Order of Liberation
|Ordre de la Liberation|
Ordre de la Libération (obverse)
|Awarded by France|
|Type||Single degree Order|
|Awarded for||Outstanding contribution to the liberation of occupied France|
|Status||No longer awarded|
|Established||November 16, 1940|
|First awarded||January 29, 1941|
|Last awarded||January 23, 1946|
|Next (higher)||Légion d'honneur|
|Next (lower)||Médaille militaire|
Ribbon bar of the Order
The Ordre de la Libération (“Order of Liberation”) was a French Order awarded to heroes of the Liberation of France during World War II. It is an exceptionally high honour, second highest after the Légion d’Honneur (Legion of Honour) and only a small number of people and military units have received it, exclusively for deeds accomplished during World War II. A different order, the Médaille de la Résistance ("Resistance Medal") was created and awarded for lesser but still distinguished deeds by members of the Resistance.
The Ordre de la Libération was established by General de Gaulle in order n° 7, signed in Brazzaville on November 16, 1940. The aim of the Order is to “reward people, of the military or civilian communities, who will have distinguished themselves in the task of liberating France and her Empire”.
There are no criteria relating to age, sex, rank, origin or nationality, nor are there any requirements in the nature of the deeds, apart from their exceptional quality.
The Order has a single rank, the title of Compagnon de la Libération (“Companion of the Liberation”). General de Gaulle, founder of the Order, was the only Grand Maître (“Grand Master”) of the Order.
The Order is usually bestowed in a traditional French military ceremony called a "prise d'armes". The recipient being summoned forward by his rank and name, and given the insignia while being told: Nous vous reconnaissons comme notre Compagnon pour la libération de la France dans l’honneur et par la Victoire (“We acknowledge you as our companion for the Liberation of France, in honour and by Victory”).
The last award was bestowed on January 23, 1946.
The medal of the Order is called the Croix de la Libération (“Cross of Liberation”). It is a 31 mm wide by 33 mm high rectangular bronze shield bearing a 60 mm high vertical gladius on its obverse. On the blade of the gladius, a black enamelled cross of Lorraine (symbol of the Free French Forces). On the reverse in Latin, the relief inscription in bold letters on four rows, “PATRIAM SERVANDO VICTORIAM TULIT” (“By serving the Fatherland, he/she achieved Victory”).
The award is suspended by a rectangular loop going through the hilt of the gladius to a 36 mm wide silk moiré green ribbon with 4 mm wide black edge stripes and narrow 1 mm wide black longitudinal stripes 11 mm from the edges. The green colour represents hope, the black represents mourning, symbolizing the state of France in 1940. The original ribbon had diagonal black stripes but was only awarded as such in the period of August–September 1942.
The individuals, units and communities listed below were awarded the Order of Liberation
A total of 1061 Crosses of Liberation were awarded :
- 1038 to individuals;
- 18 to units of the Army, Air Force and Navy;
- 5 to cities: Nantes, Grenoble, Paris, Vassieux-en-Vercors and l’Île de Sein.
Amongst the 1036 Companions of the Order, 65 were killed before the end of the War (8 May 1945) and another 260 received the distinction posthumously. Members of the French resistance, especially the more famous ones, often received the Order under their nom de guerre.
Six women were awarded the title :
- Berty Albrecht , co-founder of the movement Combat, who died in the prison of Fresnes in 1943
- Laure Diebold , liaison agent of the “Mithridate” network and secretary to Jean Moulin, deported.
- Marie Hackin , died at sea in February 1941 on a mission
- Marcelle Henry  of the VIC escape network, died shortly after returning from deportation
- Simone Michel-Lévy , of the Postmen Resistance, died while deported
- Émilienne Moreau-Evrard , hero of the First World War, agent for the “Brutus” network and later member of the Assemblée Consultative Provisoire
Nearly 10% of the recipients of the Order were younger than 20 at the beginning of the war. The youngest, Mathurin Henrio, was 14 when he was shot dead by Nazi officers for refusing to answer questions on the whereabouts of Maquisards.
The Order was re-opened twice to honour foreign personalities who helped liberate France:
The complete list of recipients is available at 
Military units as a whole have been awarded the title of Compagnon de la Libération.
Armée de Terre
- Bataillon de Marche n°2
- 13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade
- Bataillon d’Infanterie de Marine et du Pacifique
- Régiment de Marche du Tchad
- 2nd Colonial Infantry Regiment
- 1st Colonial Artillery Regiment
- 1/3ème Régiment d’Artillerie Coloniale
- 1er Régiment de Marche de Spahis Marocains (August 7, 1945) and Colonel Jean Rémy in 1944
- 501ème Régiment de chars de Combat
Armée de l’Air
- 1ère Escadrille de Chasse
- Régiment de Chasse Normandie-Niemen
- 2ème Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes de l’Armée de l’Air
- Groupe de Bombardement Lorraine
- Groupe de Chasse Ile-de-France
- Groupe de Chasse Alsace
- Nantes: awarded on November 11, 1941
“Heroic city which, since the crime of capitulation, has opposed a fierce resistance to any sort of collaboration with the enemy. Occupied by German troops and subjected to the harshest of repression, has given to the French, by numerous individual and collective actions, a magnificent example of courage and fidelity. By the blood of her martyred children, showed to the whole World the French will for national liberation”.
- Grenoble: awarded on May 4, 1944
“Heroic city at the vanguard of the French Resistance and of the fight for liberation. Draped in her pride, despite the arrest and the massacre of her best sons, put up a fierce fight to the Germans at every instant. Despising the interdictions given by the invaders and their accomplices, demonstrated on November 11, 1943 her certainty of Victory and her will to take part in it. On November 14, and on December 2, 1943, responded to the reprisals and the execution of the chiefs of the Resistance movements by the destruction of the ammunition depot, barracks, power plants and factories used by the enemy. Has served the Motherland well.”
- Paris awarded on March 24, 1945
“Capital faithful to herself and to France, demonstrated, under the enemy occupation and oppression, and in spite of the voices of abandonment and treason, her unshakable resolution to fight on and to win. By her courage in the presence of the invader and by the indomitable energy with which she sustained the harshest of trials, deserved to remain as an example for the entire Nation. On August 19, in cooperation with the Allied and French armies, stood up to drive away the enemy through a series of glorious fights which began in the Cité and swiftly spread to all points of the city. In spite of heavy losses sustained by the French Forces of the Interior fighting within her, liberated itself through her own efforts and, united with the vanguard of the French Army that came to her rescue, has, on August 25, reduced the German to his last stands and made him capitulate.”
- Vassieux-en-Vercors: Awarded on August 4, 1945
“Village of the Vercors which, thanks to the patriotism of her inhabitants, totally sacrificed herself for the cause of the French Resistance in 1944. Main parachuting centre for the Allied air force on the plateau, always helped by all means possible the military of the Maquis in the gathering of arms. Violently bombed on July 14, attacked by 24 German gliders on July 21 and 22, had 72 of her inhabitants massacred and the entirety of her houses burned down by a merciless enemy. Martyr of her faith in the resurrection of the Motherland.”
- l’Ile de Sein: Awarded on January 1, 1946
“Confronted to the enemy invasion, refused to abandon the battlefield which is hers: the Sea. Sent all of her children to the fight under the flag of Free France, becoming the example and symbol of all of Brittany.”
- Battini, Jean; Zaniewicki, Witold (2003). Guide pratique des décorations françaises actuelles. Paris: LAVAUZELLE. pp. 29–36. ISBN 2-7025-1030-2.
- "Complete list of recipients of the Order of Liberation" (PDF) (in French). Chancellerie de l'Ordre de la Libération. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- "Mathurin Henrio" (in French). Chancellerie de l'Ordre de la Libération. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
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