Henri Navarre

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For the King of France, see Henry IV of France.
Henri Navarre
Birth name Henri Eugène Navarre
Born 31 July 1898 (1898-07-31)
Villefranche-de-Rouergue, France
Died 26 September 1983(1983-09-26) (aged 85)
Paris, France
Allegiance  France
Service/branch French Army
Years of service 1917–1956
Rank Général de corps d'armée
Commands held French Far East Expeditionary Corps
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
First Indochina War

Henri Eugène Navarre (31 July 1898, Villefranche-de-Rouergue, Aveyron – 26 September 1983) was a French Army general. He fought during World War I, World War II and was the seventh and final commander of French Far East Expeditionary Corps during the First Indochina War. Navarre was in overall command during the decisive French defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.

In May 1953, Navarre replaced Raoul Salan as commander of French forces in Indochina, in the midst of a war with the Viet Minh that was going badly for the French. Navarre was charged to bring the war to an honorable end. He quickly switched the French strategy from defensive to offensive operations. Navarre created mobile strike forces and sent a large number of troops to Dien Bien Phu, where they would sit on an important Viet Minh transport route and also perhaps draw the Viet Minh into a pitched battle in which the French forces would presumably have complete air and artillery superiority. However, the French underestimated the capacity of the Viet Minh, who managed to place the French position under heavy artillery fire and eventually achieved a decisive victory that more or less ended the First Indochina War.

Navarre retired in 1956. In the same year he published Agonie de l'Indochine, a work which blames the Indochina defeat on the nature of the French political system, intellectuals, politicians, journalists, and Communists. The book warns of the possible necessity for an army coup to replace the French Fourth Republic. He died in Paris in 1983.

Decorations[edit]

He received 1500 citations during his career.

References[edit]

  • Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, ed. Spencer Tucker, s.v. "Navarre, Henri Eugene."