Antoine Bethouart

Antoine Bethouart

Antoine Bethouart was born in France in 1889. He graduated from St Cyr in 1912 and served in the French Army during the First World War and was wounded three times.

He remained in the army and in April 1940 was promoted to general and led the Franco-Polish expeditionary force in Norway and briefly gained control of Narvik in May 1940.

After the armistice Bethouart was sent to Morocco where he served under General Charles Nogues and General Alphonse Juin. Bethouart was in contact with the Allies and when he tried to persuade Nogues to support Operation Torch he was arrested and charged with treason. Sentenced to death, he was reprieved and released after the arrival of the Allies in November 1942.

In December 1942, Bethouart went to the United States where he arranged for the Free French forces to obtain large-scale military aid. When he returned to Algeria he became chief of the National Defence general staff. Bethouart then served under General Jean-Marie de Lattre and in June 1944 took command of the 1st French Army during the D-Day landings.

After the war Bethouart commanded French occupation forces in Austria. In 1955 he entered politics and became a senator. Antoine Bethouart died in 1982.

Primary Sources

(1) Jean Moulin, Activities, Plans and Requirements of the Groups formed in France (October, 1941)

These three movements were born spontaneously and independently of the initiative of a few French patriots who had a place in the old political groups and parties. They started to assert themselves at

different dates, soon after the conclusion of the armistice, however, and as a reaction against this instrument of submission to the enemy. In the beginning, their activities consisted in spreading by underground channels and in a rather restricted sphere typewritten propaganda pamphlets on every important occasion (speech of Mr. Churchill, of President Roosevelt, speeches of General de Gaulle,

outstanding military operations, etc.), or else on every occasion which called for a rebellious attitude on the part of French patriots (annexation by Hitler of Alsace and Lorraine, violation of the clauses of the Armistice, the agreements concluded at Montoire, requisitioning by the Germans, etc.).

Next, with the development of material means and the increased adherence of willing partisans, they were able to publish real roneoed papers at tolerably regular intervals. Now, for several months, each group has been publishing at a fixed date one or several printed papers in addition to pamphlets and leaflets.