Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Daring Henri Giraud

April 17th marks the 75th anniversary of French General Henri Giraud’s escape from the Nazis. A brave military man, this was not Giraud’s first escape.

Born in Paris, France in 1879, Giraud graduated from St. Cyr in 1900 before joining the French Army. Sent to North Africa in 1914 as part of the 4th Zouave Regiment, he was captured in the Battle of Guise. He managed to escape two months later.

Surviving WWI, he remained in the Army. Giraud served in Constantinople on the staff of General Francet de Esperey before being sent to Morocco in 1922 where he was promoted to Captain and received the Legion d’Honneur. He eventually became the military governor of Metz.

Fast forward to World War II when Giraud was assigned to command the 7th Army. Sent to Holland in May 1940, the army held off the German Army at Breda before being sent to the Ardennes to try to block the Germans. Unfortunately, the campaign did not go well, and Giraud was captured at Wassigny. He was imprisoned at Konigstein castle in Dresden.

For two years, Giraud planned his escape. Using a code in his letters home, he informed his family of his intent to break out of the prison. He taught himself German and memorized a map of the area. After collecting twine, wire, and bedsheets, he created a 150 foot rope that he used to lower himself out a window and down the castle wall. (Remember at this point he was 63 years old and had been on prison food for two years!)

Shaving off his mustache, he disguised himself and made his way to the Swiss border. He was able to slip back into Vichy France where he tried to convince Petain to resist German occupation. The French government was not interested in his input, but refused to turn him over to the Nazis. Shortly thereafter, he was contacted by the Allies and taken to North Africa by submarine where he was part of the invasion of Algiers. Two months later, French Admiral Darlan was assassinated, and Giraud was elected to succeed Darlan.

A man of strong opinions, Giraud’s views differed greatly from de Gaulle’s. The two men disagreed regularly, with de Gaulle publicly criticizing Giraud on several occasions. As a result, Giraud retired in 1944. He wrote two books about his military career and his escapes before passing away in March, 1949.

Be sure to leave a comment for your chance to win Return to the Misty Shore by Bonnie Leon! Winner will be announced in the Weekly Windup on April 17.

A freelance writer for over ten years, Linda is the author of Love's Harvest (a fictionalized modernization of the book of Ruth) and Love Found in Sherwood Forest. Under Fire, the first book in her trilogy about war correspondent/amateur sleuth Ruth Brown will be released this summer. Get to know more about Linda on her website: www.LindaShentonMatchett.com


  1. French General Henri Giraud is a new unsung hero for me. He definitely possessed fortitude, determination and knew what and where he needed to be. Thank you for sharing Linda. Easter blessings.

  2. Really interesting person! Resourceful and at his age! Thanks for the history lesson!

  3. I never fail to learn something from reading this blog! Thank you and Happy Easter!