1,038 Companions of the Liberation
When the decree to deactivate the Order of the Liberation was signed on January 23rd, 1946, there were exactly 1,036 Companions of the Liberation, five French communities and eighteen combat units that had received the award.
Out of the 1,036 Companions, 271 received the award posthumously and 65, who were already Companions, died in combat or serving their country before the end of the war. More than 700 actually survived the war.
Approximately two thirds of the Companions of the Liberation had served in the ranks of the Free French Forces, and another third were part of the Resistance movement inside France.
The complete list of Companions of the Liberation
The list of surviving Companions of the Liberation
Something that should be pointed out is the remarkable variety of social, religious and political backgrounds of the Companions. Among them were students, people from the military, engineers, peasants, industrial leaders, intellectuals, diplomats, laborers, members of the clergy, African infantrymen, town councilors and medical doctors.
The Order and its members from the military
A significant part of the Order is made up of people from the military. 750 Companions were part of the military when they were awarded the Cross of the Liberation. Some of them were already active, but most of them were in the reserves or enlisted voluntarily. Among the Companions of the Liberation were 587 officers (23 of whom were general officers), 127 were non-commissioned officers et 45 soldiers.
Women in the Order
Only six women have received the Cross of the Liberation :
- Berty Albrecht, co-founder of the Combat movement. She died in the Fresnes prison in 1943.
- Laure Diebold, liaison agent of the Mithridate network and secretary of Jean Moulin. She was deported.
- Maria Hackin, mission leader with her husband. She disappeared at sea in February of 1941.
- Marcelle Henry of the VIC escape network. She was deported and died soon after she returned.
- Simone Michel-Lévy, of the P.T.T. resistance movement. She died after she was deported.
- Emilienne Moreau-Evrard, a World War I hero, member of the Brutus network, and later a member of the Provisional Advisory Assembly.
The youngest members of the Order
More than 10% of the Companions of the Liberation were under 20 when war was declared in September of 1939. Among those who sacrificed their lives are :
- Henri Fertet, of the "Guy Mocquet" irregular forces, was sentenced to death by a German military court, and was executed by a firing squad when he was only 16 years old in Besançon on September 26th, 1943.
- Georges Taylor, of the 2nd Parachute Chasseur (infantrymen) Regiment, who fell in combat in Holland in April of 1945. He was 20 years old.
- Pierre Ruibet, who was 18 when he sabotaged the German ammunition depot in Jonzac, was discovered and preferred to blow up with it rather than abandon.
- David Régnier, of the "Defense of France" movement, was injured during the Ronquerolles combats in June of 1944, taken away with his weapons still in his hands, and executed by a German firing squad when he was 18 years old.
- Mathurin Henrio, was captured and, because he refused to give any information to the enemy, he was murdered when he was only 15 years old, in February of 1944.
Foreigners in the Order
The decree of 29 January 1941 provided for a Cross of the Liberation award and Order membership for the foreigners having rendered outstanding services for the Free France cause. All together, 57 foreigners, representing 19 different nationalities, were named Companions of the Liberation. The most famous among them are :
- General Dwight Eisenhower - Companion on May 28th, 1945.
- His Majesty Mohammed Ben Youssef (Mohammed V) - Companion on June 29th, 1945.
- Sir Winston Churchill - Companion on June 18th, 1958.
- His Majesty George VI, King of England - Companion on April 2nd, 1960.
It should also be remarked that 15% of Companions of the Liberation are from another country, either from the old French colonial territories or elsewhere abroad.
After the war, certain Companions took on important posts, both in the civilian world and the military. And twenty of them had posts in a variety of Ministries.
Other outstanding members of the Order :
Five Prime Ministers : René Pleven, Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury, Georges Bidault, Jacques Chaban-Delmas and Pierre Messmer.
Politicians such as Alexandre Parodi, Jean Sainteny, Michel Bokanowski, André Boulloche, Maurice Schumann, Pierre-Henri Teitgen, Robert Galley, André Jarrot, Christian Pineau, Alain Savary and Jacques Baumel.
All together, the Order of the Liberation has also had 36 ministers, 71 Parliament representatives, 13 senators and 34 mayors.
In the military the Order was represented by 80 general officers and admirals and three marshals (Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, Jean-Marie de Lattre de Tassigny and Pierre-Marie Koenig).
Companions of the Liberation served the country in diplomatic posts, such as Geoffroy de Courcel, Dominique Ponchardier, Gaston Palewski and Emmanuel d'Harcourt.
The Order also had representatives in the Clergy, such as Cardinal Jules Saliège, old Archbishop of Toulouse, Father Starcky, Father Michel Stahl (a pastor) and Father Savey. All together there were 15 members of the clergy in the Order of the Liberation.
In the Order there were also engineers, such as Louis Armand, member of the Institute, great legal experts such as René Cassin (Nobel Peace Prize in 1968) and 36 medical doctors such as José Aboulker and François Jacob (Physiology Nobel Prize in 1965).
There have also been Companions who were outstanding in the field of Literature : Romain Gary, André Malraux, Gilbert Renault, better known under the name Rémy and Winston Churchill (Literature Nobel Prize in 1953).
Finally, five Companions of the Liberation are buried in the Pantheon in Paris : Pierre Brossolette, Félix Eboué, Jean Moulin, René Cassin and André Malraux.