HyperWar: US Army in WWII: The Supreme Command (ETO) [Chapter 13]

Relations With the French, June-September 1944

The Supreme Commander had become painfully aware, long before D Day, that smooth relations with General de Gaulle and the French Committee of National Liberation were of critical importance to Allied operations. Involved in this question were such matters as the administration of civil affairs in liberated France, the command of French Resistance forces, and the establishment of a provisional government in Paris after its liberation. General Eisenhower was concerned, therefore, with Allied efforts to establish a working arrangement with the French Committee.

Civil Affairs

Civil affairs activities in France during the first phase of operations were under the general control of the 21 Army Group.1 Not until the activation of a U.S. army group did SHAEF assume direct responsibility for these operations in the field. During the first weeks of the invasion, therefore, many of the decisions relative to the re-establishment of civil affairs administration in Normandy were handled directly at 21 Army Group. The fact that the British Government was more inclined to recognize the French Committee than was the United States may have simplified the task of General Montgomery's officers in dealing with the Gaullist representatives in Normandy.

In those civil affairs problems which required decisions at governmental levels, SHAEF was involved directly--the more so in cases that meant any implied recognition of the sovereignty of the French Committee, particularly in those instances where the Foreign Office and the State Department appeared willing to go farther than the President toward cooperation with de Gaulle. Where the matter affected military operations, the Supreme Commander was sometimes approached in the hope that he could help in finding a working solution to the problem.

An example of the type of case which came to General Eisenhower's attention was that relating to the issuance of invasion currency to Allied troops. Like many other French civil affairs questions this had been discussed by French and Allied representatives since 1943, and had bogged down. on the issue of the sovereignty of the French Committee. In an effort to avoid depreciating French currency by issuing yellow-seal dollars and British Military Authority notes to the troops, as in Italy, the British and U.S. authorities


arranged in December 1943 to print special invasion money in Washington for the use of the armies. Before this could be done, the British Ambassador "unexpectedly" notified the State Department that his government preferred a French national currency issued by the French Committee of National Liberation. The immediate effect was to delay any decision on the issue for a number of weeks. To bring the matter to a head, the British Secretary of State for War, Sir James Grigg, appealed to General Eisenhower at the end of January 1944, reminding him that currency was "a vital if uninteresting necessity to successful operations."2 If General Eisenhower had ever doubted the necessity of settling such problems promptly, he had sufficient reason to change his mind when they continued to reappear in the spring and summer of 1944.

In early May, General Eisenhower forwarded to Washington proposals based on preliminary discussions with the French Military Mission in London regarding the whole financial situation in France. After a period of three weeks, having received no direction on the problem, he proposed as "a solution of desperation" to issue a proclamation declaring the supplemental francs legal tender. The Supreme Commander and his chief of staff doubted their legal right to issue such a proclamation and feared it would be considered a flagrant violation of French sovereignty, but they felt they would have to take such action unless they received other instructions by 28 May.

Before this second proposal was received, General Eisenhower's program of early May had been approved in principle at "the highest American level," subject to certain specified conditions, and passed on to the Combined Chiefs of Staff for study. Among these conditions were the following: arrangements made with the French Committee of National Liberation must not preclude consultation with or the reception of aid from other representatives of the French people; authority for issuing supplemental francs belonged to SHAEF, and any statement of the French Committee of National Liberation would merely be a supporting announcement.3

No agreement had been reached with the French by the time General de Gaulle reached London shortly before D Day. He was dissatisfied when he found that limited quantities of supplemental francs in small denominations had actually been given to British and U.S. soldiers in the assault units, and that larger quantities were ready when needed to supplement the five and one-half billion metropolitan francs put at the disposal of Allied forces by the War Office. His anger at this assumption of what he considered to be a prerogative of the French Committee of National Liberation apparently influenced him to forbid the 180 French liaison officers trained for civil affairs duties to sail with the assault units on D Day. He finally relented sufficiently to permit twenty liaison officers to accompany Allied troops.4

President Roosevelt's announcement on 9 June that General de Gaulle would be welcome in Washington for a visit in late


June or early July raised some hope for an early agreement on currency and other questions. General de Gaulle dashed this hope almost immediately by his statement that no agreement existed between the French Committee and the United States and Great Britain regarding French cooperation in the administration of liberated France. He feared that General Eisenhower's address and proclamation to the French, which made no mention of General de Gaulle and the French Committee of National Liberation, foreshadowed "a sort of taking over of power in France by the Allies' military command." He warned that "the issuance of a so called French currency in France without any agreement and without any guarantee from the French authority can lead only to serious complications."5

Mr. Churchill promptly urged President Roosevelt to make a decision on the currency question. While the Prime Minister did not believe that General de Gaulle would brand the invasion francs as counterfeit, as he was rumored to be ready to do, he feared that the Allies faced the alternatives of permitting de Gaulle to obtain new status as the price for backing the notes or of themselves guaranteeing the money. The President, with the tone of irritation he frequently showed where de Gaulle was concerned, suggested telling the French general that, if the French people would not accept the invasion currency, General Eisenhower would be authorized to use British Military Authority money and yellow-seal dollars. Therefore, if General de Gaulle encouraged the French to refuse invasion money, he would be responsible for the certain depreciation of the franc which would follow. The President opposed any effort to press General de Gaulle for a statement supporting the new currency, but agreed that, if he wanted to issue something on his individual responsibility, he could put his signature on any currency statement "in any capacity that he desires, even to that of the King of Siam."6

The Allied press widely reported General de Gaulle's angry statements over invasion currency and his action relative to French liaison officers and apparently greatly exaggerated the difficulties which existed between the invasion forces and the French Committee. Some members of the Foreign Office pressed for a policy of greater cooperation with the committee. The U.S. Chiefs of Staff, who had gone to Europe on 9 June to visit the new beachhead and discuss further policy, became alarmed over the situation. They notified the President that, although he had the support of the Prime Minister on the French question, this was one matter on which Mr. Churchill could not dominate the Foreign Office or the Cabinet. The U.S. Chiefs considered the French situation unhappy at best and potentially dangerous in view of its possible effect on the French Resistance forces.7

Meanwhile, a 21 Army Group liaison officer reported a satisfactory situation in the British beachhead. The invasion currency was being accepted, and for the most part an enthusiastic welcome greeted the Allied forces. The liaison officer concluded from discussions with people in the area that the average man looked to de Gaulle "as the natural and inevitable


leader of Free France." They were not clear, he added, as to whether or not they regarded de Gaulle as the head of a provisional government, but he was certain that if the general landed as head of such a government he would be accepted.8

The President, while not inclined to do any favors for de Gaulle, was willing to make full use of any organization or influence the general had which would aid the Allied military effort, provided the result was not to impose the French Committee on the French people by force of U.S. and British arms. General Marshall received this assurance in London about the time General de Gaulle was visiting Bayeux and Isigny and receiving a noisy welcome. By 16 June when the French chief returned to Algiers, he had strengthened his position with the French people in the liberated areas and with the British Government. Apparently aware of reports that the Prime Minister was under pressure to ask for outright recognition of the French Committee as the provisional government of France, de Gaulle left M. Pierre Vienot and several assistants behind to discuss civil affairs problems with British representatives. These officials opened negotiations on a civil affairs agreement similar to that concluded with Belgium before the invasion.9

Feeling certain of support in British and U.S. political circles as well as among military authorities on the beachhead, General de Gaulle spoke confidently in his address to the French Consultative Assembly at Algiers on 18 June. Speaking on the anniversary of the date he called the French people to arms in 1940, he stressed the efforts which the French had already personally expended for their liberation. Casting a glance at the British and U.S. Governments, he noted that France, having had long experience with other countries, knew that foreign support would sometimes be given hesitantly, and that France's friends, however numerous, would not always give free and immediate aid. He informed the assembly of the steps he had taken to establish the committee's authority in liberated France. M. Francois Coulet had already assumed the office of Commissioner of the Republic for the Region of Normandy, thus becoming the representative of the committee in liberated areas with general administrative authority over prefectural, subprefectural, and municipal authorities. Coulet was directly responsible to General Koenig, but had the right of direct appeal to London or Algiers. Col. Pierre de Chevigne, another supporter of the committee, was territorial military governor of the subregion of Rouen. General de Gaulle further assured the assembly that General Koenig as commander of French forces under General Eisenhower conserved all the rights of recourse to French national authority that any other national commander had under an interallied system. He praised the strategic understanding of General Eisenhower "in whom the French Government had complete confidence for the victorious conduct of the common military operations."10

The tribute to General Eisenhower in a


speech underlining French sovereignty indicated a willingness on the part of General de Gaulle to help prepare a favorable atmosphere for the talks he was to have with President Roosevelt in`July. SHAEF representatives attempted in the meantime to conclude directly with General Koenig a working agreement on supplemental francs until a formal financial agreement could be made. On 4 July, General Smith informed the War Department of General Koenig's assurance that supplemental francs would be accepted even for taxes. The liaison officer problem had also been straightened out to a considerable extent. French military tactical liaison officers were attached to Allied army groups, corps, and divisions, and French administrative liaison officers were assigned to the French civil administration for civil affairs liaison between their various offices and the Allied forces. General Smith was especially pleased about the excellent relations that existed between the Allied commanders and General Koenig.11

General de Gaulle, accompanied by Gen. Emile Bethouart, French Chief of Staff, M. Gaston Palewski, Chief of the Civil Cabinet, and MM. Herve Alphand and Jacques Paris of the French Foreign Office, arrived in Washington on 6 July. Both the President and the general made efforts to be affable, and their representatives set about arranging a satisfactory settlement of their differences. On 8 July, the State, War, and Treasury Departments sent a memorandum to the President suggesting that a civil affairs agreement similar to those concluded with Belgium, the Netherlands, and Norway be signed with the French Committee of National Liberation. The President informed the press on 11 July that the United States had decided to consider the committee the dominant political authority of France until elections could be held to determine the will of the French people. The door was left open, however, for other groups in France to present conflicting claims to authority, with the understanding that the Supreme Commander, under his power to maintain peaceful relations in a military area, could make final decisions. Some press observers saw little change in this from the pre-D-Day state of affairs, except in the trend toward cordiality, but it was generally recognized that the situation had improved. General de Gaulle, on leaving Washington, expressed satisfaction with the talks he had held with the President. Lest there be any doubt of his intention to conserve the sovereignty of France, however, he declared in Ottawa on 11 July that it would be not only an error but an impossibility to exclude France from her true place among the great nations of the world.12

Some delays yet remained before the civil affairs agreements drafted separately in London and Washington could be concluded with the French. The Allies were to reach Paris before General Eisenhower and General Koenig signed them. However, the talks in Washington, as well as the friendly relationships between Generals Eisenhower and Smith and General Koenig, helped to mitigate a portion of the difficulties that existed in June. Improvised arrangements, already in effect in Normandy


before the talks began, continued to work until more formal agreements could be put into effect.

Command of French Resistance Forces

The Supreme Commander instituted a major change in the command organization of the French Forces of the Interior shortly after D Day, not only to satisfy the French desire to exercise control over Resistance forces, but also to insure effective support of Allied operations by these units. General Koenig, commander of the French forces in the United Kingdom, had asked for such a command reorganization shortly before D Day. He pointed out that for almost four years the Resistance forces of France had carried on their work while the French headquarters in Great Britain had no share in the control of such activities. With D Day in sight and the prospect of the movement of thousands of French patriots toward the beachhead area, the French Committee of National Liberation wanted General Koenig to organize a headquarters of the French Forces of the Interior under the Supreme Commander to control these Resistance forces. General Koenig asked that all agencies dealing with the activities of the French Forces of the Interior be brought under one headquarters and that a French commander be appointed under the Supreme Commander to head the group.13

On 9 June, General Whiteley of SHAEF and General Koenig reached agreement, subject to General Eisenhower's concurrence, that Koenig would assume command of the French Forces of the Interior and act under the instructions of the Supreme Commander. The French general was to issue his directives through Special Force Headquarters. In addition, a tripartite regional staff under Colonel Vernon (Colonel Vernon's real name was Jean Ziegler) was set up within Special Force Headquarters to deal with all matters pertaining to France. The French Committee of National Liberation promptly approved these arrangements and announced that the French Forces of the Interior consisted of all fighting or service units participating in the fight against the enemy on home territory. The committee added that these forces were an integral part of the French Army and entitled to all the rights and privileges of regular soldiers.14

SHAEF issued General Koenig's directive as commander of French Forces of the Interior on 17 June. On the basic consideration that the French Forces of the Interior were to furnish maximum support to Allied operations on the Continent, the Supreme Commander directed General Koenig to delay the concentration of enemy forces in Normandy and Brittany by (1) impeding the movement of German reserves, (2) disrupting enemy lines of communications and rear areas, and (3) compelling the enemy to maintain large forces in his rear areas to contain resistance. General Eisenhower instructed Allied ground force commanders to ask for Resistance help in normal tactical operations according to priorities set by operational requirements. The initial efforts were to be aimed at the Normandy bridgehead and Brittany to delay or prevent the movement of enemy formations to these areas. Later, Resistance forces were to concentrate on other parts of


France. The third priority was given to attacks on the enemy telecommunication system.15

General Eisenhower regularized the status of General Koenig on 23 June by announcing that the latter commanded the French Forces of the Interior with the status of any Allied commander serving under General Eisenhower. It was General Koenig's duty, consonant with the obligations of senior American and British commanders, to indicate if orders given him were "in serious conflict" with those issued by the French Committee of National Liberation. In such a case, it was the duty and prerogative of General Koenig to refer the matter to Algiers for policy guidance.16

The Supreme Commander indicated in July that Koenig would gradually relieve the Special Force Headquarters of its responsibilities in connection with French Resistance, and that SHAEF and Special Force Headquarters would aid him in working out a program for taking over these responsibilities. The shift was delayed, however, and not until 21 August was the staff of the French Forces of the Interior integrated in accordance with SHAEF's directive of 1 August. Maj. Gen. Harold Redman and Col. Joseph F. Haskell were appointed as deputies to General Koenig. Special Force Headquarters, Special Force detachments with army groups and armies, and a number of the Allied planning sections for Resistance operations were transferred to General Koenig's headquarters.17

Activities of French Resistance June-August 1944

Long before control over French Resistance forces passed to General Koenig, those elements had proved their worth to the Supreme Commander's forces in France. At SHAEF's direction Special Force Headquarters on the night of 5-6 June ordered Resistance groups in France to put into effect D-Day plans for general harassing action and sabotage of railroads, highways, and telecommunications. Rail lines were damaged or destroyed in parts of northeast and southeast France. French partisans rendered valuable aid in delaying the movement of German units to the beachhead, particularly in the case of an armored division which was forced to take twelve days for its move from Toulouse to the beachhead. By the end of June, Special Force Headquarters declared that the results had "far surpassed" those generally expected. Whenever sufficiently armed, these forces had "displayed unity in action and a high fighting spirit." In Brittany, the French Forces of the Interior, strengthened by elements flown in from the United Kingdom, were speedily organized. They proved of great value in the early weeks of the invasion in furnishing information on enemy activities in this area to Allied intelligence units. In southeast France, the Resistance forces were particularly strong. By early July they controlled almost wholly the Vercors area and the eastern portion of the department of Ain, had a strong measure of authority in the departments of Indre, Haute-Vienne, and northern Dordogne, and were strong


enough to hold specific positions for daylight drops of arms or troops in the Massif Central, Vosges, Morvan, Jura, and Savoie.18

In July the Resistance forces intensified their attacks on enemy rail movements. They carried on their chief activity against the enemy in Normandy south of the beachhead, in the Rhône valley, against lines of communications through the Toulouse Gap, and in the Paris-Orléns Gap. They had enlarged their control in the south of France to include parts of the Saône-et-Loire, Cantal, Gard, and the eastern parts of the Isère, Hautes-Alpes, and Basses-Alpes, but a violent German counterattack in the Vercors had dispersed the Resistance forces in that area. Special Force Headquarters estimated that by the end of July there were 70,000 armed Resistants in the south of France. In Brittany, these forces worked directly with U.S. units after the Allied breakout in late July. In Belgium during the same period, Resistance forces attacked railroads which could bring troops and supplies to Germans in northern France. Their work was hampered by their shortage of supplies, since only two planeloads were dropped in July. SHAEF approved plans for overt action in the Ardennes during the month.19

In Brittany, southern France, and the area of the Loire and Paris, French Resistance forces greatly aided the pursuit to the Seine in August. Specifically, they supported the Third Army in Brittany and the Seventh U.S. and First French Armies in the southern beachhead and the Rhône valley. In the advance to the Seine, the French Forces of the Interior helped protect the southern flank of the Third Army by interfering with enemy railroad and highway movements and enemy telecommunications, by developing open resistance on as wide a scale as possible, by providing tactical intelligence, by preserving installations of value to the Allied forces, and by mopping up bypassed enemy positions. Reporting on the work of these forces in Brittany, General Eisenhower later declared:

Special mention must be made of the great assistance given us by the F.F.I. in the task of reducing Brittany. The overt resistance forces in this area had been built up since June around a core of S.A.S. troops of the French 4th Parachute Battalion to a total strength of some 30,000 men. On the night of 4/5 August the Etat-Major was dispatched to take charge of their operations. As the Allied columns advanced, these French forces ambushed the retreating enemy, attacked isolated groups and strongpoints, and protected bridges from destruction. When our armor had swept past them they were given the task of clearing up the localities where pockets of Germans remained, and of keeping open the Allied lines of communication. They also provided our troops with invaluable assistance in supplying information of the enemy's dispositions and intentions. Not least in importance, they had, by their ceaseless harassing activities, surrounded the Germans with a terrible atmosphere of danger and hatred which ate into the confidence of the leaders and the courage of the soldiers. 20

The Resistance forces interfered with the enemy retreat through the Rhône valley by denying him use of some of the railroads along the river, and by ambushing forces moving along the highways in that area. Some bands carried on guerrilla


warfare against enemy headquarters and supply depots in the south, while others sought to protect port facilities at Toulon, Marseille, and Sète against enemy destruction at the time of the Allied landings in those areas. In mid-August when it became clear that the enemy was preparing to evacuate field forces from France south of the Loire and west of the line Orléns-Toulouse-Tarbes, SHAEF gave the task of liberating that part of the area which lay outside the zone of Allied Force Headquarters to the French Forces of the Interior. The Resistance forces were directed to disrupt the movement of troops, annihilate petty garrisons and isolate larger ones, seize communications centers such as Limoges, Poitiers, and Châteauroux, capture airfields to allow the landing of supplies for the Resistance forces in the Massif Central, close the Spanish frontier to escaping German troops, and preserve port facilities and public utilities from destruction by the enemy. The forces in the south gave valuable assistance to the French Army in its attack on Marseille and Toulon, and later inflicted losses on enemy forces retreating northward. They were particularly active against Germans withdrawing from the Bordeaux area, and were an important factor in forcing the surrender of nearly 20,000 persons under Generalmajor Botho Elster. After the Allied forces swept to the Seine and beyond, the Resistance groups remained active along the Atlantic Coast in the sieges of German garrisons at St. Nazaire, La Rochelle, and Bordeaux.21

The Liberation of Paris

The Supreme Commander's desire to respect the sensibilities of the French and at the same time make certain that the enemy was driven from the French capital influenced his decisions of late August relating to the entry into Paris. In the incidents connected with these developments, one may also see the need of the French Committee for British and U.S. backing, the efforts of General de Gaulle to establish the French Committee's sovereignty in France, and the cooperative efforts of U.S. and French units in a common cause.

British and U.S. leaders had recognized as early as May 1943 that it was politically important to include a French division in the early campaigns to reconquer French soil. The Combined Chiefs of Staff agreed during the Washington Conference (TRIDENT), at the urging of President Roosevelt, that the possibility of adding a French division to the assault forces should be seriously considered. In mid-January 1944, General Morgan in discussing Allied plans for an entry into Paris said that it was "of paramount importance that amongst the first troops to enter Paris shall be Frenchmen." General Eisenhower accepted this suggestion and added that a unit large enough to be called a division should be brought from North Africa to cooperate with U.S. forces in northern France. Brig. Gen. Jacques-Philippe Leclerc's 2d French Armored Division was ultimately selected for this purpose. As a part of General Patton's forces, the unit was committed to action after the breakout and was active in the pursuit to the Seine.22


The Supreme Commander made no final decision relative to the taking of Paris until the Falaise battle. He had intended initially to bypass Paris and to pinch it out, hoping to postpone as long as possible the task of supplying the city. His views were passed on to General Montgomery, who declared on 20 August that the 12th Army Group should "assemble its right wing west and southwest of Paris and capture that city when the Commanding General considers the suitable moment has arrived--and not before. It is important that we should not attempt to secure Paris until it is a sound military proposition to do so. This is in accordance with the views and wishes of the Supreme Commander, and this policy will obtain unless and until he issues orders to the contrary."23

Resistance forces in Paris had in the meantime started a train of events which required a prompt decision by the Supreme Commander. On 15 August, the Paris police, railway workers, and other government employees took advantage of the Allied advance and the withdrawal of part of the enemy garrison from the city to call a general strike. As the movement spread through the city, Resistance forces asked Allied headquarters in London for aid and prepared a general insurrection in the French capital. On 19 August they seized the Prefecture of Police and issued a call for an uprising in the city. That evening, the German commander of the city, General von Choltitz, asked for a suspension of hostilities in order to examine the situation. He and Resistance representatives arranged a truce until noon, 23 August, in order that German forces west of the city could be withdrawn to points east of Paris without having to fight their way out of the capital. Resistance forces took advantage of the lull to seize the Ministry of Interior, the Hôtel de Ville, and other public buildings.24

As the insurrection in Paris spread, Resistance leaders attempted to get help from the Allies before the truce terminated on 23 August. When messages to London were delayed, the Resistance forces dispatched representatives to Allied forces nearest Paris. General de Gaulle, who had arrived in France from Algiers, told General Eisenhower on 21 August that he was concerned lest the disappearance of police forces and German units from Paris and the extreme shortage of food shortly lead to trouble in the capital. He believed it "really necessary to occupy Paris as soon as possible with French and Allied forces, even if it should produce some fighting and some damage within the city." He warned that if disorder occurred it would be difficult later to take things in hand without serious incidents which might ultimately hamper military operations. He nominated General Koenig as military governor of Paris to confer with General Eisenhower on the question of occupation in case the latter decided to proceed without delay. General Eisenhower, after talking to General Koenig, declared: "It looks


now as if we'd be compelled to go into Paris. Bradley and his G-2 think we can and must walk in."25

While General Eisenhower was deciding that he would have to order Allied forces into Paris, representatives of the Resistance went to the Third Army headquarters and asked that Allied forces enter the capital. They were sent back to General Bradley's headquarters, where they reported that the French Forces.of the Interior controlled all of the main city of Paris and the bridges leading to Paris from the west. Ammunition stocks were low, they added, and they feared that if Resistance forces were not promptly relieved shortly after noon on the 23d, "they might be severely dealt with by the Germans if the Germans decide to return to the city. p;. . ." General Eisenhower had already concluded that an Allied force should enter Paris as soon as possible after the armistice expired. He emphasized that no advance party was to be sent into the city until after that time, and that he did not want a severe fight to take place. General Bradley ordered the 2d French Armored Division to go into the city, while the 4th U.S. Division went along the southern limits of the French capital to seize crossings of the Seine south of Paris and to occupy positions to the south and southeast. He placed these operations under V Corps.26

On 24 August, General Bradley changed his initial orders and directed both the 2d French Armored and the 4th Divisions to enter Paris. Early on the following morning both units reported they had entered the city. They rapidly cleared out enemy resistance and forced the capitulation of General von Choltitz, who surrendered formally to General Leclerc at 1515. Shortly afterward, Maj. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow, the V Corps commander, established his tactical command post at the Hôtel des Invalides. Three days later he notified General Koenig that command of the city was being shifted to the French. The French general, named military governor of Paris by General de Gaulle some days before, noted in reply that he had assumed that command on 25 August and that the French authorities alone had handled the administration of Paris since its liberation.27

General Koenig's emphasis on the fact that the French were in control of their own affairs reflected General de Gaulle's determination to settle without delay the matter of the French Committee's authority. British and U.S. officials had discussed the possibility of de Gaulle's entry into Paris some days before, and there had been a disposition to delay his entry until some agreement could be reached. The French general settled the matter in mid-August by notifying General Eisenhower that he proposed to come from Algiers to France. The Supreme Commander, assuming that General de Gaulle planned to enter Paris and to remain in France, foresaw possible embarrassment if the French general arrived before the recognition of a French provisional government. The Combined Chiefs of Staff on 17 August said they had no objection to the proposed visit and instructed Eisenhower to follow his own proposal of receiving


de Gaulle as commander of the French forces.28

SHAEF proposed that the French leader come by U.S. plane and land in London before proceeding to the Continent. Apparently suspecting that this was an attempt to keep him out of France rather than a measure to protect his plane from possible Allied attack, he announced that he was leaving in his own plane and would land in Cherbourg or Rennes. After a warning by General Eisenhower that Allied antiaircraft crews might not recognize the type of plane in which General de Gaulle would be flying, and a refusal to accept responsibility for his safety, the French commander agreed to delay his trip one day and to check over the English coast before landing at Cherbourg. He came by his own plane on 18 August and joined the 2d French Armored Division in time to enter Paris on 25 August.29

On 26 August, General de Gaulle directed Leclerc's forces to parade through Paris. This order was contrary to instructions of General Gerow, who feared that Germans or German sympathizers in the city might fire on the French troops. Later, when some shots were fired, General de Gaulle expressed his regrets, and General Koenig agreed to cooperate with the U.S. commander.30

In order to get General de Gaulle's impressions of the general situation in Paris and to show that the Allies had taken part in the liberation of Paris, General Eisenhower visited the French capital on 27 August. Wishing to have the British represented, he invited General Montgomery to accompany him, but the British commander felt unable to leave his troops at that time.31 General Eisenhower recalls that during the visit General de Gaulle expressed anxiety about conditions in Paris, and asked that two U.S. divisions be put at his disposal to give a show of force and establish his position. For this purpose, the Supreme Commander arranged for U.S. forces on the way to the front to march through Paris and be reviewed by Generals de Gaulle and Bradley. The 28th Division was sent through on 29 August on the way to the battlefront northeast of the city.32

On 29 August, General Eisenhower passed on to General Bradley a request from General de Gaulle that the 2d French Armored Division be left in Paris until other troops came up from the south. The Supreme Commander instructed the 12th Army Group commander to handle the matter as he thought best. General Bradley arranged for the French division to remain for the rest of August. On 3 September, General de Gaulle asked that Leclerc's force be sent eastward, saying that order and calm had been restored to the capital and it was desirable that


French troops be used in active operations. The French units, which had proudly carried their country's standard back to their nation's capital, returned to battle on 8 September.33 Many months of battle lay ahead, but they were now able to feel that the period of defeats was at an end and that France, by her own efforts and the support of Great Britain and the United States, was on the road to victory and reconstruction.


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1. See above, p. 83.

2. Grigg to Eisenhower, 27 Jan 44; Hilldring to Barker, 17 Dec 43; CCS to Eisenhower, 31 Jan 44. All in SHAEF SGS 123 Invasion Currency, I.

3. Eisenhower to CCS for CCAC, VOG 32, 4 May 44; Eisenhower to CCS for CCAC, VOG 53, 25 May 44; Smith to McCloy, S-52510, 25 May 44; Hilldring to Holmes, 41408, 25 May 44 (written on 25 May, but not sent until the following day), SHAEF SGS 123 Invasion Currency, I.

4. New York Times, June 8, 1944; Eisenhower to CCS, VOG 65, 9 Jun 44, SHAEF SGS 123 Invasion Currency, I.

5. New York Times, July 10, 11, 1944.

6. Prime Minister to President, 686, 9 Jun 44; Prime Minister to President, 696, 10 Jun 44; Paraphrase of Msg, President to Prime Minister, 12 Jun 44, cited in Hilldring to Holmes, W-50351, 13 Jun 44. All in SHAEF SGS 123 Invasion Currency, I.

7. Marshall, King, and Arnold to President, S-53809, 14 Jun 44, Eisenhower personal file.

8. Lt Col D. R. Ellias, Preliminary Report on Reconnaissance of British Beachhead, 9-12 Jun 44, SHAEF SGS 014 France (Oct 43-Aug 44), Civil Affairs Dir for France, I.

9. Notes on de Gaulle visit, 14 Jun 44; Roosevelt to Marshall, 14 Jun 44. Both in SHAEF SGS 092 France, French Relations, II. Holmes to McCloy, S-54099, 18 Jun 44; Holmes to McCloy, S-54530, 23 Jun 44. Both in Eisenhower personal file.

10. Text of addresses to Consultative Assembly on 18 and 26 June 1944, de Gaulle, Discours et Messages, pp. 444-50; Smith to Hilldring, 4 Jul 44, SHAEF Civil Affairs CCS Dirs.

11. Smith to Hilldring, 4 Jul 44, SHAEF Civil Affairs CCS Dirs.

12. Holmes, WD, to Smith, 8 Jul 44, SHAEF Civil Affairs CCS Dirs: Interview with press, 10 July 1944, in de Gaulle, Discours et Messages; York Times, July 6-13, 1944; John J. McCloy, ASW, to Stimson (giving the text of message from Roosevelt to a Certain Naval Person [Churchill] in which the President informed Churchill of his decision), Diary Office CinC, 11 Jul 44.

13. Koenig to Smith, 24 May 44, sub: Organization of Comd of FFI, SHAEF SGS 322 FFI, Command and Control of French Forces of the Interior.

14. Smith to Koenig. 31 May 44; Koenig to Smith, 9 Jun 44; Proclamation of French Republic Provisional Government, 9 Jun 44; Smith to Koenig, 12 Jun 44. All in SHAEF SGS 322 FFI, Command and Control of French Forces of the Interior.

15. SHAEF Dir to Gen Koenig, 17 Jun 44, SHAEF SGS 322 FFI, Command and Control of the French Forces of the Interior.

16. SHAEF Dir, 23 Jun 44, sub: Designation of Comdr of FFI, SHAEF SGS 322 FFI, Command and Control of the French Forces of the Interior.

17. Notes of decisions made at mtg held at SHAEF, Whiteley, Koenig, et al., 10 Jul 44, SHAEF SGS 322 FFI, Command and Control of French Forces of the Interior; SHAEF Dir to Koenig, 1 Aug 44; SHAEF G-3 Memo, 21 Aug 44, sub: Formation of Etat-Major FFI, SHAEF G-3 322-8 Operational Dir to SFHQ.

18. Rpt, SFHQ to SHAEF, 10th Monthly Rpt (for Jun 44), 10 Jul 44, SHAEF SGS 319.1/10 Monthly SOE/SO Rpts (SFHQ). For detailed study of this subject see The French Forces of the Interior, prep in French Resistance Unit, Hist Sec, ETOUSA, 1944, MS, Pt. II, Chs. I, II, OCMH files.

19. Rpt, SFHQ to SHAEF, I 1th Monthly Rpt (for Jul 44), 10 Aug 44, SHAEF SGS 319.1/10 Monthly SOE/SO Rpts (SFHQ).

20. Report by the Supreme Commander to the Combined Chiefs of Staff the Operations in Europe of the Allied Expeditionary Force, 6 June 1944 to 8 Map 1945 (Washington, 1946), p. 41.

21. The French Forces of Interior, Pt. II, Chs. I, II; Conquer: The Story of Ninth Army, pp. 49-50.

22. 4th and 5th plenary sessions, 21, 23 May 43, CCS Final Rpt to President and Prime Minister, CCS 242/6, 25 May 43, Trident Conf Min, Morgan to SHAEF G-3, 14 Jan 44; Record of conversation between General d'Astier de la Vigerie and General Eisenhower, 22 January 1944, by Comdr. Tracy B. Kittredge (with corrections and additions by General Eisenhower); SHAEF to Br COS, 28 Jan 44; Morgan to SHAEF G-3, 28 Feb 44. All in SHAEF SGS 381 France, French Participation in OVERLORD, I.

23. Memo of info from CG, 12 A Gp, 23 Aug 44, atchd to V Corps FO 21 (photostat), V Corps Operations in the ETO, 6 January 1942-9 May 1945 (printed in Paris, 1945), p. 200; 21 A Gp, Operational Situation and Dir, M-519, 20 Aug 44, SHAEF SGS 381 Post OVERLORD Planning, I (a). Compare 21 Army Group order with statement in Montgomery, Normandy to the Baltic, p. 172, to the effect that "Paris should be captured when General Patton considered that a suitable time had arrived." It seems, instead, that General Bradley was the commanding general. For General Patton's view on the entry into Paris, see his War as I Knew It, pp. 116-17.

24. This and succeeding paragraphs, unless otherwise noted, are based on The French Forces of the Interior, Pt. II, Ch. II, Sec. 6, The Liberation of Paris.

25. Ltr, de Gaulle to Eisenhower, 21 Aug 44, with penciled annotations by Eisenhower, SHAEF SGS 092 France, French Relations, II.

26. Memo of info from CG 12th A Gp, 23 Aug 44 (photostat), V Corps Operations in the ETO, p. 200. Cf. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, pp. 390-92.

27. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, p. 392. Ltr, Gerow to Koenig, 28 Aug 44; Ltr, Koenig to Gerow, 31 Aug 44. Photostats of both in V Corps Operations in the ETO, p. 209.

28. CCS to Eisenhower, 17 Aug 44, Eisenhower personal file.

29. Eisenhower to CCS (two msgs), 16 Aug 44; Wilson to SHAEF, 17 Aug 44; Eaker to de Gaulle, 17 Aug 44; Wilson to Eisenhower, 18 Aug 44. All in SHAEF cbl log.

30. Col Norman H. Vissering to SHAEF, 262343 and 262357, Aug 44, SHAEF cbl log.

31. Diary Office CinC, 26 Aug 44, entry written by General Eisenhower's British military assistant, Colonel Gault. Eisenhower to Montgomery, 26 Aug 44; Montgomery to Eisenhower, 27 Aug 44. Both in Eisenhower personal file.

32. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe, pp. 297-98. When this statement by General Eisenhower appeared, General de Gaulle denied that he had asked for such support. He declared that his position was strong, since Paris on 25 August had recognized the authority of the provisional government by unanimous and indescribable enthusiasm and that the move of American divisions through the French capital several days later had nothing to do with the re-establishment of national sovereignty. He had saluted the U.S. forces when they marched through the city but had "not at all asked for them." New York Times, December 7, 1948.

33. De Gaulle to Eisenhower, 26 Aug 44, SHAEF SGS 092 France, French Relations, II. Eisenhower to 12th A Gp comdr, 29 Aug 44; de Gaulle to Eisenhower, 3 Sep 44. Both in SHAEF cbl log. Movement order, 7 Sep 44, 2d French Armd Div Opn Orders.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Charles Hardinger for the HyperWar Foundation