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The military Units

The Companion of the Liberation units

The Free French movement began on June 18th, 1940, when General De Gaulle, made his Appeal. The first volunteers to enlist in General De Gaulle's forces, very few in the beginning, made up the core of the Free French Forces (FFL) the statutes of which are specified in the Charter of 7 August 1940 signed by Winston Churchill and General De Gaulle. A feature that is specific to the Free France movement is that its military personnel is entirely made up of volunteers, a mix of active personnel, reserves and young enlisted soldiers.

Edict No. 7 which created the Order of the Liberation, specifies that the Order is meant to "reward individuals, military and civil organizations for outstanding service in the effort to procure the liberation of France and the French Empire". And so General De Gaulle, awarded the Cross of the Liberation to 18 units of the Free French Forces.

On June 18th, 1996, at Mont Valérien, Mr. Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic, awarded a fourragère with the colors of the Order of the Liberation to the 17 units of the French Army that had already been awarded the Cross of the Liberation - who had received the heritage of the Companion of the Liberation units.

The Army

After the Appeal of 18 June 1940, Army units started to take shape. They were often made up of simple battalions and even small companies that slowly grew larger and gradually became regiments, thanks to the effort to rally the French territories and the arrival of new volunteers. These regiments fought mainly as part of the two great Free French units that made history: the 1st Free French Division and the 2nd Armored Division. For their active and uninterrupted service in military operations from 1940 to 1945, nine of these units received the Cross of the Liberation.

Skirmish Battalion No 2
13th Demi-Brigade of the Foreign Legion
Pacific Marine Battalion
Chad Skirmish Regiment
2nd Colonial Infantry Regiment
1st Colonial Artillery Regiment
1st/3rd Colonial Artillery Regiment
1st Cavalry Regiment of Moroccan Spahis
501st Tank Regiment


The Air Force

The Free French Air Forces (FAFL) were officially created on July 8th, 1940. But its organized units, each of which would later bear the name of a French province, really cam into being in Summer of 1941. Six of these were awarded the title of Companions of the Liberation.

1st Fighter Squadron
Normandy-Niémen Fighter Group
2nd Parachute Fighter Regiment of the Air Force
Lorraine Bomber Group
Ile-de-France Fighter Group
Alsace Fighter Group


The Navy

The Free French Navy (FNFL), was established on July 1st, 1940. For the exceptional services rendered, two French ships and the 1st Marine Regiment were awarded the Cross of the Liberation, which, of course, also meant three FNFL units receiving the title of Companions of the Liberation.

The submarine "Rubis" ("Ruby")
The corvette "Aconit"
1st Marine Regiment