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Jean Joseph Marie Gabriel de Lattre de Tassigny (2 February 1889 – 11 January 1952) was a Frenchmarker military hero of World War II and commander in the Indochina War.

Early life

Born at Mouilleron-en-Paredsmarker (Vendéemarker), he graduated from school in 1911 (5th of his promotion in Saint-Cyr), fought in World War I and was wounded twice. He specialized in cavalry, 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.

He entered General Weygand's headquarters in 1932 (who had the choice between de Lattre and de Gaulle and choose de Lattre because of his superior rank and honors), and 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 troops. He won a minor battle in Rethel where a German officer said that the French resistance was similar as in the Battle of Verdunmarker.

He remained on active duty, commanding Vichy French forces in Tunisiamarker 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. He escaped, though, to Algiersmarker, where he took command of the French Army B. French Army B were one of two armies of the Southern Group of Armies otherwise known as the U.S. 6th Army Group which was set up to organise the invasion of Southern France in Operation Dragoon. The other army was the US Seventh Army commanded by Alexander M. Patch. Before that, elements of de Lattre's army took Corsica. De Lattre then landed in Provence, southern France on August 16, 1944, and his troops began marching through France liberating the country as they went. On September 25 1944 French Army B was redesignated French First Army. The army crossed the Vosgesmarker after heavy fighting. After that, de Lattre took Belfort but stopping the progress of his army, he allowed the Germans to create the Colmar Pocketmarker. During December 1944, the attempts to take Colmarmarker were unsuccessful but de Lattre was able to collapse the pocket in January and February 1945 after the successful defence of Strasbourg (defended on the north by American troops and the French 3rd DIA and on the south by the French).

Under General Charles de Gaulle's encouragement those French Resistance 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 Germanymarker. In Germany, his army, now numbering 300,000 soldiers took Karlsruhemarker, Ulmmarker and Stuttgartmarker before crossing the Danube and arriving in Austriamarker. De Lattre represented France at the German unconditional surrender in Berlinmarker on May 8, 1945.

After World War II

[[Image:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-14059-0018, Berlin, Oberbefehlshaber der vier Verbündeten.jpg|thumb|The Supreme Commanders on June 5, 1945 in Berlin:Bernard Montgomery, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Georgy Zhukov and Jean de Lattre de Tassigny.]]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 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 but his only son, Bernard de Lattre de Tassigny, was killed in action during the war. In 1951, illness forced de Lattre de Tassigny to return to Parismarker where he later died of cancer; he was posthumously made Maréchal de France. After his return to France, his successors Salan and Navarre were far from having an equal success in Indochina.


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