1) Paul Victor Louis Marie Legentilhomme, or for short,
Paul Legentilhomme, was born in Valognes, France, in 1884. Valognes, Normandy, is a small town close to the area where the
D-Day invasion took place in 1940. In his early life, Paul attended the St. Cyr cadet academy and was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant
and later Lieutenant shortly after he enrolled in the military.
2) At the age of 30 in World War 1, while
he was fighting in the Battle of Neufchateau in Belgium, his unit was caught and he was held captive by the Germans. This
interuppted his military career because of his four-year captivity. After the last year, he was finally freed and granted
the title of Captain in the military.
3) Between 1920 and 1938,
Paul was given many more promotions and traveled to a variety of destinations, ranging from Europe to Africa. This was
the real start of his military traveling career. His first assignment was Chief of Staff in Madagascar. Later, from
1937 to 1938, he was Commanding Officer of the Senegalese Tirailleurs Regiment and Brigadier General in Senegal. Shortly before
World War 2 began, Paul traveled to French Somaliliand. (Now present day Dijibouti, Egypt). He was named Commander in Chief
of the French military there.
When the French-Vichy government announced the armistice on June 22, 1940, Paul felt devastated. He issued his General
Order No. 4, denouncing the armistice and announcing his intention to fight on the British side. He then appealed to
the French Forces to continue fighting against the Germans and tried hard to recruit men to the Free French side. Most
of them were too scared to fight against the Germans and the Vichy government.
5) In August 1940 Paul left Somaliland and traveled to London, United Kingdom by ship.
6) On October 31, 1940, the Vichy government took away his French citizenship. It was
probably not a very big deal to Paul because he wanted to keep fighting with the Free French against Germany in opposition
to the Vichy government.
7) Paul accepted two promotions as a Major General in
the Free French Army and as Commander in Chief of the Free French Forces in Sudan and Eritrea. He worked diligently under
Field Marshal Archibald Wavell, who was operating the war against the Italian Tenth Army.
8) Later in 1941, Paul commanded the First Free French division
and his own Gentforce division during the Syria-Lebanon Campaign.
9) Before the fall of Damascus, Paul's arm was wounded in a fight
of the British and Free French against the Vichy and German forces. Paul traveled with General Georges Catroux, a Free French commander, to celebrate the fall of Damascus to the
10) That same year the Vichy government condemned him for treason to the
11) But, Paul ignored Vichy and continued his job in the
military and soon his hard work paid off. On September 9, 1942, he received a prestigious award from General Charles de Gaulle:
the Compagnon de la Liberation cross. By serving the Fatherland, Paul achieved Victory, according to the motto of the cross.
12) In late 1942, in his continuing journey, Paul was promoted to High Commissioner of the
French possessions in the Indian Ocean. After he traveled to Madagascar again, serving as the Governor-General and later General
Officer Commander in Chief.
13) When Paris was liberated, Paul served as Military Governor
of Paris and was promoted to Army General before he retired in 1947.
The most interesting fact about Paul Legentilhomme was that he was one of the few foreign men who was honored by receiving
the American award called the Legion of Merit. He earned this honor when he was a leader in the Free French Forces. I have
evidence to support my claim. If you look carefully examine the medals shown at the photo at left, a larger image of the Legion
of Merit is shown underneath.