Free France's Lion: The Life of Philippe Leclerc, de Gaulle's Greatest General

Free France's Lion: The Life of Philippe Leclerc, de Gaulle's Greatest General


View All Available Formats & Editions
Usually ships within 6 days


But for his early death, many Frenchmen believe Leclerc would have been their greatest figure to emerge from World War II. De Gaulle himself admitted to his son-in-law that he gave up smoking when Leclerc died, in order to retain his health in case France needed him, because Leclerc was no longer there.

From the fall of France until 1943, Leclerc dovetailed his operations with the British effort in North Africa, establishing himself as a dynamic combat leader in the battles against Rommel. But once the conflict shifted to European soil he became even more prominent as the commander of the 2nd French Armored Division (the famous 2e DB). For the next two years he was under the operational control of either Patton's Third Army, as in the Normandy breakout, Hodges' First Army, at the Westwall, or Patch's Seventh Army in the south.

His career not only includes the liberation of Paris, for which he is most famous, but the retaking of Strasbourg and the reduction of the Colmar Pocket. Helping to spearhead the advance into Germany itself, Leclerc’s armor comprised a rock upon which American units could rely, and its waving the tricolor during the Allied counter-invasion went far toward retrieving French prestige in the war. By the German surrender in May 1945, Leclerc is one of very few Frenchmen of whom it can be said that he never stopped fighting to regain France's freedom, from the debacle of 1940 right through to the end.

After VE-Day Leclerc was dispatched to reassert French authority in Indo-China, an uphill task given the atrophy suffered by the French colonial government due to its isolation from its homeland and local Japanese superiority. While being partly successful in the south and Cambodia, Leclerc soon discovered that the Viet Minh were harder to dislodge in the North, and that Ho Chi Minh was more than a match for frequently changing postwar French governments. Recognizing that France had neither the means nor the will to recover control, Leclerc advised his government to "negotiate at all costs." This didn't happen, leading to Dien Bien Phu eight years later and thence to US involvement.

Surprisingly, Leclerc has never yet been the subject of a thorough biography in English. Nevertheless many Americans and Englishmen will inevitably have noticed the plethora of monuments to Leclerc in any moderately sized French town. With a fast-paced narrative covering combat at all levels of command and a foreword by Martin Windrow, author of The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam, Free France's Lion will make fascinating reading for any serious student of the full scope of World War II.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612000688
Publisher: Casemate Publishers
Publication date: 11/19/2011
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 697,835
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Of Anglo-Dutch descent, William Mortimer-Moore was born in 1958 and educated at Dean Close School and University College, Cardiff. He has always wanted to write and, after a detour involving advertising copywriting, property, building and a couple of unpublished novels, William decided to address his love of history and France by writing this biography of Leclerc. He lives in Cheltenham in the United Kingdom where he is presently writing a book about Paris during 1944.

Table of Contents

Foreword Martin Windrow vii

Maps xi

Preface - Death in The Desert 1

Chapter 1 A True Son of France 15

Chapter 2 La Chute-The Fall of France 51

Chapter 3 De Gaulle's Man in Africa 72

Chapter 4 Annoying The Italians 95

Chapter 5 Consolidating, Raiding, And Planning 125

Chapter 6 A Very English Frenchman 158

Chapter 7 "A Gigantic Effort is Required Of Us" 193

Chapter 8 The 2e Db In England 227

Chapter 9 First Blood - Alencon 252

Chapter 10 "Mouvement Immediate Sur Paris" 285

Chapter 11 Dompaire and Baccarat 323

Chapter 12 The Last Winter of The War 346

Chapter 13 A Good End to A Good War 381

Chapter 14 Indochine 405

Chapter 15 Back to French North Africa 450

Acknowledgments 461

Notes 463

Bibliography 492

Index 497

Customer Reviews