Roger Degueldre

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Lieutenant Roger Hercule Gustave Degueldre (19 May 1925, Louvroil, Nord - 6 July 1962, Fort d'Ivry) was a leader of the OAS Delta Commandos in the last months of French rule in Algeria.

Early life[edit]

There is some dispute about his origins but Jonathan Meades claimed that there was much 'disinformation' by the authorities to discredit him.[1] For example there were allegations that he was a Belgian collaborator with the SS during World War II.[2]

He was born in France a few kilometres from the Belgian border, into a working-class family. His father was a railway worker. When the Germans invaded in 1940, the family fled to the south of France.

Career[edit]

In 1942 Degueldre clandestinely entered the occupied zone to join the French Resistance under Roger Pannequin and engaged the 10th German Motorized Infantry Division at Colmar in January 1945. He then joined French Foreign Legion, under the name of Roger “Legueldre” with a claimed birth on 18 September 18, 1925 in Gruyeres in Switzerland. As a foreigner he would be eligible to join the Foreign Legion.[3] His identity was formally corrected in 1955. He reached the rank of warrant officer in Indo-China and was received the Croix de Guerre des Théâtres d'Opérations Extérieures. After the battle of Điện Biên Phủ, he transferred to the 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment and was assigned to the Algerian conflict. He was made an officer and a knight of Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour).

While defending French Algeria in 1960, he was suspected of having taken part in a failed plot against General de Gaulle shortly after his visit in Algiers. He was transferred to the 4th Foreign Regiment. He became convinced of the need for an armed struggle and deserted to operate under cover gaining a reputation for ruthlessness. He recruited Albert Dovecar as his lieutenant along with as many as 500 others.[3] In 1961, he established a force called the Delta Commandos of the Organisation de l'armée secrète (OAS). On 15 March 1962 the group attacked Chateau-Royale in El-Biar close to Algiers and shot six leaders of the Educational Social Centers of Algeria (three French and three Algerian) on the grounds that the centres were believed to be directing resistance to French rule.[4] It is estimated that the group were responsible for 20-30 deaths[5]

Arrest and death[edit]

He was arrested on 7 April 1962, condemned to death on 28 June and executed by firing squad in the Fort d'Ivry near Paris on 7 July. Three officers appointed to command the firing squad refused and were demoted. In the event only one bullet from the 11-man firing squad hit him. The officer in charge emptied his revolver into Degueldre and had to get a second weapon to finish the execution.[6] He is buried in the Gonards cemetery in Versailles.[7] His partner, Nicole Gardy, was also condemned to death but fled with her family to Argentina.

References[edit]

  1. ^ BBC TV Programme Jonathan Meades on France 18 January 2012
  2. ^ Paul Henissart (1971). Wolves in the City: The Death of French Algeria. ISBN 0-246-64002-2. 
  3. ^ a b Horne, Alistair (1977–2006). A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962. New York Review of Books. p. 483. ISBN 9781590172186. 
  4. ^ "Assassination at the Castle-Royal". Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  5. ^ Guibert, Vincent (2000). Les Commandos Delta. Curutchet. ISBN 2-912932-26-2. 
  6. ^ Méfret, Jean-Pax (2007). 1962 L'Été du Malheur,. Pygmalion. ISBN 978-2-7564-0131-7. 
  7. ^ Pouillot, Henri. "Versailles (78) - Roger Degueldre" (in French). Retrieved 18 October 2010.