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Jean-Maarie de Lattre

Jean-Marie Lattre was born in Mouilleron-en-Pareds, France, on 2nd February 1889. He entered St Cyr in 1908 and after graduating from 12th Deragoon Regiment.

On the outbreak of the First World War Lattre was still in the cavalry but in 1915 he was transferred to the infantry were he served at Verdun. By 1918 he was a captain and a battalion commander. He had been wounded four times and had won eight citations.

After the war he served in North Africa and took part in the the Riff Wars. He was chief of staff of the Taza region until being seriously wounded in 1926.

In 1932 he was selected to serve on the staff of General Maxime Weygand in the Supreme War Council. He retained the position under General Alphonse Georges until 1935 when he was given command of a regiment in Metz.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Lattre became commander of the 14th Infantry Division. When the German Army broke through at Sedan he rushed his troops to the area in an attempt to halt the advance. He fought delaying actions at the Marne, the Loire, Nevers and Clemont-Ferrand.

After the armistice Lattre he created an officer cadre school in France before being sent to Tunisia in September 1941. He was recalled in January 1942 after being accused of having pro-Allied views. Lattre served in Montpellier and during Operation Torch he gave orders for his troops to join the Allied forces. Lattre was arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison for attempted treason.

Lattre escaped from prison on 2nd September 1943 and the French Resistance arranged for him to be flown to London. In December he went to North Africa and served under General Henri Giraud.

On 15th April 1944, Lattre was named commander of all French forces during the invasion of France. His troops captured Arles (24th August), Avignon (25th August), Toulon (27th August) and Marseilles (28th August). He also captured Belfort in November 1944 and was leader of the first troops to reach Rhine.

During the operation Lattre and the 1st French Army liberated a third of France and took control of over 50,000 square kilometers of Germany and captured 250,000 prisoners. During this operation 14,000 of Lattre's soldiers were killed.

After the war Lattre was commander of Western European Union ground troops. In December 1950 he was sent to IndoChina where he became high commissioner and commander in chief of French forces. He was taken seriously ill in March 1951 and returned to France. Jean-Marie Lattre was diagnosed as suffering from cancer and died on 15th January 1952.




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