TAll the companions of the Liberation have passed the weapon on the left. All the last witnesses are gone. But he remains, faithful to the post, fifty-one years after the death of his father. Admiral Philippe de Gaulle struggles to move, navigates between a retirement home in Neuilly and his home, but this Tuesday, December 27, he celebrates his 100 years, well surrounded by his family, after having put the final touches to the news edition of his Memoirs, gathered in a single volume and whose publication is scheduled for January 13 (ed. Books).
Memories he had elegantly and modestly titled Accessories memories when they were published in two volumes in the late 1990s by Plon, the publisher of his father’s Memoirs – an adjective that also ideally rhymed with the general’s Memoirs of Hope. He added in particular how the French socialist state was particularly stingy with him regarding his retirement in 1983.
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When he was born on December 28, 1921, General de Gaulle was still a young captain, returning from Poland, where he had been part of the French mission responsible for supporting the Poles against Bolshevik Russia. Married April 7, 1921 to Yvonne Vendroux, he had just started giving history lessons at the École de Saint-Cyr while preparing for his admission to the École supérieure de guerre, which would determine the rest of his career. .
General’s first companion
The young Philippe follows his parents to Germany and Lebanon, he also follows in the footsteps of his military father, but chooses another weapon, the navy: at 18, preparing to enter the Naval School, his entrance examination is disturbed by the debacle. He will spend it in London, after having joined his father, from June 19, without having heard the appeal he had launched the day before.
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After Geoffroy Chodron de Courcel, he was therefore his father’s first companion. If the General had consented, he could have been, given his brilliant war, from the English Channel where he carried out numerous patrols on English and French ships, until Berchtesgaden in May 1945, on 1047eCompanion of the Liberation, and therefore the last alive today, the one to whom we would pay a national tribute on his death.
Surrender of the Germans
It would have been a nice wink of fate for this man who had chosen the navy to set sail and free himself, in vain, from the omnipresent shadow of his father. Despite an irreproachable career and a late political career as RPR senator of Paris, we retain more the memorialist of the General, of which he also classified, after his retirement in 1983, the thousands of papers to be submitted to the archives.
The last tribute he received dates back to 2019 at the Palais-Bourbon, in memory of August 25, 1944: aged 22, then commanding a platoon of an armored regiment of marines of the 2e DB, he had come alone, at his father’s request, to negotiate the surrender of the Germans entrenched in the National Assembly. A perilous mission accomplished without of course giving its name.
Briefs, by Philippe de Gaulle, Éd. Books (publication January 13).