HENRI HONORé GIRAUD (18 January 1879 – 11 March 1949) was a French general who was captured in both World Wars, but escaped both times.
After his second escape in 1942, some of the Vichy ministers tried to send him back to Germany and probable execution. However, Eisenhower secretly asked him to take command of French troops in North Africa during Operation Torch and direct them to join the Allies . Only after François Darlan\'s assassination was he able to attain this post, and he took part in the Casablanca Conference with De Gaulle , Churchill and Roosevelt . He retired in 1944 after continual disagreements with De Gaulle.
* 1 Early life
* 2 Military career
World War I
* 3 Postwar life * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 External links
He graduated from the
Saint-Cyr Military Academy in 1900 and joined
the French Army, commanding
Zouave troops in
WORLD WAR I
Giraud was seriously wounded while, as a captain, he led a Zouave
bayonet charge during the Battle of St. Quentin on 30 August 1914, and
was left for dead on the field. He was captured by the Germans and
placed in a prison camp in Belgium. He managed to escape two months
later by pretending to be a roustabout with a traveling circus. He
Edith Cavell for help, and eventually he was able to return
Afterwards, Giraud served with French troops in
WORLD WAR II: COMMAND, CAPTURE AND ESCAPE
Captured French General Giraud, during his daily walk. Germany, c. 1940–41.
World War II
Giraud planned his escape carefully over two years. He learned German
and memorised a map of the area. He made a 150 feet (46 m) rope out of
twine , torn bedsheets, and copper wire, which friends had smuggled
into the prison for him. Using a simple code embedded in his letters
home, he informed his family of his plans to escape. On 17 April 1942,
he lowered himself down the cliff of the mountain fortress. He had
shaved off his moustache and wearing a
Tyrolean hat , travelled to
Schandau to meet his
Special Operations Executive (SOE) contact who
provided him with a change of clothes, cash and identity papers.
Through various ruses, he reached the Swiss border by train. To avoid
border guards who were on the alert for him, he walked through the
mountains until he was stopped by two Swiss soldiers, who took him to
COOPERATION WITH THE ALLIES
Algiers, French Algeria. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander in chief of the Allied Armies in North Africa, and General Henri Honoré Giraud, commanding the French Forces, saluting the flags of both nations at Allied headquarters.
Giraud's escape was soon known all over France.
Pierre Laval tried to
persuade him to return to Germany. Yet while remaining loyal to
Pétain and the Vichy government, Giraud refused to cooperate with the
Germans. In retaliation,
He was secretly contacted by the Allies, who gave him the code name
Kingpin. Giraud was already planning for the day when American troops
landed in France. He agreed to support an Allied landing in French
Giraud designated General
Charles Mast as his representative in
However, Giraud was persuaded that he had to go. He requested to be
fetched by aeroplane, but General
Dwight Eisenhower advised that he
should be brought to
Eisenhower asked him to assume command of French troops in North Africa during Operation Torch and order them to join the Allies. But Giraud had expected to command the whole operation, and adamantly refused to participate on any other basis. He said "his honor would be tarnished" and that he would only be a spectator in the affair.
However, by the next morning, Giraud relented. He refused to leave
Pro-Allied elements in
On 11 November, German forces occupied southern
All this took place without reference to the Free French organization
of De Gaulle , which had claimed to be the legitimate government of
Then on 24 December, Darlan was assassinated in mysterious circumstances. On the afternoon of 24 December 1942, the admiral drove to his offices at the Palais d'Été and was shot down at the door to his bureau by a young man of 20, Bonnier de la Chapelle , a monarchist. The young man was tried by court martial under Giraud's orders and executed on the 26th. With the strong backing of the Allies, especially Eisenhower, Giraud was elected to succeed Darlan.
ARMY OF AFRICA LEADER
Giraud and de Gaulle during the Casablanca Conference
After Admiral Darlan's assassination, Giraud became his de facto
successor with Allied support. This occurred through a series of
consultations between Giraud and de Gaulle . De Gaulle wanted to
pursue a political position in
Following the Resistance uprising in Corsica on 11 September 1943, Giraud sent an expedition, including two French destroyers, to help the resistance movement without informing the Committee. This drew more criticism from de Gaulle, and he lost the co-presidency in November 1943.
When the Allies found out that Giraud was maintaining his own
intelligence network, the French committee forced him from his post as
a commander-in-chief of the French forces. He refused to accept a post
of Inspector General of the Army and chose to retire. On 10 March 1944
he received a telegram from
On 2 June 1946, he was elected to the French Constituent Assembly as
a representative of the
Republican Party of Liberty and helped to
create the constitution of the Fourth Republic . He remained a member
of the War Council and was decorated for his escape. He published two
books, Mes Evasions (My Escapes, 1946) and Un seul but, la victoire:
Alger 1942-1944 (A Single Goal, Victory:
* ^ (in French) Sa fiche sur le site de l\'Assemblée nationale
* ^ A B C Frederick C. Painton, "Giraud's Brilliant Escape from a
Nazi Prison," Reader's Digest, Sept 1943, p. 39.
* ^ "Henri Giraud".
* ^ Bernin, Michel (1942-09-21). "Königstein Prison". Life. p.
124. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
* ^ Price, G. Ward. Giraud and the African Scene
* ^ Stephen Harding, The Last Battle: When US and German soldiers
joined forces in the waning hours of
World War II
* Ranfurly, Hermione, Countess of (1995) To War With Whitaker: The Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939–1945 Manderin Paperbacks, 1994, ISBN 0-7493-1954-2 , ISBN 978-0-7493-1954-0 * Ward Price, G. (1944) Giraud and the African Scene, New York, NY: MacMillan, 1944, p. 260.