Pierre Tourret - Life and Military

Life and Military

He graduates from Saint Cyr Military Academy in 1939, takes part in the fighting around Sedan in 1940 and becomes a prisoner of war. He was liberated in 1945 by the US Army and joined the 9th Colonial Infantry Division bound for Indochina in 1946. In 1948 he commanded a company of the 23rd Colonial Infantry Regiment in Tonkin.

For his second tour in Indochina, he commanded a battalion of the 24th Senegalese Regiment, before becoming second-in-command to Marcel Bigeard in the 6th Colonial Parachute Battalion in the spring of 1951. He took part in operations around Tulé and Lang Son, before he was given command of his own parachute battalion, the 8th Shock Parachute Battalion, and becoming one of the key French commanders in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Like many other key French commanders, he received a promotion toward the end of the battle, in his case to Major.

He took part in Operation Musketeer during the Suez Crisis in November 1956, and then transferred to the staff of General Gilles, head of the airborne forces in Algeria, working with special operations. General Challe gave him command of the Parachute Commando Group of the General Reserve (Groupe de commandos paras de réserve générale, GCPRG).

In 1960 he was attached to the cabinet of Prime Minister Debré, and in 1961 he was assigned to Algiers again. He was chief of staff of the 10th Parachute Division until the Algiers putsch, when he followed orders from General Challe, one of the leaders of the Putsch. He was arrested and sent to Paris, where he was immediately released. He was posted to Mauritania for two years before leaving the French Army in 1964.

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