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Yves Godard (21 December 1911 – 3 March 1975) was a French Army officer who fought in World War II, First Indochina War and Algerian War. A graduate of Saint-Cyr and Chasseur Alpin, he served as a ski instructor in Poland during 1939, but after World War II began he returned to France. He became a prisoner-of-war in 1940 and tried several times to escape, finally succeeding on his third attempt. He made his way to France and joined the French Resistance maquis in Savoy. From December 1944 to February 1946, he headed the 27ème bataillon de chasseurs alpins.

Yves Godard
Born21 December 1911
Saint-Maixent-l'École, France
Died3 March 1975 (1975-03-04) (aged 63)
Lessines, Belgium
Service/branchFrench Army
Years of service1932–1961
Commands held27e BCA
11e Choc
Battles/warsWorld War II
First Indochina War
*Operation Condor
Algerian War
Suez Crisis
AwardsCommander of the Légion d'honneur
Other workOAS leader

He was part of the occupation force in Austria, then a general staff officer of the French Army before taking command of the 11e Bataillon Parachutiste de Choc in 1948. He led the battalion during the First Indochina War, taking part during the war in a failed attempted to relieve the French Union garrison at Dien Bien Phu from Laos. In 1955 Godard became chief of staff of the Parachute Intervention Group, soon to become the 10th Parachute Division, in Algeria commanded by General Jacques Massu. He took part in the Anglo-French operation during the Suez Crisis in 1956.

Godard became one of the primary figures of the Battle of Algiers, especially during the later part when he commanded the Algiers sector, supervising links between the Army and the Police, and serving as the chief of staff to Massu. At the suggestion of Paul-Alain Léger, he authorised the bleus de chauffe system, by which paratroopers disguised as young workers roamed the Cashbah and arrested FLN militants.[1] Godard notably declared:

For 12 years we have been mired into subversive conflicts. Costly shows of force against terrorist organisation that we have, halas!, let develop ... Faced with a rebel who fights camouflaged, cowardly, attacks women and children, one must fight with new formulas.[2]

In Summer 1959, he was named director general of the Sûreté in Algeria. Paul Delouvrier contemplated his transfer but hesitated, as "he holds all the security services of Algiers in his hands [and what would happen] if, immediately after his departure, bombs and grenades started exploding again?"[3]

During the Barricade Week, in January 1960, Godard sent Captain Yves de La Bourdonnaye to negotiate Pierre Lagaillarde's surrender. La Bourdonnaye later implied that he was sympathetic to the rebels and had done little to hasten their surrender.[4]

In February, Pierre Messmer had Godard transferred to France, but he returned to take part in the Algiers putsch of 1961. When the putsch failed, he joined the Organisation armée secrète, helping modeling it after the structure of the FLN,[5] but left Algeria in the summer of 1962 and stayed underground until 1967. Godard was sentenced to death for his part in the putsch and OAS. He settled in Belgium, and unlike his OAS colleagues, he did not return to France after the 1968 amnesty. Godard died in 1975 at Lessines, Belgium, at 63.


Sources and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Escadrons de la Mort, l'école française, Marie-Monique Robin, La Découverte/Poche, 2008, ISBN 978-2-7071-5349-4
  2. ^ "Depuis douze années, nous nous enlisons dans des guerres subversives. Démonstrations de force coûteuses, face à des organisations terroristes clandestines que nous avons, hélas!, laissé mettre en place ... Face à un rebelle qui se bat camouflé, lâchement, attaque femmes et enfants, il faut se batre avec des formules nouvelles.Quotes in La torture et l'Armée pendant la Guerre d'Algérie, Raphaëlle Branche, Gallimard, 2001. ISBN 2-07-076065-0, p. 106
  3. ^ Raphaëlle Branche, op. cit, p. 243
  4. ^ Escadrons de la Mort, l'école française, Marie-Monique Robin, op. cit., p. 150
  5. ^ Escadrons de la Mort, l'école française, Marie-Monique Robin, op. cit., p. 185