Ancient history

General Jean-Gilles

Last updated:2022-07-25

Jean Gilles (Perpignan October 14, 1904 - Mont-Louis August 10, 1961) was a general of the French army who notably commanded the French parachute troops during the Indochina War. He was also the head of the airborne operation during the Suez crisis.

Family origins

Jean Gilles (Jean, Marcellin, Joseph, Calixte), son of Joseph Marius Gilles, Captain killed in action in September 1914, and Marie Pagès was born in Perpignan on October 14, 1904.
In 1933 , he married Suzanne Tivolle, with whom he had four sons:Pierre, Michel, Louis and Henri. Terre d'Afrique" (1957-1959), was killed in Algeria on February 2, 1961, Louis who worked at Hachette was killed in a car in September 1967, Henri ended his career as Regional Director of Société Générale in Toulouse .

Military career

A student at the military prytaneum of La Flèche from the age of 12, he joined Saint-Cyr in 1922 at the age of 184. Seriously injured during a shooting exercise, he lost an eye.
On leaving school, he was assigned to the 24th regiment of Senegalese skirmishers and joined Morocco to take part in the war of Rif where he obtained his first citation as well as the Medal of Alfonso XIII of Spain.
A camel officer, he left Morocco and the sands of the desert with the rank of captain in 1938.

World War II

He was assigned to the 7th DIC from 1939 to 1940 and joined the Bilma in Niger (AOF) at the end of 1940.
Demobilized in France in 1942, he tried to reach North Africa but was captured in Spain and imprisoned. Eventually released for medical reasons, he enlisted in the 9th DIC and took command of the 2nd battalion of the 13th regiment of Senegalese skirmishers.
Gilles took part in the capture of the island of Elba in June 1944, then landed in Provence and with de Lattre's 1st Army, took part in the reconquest of French territory and in the German campaign of 1945.

Indochina War

Deputy commander of the 23rd colonial infantry regiment (new name of the 13th RTS), he joined Indochina in October 1945 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1946, he was called to Leclerc's staff and was appointed colonel on an exceptional basis following the landing in Haiphong on March 6, 1946.
He returned to Europe in 1947 and successively occupied the positions of commanding officer of the colonial regiment of tank destroyers in Germany then after a passage to the school of war became commander of the 1st half brigade of colonial parachute commandos5. In the meantime, Gilles obtained his parachutist license in 1949.
In 1951, he returned to Indochina and distinguished himself in particular during the battle of Na San (September to December 1952) then during the conquest of the Dien Bien Phu basin in November 1953 (Operation Castor).
He obtained his brigadier general stars in the midst of the battle of Na San on December 23, 19527 and in 1953 became commander TAPI (Airborne troops in Indochina).

War in Algeria

Back in mainland France in March 1954, he was given command of the airborne troops and the 25th DIAP.

During the Suez Canal crisis at the end of 1956, he was given command of the airborne operation in Port Said.

In 1958 he became commander of the army corps of Constantine.
After Algeria
Monument in honor of General Jean Gilles located in the town of Mont -Louis (Pyrenees-Orientales)

Upon his return from Algeria, Gilles took command of the 5th military region in Toulouse.

He died on August 10, 1961, following a heart attack, a few months after his son Michel, killed on February 2, 1961 in Algeria.

He gave his name in 1970 to a promotion of the special military school of Saint-Cyr10 and will also be with his son, Lieutenant Michel Gilles, chosen in 1962 to be godfather of the Corniche brutionne of the national military prytanée of La Flèche.

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