Jean de Lattre de Tassigny
Jean Joseph Marie Gabriel de Lattre de Tassigny, GCB
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

, MC
Military Cross
The Military Cross is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers and other ranks of the British Armed Forces; and formerly also to officers of other Commonwealth countries....

 (2 February 1889 – 11 January 1952) was a French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 military hero of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and commander in the First Indochina War
First Indochina War
The First Indochina War was fought in French Indochina from December 19, 1946, until August 1, 1954, between the French Union's French Far East...


Early life

Born at Mouilleron-en-Pareds
Mouilleron-en-Pareds is a commune in the Vendée department in the Pays de la Loire region in western France. It is in the Fontenay-le-Comte arrondissement....

The Vendée is a department in the Pays-de-la-Loire region in west central France, on the Atlantic Ocean. The name Vendée is taken from the Vendée river which runs through the south-eastern part of the department.-History:...

), in the same village that WWI leader Georges Clemenceau
Georges Clemenceau
Georges Benjamin Clemenceau was a French statesman, physician and journalist. He served as the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. For nearly the final year of World War I he led France, and was one of the major voices behind the Treaty of Versailles at the...

, he graduated from officer school in 1911 (ranked 5th in his class in Saint-Cyr
École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr
The École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr is the foremost French military academy. Its official name is . It is often referred to as Saint-Cyr . Its motto is "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre": literally "They study to vanquish" or "Training for victory"...

), fought in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and was wounded twice. He specialized in cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 and was made head of the French War College in 1935. After World War I, he served as an officer in the French headquarters during the Rif War
Rif War (1920)
The Rif War, also called the Second Moroccan War, was fought between Spain and the Moroccan Rif Berbers.-Rifian forces:...


He entered General Weygand
Maxime Weygand
Maxime Weygand was a French military commander in World War I and World War II.Weygand initially fought against the Germans during the invasion of France in 1940, but then surrendered to and collaborated with the Germans as part of the Vichy France regime.-Early years:Weygand was born in Brussels...

's headquarters in 1932. Weygand had the choice between de Lattre and de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 and chose de Lattre because of his superior rank and honors. De Lattre then served in the headquarters of an infantry regiment at Metz.

World War II

When war was declared in 1939, he commanded the French 14th Infantry Division until the armistice with the Axis
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 troops. He won a minor battle in Rethel where a German officer said that the French resistance was similar to the Battle of Verdun
Battle of Verdun
The Battle of Verdun was one of the major battles during the First World War on the Western Front. It was fought between the German and French armies, from 21 February – 18 December 1916, on hilly terrain north of the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France...


He remained on active duty, commanding Vichy French
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

 forces in Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 in 1941. He took charge of the 16th Division in 1942, but began organizing an anti-German force, which led to his arrest and a 10-year jail sentence. However, de Lattre was able to escape to Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

. There he took command of the French Army B
French First Army
The First Army was a field army of France that fought during World War I and World War II. It was also active during the Cold War.-First World War:...

. French Army B were one of two armies of the Southern Group of Armies, also known as the Sixth United States Army Group. The Sixth Army Group was set up to organise the invasion of Southern France in Operation Dragoon
Operation Dragoon
Operation Dragoon was the Allied invasion of southern France on August 15, 1944, during World War II. The invasion was initiated via a parachute drop by the 1st Airborne Task Force, followed by an amphibious assault by elements of the U.S. Seventh Army, followed a day later by a force made up...

. The other unit comprising the formation was the US Seventh Army
United States Army Europe
United States Army Europe and Seventh Army, is an Army Service Component Command of the United States Army and the land component of United States European Command. It is the largest American formation in Europe.-Invasion of Sicily:...

, commanded by Alexander M. Patch. Before that, elements of de Lattre's army took Corsica. De Lattre then landed in Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

, southern France on 16 August 1944, and his troops began marching through France liberating the country as they went. On 25 September 1944 French Army B was redesignated French First Army
French First Army
The First Army was a field army of France that fought during World War I and World War II. It was also active during the Cold War.-First World War:...

. The army crossed the Vosges
Vosges is a French department, named after the local mountain range. It contains the hometown of Joan of Arc, Domrémy.-History:The Vosges department is one of the original 83 departments of France, created on February 9, 1790 during the French Revolution. It was made of territories that had been...

 after heavy fighting. De Lattre took Belfort but halted the progress of his army. In doing so, he allowed the Germans to form the Colmar Pocket
Colmar Pocket
The Colmar Pocket ; in Alsace, France, was the site of an operation during the Second World War, between 20 January and 9 February 1945, where the French First Army and the U.S...

. During December 1944, the attempts to take Colmar
Colmar is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is the capital of the department. Colmar is also the seat of the highest jurisdiction in Alsace, the appellate court....

 were unsuccessful. De Lattre was able to collapse the pocket in January and February 1945 after the successful defence of Strasbourg, which was defended on the north by American troops and the French 3rd DIA and on the south by the French.

Under General de Gaulle's encouragement those French Resistance
French Resistance
The French Resistance is the name used to denote the collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II...

 members who wished to continue fighting were incorporated into the French First Army by General de Lattre. Once France had been liberated, as part of the Alliance, his army crossed the Rhine and invaded Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. In Germany, his army, now numbering more than 320,000 soldiers took Karlsruhe
The City of Karlsruhe is a city in the southwest of Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg, located near the French-German border.Karlsruhe was founded in 1715 as Karlsruhe Palace, when Germany was a series of principalities and city states...

, Ulm
Ulm is a city in the federal German state of Baden-Württemberg, situated on the River Danube. The city, whose population is estimated at 120,000 , forms an urban district of its own and is the administrative seat of the Alb-Donau district. Ulm, founded around 850, is rich in history and...

 and Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

 before crossing the Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 and arriving in Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

. De Lattre represented France at the German unconditional surrender in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 on 8 May 1945.

After World War II

After World War II, he first became chief of staff of the NATO infantry in Europe. He was under the orders of Field Marshal Montgomery, organizing numerous training exercises. He also served as a French military ambassador in South America. Then, he commanded French troops in Indochina
French Indochina
French Indochina was part of the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. A federation of the three Vietnamese regions, Tonkin , Annam , and Cochinchina , as well as Cambodia, was formed in 1887....

 during the First Indochina War. He won three major victories at Vinh Yen, Mao khé and Yen Cu Ha and defended successfully the north of the country against the Viet Minh
Viet Minh
Việt Minh was a national independence coalition formed at Pac Bo on May 19, 1941. The Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from the French Empire. When the Japanese occupation began, the Việt Minh opposed Japan with support from the United States and the Republic of China...

 but his only son, Bernard de Lattre de Tassigny
Bernard de Lattre de Tassigny
Bernard de Lattre de Tassigny was a French Army officer, who fought during World War II and the First Indochina War. Bernard de Lattre received several medals during his military career, including the Médaille militaire. He was killed in action at the age of 23, fighting near Ninh Binh...

, was killed in action during the war at the Battle for Nam Dinh
Battle of the Day River
The Battle of the Day River took place between late May and early June 1951, around the Day River Delta in the Gulf of Tonkin...

. In 1951, illness forced de Lattre de Tassigny to return to Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 where he later died of cancer; he was posthumously made Maréchal de France
Marshal of France
The Marshal of France is a military distinction in contemporary France, not a military rank. It is granted to generals for exceptional achievements...

. After his return to France, his successors Raoul Salan
Raoul Salan
Raoul Albin Louis Salan was a French Army general and the fourth French commanding general during the First Indochina War. Salan was one of four generals who organized the 1961 Algiers Putsch operation and then founded the Organisation de l'armée secrète....

 and Henri Navarre
Henri Navarre
Henri Eugène Navarre was a French Army general. He fought during World War I, World War II and was the seventh commander of French Far East Expeditionary Corps during the First Indochina War...

 did not enjoy the same level of success as de Lattre did.

State funeral

Jean de Lattre de Tassigny was buried in a state funeral lasting five days, in what LIFE
Life is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased , or else because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate...

 magazine described as the "biggest military funeral France had seen since the death of Marshal Foch
Ferdinand Foch
Ferdinand Foch , GCB, OM, DSO was a French soldier, war hero, military theorist, and writer credited with possessing "the most original and subtle mind in the French army" in the early 20th century. He served as general in the French army during World War I and was made Marshal of France in its...

 in 1929". The Marshal's body was conveyed through the streets of Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 in a series of funeral processions, with the coffin lying in state
Lying in state
Lying in state is a term used to describe the tradition in which a coffin is placed on view to allow the public at large to pay their respects to the deceased. It traditionally takes place in the principal government building of a country or city...

 at four separate locations: his home, the chapel at Les Invalides
Les Invalides
Les Invalides , officially known as L'Hôtel national des Invalides , is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France, containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building's...

, the Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe
-The design:The astylar design is by Jean Chalgrin , in the Neoclassical version of ancient Roman architecture . Major academic sculptors of France are represented in the sculpture of the Arc de Triomphe: Jean-Pierre Cortot; François Rude; Antoine Étex; James Pradier and Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire...

 and before Notre Dame
Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris , also known as Notre Dame Cathedral, is a Gothic, Roman Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. It is the cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese of Paris: that is, it is the church that contains the cathedra of...

. Those marching in the funeral processions, following the gun carriage on which the tricolor
Flag of France
The national flag of France is a tricolour featuring three vertical bands coloured royal blue , white, and red...

-covered coffin was carried, included members of the French cabinet, judges, bishops, and Western military leaders. The pallbearers included other Allied generals of World War II, such as Bernard Montgomery and Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

. The route included the Rue de Rivoli and the Champs-Élysées
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a prestigious avenue in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets and one of the most expensive strip of real estate in the world. The name is...

, and the processions went from the Arc de Triomphe to Notre Dame, and then from Notre Dame to Les Invalides. The stage of the journey from the Arc de Triomphe to Notre Dame took place in the evening, and cavalrymen from the Garde Républicaine flanked the coffin on horseback bearing flaming torches. Walking behind the soldiers marching in the funeral processions was the lone figure of the Marshal's widow, Simonne de Lattre de Tassigny, dressed in black and praying as she walked. Thousands of people lined the funeral route, forming crowds standing ten-deep. The pageantry included the tolling of bells, and flags being flown at half-mast. The final stage of the funeral was a journey of 250 miles to the Marshal's birthplace of Mouilleron-en-Pareds
Mouilleron-en-Pareds is a commune in the Vendée department in the Pays de la Loire region in western France. It is in the Fontenay-le-Comte arrondissement....

 in western France. In attendance there was the Marshal's 97-year-old father, Roger de Lattre. Aged and blind, and the last of the de Lattres, he ran his hands over the ceremonial accoutrements on the coffin, which included the posthumously awarded marshal's baton and his son's kepi
The kepi is a cap with a flat circular top and a visor or peak . Etymologically, the word is a borrowing of the French képi, itself a respelling of the Alemannic Käppi: a diminutive form of Kappe, meaning "cap"....

. Then the coffin was lowered into the ground and the Marshal was laid to rest beside his only son, Bernard, who had been killed fighting under his father's command in Indochina some eight months previously.


  • Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur
    Légion d'honneur
    The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

  • Companion of the Liberation
    Ordre de la Libération
    The Ordre de la Libération is a French Order awarded to heroes of the Liberation of France during World War II. It is an exceptional honor, the second highest after the Légion d’Honneur and only a small number of people and military units have received it, exclusively for deeds accomplished...

     (decree 20 November 1944)
  • Médaille Militaire
    Médaille militaire
    The Médaille militaire is a decoration of the French Republic which was first instituted in 1852.-History:The creator of the médaille was the emperor Napoléon III, who may have taken his inspiration in a medal issued by his father, Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland...

  • Croix de guerre 1914-1918
    Croix de guerre 1914-1918 (France)
    The Croix de guerre 1914–1918 is a French military decoration.-Creation:Soon after the outbreak of World War I, French military officials felt that a new military award had to be created...

     (8 citations)
  • Croix de guerre 1939-1945
    Croix de guerre 1939-1945 (France)
    The Croix de guerre 1939–1945 is a French military decoration created on September 26, 1939, to honour people who fought with the Allies against the Axis force at any time during World War II.-Recipients:...

  • Croix de guerre des Théatres d'Opérations Exterieures
    Croix de guerre des Théatres d'Opérations Exterieures
    The Croix de guerre des théâtres d’opérations extérieures is a French medal rewarded for military service in foreign countries. It is granted to individuals who have received citations for their actions while engaged in military service overseas.-History:...

     (3 citations)
  • Médaille des Evadés
    Médaille des Évadés
    The Médaille des Évadés is a medal given by the government of France, to individuals who were prisoners of war and who escaped....

  • Gold Medal of Physical Education
  • Gold Medal of Public Health
  • Military Cross
    Military Cross
    The Military Cross is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers and other ranks of the British Armed Forces; and formerly also to officers of other Commonwealth countries....

  • Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
    Order of the Bath
    The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

  • Distinguished Service Medal
    Distinguished Service Medal (Army)
    The Distinguished Service Medal is a military award of the United States Army that is presented to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the United States military, has distinguished himself or herself by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great...

  • Legion of Merit
    Legion of Merit
    The Legion of Merit is a military decoration of the United States armed forces that is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements...

  • Order of Suvorov
    Order of Suvorov
    The Order of Suvorov is a Soviet award, named after Aleksandr Suvorov , that was established on July 29, 1942 by a decision of the Presidium of Supreme Soviet of the USSR. This decoration was created to award senior army personnel for exceptional leadership in combat operations...

  • Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold (Belgium)
  • Croix de Guerre (Belgium)
  • Grand Cross of the Order of the White Lion
    Order of the White Lion
    The Order of the White Lion is the highest order of the Czech Republic. It continues a Czechoslovak order of the same name created in 1922 as an award for foreigners....

  • Czechoslovak War Cross (Czechoslovakia)
  • Grand Cross of the Order of St Olav (Norway)
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau
    Order of Orange-Nassau
    The Order of Orange-Nassau is a military and civil order of the Netherlands which was created on 4 April 1892 by the Queen regent Emma of the Netherlands, acting on behalf of her under-age daughter Queen Wilhelmina. The Order is a chivalry order open to "everyone who have earned special merits for...

  • Virtuti Militari
    Virtuti Militari
    The Order Wojenny Virtuti Militari is Poland's highest military decoration for heroism and courage in the face of the enemy at war...

  • Grand Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog
    Order of the Dannebrog
    The Order of the Dannebrog is an Order of Denmark, instituted in 1671 by Christian V. It resulted from a move in 1660 to break the absolutism of the nobility. The Order was only to comprise 50 noble Knights in one class plus the Master of the Order, i.e. the Danish monarch, and his sons...

  • Commander of the Brazilian Order of Merit
  • Grand Cross of the Order of the Liberator General San Martin
    Order of the Liberator General San Martin
    The Order of the Liberator General San Martin is the highest decoration in Argentina.The Grades are:*Collar *Grand Cross *Grand Officer *Commander *Officer *Knight...

  • Order of Military Merit, white (Cuba)
  • Medal of Military Merit (Mexico)
  • Grand Cross of Order of Military Merit (Chile)
  • Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Cambodia
    Royal Order of Cambodia
    The Royal Order of Cambodia was a French colonial chivalric order of knighthood in Colonial Cambodia, still in use in the kingdom of Cambodia.-Colonial:...

  • Grand Cross of the National Order of Vietnam
    National Order of Vietnam
    The National Order of Vietnam was a combined military-civilian decoration of South Vietnam and was considered the highest honor that could be bestowed upon an individual by the Republic of Vietnam government....

  • Grand Cross of the Order of a Million Elephants and White Parasol (Laos)
  • Sherefian Merit Medal (Morocco)
  • Grand Cross of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite (Morocco)
  • Grand Cross of the Order of Blood (Tunisia)
  • Grand Cross of the Order of the Black Star (Benin)


Numerous memorials have been erected to the memory of Jean de Lattre. An annual military service, involving serving soldiers, veteran associations, and ceremonial carriage of the Marshal's baton, takes place at the graves of the de Lattre family in Jean de Lattre's birthplace of Mouilleron-en-Pareds
Mouilleron-en-Pareds is a commune in the Vendée department in the Pays de la Loire region in western France. It is in the Fontenay-le-Comte arrondissement....


See also

  • Western Front (WWII)
  • Battle of Hoa Binh
    Battle of Hoa Binh
    The Battle of Hòa Bình was fought during the First Indochina War. It occurred from 10 November 1951 to 25 February 1952, when French Union forces attempted to lure the Việt Minh out in the open and to fight on French terms.-Prelude:...

  • Battle of Vinh Yen
    Battle of Vinh Yen
    The Battle of Vĩnh Yên , which occurred from 13 to 17 January 1951, was a major engagement in the First Indochina War between the French Union and the Việt Minh. The French Union forces, led by World War II hero Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, inflicted a decisive defeat on the Việt Minh forces, which...

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