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Philippe Louis Edmé Marie François Erulin (5 July 1932, Dole, Jura – 26 September 1979) was a senior officer in the French Army. He came from a family of renowned officers and military traditions.

Philippe Louis Edmée Marie François Erulin
Philippe Erulin img 3483.jpg
Born5 July 1932 (1932-07-05)
Dole, France
Died26 September 1979 (1979-09-27)
Paris, France
Allegiance France
Service/branchFrench Army
Flag of legion.svg French Foreign Legion
Years of service1952-1979
Commands held2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment 2e REP
Battles/warsAlgerian War
Battle of Kolwezi
AwardsCommander of the Légion d'honneur
Croix de la Valeur militaire

He is best known as the Colonel Commandant of the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment 2e REP, who directed the military intervention in Zaïre against the Katanga rebels responsible for several massacres. It was the success in the Battle of Kolwezi which resulted in the liberation of the majority of the Katanga rebels' hostages. However, Erulin was later accused of having used torture during the Algeria War; an accusation that remains unsubstantiated and controversial.



His grandfather, Lieutenant-colonel Louis-Joseph Erulin, as well as his father, Lieutenant-colonel André Erulin, were both officers, both having graduated from Saint-Cyr, having each served in a World War. His father received the Croix de Guerre 1939-1945, Croix de guerre des théâtres d'opérations extérieures, Resistance Medal with rosette, and the Commandeur of the Legion of Honour, then died in Indochina in 1951 at the head of Mobile Group 4 under the orders of Général Jean de Lattre de Tassigny who stated while presiding over pronouncing the Military Honours:

he left us a big example. Because he wasn't only the one to whom one can immediately trust, he was one of those rare men who are totally true - who give confidence in man's greatness, in his virtue


His brother Dominique stated that his parents gave them a very strict education, and that at the death of his father, Philippe Erulin inherited a part of the family responsibilities.[citation needed]

Military careerEdit

Officer of the 1er RCPEdit

Engaged for 8 years at the ESMIA promotion « French Union » on September 29, 1952, Philipe Erulin followed the course of the school of infantry application (French: École d’application de l’infanterie) until January 1955. He was assigned to the 1e RCP from 1954 to 1959 at Bône then Philippeville with the rank of lieutenant.

He was assigned to the 6th company of the 153rd Motorized Infantry Regiment 153e RIM at Bône Algeria and assumed the commandment of that latter on June 1, 1962. The 153e RIM, repatriated from Algeria became mechanized and garrisoned at Mutzig on January 4, 1963.

He participated at the corps of this regiment to the Algerian War (French: guerre d'Algérie) and Operation Musketeer (French: Opération Mousquetaire). In Algeria, he directed a section which combat engaged notably in the Aurès and in Kabylie. He was wounded twice out of which one was serious, and was cited 4 times. He was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor at the age of 26.

He participated to the Battle of Algiers (French: bataille d'Alger) in which his regiment was engaged in 1957. He was with André Charbonnier, one of the two officers that stopped Maurice Audin (French: Maurice Audin), Algerian militant communist whose party was engaged in the armed struggle with the FLN,[1] on June 10, 1957.

On July 1, 1964, he joined the general staff headquarters of the 6th Mechanized Brigade.

Destined for a tour deployment overseas, he was assigned as a quality chief at the operations bureau of the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment 3e REI at Diego Suarez on August 2, 1966, as well as the general staff headquarters of the regiment. He was promoted to the rank of chef de bataillon on July 1, 1968. Repatriated by end of tour on August 12, 1968, he was assigned to the ninth administrative regional company.

In November, he joined the inspection of the infantry then integrated the 84th promotion of the Superior War School on September 1, 1970.

Controversy on assumed acts of tortureEdit

Henri Alleg (French: Henri Alleg), a communist militant, director of Alger républicain (French: Alger républicain), stopped right after Audin in the same operation, accused Charbonnier and Erulin of having tortured him under the orders of Captain Roger Faulques. He published in 1958 La Question (French: La Question), a testimony denouncing torture during the Algerian war of independence (French: torture pendant la guerre d'Algérie). On the services which were applicable on him, Henri Alleg talked about a « torturing lieutenant », trying to refer to Philippe Erulin.[2]

Pierre Vidal-Naquet (French: Pierre Vidal-Naquet) reported the testimony of Georges Hadjad, another communist militant, who was trying to confirm having seen « lieutenant Erulin » and other officers with Audin in the space where the latter was tortured.[3] All denied torture.[4]

In 1978, the guest of the television broadcast Les Dossiers de l'écran (French: Les Dossiers de l'écran), René Andrieu (French: René Andrieu), also editor chief of L'Humanité (French: L'Humanité), profited from the resounding of Operation Kolwezi, to accuse Philippe Erulin to have been the torturer of Henri Alleg, the latter, still insisting as mentioned in his book. The Ministre de la Défense Yvon Bourges (French: Yvon Bourges), announced in a statement that he was scandalized by the behavior of René Andrieu, while the rescue intervention in Shaba was still on going in action.[5] A little later, Jean Planchais (French: Jean Planchais) profited from the death of Colonel Philipe Erulin to criticize the amnesty and silence on the torture during that war (French: la torture durant cette guerre).[5] René Andrieu was condemned for defamation (without compensation for the offence of, the Court, establishing accordingly case-law (French: établissant ainsi une jurisprudence)),[6] and the affair inspired the film A Captain's Honor (French: L'Honneur d'un capitaine).[7] The family of Colonel Erulin launched accordingly several legal accusations while winning some.[8]

In 2014, Jean-Charles Deniau (French: Jean-Charles Deniau), who obtained the undisclosed topics of général Paul Aussaresses (French: Paul Aussaresses) confirmed that Audin and Alleg were tortured, but did not cite or mention Philipe Erulin as a torturer of these last two.[9]

Commandant of the 2e REPEdit

On July 9, 1976, Philipe Erulin assumed the command of the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment at Calvi with the designated rank of Colonel.

Battle of KolweziEdit

On May 17, the President of France Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (French: Valéry Giscard d'Estaing) decided on an operation on Zaïre where Katanga rebels were committing massacres and apprehending hostages.

Making his way out of Calvi with his regiment on May 19, 1978, after a transit in Kinshasa, he jumped spearheading 700 paratroopers organized in two waves on Kolwezi (French: Kolwezi). The town which consisted of 2000 European civilians (principally Belgium and French), was liberated after violent combats with the rebels. The regiment endured the loss of 5 men, twenty legionnaires being wounded. On June 6, the President of Zaïre Mobutu Sese Seko (French: Mobutu Sese Seko) gave the accolade to colonels Yves Gras (French: Yves Gras) (military attaché of Zaire) and Philippe Erulin: the Franco-Belge intervention equally permitted to consolidate his regime.[10]

On June 7, they returned to Calvi. The following week, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing rendered them a visit to congratulate the operation during an arms ceremony at Bastia. Under his orders, during this battle, served notably Benoît Puga, Bruno Dary and Ante Gotovina, who according to L'Humanité,also served to drive Erulin. The same journal confirmed that his brother Dominique (who associated later with Ante Gotovina) participated to the battle, while the latter had already left the army, following the Algerian War.

Assigned to the general staff headquarters of the French Army EMAT on July 1978, he died on September 26, 1979 in Paris .

Hommages to the operation of KolweziEdit

Thirty years later, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing returned to Calvi and confirmed that the operation of Kolwezi has become a reference, a school for all, military and political directors, which would have to prepare what is referred today as exterior operations. The operation of Kolwezi is actually taught in military schools. For Jean Guisnel (French: Jean Guisnel), this operation also marked the end of defiance of the political power towards the French Foreign Legion following the general's putsch.

Citations and homagesEdit

Philipe Erulin was cited at the orders of the Armed forces, on July 17, 1978:

The Commandeur of the Légion d’honneur was personally awarded to him on September 29 19789 by the President of the Republic Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.

On May 21, 2008, the President of the Republic Nicolas Sarkozy pronounced the following at the occasion of a commemorative arms ceremony marking 30 years of exterior operations in the Honor courtyard of the Invalides:

The extract by Général de division Jeannou Lacaze, Inspector of the Infantry, and future Chef d'état-major des armées (CEMA) during the pronunciation of Colonel Erulin's Military Honors:

State of serviceEdit

  • September 29, 1952 - promotion Union française of the EMSIA
  • February 1, 1953 - caporal
  • April 1, 1953 - sergent
  • October 1, 1954 - sous-lieutenant
  • October 1959 to April 1960 - Infantry application school of Saint-Maixent (1st company, 2nd section)
  • January 20, 1955 - assigned to the 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment at Bône then Philippeville
  • October 1, 1956 - lieutenant
  • April 1, 1961 - captain
  • June 1, 1962 - received the commandment of the 6th company of the 153rd Motorized Infantry Regiment
  • 1963 - 1964 - commandant of the 1st company of the 153rd mechanized infantry regiment - quartier Moussy at Mutzig
  • July 1, 1968 - chef de bataillon
  • October 1, 1973 - lieutenant-colonel
  • July 1, 1976 - Colonel
  • July 1, 1976 - received commandment of the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment 2e REP

Recognitions and HonorsEdit


See alsoEdit


  • Zaïre : sauver Kolwezi, by Philipe Erulin, Édition Montbel (Photo album)

Sources and referencesEdit

  1. ^
  2. ^ Henri Alleg, La Question, p. 109, cité par Désirée Schyns, La mémoire littéraire de la guerre d'Algérie dans la fiction algérienne francophone, p. 173 (Google Books)
  3. ^ Pierre Vidal-Naquet, L'Affaire Audin, cité par Nathalie Funès, Le camp de Lodi: Algérie, 1954-1962(Google Books)
  4. ^ Henri Alleg, Mémoire Algérienne, p. 248 Stock 2005, cité par Pierre-Alban Thomas, Pour l'honneur de l'armée: Réponse au général Schmitt sur la guerre d'Algérie, p. 75 (Google Books)
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ Antoine Petit, « Presse et responsabilité civile » §2.1.1.A, Master 2 droit privé fondamental 2012, Université Toulouse 1 Capitole
  7. ^ Le Spectacle du Monde, 1982, p. 118 (sur Google Books)
  8. ^ Mediaspouvoirs, 1995, p. 136-137 (sur Google Books)
  9. ^
  10. ^ Romain Yakemtchouk, La Belgique et la France: amitiés et rivalités, p. 194 (Google Books)