The General Who Escaped Twice!

Discussion in 'Stories' started by Njaco, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Henri Giraud was born in Paris in 1879. A captain of Zouaves in WW I, he was wounded in the Battle of Guise in August 1914, left for dead, and captured by the Germans. Within a few weeks he escaped fom a hospital and made his way to the Netherlands.

    In 1939, at the outbreak of WWII, he was given command of the Seventh Army Group. Once again in May 1940, he was captured by the Germans, who this time placed him in the fortress of Konigstein, a maximum security prison perched on a sheer cliff with all entrances double-guarded and numeous sentries passing evry few minutes.

    For two years, Giraud carefully planned his escape. He learned German until he could speak almost without accent, and he memorized every contour of a stole map of the countryside. On April 17, 1942, he lowered himself down the side of the mountain fortress and reached the ground. Donning a raincoat and a Tyrolean hat, he shaved his moustache and headed toward the town of Schandau, 5 miles to the south, where a contact was waiting. Escaping a motorcycle search party, he leaped aboard a moving train, changed trains at Stuttgart and through a series of fortunate ruses, managed to reach the French border 40 miles away.

    Giraud's escape captured the imagination of a defeated and humiliated France and he became a public idol. Infuriated, Himmler sent secret orders to Gestapo headquarters in Paris to "find Giraud and assisssinate him." German agents swarmed into Unoccupied France in search of the missing general. However, Giraud was persuaded that he had to go. On 5 November, he was picked up near Toulon by the British submarine 'Seraph' (which was clumsily disguised as a U.S. vessel to placate Giraud). (Eisenhower had advised contrary to his request for an aeroplane that he be fetched by the British submarine under an American captain). 'Seraph' took him to meet General Dwight Eisenhower in Gibraltar. He arrived on 7 November, only a few hours before the landings. Eisenhower asked him to assume command of French troops in North Africa during 'Operation Torch' and direct them to join the Allies.

    Pro-Allied elements in Algeria had agreed to support the Allied landings, and in fact seized Algiers on the night of 7-8 November; the city was then occupied by Allied troops. However, resistance continued at Oran and Casablanca. Giraud flew to Algiers on 9 November, but his attempt to assume command of French forces was rebuffed; his broadcast directing French troops to cease resistance and join the Allies was ignored.

    When the Allies found out that Giraud was maintaining his own intelligence network, the French committee forced him from his post as a commander-in-chief of the French forces. He refused to accept a post of Inspector General of the Army and chose to retire. On 28 August 1944, he survived an assassination attempt in Algeria.
     

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  2. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    WOW! The man just never gave up. Constantly on the go, thinking on his feet and keeping ahead of the enemy. :salute:
     
  3. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Great story, thanks! :salute:
     
  4. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Solid brass balls! Gotta respect that! :salute:
     
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