Georges Thierry d'Argenlieu : biography
Georges Thierry d'Argenlieu, in religion Louis de la Trinité (7 August 1889 - 7 September 1964) was a priest, diplomat and French Navy officer and admiral; he became one of the major personalities of the Free French Forces and the Forces navales françaises libres. He was the chancellor of the Ordre de la Libération.
- Grand Cross of the Légion d'Honneur
- Compagnon de la Libération
- Médaille Militaire
- Croix de Guerre 39 - 45 with 3 palms
- Croix de Guerre des Théâtres d'Opérations Extérieures (TOE) with palm
- Médaille de la Résistance avec rosette
- Insigne des blessés militaires
- Médaille du Sauvetage
- Médaille du Maroc
- Belgian Croix de Guerre with palm
- Commander of the Order of Léopold (Belgium)
- Companion of the Order of the Bath (UK)
- La Croix de la Libération, Paris 1951
- Chroniques d'Indochine 1945-1947, Paris 1985
- Souvenirs de Guerre : juin 1940-janvier 1941, Paris 1973
Georges Thierry d'Argenlieu was born in Brest on 7 August 1889, in a family of Navy officers. He joined the École navale (Naval Academy) at 17.
He served on the Du Chayla as a midshipman, taking part in the campaign in Morocco which led to the Treaty of Fez, in 1912. During the campaign, he was awarded the Legion of Honour, and befriended Hubert Lyautey, something that d'Argenlieu later recalled as one of the happy memories in his life.
First World War
During the First World War, he served in the Mediterranean; in 1915, he took his first steps toward joining a monastic order, while continuing to serve in the Navy; he was promoted to lieutenant de vaisseau in 1917. The next year, commanding officer of a patrol boat, the Tourterelle, he distinguished himself in the rescue of a troop transport.
At the end of the war, d'Argenlieu undertook theological studies in Rome, and joined the religious order of the Discalced Carmelites as Louis de la Trinité. He made his vow on 15 September 1921, and studies for four years in the Catholic university of Lille. In 1932, he was made Provincial Superior of Paris.
Second World War
In September 1939, d'Argenlieu was mobilised as a reserve Navy officer, rising to the rank of capitaine de corvette in 1940. During the Battle of France, d'Argenlieu was captured as he was defending the arsenal of Cherbourg. After three days, he escaped from the prisoner train to Germany and joined Charles de Gaulle on the 30 June.
D'Argenlieu joined the Free French Forces, intending to serve as chaplain, but eventually took on the duties of a fighting naval officer, with a special authorisation of his religious superiors, due to the small number of Navy officers in the Free French Naval Forces. He was made chief of staff in July.
He attempted to convince the then Vichy-loyal governor of Dakar to join De Gaulle, and was severely wounded when he was fired upon in his small and unarmed craft on 23 September 1940, during battle of Dakar. In November, he directed successful operations in Gabon.
D'Argenlieu was made a capitaine de vaisseau, and chancellor of the newly created Ordre de la Libération. In 1941, he rose to counter-admiral; he undertook several missions to administer French colonies loyal to Free France.
In 1943, he was made commanding officer for the naval forces in Great Britain On 14 June 1944, he ferried de Gaulle to France aboard the Combattante, and entered Paris with him on the 25 August.
First Indochina War
After the defeat of Japan, d'Argenlieu was sent to French Indochina as part of the French Far East Expeditionary Corps to restore the French colonial administration. In 1946, he was promoted to vice-amiral d'escadre, and soon later to admiral.
During the First Indochina War, the actions of d'Argenlieu grew more and more controversial, and he was replaced by Emile Bollaert in March 1947. Back to France, he was made inspector general of the Naval Forces, before retiring in a convent.
After the War
In 1958, sick, he resigned his position of chancellor of the Ordre de la Libération and withdrew to monastery life again. He died on 7 September 1964 in Brest and was buried in Avrechy.
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