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The Ordre de la Libération (“Order of the Liberation”) 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 (Legion of Honour) and only a small number of people and military units have received it, exclusively for deeds accomplished during World War II. A different order, the Médaille de la Résistance, was created and awarded for less distinguished deeds in the Resistance.

History

The Ordre de la Libération was instituted on 16 November 1940 by General de Gaulle, in the order n° 7 signed in Brazzaville. The aim of the Order is to “reward people, or military or civilian communities, who will have distinguished themselves in the work of liberation France and her Empire”.

There are no criteria relating to age, sex, rank, origin or nationality, nor are there any requirements in the nature of the deeds, apart from their exceptional quality.

The Order has one single rank, awarding the title of Compagnon de la Libération (“Companion of the Liberation”). General de Gaulle, founder of the Order, has been the only Grand Maître (“Grand Master”) of the Order.

The last award was given on 23 January 1946.

Insignia

The medal of the Order is called Croix de la Libération (“Cross of the Liberation”). It is a bronze rectangular shield with a gladium carrying a cross of Lorraine (symbol of the Free French Forces), and with the Latin motto “PATRIAM SERVANDO VICTORIAM TULIT” on the reverse (“By serving the Fatherland, he/she achieved Victory”). The ribbon has the colors black for mourning, and green for hope, symbolizing the state of France in 1940. The first ribbons had diagonal black stripes, British-style; from August-September 1942 on, the subsequent versions had two vertical black stripes.

The medal is usually given in the military ceremonial of the taking of arms. The relevant person would be called by his rank and name, and given the insignia while being told: Nous vous reconnaissons comme notre Compagnon pour la libération de la France dans l’honneur et par la Victoire (“We acknowledge you as our companion for the Liberation of France, in honour and by Victory”).

Recipients

1061 crosses have been awarded :

People

Amongst the 1036 Fellows, 65 were killed before the end of the War (8 May 1945), and 260 received the distinction posthumously. Often, the Order was awarded to people according to their nom de guerre, which was a common practice in the Resistance.

Notably, six women were awarded the title :

Also, nearly 10% of the recipients of the Order were younger than 20 at the beginning of the war. The youngest, Mathurin Henrio *[141509], was 14 when he was shot dead by Nazi officers for refusing to answer questions on the whereabouts of Maquisards.

The Order was re-opened twice to honor foreign personalities who helped liberate France:

The complete list of recipients is available at [141510]

Military units

Military units as a whole have been awarded the title of Compagnon de la Libération.

On 18 June 1996, at Mont Valérien, the 17 military units which had been awarded the Cross of Liberation were given a green and black fourragère by President Jacques Chirac.

Armée de Terre



Marine

  • Sous-marin Rubismarker
  • Corvette Aconit
  • 1er Régiment de Fusiliers Marins


Armée de l’Air

  • 1ère Escadrille de Chasse
  • Régiment de Chasse Normandie-Niemen
  • 2ème Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes de l’Armée de l’Air
  • Groupe de Bombardment Lorraine
  • Groupe de Chasse Ile-de-France
  • Groupe de Chasse Alsace


Cities

  • Nantesmarker: awarded on 11 November 1941
heroical city which, since the crime of capitulation, has opposed a fierce resistance to any sort of collaboration with the enemy. Occupied by German troops and subject to the harshest sort of repression, has given to the French, by numerous individual and collective actions, a magnificent example of courage and fidelity. By the blood of her martyr children, just shown to the whole World the French will for a national Liberation”.


Heroical city at the vanguard of the French Resistance and of the combat for Liberation. Clothed in her pride, opposed a fierce fight at every instant to the Germans, despite the arrest and the massacre of her best sons. Despising the interdictions given by the invaders and their accomplices, demonstrated on 11 November 1943 her certainty of Victory and her will to take part to it. On 14 November and the 2nd of December 1943, responded to the reprisals and the execution of the chiefs of the Resistance movements by the destruction of the ammunition depot, barracks, transformators and factories used by the enemy. Have served the Fatherland well.


  • Parismarker awarded on 24 March 1945
Capital faithful to herself and to France, demonstrated, under the enemy occupation and oppression, and in spite of the voices of abandon and treason, her unshakable resolution to fight and to win. By her courage in the presence of the invader and by the indomitable energy with which she sustained the harshest of the trials, deserved to stay as the example for the Nation in its entirety. On 19 August, in cooperation with the Allied and French armies, has stood to drive away the enemy through a series of glorious fights begun in the Cité and swiftly spread to all points of the city. In spite of heavy losses sustained by the French Force of the Interior standing within her, has liberated itself through her own efforts and, united with the vanguard of the French Army come to her rescue, has, on 25 August, reduced the German to his last stands and made him capitulate.


Village of the Vercors which, thanks to the patriotism of her inhabitants, has totally sacrificed herself for the cause of the French Resistance in 1944. Main parachuting centre for the Allied air force on the plateau, has always helped by all means the military of the Maquis in the gathering of arms. Violently bombed on 14 July, attacked by 24 German gliders on the 21st and 22 July, had 72 of her inhabitants massacred and the entirety of her houses burned down by a merciless enemy. Martyr of her faith in the resurrecting of the Fatherland.


Confronted to the enemy invasion, has refused to abandon the battlefield which it hers: the Sea. Has sent all of her children to the fight under the flag of Free France, hence becoming the example and symbol of all of Brittany.


See also



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