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Born in Jendouba, Tunisia, Riffaud was conscripted into the Army of Africa in April 1917 as a 2nd class soldier (Soldat de deuxième classe) and served in various regiments. He was discharged in 1919 after a bout of tuberculosis, but rejoined later that year, and served until 1924.
His wife, Lucie, whom he married in 1930, died in 1979. Their only son also pre-deceased him.
- "René Riffaud: French colonial veteran of the First World War". The Times. 22 January 2007. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
- "Riffaud René (19-12-1898 / 15-01-2007, 108 ans)". Ders des Ders: Les derniers vétérans de 14-18 (in French). 17 January 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2018.