Jacques Pâris de Bollardière
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|Jacques Pâris de Bollardière|
|Born||16 December 1907
|Died||22 February 1986
|Years of service||1930–1961|
|Rank||Général de Brigade|
|Battles/wars||World War II
First Indochina War
|Awards||Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur
Companion of the Liberation
Distinguished Service Order
Bollardière studied at the Military Academy of Saint-Cyr; he graduated in 1930 and due to insubordination, it was only with the rank of sergeant. (Saint-Cyr cadets normally graduate as commissioned officers, with the rank of sous-lieutenant). He was quickly promoted to sous-lieutenant and to lieutenant in 1932.
He joined the French Foreign Legion in February 1935 and was posted to Algeria until 1940.
Second World War
In February 1940, Bollardière was assigned to the 13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade, and promoted to captain. He took part in the Battles of Narvik, and was back in Brest on the 13th of June. Seeing the debacle of the French armies, he crossed the Channel on a fishing boat and was among the very first to join Charles de Gaulle (the momentous rallying call that founded the Fighting French was broadcast on the 18th of that month); the Vichy regime sentenced him to death.
Bollardière fought in Gabon, and in Eritrea during the East African Campaign. Leading a 90-man strong party, he managed to seize and occupy an Italian fort in Massawa, taking over 300 prisoners. He was made a Compagnon de la Libération for this action.
Promoted to commandant (Major) in 1941, he took part in the capture of Damascus that summer. The following year, he took part in the Battle of Bir Hakeim, and the First Battle of El Alamein. He was severely wounded by a mine.
In October 1943, he volunteered for Special Forces training and was put on a parachute-training course. On 12 April 1944, Bollardière was parachuted in France to take a command of the maquis in Ardennes (Maquis des Manises), under the nom de guerre "Prisme". His maquis units engaged German troops and sustained heavy casualties, but made a successful link with the advancing Allied ground forces. In September 1944, Bollardière returned to England.
He was then posted to the Airborne Forces and joined the "Red Berets" of the 3e Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes (Parachute Light Infantry), which was part of the Special Air Service Brigade. He parachuted into Holland.
From October 1953, Bollardière taught paratrooper strategy and tactics at the Paris École de Guerre, the prestigious school for staff officers.
At the outbreak of the Algerian War, in July 1956, Bollardière was put in command of two brigades in the Algerian Atlas Mountains. He was promoted to général de brigade in December, becoming the youngest general of the French army of the time.
In opposition to government policy regarding usage of torture among French units, Bollardière requested to be relieved of command, and returned to France in January 1957. He was sentenced to 60 days of fortress arrest at La Courneuve for publicly supporting Servan-Schreiber. The only military to support him was captain Pierre Dabezies (1925–2002), a left-wing Gaullist who would later lead the 11e Choc elite troop and get close to the socialist Jean-Pierre Chevènement. Bollardière was later assigned to French Equatorial Africa and Germany.
He resigned from the Army after the Algiers putsch, as he was not able to obtain a command in Algeria.
Retirement and pacifist activism
Bollardière became a pacifist after a talk by the writer Jean-Marie Muller in Lorient, on 23 October 1970. He was president of the association Logement et Promotion Sociale between 1968 and 1978. In July 1973, he was arrested by the French Navy during protests against nuclear trials in Mururoa, along with journalist Brice Lalonde, priest Jean Toulat and Jean-Marie Muller. The Council of Ministers, then headed by Georges Pompidou, imposed him as disciplinary measure a forced pension.
- Grand officer of the Légion d'honneur
- Companion of the Liberation (23 June 1941)
- Croix de guerre 1939-1945 (5 mentions in despatches)
- Croix de guerre des théâtres d'opérations extérieures with palm
- Médaille de la Résistance
- Croix de guerre (Belgium)
- Officer of the Order of the Crown with palm (Belgium)
- Distinguished Service Order and Bar (UK)
- A homonymous Jacques Pâris de Bollardière, General of Division, has been director of the National Service since September 2004.
- (in French) Ordre de la Libération