Marcel Bigeard

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Marcel Bigeard
General Marcel Bigeard, 80, October 1996, before photo of him 40 years ago.jpg
Bigeard (aged 80) in his home in 1996 standing in front of a photo of him some 40 years earlier
Nickname(s) Bruno
Born 14 February 1916 (1916-02-14)
Toul, Meurthe-et-Moselle
Died 18 June 2010 (2010-06-19) (aged 94)
Toul, Meurthe-et-Moselle
Allegiance  France
Service/branch French Marine Infantry
French Marine Airborne
Area Forces
Years of service 1936–38
1939–76
Rank Général de corps d'armée
Unit 23rd Fortress Infantry Regiment
23e  RIF
79th Fortress Infantry Regiment
79e RIF
23rd Colonial Infantry Regiment
23e RIC
10th Parachute Division
Commands held
Battles/wars

World War II

First Indochina War

Algerian War

Awards Legion Honneur GC ribbon.svg Grand Cross of the Légion d’honneur
Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 ribbon.svg Croix de Guerre 1939–1945
Croix de Guerre des Theatres d'Operations Exterieurs ribbon.svgCroix de guerre des TOE
Croix de la Valeur Militaire ribbon.svg Cross for Military Valour
Medaille de la Resistance ribbon.svg Resistance Medal
Medaille des Evades ribbon.svg Escapees' Medal
Ruban de la Médaille d'Outre-Mer.PNG Colonial Medal
Medaille commemorative de la Guerre 1939-1945 ribbon.svg 1939–1945 Commemorative war medal
Medaille commemorative de la Campagne d'Indochine ribbon.svg Indochina Campaign commemorative medal
Medaille commemorative des Operations de securite et de Maintien de l'ordre ribbon.svg North Africa Security and Order Operations Commemorative Medal
Medaille (Insigne) des Blesses Militaires ribbon.svg Insignia for the Military Wounded
Ordre du Dragon d'Annam (par le Gouvernement Francais) Chevalier ribbon.svg Order of the Dragon of Annam
LAO Order of the a Million Elephants and the White Parasol - Knight BAR.png Order of the Million Elephants and the White Parasol (Laos)
Dso-ribbon.pngDistinguished Service Order (UK)
Us legion of merit legionnaire rib.png Legion of Merit (US)
Order of Merit (Senegal)
Order of Merit (Togo)
Order of Merit (Comores)
Order of Merit (Mauritania)
Order of Merit (Centrafrique)
Order of Merit (Thailand)
Other work Bank clerk, Author, Deputy

Marcel "Bruno" Bigeard (14 February 1916 – 18 June 2010) was a French military officer who fought in World War II, Indochina and Algeria. He was one of the commanders in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu and is thought by many to have been a dominating influence on French 'unconventional' warfare thinking from that time onwards.[1] He was one of the most decorated soldiers in France, and is particularly noteworthy because of his ascendance from a regular soldier in 1936 to ultimately finishing his career in 1976 as a Lieutenant General (Général de corps d'armée). A former resistant, he is associated mainly with the war of Indochina and Algeria.

Early life[edit]

Marcel Bigeard was born in Toul,[1] Meurthe-et-Moselle on 14 February 1916, the son of Charles Bigeard (1880–1948), a railway worker, and Sophie Bigeard (1880–1964), a domineering housewife. He also had an older sister, Charlotte Bigeard, fours years his senior. Lorraine instilled a strong patriotism in him and his mother a will to win; those two would remain his strongest driving forces. At fourteen, Bigeard quit school to help his parents financially by taking a position in the local Société Générale bank, where he did well.[2]

Military career[edit]

Prior the War[edit]

Following a 6-year career in Société générale, Marcel Bigeard conducted his military service in France at Haguenau at the corps of the 23rd Fortress Infantry Regiment (French: 23e Régiment d'Infanterie de Forteresse).,[3] Incorporated in the regiment as a soldat de deuxième classe in September 1936, caporal-chef, he was relieved of duty and military obligations with the rank of reserve sergent in September 1938.

World War II[edit]

6 month following his relieve of duty, in front of the imminent conflict, he was recalled on March 22, 1939 to duty at the corps of the 23rd Fortress Infantry Regiment (French: 23e Régiment d'Infanterie de Forteresse) and promoted to the rank of sergent.

In September 1939, with the arrival of the reserves, the battalions of the 23rd Fortress Infantry Regiment 23eRIF, served each in a chain link to form new Fortress infantry regiments of « mobilization »,[4] Brigeard was assigned to the 79th Fortress Infantry Regiment (French: 79e Régiment d'Infanterie de Forteresse) in the under fortified sector of Hoffen and the Maginot Line.[5] Volunteer for the franc corps, he led a combat group at Trimbach in Alsace and became quickly a sergent-chef then adjudant (warrant officer) at the age of 24.

On June 25, 1940, he was captured and made prisoner of war spending 18 months in captivity in a stalag. Following his third attempt to escape on November 11, 1941,[6] he managed to join the free zone.

Volunteer for the French Occidental Africa (French: Afrique-Occidentale française, AOF), he was assigned in February 1942 to a camp in Senegal, in a Senegalese Tirailleurs Regiment of the Armistice Army. Promoted to sous-lieutenant in October 1943, he was directed with his regiment to Morocco.

Recruited as a paratrooper of the Free French Forces, he conducted a military formation, with the British Commandos, near Algiers during three months, then was assigned the preliminary rank of Chef de bataillon (major) at a directorate.[7] In 1944, after paratrooper training by the British, he was parachuted into occupied France as part of a team of four with the mission of leading the resistance in the Ariège département close to the border with Andorra.[8] One of these audacious ambushes against superior German forces gained him a British decoration.[1] His nickname of "Bruno" has its origins in his radio call sign.

At the beginning of 1945, Bigeard created and managed during a scholastic semester, the regional cadres school of Pyla, near Bordeaux, destined to form officers issued from the French Forces of the Interior. Decorated with the Légion d'honneur and the British Distinguished Service Order for his actions in Ariège, Bigeard was promoted to an active captain in June 1945.[9]

Indochina[edit]

Bigeard was first sent to Indo-China in October 1945 to assist with French efforts to reassert their influence over the former French colonies. He commanded the 23rd Colonial Infantry and then volunteered to train Thai auxiliaries in their interdiction of Viet Minh incursions around the Laos border along the 'road' R.C. 41 (Route Coloniale).[9]

In the middle of 1945, captain Bigeard was entrusted with the command of the 6th company of the 23rd Colonial Infantry Regiment (French: 23e Régiment d'Infanterie Coloniale, 23e RIC).[10] Designated to participate to the expeditionary corps in Indochina, the regiment dismebarked in Saigon on October 25, 1945 and served until March of 1946 in various sectors of operations. During this epoque, the "Bruno" surname started to circulate.[11]

On March 8, 1946, a detachment of the 2nd Armored Brigade 2e DB and 9th Colonial Infantry Division (French: 9e Division d'Infanterie Coloniale, 9e DIC), which the 23rd Colonial Infantry Regiment 23e RIC was part of, disembarked in Tonkin.[12] As a paratrooper, Bigeard was legendary in the French Army for his toughness and physical endurance as the American diplomat Howard Simpson noted that anyone who visited Bigeard could expect only “a thin slice of ham and one small, isolated boiled potato washed down with steaming tea”.[13]

On July 1, 1946, Bigeard left the 23e RIC and formed south-east of Dien Bien Phu, a unit constituted of four commandos of 25 volunteers at the corps of the autonomous Thai Battalion.[14] At the return of his men in metropole, mid-October 1946, he assumed command of the 3rd company, constituted of almost 40 men. He then left Indochina on September 17, 1947 and reached France three days later.[15]

Volunteer for another séjour in Indochina, Bigeard was assigned on February 1, 1948 to the 3rd Colonial Parachute Commando Battalion 3e BCCP.

On October 1, 1949, Bigeard set on foot the 3rd Thai Battalion, consisting of 2530 men divided in five regular companies and nine companies of civilian guards with military supplementaries.[16] Relieved from this post, he assumed on April 5, 1950 the command of an Indochinese marching battalion[9] who received, in August, the regimental color of the 1st Tonkin Tirailleurs Regiment (French: 1er Régiment de Tirailleurs Tonkinois) which was decorated by the croix de guerre with palm. On November 12, 1950, Bigeard embarked on a paquebot and left again Indochina.

In the spring of 1951, Bigeard was assigned at Vannes, the colonial demi-brigade of colonel Jean Gilles and was confined with a passing battalion. In September 1951, he was assigned the command of the 6th Colonial Parachute Battalion 6e BPC at Saint-Brieuc. He was ranked then as a Chef de battaillon in January 1952.

On July 28, 1952, Bigeard, at the head of the 6th Colonial Parachute Battalion 6e BPC, disembarked at Haiphong for a third deployment in Indochina. Over half of Bigeard's men were Vietnamese while the other half were French, thus requiring considerable leadership on his part to tie together a mixed unit to allow it to function effectively.[17] On October 16, 1952, the battalion was parachuted on Tu Lê [18] and confronted during eight days the opposing regimental divisions. During the Battle of Tu Lê, the battalion was encircled by an entire Vietnamese division, being outnumbered ten to one.[19] In the course of extremely fierce fighting, Bigeard fought off the attempts of the Vietnamese to destroy his unit and led his men into a successful break-out into the jungle marching for days and carrying all of their wounded until finally reaching a French fort.[20] The 6e BPC distinguished savoir-faire again during the Battle of Nà Sản, during an operation on Lang Song July 17, 1953 and during Operation Castor on Dien Bien Phu November 20, 1953. He was a keen self-publicist, welcoming journalists among his troops, which assisted his cause to get the materials needed to help him succeed. His units were noted for their dedication to physical fitness above the normal requirements by the army.[1] This unique style included creating the famous 'casquette Bigeard' cap from the 'excess' material of the long shorts in the standard uniform.[1] A fitness fanatic known for his austere lifestyle and working out several hours every day, Bigeard was famous being one of the most fittest man in the entire French Army.[21] Bigeard extruded a peculiar sort of French machismo as he always led from the front while refusing to carry a weapon, never asked his men to anything that he would not and well known for his saying: "It is possible, it will be done. And if it is impossible, it will still be done".[22] He participated in many operations including a combat drop on Tu Lê in November 1952. It was also in 1952 that he fully qualified to be a flying pilot of a military transport helicopter so as to be fully capable of commanding a paratrooper battalion.[9]

On 20 November 1953 Bigeard and his unit took part in Operation Castor, the opening stage of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.[23] Bigeard and the 6e BPC returned to Dien Bien Phu on 16 March 1954, parachuting in to reinforce the now besieged garrison.[24] He acted as deputy to Pierre Langlais, and was a member of the "parachute mafia" – a unity of the high-ranking paratroopers at the camp who oversaw combat operations. Historian Bernard Fall asserts that an armed Bigeard, along with Langlais, took de facto command of the camp from General Christian de Castries in mid-March.[25] The historian Jules Roy, however, makes no mention of this event, and Martin Windrow argues that the 'paratrooper putsch' is unlikely to have happened. Both Langlais and Bigeard were known to be on good relations with their commanding officer.[26]

On December 31, 1953, Bigeard took command of the Airborne Groupment[27] constituted of the 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment 1er RCP and the 6e BPC, intervening to intercept opposing divisions.

Parachuted on March 16, 1954, while the outcome of Dien Bien Phu was being sealed, commandant Bigeard was promoted to lieutenant-colonel (along with other commanders) during ongoing fighting, making of him a recognized figure while leading his battalion on points Éliane 1 and 2, specially codirecting intervention troops of the retracted camp of colonel Langlais. This was in some way seen as a reward for his valiant command of his troops before the expected massacre at the end of the battle.[1] Bigeard called Dien Bien Phu a "jungle Verdun", the final and most intense battle in Vietnam as the Vietnamese used their Soviet-built artillery on the hills above to rain heavy fire on the French positions and every day the Vietnamese staged huge "human wave" attacks, sending thousand of infantrymen to try to storm the French lines to be repulsed time after time.[28] Bigeard's paras were engaged in the most heaviest fighting at Dien Bien Phu and of his 800 men, only 40 had not been killed by the end of the battle.[29]

Lieutenant-colonel Marcel Bigeard was made a captive prisoner of war on May 7, 1954 during the falling of the camp. After the battle, the Vietnamese forced the French prisoners on a death march to POW camps, forcing them to march through a hot, humid jungle while refusing to provide food, water or medicine.[30] It was a tribute to Bigeard's intense physical fitness regime that he emerged out of Vietnamese captivity in relatively good health.[31] He was liberated 4 month later, leaving indefinitely Indochina on September 25, 1954. Upon returning to France, Bigeard told the French press he "would do better the next time".[32]

Algerian War[edit]

In 1956, Bigeard was sent to the bled (countryside) of Algeria to hunt down the FLN using helicopters to rapidly deploy his men.[33] On 5 June 1956 during a skirmish, Bigeard took a bullet to his chest that narrowly missed his heart.[34] On 5 September 1956, Bigeard was the victim of an assassination attempt by the FLN, being shot in the chest two times by FLN assassins while jogging alone by the Mediterranean .[35] The American historian Max Boot wrote it was a tribute to Bigeard's toughness and the robust state of his health that he could take three bullets in his chest over the course of four months in 1956 and still be back to duty shortly afterwards.[36] At the beginning of 1957, the regiment participated at the corps of the elite 10th Parachute Division of général Jacques Massu to the battle of Algiers. The mission of the paratroopers was to re-establish peace in the city in the autumn of 1956 and until the summer of 1957. In late 1956, the FLN had launched the Battle of Algiers, a campaign of assassinations and bombings targeting civilians designed to be the "Algerian Dien Bien Phu"[37] The FLN had decided to deliberately target pied-noir citizens as a way of breaking French power as one FLN directive put it: "A bomb causing the death of ten people and wounding fifty others is the equivalent on the psychological level to the loss of a French battalion."[38] As such, the FLN set off bombs almost daily at restaurants, cafes, bus stops, football stadiums, and marketplaces, and anybody known to be pro-French was murdered. The FLN favored murdering pro-French Muslims and pied-noirs by making them wear the "Algerian smile" by cutting out the throat, ripping out the tongue and leaving the victim to bleed to death. As the carnage mounted, the 10th Parachute Division was deployed to Algiers as the police simply could not cope.

In March 1957, the 3e RPC made way south of Blida and participated in numerous operations in Atlas and Agounnenda. The regiment relieved the 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment on July 1957 in Algiers. Bigeard revitalized the unit by weeding out laggards and the uncommitted and then put the remainder through an intense training regime. He led the 3e RPC through numerous operations, the most famous being the 1957 Battle of Algiers. It was known that the FLN was conducting its bombing campaign that was terrorizing Algiers out of the Casbah, the overcrowded medieval quarter of Algiers with narrow, serpentine streets. Bigeard had the 10th Parachute Division build barbed wire fences around the Casbah and imposed a curfew where anyone found on the streets of the Casbah would be shot down and their bodies left out to rot until the morning to show the people of the Casbah that the 10th Parachute Division was a force “even more extreme than the FLN.”[39] In January 1957, a map was drawn up of the Casbah, a census was conducted and using files from the Algiers police department the paras started to staged raids to capture suspected fellagha.[40] Torture was freely used to break suspected FLN members with a particular favorite tactic being the gégène where wires from a small generator were attached to the genitals and intense electrical current were sent through either the penis or the vagina until the suspect start providing information.[41] Using information gained via such tactics as the gégène, those named by the suspect were then arrested and the whole process repeated.[42] Over the course of the Battle of Algiers, the 10th Parachute Division arrested about 24, 000 Muslims of whom about 4, 000 "disappeared" as those were murdered were euphemistically described.[43] During the Battle of Algiers, Bigeard captured Larbi Ben M'hidi, one of the FLN's top leaders, whom Bigeard refused to torture under the grounds that M'hidi was a warrior whom deserved respect.[44] During the course of a dinner with his enemy, Bigeard asked M'hidi if he was ashamed that he had bombs planted in baskets at restaurants and cafes designed to kill the patrons, saying "Aren’t you ashamed to place bombs in the baskets of your women?", leading to the reply “Give me your planes. I’ll give you my baskets.”[45] When Massu ordered M'hidi executed, Bigeard declined the order, and instead Major Paul Aussaresses was sent to take M'hidi away to hang him in order to “to make it look like suicide.”[46] As Aussaresses was taking M'hidi out to countryside to hang him, Bigeard had his paras give the doomed M'hidi full military honors as he led away.[47]

After the initial apparent victory in Algiers, in April 1957 Bigeard moved the 3e RPC back into the Atlas mountains in pursuit of FLN groups in that province. In May he was in the area near Agounennda to ambush a large force of about 300 djounoud[48] of the FLN group Wilaya 4. This group had already attacked an Algerian Battalion on 21 May causing heavy casualties. From a 'cold' start Bigeard estimated the attacking group's probable route of withdrawal and laid a wide ambush along a valley of 100 km². The ensuing battle and followup lasted from 23 to 26 May 1957, but resulted in 8 paras killed for 96 enemy dead, 12 prisoners and 5 captives released. For this exemplary operation he was nicknamed "Seigneur de l'Atlas" ("Lord of the Atlas mountains") by his boss General Massu.

Promoted to colonel on January 1958, Bigeard directed the 3e RPC with others to the Battle of the frontiers from January to June. After other urban, desert and mountain operations Bigeard was replaced as the commander of 3e RPC by Roger Trinquier in March 1958 who headed the regiment.

Accordingly, Bigeard went back to Paris where, the minister of the armies, Jacques Chaban-Delmas, asked him to establish a center of instruction for cadres that saw daylight end of April near Philippeville. The École Jeanne d'Arc in Philippeville (modern day Skikda) was to provide field officers with a one-month training course in counter-insurgency techniques. Bigeard created the school and was placed in charge. Bigeard did not take any part to the events of May 13, 1958.

After fourth months in Toul, Bigeard went back to Algeria taking command of a sector in Saida and Oranie on January 25, 1959.[49] Under his disposition were around 5000 men formed from the 8th Infantry Regiment, the 14th Algerian Tirailleurs Regiment, the 23rd Moroccan Saphis Regiment 23e RSM, one group of DCA, one artillery regiment, and two mobile groups.[50]

Following a meet with de Gaulle on August 27, 1959, he assumed command on December 1 of the Ain-Sefra, with an effectif of 15000 men.[51] In 1959 Bigeard was given command of his own sector in Ain-Sefra and unlike many fellow officers who were closely associated with the war, he did not take part in the Algiers putsch in 1961.

Bigeard was later drawn into the controversy in France around the use of torture in the Algerian war. The admission by senior military people who were involved of the long accepted belief that torture was used systematically has put the spotlight on all figures involved. He justified the use of torture during the Algerian War as a "necessary evil" in Le Monde newspaper, and confirmed its use while also denying any claim of his involvement in personally using torture.[52]

Final engagement in war : after 1960[edit]

From July 1960 to January 1963, Bigeard took command of the 6th Colonial Infantry Outremer Regiment 6e RIAOM at Bouar in Central African Republic.

Following a brief passage by the École supérieure de guerre from June 1963 to June 1964, he took command of the 25th Parachute Brigade which included the 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment 1e RCP and the 9th Parachute Chasseur Regiment 9e RCP at Pau on August 31, 1964. Following, he also held the command of the 20th Parachute Brigade succeeding général Langlais and which included the 3rd Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment 3e RPIMa, the 6th Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment 6e RPIMa and the 9th Parachute Chasseur Regiment at Toulouse. Accordingly, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general on August 1, 1967.

Following an encounter with général de Gaulle, he was designated to the post of superior commandant of terrestrial forces in Senegal, which included 2000 men (French Army 1100, French Navy 500, French Air Force 400) and accordingly joined Dakar on February 7, 1968.

In July 1970, Bigeard was back in Paris and was assigned for ten months at the CEMAT headquarter staff. On August 7, 1971, he took command of Area Forces present in the Indian Ocean[53] at Antananarivo and obtained on December 1, 1971 his third star. He left Madagascar on July 31, 1973 with the total ensemble of French Forces present in that sector. Bigeard was known for his unusual way of taking command, namely by parachuting in to his post while saluting his men, which nearly led to disaster in Madagascar when the wind blew him into the Indian Ocean that was full of sharks, thus requiring his men to dive in to save him.[54] Sharks will attack an individual, but never a group.

Following his return to France, he became from September 1973 to February 1974, the second adjoint to the Military governor of Paris. Promoted général de corps d'armée on March 1, 1974, he assumed command of the 4th Military Region, that is 40000 men out of which 10000 paratroopers.[55]

He met on January 30, 1975, President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing who proposed the post of secretary of state attached to minister Yvone Bourges. He held that post from February 1975 to August 1976, date on which he leaves the service.[56]

Political tenure[edit]

Following a brief retirement at Toul, he presented himself to the elections and became a deputy of Meurthe-et-Moselle[57] from 1978 to 1981.[58] During this first legislation, he would also be the assigned the function tenure of président de la commission de défense. He was reelected to the first round in June 1981 then to the proportionnelle in March 1986.[59] In 1988, following the dissolution of the assembly, he retired.[60] During his retirement, he spent much of his time writing his memoire and wrote books on his military career while proposing reflexion thoughts on the evolution of France. In his last book, Mon dernier round, published in 2009, Bigeard strongly denounced de Gaulle for his treatment of the harkis (Algerian Muslims who served in the French Army), writing that de Gaulle shamefully abandoned thousands of harkis and their families to be slaughtered by the FLN in 1962 and even those harkis who did escape to France were shunted aside to live in the banlieues, writing that these men and their families who sacrificed so much for France deserved better much.[61]

On 15 June 2000, Louisette Ighilahriz, a woman had been a member of the FLN accused Bigeard and Massu in an interview published in Le Monde newspaper of being present when she was tortured and raped by the French Army at a military prison in 1957.[62] Ighilahriz had come forward with her story as she wanted to thank one "Richaud", an Army doctor at the prison for saving her life, saying that Dr. Richaud was a most gentle man who always treated her injuries and saved her life.[63] Bigeard rejected Ighilarhiz's claims that she was tortured and raped and he been present, saying that Ighilarhiz's story was a "tissue of lies" designed to "destroy all that is decent in France", and going to say this "Richaud" had never existed.[64] Bigeard was contradicted by Massu who confirmed the existence of "Richaud", saying that Ighilahriz was referring to Dr. François Richaud who had been the doctor stationed at the prison in 1957.[65] The Canadian historian Barnett Singer came to Bigeard's defense, writing that Ighilahriz was a terrorist whose account was full of "fabrications" and Bigeard was off hunting the FLN in the bled at the time she was held by the 10th Parachute Division in late 1957.[66]

Funeral[edit]

Bigeard died on 18 June 2010 at his home in Toul. His funeral procession was held at the Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Toul on June 21 in presence of former président de la République Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and the ministre de la Défense, Hervé Morin.[67] Full military honours were accorded to the général on 22 June in la cour d'honneur at Les Invalides by the Premier ministre, François Fillon.[68] In an obituary, the American historian Max Boot wrote that Bigeard's life disapproved the popular canard in the English-speaking world that the French are soft and cowardly soldiers, the so-called "cheese-eating surrender monkeys", writing that Bigeard was the "consummate warrior" and one of "the great soldiers of the 20th century" who upheld French military excellence.[69] In an obituary, the American journalist Robert Messenger wrote: "Nations are no longer grateful to “The Glorious Dead,” and soldiers are no longer heroes. Yet this does not change the fact that Bigeard can be spoken of in the same breadth as men like Leonidas, John Chard, and Anthony McAuliffe: leaders whom soldiers followed to the extremes of endurance. What Bigeard and the rest of the “para mafia” did at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu should be remembered in the way that the 300 Spartans’ defense of the Hot Gates has stirred boys’ dreams for 2,500 years. Few do so remember it, but among their number are the American generals who have been prosecuting our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."[70]

Philosophies & principles[edit]

Homage to the adversary[edit]

Bigeard often manifested his admiration and sympathy to the adversary that fought well. He always distinguished the proper professional and never disregarded his worth of esteem. Bigeard was seen in Indochina, awarding decorations of merit to the Viet adversary, doing also the same in Algeria. In his memory books and Pour une parcelle de gloire, he cited in length, and notably, those who he admired with high esteem and who showcased real qualities of soldiers, valor and courage.[71]

Bigeard cited in his most notable response:

  • " On ne se déshonore pas en rendant hommage à l'adversaire. "[71]

English Translation: There is no dishonor in rendering homage to the adversary.[72]

However, the respect he always carried for his adversaries had limitations. He never forgave the useless cruelty of inhumanity in captivity[73] and that well before assumed controversies.

Honors and awards[edit]

Bigeard's decorations plate

Decorations[edit]

Legion Honneur GC ribbon.svg Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 ribbon.svg Croix de Guerre des Theatres d'Operations Exterieurs ribbon.svg Croix de la Valeur Militaire ribbon.svg

Medaille de la Resistance ribbon.svg Medaille des Evades ribbon.svg Medaille d'Outre-Mer (Coloniale) ribbon.svg Medaille commemorative de la Campagne d'Indochine ribbon.svg

Medaille (Insigne) des Blesses Militaires ribbon.svg Ordre du Dragon d'Annam (par le Gouvernement Francais) Chevalier ribbon.svg Merite civil Tai .png Dso-ribbon.png

Ordre national du Tchad - officier.svg

French Honors

Foreign Honors

General Bigerad was awarded over 27 citations, including 19 palmes and 8 stars.

Legacy[edit]

Posthumous homages[edit]

Promotion class « Général Bigeard » École militaire interarmes EMIA[edit]

The 50th promotion of the École militaire interarmes chose the promotion Général Bigeard. The song of the promotion recalls the arms celebration of général Bigeard.[74]

Statue at 3e RPIMa[edit]

A 3.65 m statue weighting 10 tons was inaugurated on June 29, 2012. The marble statue represents général Bigeard de profil. Also in the commune of La Rochelle, was inaugurated a roundabout général Bigeard.

Homages in France[edit]

In France, several avenues, places and roads bear his name:

Marcel Bigeard - Gallery[edit]

Works[edit]

During his career Bigeard authored or co-authored a number of books which also featured homages to adversaries. In retirement he continued to write, his last work was published in 2010, a few months after he died.

  • Contre guérilla (English: Counter guerilla), 1957
  • Aucune bête au monde..., Pensée Moderne, 1959
  • Piste sans fin (English: Tracks without end), Pensée Moderne, 1963
  • Pour une parcelle de gloire (English: For a piece of glory), Plon, 1975
  • Ma Guerre d'Indochine (English: My Indochina War), Hachette, 1994
  • Ma Guerre d'Algérie (English: My Algerian War), Editions du Rocher, 1995
  • De la brousse à la jungle, Hachette-Carrère, 1994
  • France, réveille-toi! (English: France, awake!), Editions n°1, 1997 ISBN 2-86391-797-8
  • Lettres d'Indochine (English: Letters from Indochina), Editions n°1, 1998–1999 (2 Volumes)
  • Le siècle des héros (English: The Century of the Heroes), Editions n°1, 2000 ISBN 2-86391-948-2
  • Crier ma vérité, Editions du Rocher, 2002
  • Paroles d'Indochine (English: Words of Indochina), Editions du Rocher, 2004
  • J'ai mal à la France (English: My France is sore), Edition du Polygone, 2006
  • Adieu ma France (English: Good-bye my France), Editions du Rocher, 2006 ISBN 2-268-05696-1
  • Mon dernier round (English: My last show), Editions du Rocher, 2009 ISBN 2-268-06673-8
  • Ma vie pour la France (English: My life for France), Editions du Rocher, 2010 ISBN 2-268-06435-2
  • Ma Guerre d'Indochine, documentaire de 52 minutes Réalisation: Jean-Claude Criton - Production L. Salles/Carrère (1994)
  • Ma Guerre d'Algérie, documentaire de 52 minutes Réalisation: Jean-Claude Criton - Production L. Salles/Carrère (1994)
  • Portrait de Bigeard, documentaire de 52 minutes Réalisation: Jean-Claude Criton - Production L. Salles/Carrère (1994)

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Horne 2006, p. 167.
  2. ^ Singer, Barnett, p.269
  3. ^ « Le général Bigeard passe l’arme à gauche », Libération (journal), 19 juin 2010
  4. ^ in reference to the 22e RIF, 23e RIF, 68e RIF and 79e RIF
  5. ^ In Bigeard, page 58
  6. ^ Les dates des deux autres tentatives d'évasion sont le 14 juillet et le 22 septembre 1941
  7. ^ In Pour une parcelle de gloire, page 33
  8. ^ Windrow 2004, p. 237
  9. ^ a b c d e Windrow 2004, p. 551.
  10. ^ 6th  company, 2nd  battalion of the 23rd  Colonial Infantry Regiment
  11. ^ Bruno
  12. ^ In Bigeard, page 149.
  13. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  14. ^ In Bigeard, page 173
  15. ^ In Pour une parcelle de gloire, page 72.
  16. ^ In Bigeard, page 232.
  17. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  18. ^ In Bigeard, page 273.
  19. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  20. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  21. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  22. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  23. ^ Windrow 2004, p. 241
  24. ^ Windrow 2004, p. 416
  25. ^ Fall, Bernard B. (2002), Hell in a very small place: the siege of Dien Bien Phu, Da Capo Press, pp. 176–179, ISBN 978-0-306-81157-9 
  26. ^ Windrow 2004, pp. 441–444
  27. ^ In Bigeard, page 330.
  28. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  29. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  30. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  31. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  32. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  33. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  34. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  35. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  36. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  37. ^ Evans, Martin Algeria: France's Undeclared War, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012 page 201.
  38. ^ Evans, Martin Algeria: France's Undeclared War, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012 page 202.
  39. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  40. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  41. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  42. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  43. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  44. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  45. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  46. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  47. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  48. ^ Pour une parcelle de gloire, Marcelle Bigeard, Librarie PLON, 1975, p 295
  49. ^ Au départ, Bigeard devait prendre le poste d'adjoint au général Ducournau à la tête de la 25e  DP, In Bigeard, page 486
  50. ^ In Pour une parcelle de gloire, page 370.
  51. ^ In Bigeard, page 499.
  52. ^ Guerre d'Algérie : le général Bigeard et la pratique de la torture, Le Monde, July 4, 2000 (French)
  53. ^ In Pour une parcelle de gloire, page 440
  54. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  55. ^ In De la brousse à la jungle, page 74
  56. ^ In De la brousse à la jungle, page 120.
  57. ^ De la brousse à la jungle, page 143
  58. ^ date of dissolution of the assembly by François Mitterrand
  59. ^ In De la brousse à la jungle, page 212.
  60. ^ In De la brousse à la jungle, page 243.
  61. ^ Singer Barnett The Americanization of France: Searching for Happiness after the Algerian War, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013 page 231.
  62. ^ Cohen, William "The Algerian War, the French State and Official Memory" pages 219-239 from Réflexions Historiques, Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2002 page 233
  63. ^ Cohen, William "The Algerian War, the French State and Official Memory" pages 219-239 from Réflexions Historiques, Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2002 page 233
  64. ^ Cohen, William "The Algerian War, the French State and Official Memory" pages 219-239 from Réflexions Historiques, Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2002 page 234
  65. ^ Cohen, William "The Algerian War, the French State and Official Memory" pages 219-239 from Réflexions Historiques, Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2002 page 234
  66. ^ Singer Barnett The Americanization of France: Searching for Happiness after the Algerian War, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013 page 231.
  67. ^ Agence France-Presse, « Obsèques du général Bigeard lundi à Toul », Le Point, 19 juin 2010.
  68. ^ "Adieu mon general! Honneurs militaires au general Bigeard". Armee de Terre. 8 July 2010. 
  69. ^ Boot, Max (5 July 2010). "The Consummate Warrior Marcel Bigeard, 1916–2010". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  70. ^ Messenger, Robert (13 September 2010). "Theirs But To Do and Die". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  71. ^ a b Historia, Bigeard le colonel vedette, pages 43-44, Numéro avec majuscule 423, février 1982.
  72. ^ Historia, Bigeard le colonel vedette, pages 43-44, Numéro avec majuscule 423, février 1982
  73. ^ Marcel Bigeard, Ma vie pour la France, Éditions du Rocher, year 2010, total page 503, page 196, ISBN 978-2-268-06435-2
  74. ^ [1] Chant de la promotion Général Bigeard

References[edit]

  • Aussaresses, General Paul (2010). The Battle of the Casbah: Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Algeria, 1955-1957. New York: Enigma Books. ISBN 978-1-929631-30-8. ;
  • Fall, Bernard B. (1966). Hell in a Very Small Place. Da Capo Press (published 2002). ISBN 978-0-306-81157-9. ;
  • Horne, Alistair (1977). A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954–1962. New York Review Books (published 2006). ISBN 978-1-59017-218-6. ;
  • Singer, Barnett; John Langdon (2004), Cultured Force: Makers and Defenders of the French Colonial Empire, The University of Wisconsin Press, ISBN 0-299-19904-5 
  • Windrow, Martin (2004), The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 0-297-84671-X ;
  • Simpson, Howard (2005). Dien Bien Phu: The Epic Battle America Forgot. Potomic Books. ISBN 1-57488-840-4. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Erwan Bergot, Bataillon Bigeard, Presse de la Cité, 1977,
  • Erwan Bergot, Bigeard, Éditions France Loisirs, 1988, ISBN 2-7242-4074-X
  • La mort, un terme ou un commencement, Christian Chabanis, Fayard 1982, entretiens avec Marcel Bigeard, etc.
  • Marie-Monique Robin, Escadrons de la mort, l’école française, La Découverte, 2004.
  • René Guitton, Bigeard, l’hommage, Éditions du Rocher, 2011, ISBN 978-2-268-07141-1

Media links[edit]