Philippe Marie Leclerc
Leclerc, Philippe Marie
(pseudonym of P. M. de Hauteclocque). Born Nov. 28, 1902, in Belloy-Saint-Léonard, Somme Department; died Nov. 28, 1947, near Colomb-Béchar, Algeria. Marshal of France (1952, posthumously).
Leclerc graduated from the Saint Cyr Military Academy in 1924. During World War II (1939–45) he was a major. He was wounded in 1940 in France and taken prisoner by the Germans, but he escaped to Britain and joined the ranks of the Free French, adopting the name Lederc to protect his family in occupied France. Leclerc was appointed governor of French Cameroon and commander of the Free French troops in French Equatorial Africa. In 1942–43 these troops, commanded by Leclerc, fought their way through 2,400 km of desert from the Lake Chad region to Tunisia and became part of the British Eighth Army. Reorganized into the French 2nd Armored Division, these troops, still commanded by Ledere, participated in the liberation of Tunisia (March to May 1943), in the Normandy operation of 1944, and in the liberation of France. On Aug. 24, 1944, Leclerc’s division was the first unit to enter Paris and helped the Parisian insurgents. He was appointed commander in chief of the French troops in the Far East in 1945 and, on behalf of France, signed Japan’s statement of surrender. After the war he was inspector general of the French troops in North Africa. Leclerc died in an airplane crash.