Tripti Joshi (Editor)

Pierre Jeanpierre

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Years of service  1930-1958
Name  Pierre Jeanpierre

Service/branch  French Army
Allegiance  France
Pierre Jeanpierre wwwsoldatsdefrancefrphotoartdefault14458131
Nickname(s)  Foreign Legion Para Legend Soleil - The Sun (code radio indicative) Jardin (resistance alias)
Rank  Legion French Lieutenant Colonel
Commands held  1e BEP (1948-1955) 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion (1e BEP) I formation 2nd in Command Adjoint to Pierre Segretain 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion (1e BEP) II formation 1st in Command as of November 1st, 1954 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion (1e BEP) III formation 1st in Command 1e REP (1955-1956),(1957-1958) † 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment (1e REP) 1st in Command
Battles/wars  World War II Phoney War invasion of the free zone First Indochina War Suez Crisis Algerian War Battle of Algiers Batlle of the Frontiers
Awards  Grand Officer of the Legion d’honneur Croix de Guerre 1939–1945 Croix de guerre des TOE Cross for Military Valour Resistance Medal w/Rosette Colonial Medal Indochina Campaign commemorative medal North Africa Security and Order Operations Commemorative Medal
Died  May 29, 1958, Guelma, Algeria
Battles and wars  World War II, Phoney War, First Indochina War, Suez Crisis, Algerian War, Battle of Algiers
Unit  131e regiment d'infanterie, 1st Foreign Regiment

Pierre Paul Jeanpierre (14 March 1912 – 29 May 1958) was a Frenchman, a soldier of legend in the French Foreign Legion who initially served in the French Army. He fought during World War II, the First Indochina War, the Suez Crisis and the Algerian War, where he was killed in action. Apart from a short effective time in the French resistance and days in deportation, he served exclusively since 1936 non-stop with Foreign Legion units, most notably along the entire history making of the Foreign Airborne Battalions and Regiments, and more particularly as regimental commander of the 3 time reconstituted 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion becoming the 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment (1er REP) until his demise. Uncomparable prestigious commander, colonel Jeanpierre will always remain the symbol of the 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment. Pierre advanced and placed his foreign regiment within the best assault troops amongst the French Armed Forces elite. In French Algeria, the name Jeanpierre surpassed the reputation that of Bigeard, with this nuance however: Pierre never did anything to showcase nor claim the later.


Pierre was known exclusively, quite rare, to train in and out of combat operations the legionnaires he commanded while also his men forming the battalions and regiment were known as Jeanpierre 's legionnaires or Jeanpierre's Regiment.

Early life

Pierre was born in 1912 at Belfort in a French family. His father was an active duty career officer and captain in the 42nd Infantry Regiment (French: 42e Régiment d'Infanterie), killed during World War I in 1916 at Marne without ever seeing his family since the outbreak of the war in August 1914. Pierre was raised by the paternal sight of his mother and enlisted in the infantry at barely 18 years of age.

Prior to World War II

Pierre enlisted in the 131st Infantry Regiment (French: 131e Régiment d'Infanterie) as a regular infantryman in 1930 and worked being seconded from the enlisted corps by passing by all the non-commissioned ranks, graduating second from the Infantry and Tank School of Saint-Maixent as a Second-Lieutenant on October 1, 1936. Pierre's accomplished graduation ranking allowed him to choose the Foreign Legion's 1st Foreign Regiment 1er RE, a combat command corps which he wouldn't leave non-stop until his demise while making a Legion Lieutenant on October 1, 1938.

Phoney War & Battle of France

Pierre endured the Phoney War "Drôle de Guerre" and was put at disposition. He was also deeply marked by the defeat of 1940.

Syria–Lebanon Campaign

During World War II, Pierre also served with distinction in the Syria–Lebanon Campaign 6ème REI, deployed in 1939 to the French Levant and took part in Mediterranean operations in 1940 at the corps formation of the 6th Foreign Infantry Regiment 6ème REI part of the Foreign Legion Group. Following combats in the Syria–Lebanon Campaign which he did not partake in confronting other French contingents, Pierre refused to join the Free French Forces from the principle of sticking with his idea of a Tricolour Flag.

Resistance and deportation

Pierre joined instead the French Resistance under the alias "Jardin" and integrated the ranks of the movement Ceux de la Libération; recruiting and arming over 60 volunteers; (those of the liberation). Pierre was arrested at Orléans on January 19, 1944 and was deported to as a prisoner interred in the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp after passing by the grouping camp of de Compiègne. With forced labor, Pierre would be among only 2 survivors out 45 in his stalag when the camp was liberated by the Allies on May 5, 1945. Liberated and healed, Pierre was nominated as a Captain at the center of recruitment of the Legion in Kehl. In July 1948, learning that in Algeria would be created a foreign parachute battalion, he volunteered, rejoined Sidi Bel Abbès then Philippeville where he was brevetted as a legion paratrooper. 3 month later, the battalion was in the high region of Indochina.


1er Bataillon Etranger de Parachutiste, 1er BEP (July 1, 1948 - September 1, 1955) - I,II,III Formations -

Pierre sailed to Indochina as second-in-command to Pierre Segrétain in the (1er BEP, I Formation) of the 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion (1er BEP) in 1948. During the evacuation of RC 4, route de sang , he and the battalion jumped over That Khe in a traditional Foreign Legion battlefield while facing an enemy 20 times superior in numbers. Jeanpierre, owing to his energy, his savoir-faire around the terrain and his qualities of a combatant chief, managed to repel waves of incessant hellish ambushes by inheriting over much of the leadership of the battalion after Segrétain was killed leading the battalion. On October 1950, tasked with taking Dong Khé during the disaster of Cao Bang, the mission was to save column "Charton" which was unfolding. Hardly short of audacity, he held the line until the last, divided the survivors into small groups and reled the charge of 23 legionnaires, 3 sous-officiers, 2 officers to That Khé where a French garrison should still hold standing. From the hundreds of legionnaires that constituted the 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion (1er BEP, I Formation), only 12 men remained almost capable still. Commandant Segrétain was killed during combat at arms and Lieutenant Faulque fell pierced with projectiles, none of which were mortal. Seriously wounded, he was made prisoner and liberated 4 years later; he would be part of the troop of the living-dead which the Viet Minh would give back to France. the 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion (1e BEP, I Formation) with the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment were annihilated in Coxa. Following, Pierre rejoined the Legion in Mascara where he retook his passion, the instruction and forming of les jeunes legionnaires. The 1er BEP was recreated (1er BEP, II Formation); however, the last combats in Indochina would take place without his leadership. A Para legionnaire's legionnaire, Pierre returned to Indochina to command the (1er BEP, II Formation) of the reconstituted 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion (1er BEP, II Formation) after its second annihilation at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Reconstituted in a (1er BEP, III Formation) on May 19, 1954; Pierre took command of the 3rd reconstituted 1e BEP (III Formation) on November 1, 1954, the same day in which the Algerian War commenced. The 1er BEP (III Formation) left Indochina on February 8, 1955. The 1er BEP totaled 5 citations at the orders of the armed forces and the fourragère of the colors of the Médaille militaire. The 1er BEP became the 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment (1er REP) in Algeria on September 1, 1955.

1st Foreign Parachute Regiment, 1er REP

An unbreakable marked survivor of deportation, Pierre was physically robust, built and solid; a demanding charismatic manly allure that served him well in training, commanding and leading Legion officers, Sous-officiers, and legionnaires. The Regiment, Legion officers, Legion sous-officiers and formed legionnaires under Pierre's command owed and showed to his allure, character and will while also the physical build of his legionnaires showed his elite. Pierre was very passionate about mainly training his legionnaires; they were his reflection and idea of real men looking standing; elite robust battalions and regiment, a mission he always insisted and sought to in person properly all the time in and outside combat operations around the world regardless.

Suez Crisis

After the 1st Foreign Parachute Battalion 1e BEP became the 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment 1e REP, Pierre was passed over for command on February 6, 1956, instead serving as second-in-command, this time to Colonel Albert Brothier which he assumed but was deeply disappointed. The regiment was put on alert on August 1, 1956 after the preparation of the campaign in Egypt; Pierre embarked on October 31, however, his views and reservations of this disembarking were well known. This beautiful instrument of combat which became a regiment didn't serve any worthy cause. Nevertheless, a new mission was confined to Pierre: in Algeria, put an end to this urbain terrorism, a police mission which no one wants or likes but must be executed successfully. Pierre retook command of the 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment in March, 1957.


1er Regiment Etranger de Parachutiste, 1er REP (September 1, 1955 - April 30, 1961)

Pierre reassumed command as the regimental commander following the leave of Colonel Brothier at command headquarters of the 10th Parachute Division commanded by Brigadier General Jacques Massu. Partnering operations with Pierre, was the 9th Parachute Chasseur Regiment 9ème RCP commanded by regimental commander colonel Buchond. This new mission was complicated and implied certain techniques of clandestine counter-insurgency operations, which legion officers and a couple of legion sous-officiers authorized to accomplish this difficult task. Leading closely details of operations to his usual requirements, Pierre was caught in a grenade blast that affected his legs and ability to lead his para air assaults. Nevertheless, and hardly ever short of committing usual leadership, Pierre lead and carried on despite always for his legionnaires.

The 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment 1e REP won fame and success for security operations against terrorism led by Pierre in Algeria; however, this regimental commander wanted to pursue operations in the mountains. As he led the regiment throughout the summer of 1957, his legs slowed him down and he started to experience difficulties in walking. Consequently, this para legend of legionnaires adopted helicopters which would allow him to be present anywhere while surveilling all operations and leading assaults from the ground. His stationary code radio name was " Soleil" (The Sun). Pierre now became a master of helicopter operations.

On January 19, 1958, the 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment 1er REP left the Sahara after defeating the terrorist groups which wanted to compromise the security routes of oil convoys. The master of helicopter operations is morally apt and professional. Following the petrol route in the Sahara, combat operations engaged the regiment non-stop in the region of Guelma. Pierre lead para assaults from the air then ground and his legionnaires followed. On January 24, 75 rebels were put outside their combat element by stripping them 6 heavy machine guns. Until March 1 and during 3 months, 1300 arms out of which 120 automatic machine guns were stripped from militants which lost their presence in the region of Guelma, that is some 600 unarmed terrorists.

Pierre unfortunately, had at his command not only his regiment but also support units and troop unit sectors that could be available for him. At his disposition were several helicopters out which one <<Alouette>>. Pierre was all over the air, he permanently hovered above his companies. Launching his ideas, Pierre perfectly applied putting into motion various tactics resulting in; night operations, fire artillery support, heavy helicopter transport, aerial observations and aerial bombardments.

Pierre privileged intelligence, speed and surprise to apprehend an adversary with no escape. Pierre's most difficult idea: launch the assault by close range corps-a-corps combat, the essential role of the infantry and choc troops. Pierre Paul Jeanpierre lead the usual example in the field amongst his legionnaires and also slept sitting on the terrain, retaking habits adopted in Indochina. On May 13, 1958, Pierre was found conducting and focusing on tasked operations while events stir up in Algeria, he considered his mission unchanged. Accordingly, the regiment made way towards the mountains and canyons; one more operation to reduce militants and terrorist activity in the zones of operations. While providing mobile leadership from the air followed by ground assaults, recon intel and direction to his combat companies of legionnaires from the "Alouette" in which he was hovering on top close a little mountain; a shot strikes Jeanpierre against the pilot. Shortly immediately after, Captain Ysquierdo takes the radio post:" Soleil est mort, the Sun is Dead ". The legendary Para Legionnaire leading; fell to the enemy on May 28, 1958 and following along their commander also, Legion officers and a couple of hundred legionnaires.


This war chief "chef de guerre", a veteran of numerous conflicts, was feared in reason of his hard, harsh and demanding requirements in combat, sometimes passing the status of operations before the life of his legionnaires. Nevertheless, his legionnaires admired him since he always trained them, led and never asked them to conduct an act in which he would not lead the example first; the essence and corps of a Legion Officer's conduct becoming and leading even from the air followed by ground assaults. Legionnaires mainly and legion officers under his tasked orders and training, commanded a great deal of loyalty to Pierre.

His portrait is exposed amongst the most prestigious officers in the Legion in the honorary La Salle d'Honneur in the French Foreign Legion Museum at Aubagne.

In the annex of the report of the battle of the frontiers (French: Bataille des Frontières) reserved exclusively for, regimental commander Colonel Buchond insists on:

<< the work of a single Commandant assisted by only one Captain and who only in one day mounts 4 para combat operations each time mounting at least a dozen of para combat companies, assists to 3 briefings in three different places, ensures the air sortie of 8 para air assaults, conducts 3 to 4 hours of flying in Alouette, moves his command post 3 times>>...

cited << this company Commandant is placed the 28th of April at 1000 by helicopter only 200 meters from the rebels, demolishes an entire section, brings back 3 automatic arms, is found engaged at 1800, embarked in vehicles at night, hits the road for 4 hours, is found at midnight at 20 km from there, engaged in combat till the morning, repacked at 0800, is engaged again at 1200 noon time after 4 hours truck drives, flown by helicopter at 1500 and is found 20 km from combat engaging two companies of rebels...>>

The author André Maurois rendered hommage and tribute with a couple of words :

"Un héros au cœur généreux et au caractère détestable, une assez bonne combinaison pour un chef "
<< a hero with a generous heart and a detestable character, a fairly good combination for a chief >>


The funeral of Pierre Paul Jeanpierre was the equivalent of a State Funeral with several honorific commemorative ceremonies. On the 31st of May; Gelma and its more than 10,000 Muslim inhabitants rendered a huge and grandiose hommage to Colonel Jeanpierre. From January to May, the legionnaires had lost 110 men, Jeanpierre was their 3rd. In 1959, the grande place of Zeralda, the garrison of the 1er REP and the chapel bore his name. All; local, foreign, senior French military and civilian authorities, specially, Para commanders, other military commanders, came all the way from France and elsewhere to pay their respects.

Jeanpierre 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment 1er REP

Honoring his service and their grandiose robust being, Legion Officers and Legionnaires of the elite battalions of the 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment 1er REP conducted a monumental ceremony and paraded in a national day custom.

Honours and awards

This soldier of Legend was injured twice in battle and is cited 9 times out of which 6 are at the orders of the armed forces, and several other awards not including:

  • Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur
  • Croix de guerre 1939-1945 (3 citations)
  • Croix de guerre des Théatres d'Opérations Exterieures (5 citations)
  • Croix de la Valeur Militaire (3 citations)
  • Médaille de la Résistance avec rosette (Medal of the Resistance with Officer's Rosette)
  • Médaille coloniale
  • Médaille commémorative de la campagne d'Indochine
  • Médaille commémorative des opérations de sécurité et de maintien de l'ordre en Afrique du Nord
  • Promotion class « Lieutenant-Colonel Jeanpierre » École militaire interarmes ESM

    The 146th promotion of the École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr chose the promotion Lieutenant-Colonel Jeanpierre. The song of the promotion recalls the arms celebration of lieutenant-colonel Jeanpierre.


  • The garrison and camp of the 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment carried his name in 1959.
  • The grande place and chapel of Zéralda bears his hame in 1959.
  • The "stage" 001 (1960) of academy officers of reserve in the Cherchell military academy bears his name.
  • One of the Corniche prep classes of the Corniche Lyautey bears his name.
  • A promotion EOR Infantry of St Cyr Coetquidan (Fev.Mars.Avril.Mai 1972) bears his name.
  • A square in Nice bears his name in which a commemorative plaque has been erected.
  • An avenue in Cagnes-sur-Mer and the Le Cannet bears his name.
  • A roundaabout in Aix-en-Provence bears his name.
  • A road in Guelma, Algeria bears his name.
  • A road in Nevers bears his name.
  • A road in Belfort bears his name.
  • References

    Pierre Jeanpierre Wikipedia

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