11e régiment parachutiste de choc
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The 11e régiment parachutiste de choc ("11th shock parachute regiment), often called 11e choc, was a parachute elite regiment of the French Army. It used to serve as the armed branch of the SDECE. Its insignia, designed by lieutenant Dupas, features Bagheera in the moonlight and a golden wing. The motto is Qui ose gagne ("who dares wins"), in continuation of the tradition of the British Special Air Service.
The 11e choc was meant from the start to constitute a reserve of soldiers available to the French special services. The 11e choc was initially composed of one single battalion, the 11e bataillon parachutiste de choc. From 1 September 1946, it was stationned in Mont-Louis.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, an "action service" of the SDECE was created by Jacques Morlane. It grouped veterans of the Second World War having served in the Bataillon de Choc of 1936, in the 1er bataillon de choc (founded in 1943), or as SOE agents, as well as veterans of Indochina.
In July 1947, as the complement of the 11e choc grew, Morlane nominated Paul Aussaresses to replace Mautaint. Aussaresses described his mission as "perform what was by then called 'psychological warfare', wherever it was necessary, notably in Indochina (...) I trained my men for clandestine operations, airborne or otherwise, that could range from building demolition to sabotage or elimination of enemies". From 1952, elements of the 11e choc were sent to Indochina to lead and train the Groupement de commandos mixtes aéroportés (GCMA), though the 11e Choc did not take part in the conflict as a unit.
Back from Indochina in 1952, Aussaresses was tasked to assassinate supporters of the FLN. Morlane "was convinced that a Soviet invasion was imminent, and had been busy constituting secret weapon caches all over the territory so that, when time would come, a resistance could be organised".
On 1 October 1955, a 12e bataillon parachutiste de choc was created. It was stationned in Calvi and Corte, in Corsica. Together, the 11th and 12th Battalions were the 11e demi-brigade parachutiste de choc (11e DBPC), also formed on 1 October. The insignia of the 12e BPC featured an eagle and a star on a parachute background.
In late October 1956, elements of both battalions took part in the Suez Crisis.
The 12e BPC was disbanded on 30 April 1957 and immediately re-created as the 1er bataillon parachutiste de choc. Its insignia featured a dagger with a map of France as background, and its motto was En pointe toujours ("at the tip, always"). From 1 May 1957, the 11e DBPC was thus constituted of the 11th BPC, the 1st BPC and the bataillon d'instruction spécialisé (BIS, "training special battalion"), based in Calvi, Corté, Collioure, and Mont-Louis.
During the Algerian War, the 11e Choc at first deployed a groupement léger d'intervention (GLI, "light intervention group"), and later a groupement de marche (GM 11.DBPC), as well as local antennas of the "action service", and a specialised detachment called DS 111.
The 11e Choc did not take part in the Algiers putsch of 1961, but some officers did sympathise towards the putschists. The unit was disbanded on 31 December 1963 and its standard handed over to the National Commando Training Centre at Mont-Louis.
The restructuring of the French Intelligence and Special Operations organs following the Gulf War entailed the disbanding of the 11e RPC on 31 December 1993.
11e bataillon parachutiste de choc
- 1946-1947 : CNE Mautaint
- 1947 : CNE Rivière
- 1947-1948 : CNE Paul Aussaresses
- 1948-1953 : CBN Yves Godard
- 1953-1955 : CES Pierre Decorse
- 1955-1957 : CNE Bauer
- 1958-1960 : CNE Erouart
- 1960-1961 : CBN Crousillac
- 1961-1962 : CBN Mouton
- 1962-1963 : CBN Dabezies
- 1963 : CBN Barthes
11e demi-brigade parachutiste de choc
- 1955-1961 : Col Pierre Decorse
- 1961-1963 : LCL Merglen
- Minister of Defence, Service historique de la défense, Département de l'innovation technologique et des entrées extraordinaires, Bureau des témoignages oraux, Histoire orale. Inventaire analytique de la sous-série 3K, tome III, par Sébastien Laurent, Hervé Lemoine, Marilyne Morais, Stéphane Simmonet, Guillaume Zeller. Château de Vincennes, 2005. p.137
- Minister of Defence, Service historique de la défense, op.cit., p.210
- Interview with Marie-Monique Robin, quoted in Escadrons de la mort, l'école française, 2008, chap. IV, p.49
- Paul Aussaresses, Pour la France : Services spéciaux 1942-1954, Editions du Rocher, 2001, p.257
- "demi-brigade" is a term dating back to the French Revolution that designs a regiment-strong unit. The term was crafted to remove the Ancien Régime connotation of "regiment", which was traditionally associated to nobility.
- Erwan Bergot, 11e Choc, Presses de la cité, 1986