29 January 1877 – 21 December 1969) was a French Army general and diplomat who served in both World War I and World War II, and served as Grand Chancellor of the Légion d'honneur from 1954 to 1969.
Catroux was born in Limoges, Haute-Vienne. He was the son of a career officer who had risen through the ranks. He was educated at the Prytanée National Militaire, and entered the École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr in 1896.
In the early years of his distinguished military career, Catroux moved from Algeria (where he met Charles de Foucauld and then Lyautey) to Indochina. In 1915, while commanding a battalion, he was taken prisoner by the Germans. During his time in captivity, Catroux met Charles de Gaulle, who was then a captain.
In July 1939, Catroux was appointed Governor General of French Indochina, and in August 1939, one month before the declaration of war, took over from a senior civil servant. Paris wanted to send a strong signal to the Far East on the eve of hostilities. However, after the first treaties with Japan in July 1940, and following disagreements with the new Vichy government, Catroux was forced to hand over his post to Admiral Jean Decoux.
From 1941 to 1943, Catroux was the commander in chief of the Free French forces. De Gaulle appointed him High Commissioner to the Levant in 1941. He took control of Syria for the Free French after the defeat of Vichy General Henri Dentz and the Armistice of Saint Jean d'Acre. Shortly after taking up the post, Catroux, in the name of the Free French movement, recognised the independence of Syria. De Gaulle subsequently appointed him Governor General of Algeria in 1943-44.
Officially honored as a French liberation fighter, Catroux was Minister for North Africa in the first government of Charles de Gaulle from 9 September 1944 to 21 October 1945, and became ambassador to the USSR in 1945-48.
Catroux presided over a board of inquiry, the Catroux Commission, that investigated the French defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. He was also the judge in the military tribunal which tried the generals involved in the seizure of power in Algiers in 1961.
He died in Paris in 1969.
- "General Catroux Soldier, administrator and diplomat", The Times, 22 Dec 1969
- Times obituary
- Dictionnaire Encyclopédique, Hachette 1980, SPADEM-ADAGP Paris 1980, Alpha 1991, mise à jour