image
Free French Cemetery
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
There are 244 French burials at Brookwood with records also of those French freedom fighters lost or without a known grave. The French cemetery was opened in 1953.

By the end of 1944 well over 1 million men and women formed the Free French force. It then comprised the fourth largest Allied power. The Cross of Lorraine was adopted in 1940 at Capitaine de corvette Thierry d'Argenlieu suggestion to symbolise the counter authority to the Vichy French puppet government which had sentenced General De Gaulle to death for treason. De Gaul rallied free French in his iconic "Appeal of 18th June" 1940 and unified French Resistance Groups (or Fighting French Forces) under his leadership.
Free French forces fought the Vichy French in Africa and again alongside Commonwealth troops in Syria and Lebanon. Some Vichy forces joined the Allies in 1942 after Axis powers occupied areas of Vichy France. Free French and ex-Vichy forces were combined in 1943.
Around 65% of the Free French force were West African conscripts, predominantly Senegalese and additionally Foreign Legion soldiers from Morocco, Algeria and Tahiti. Tahitans gave distinguished service in the Western Desert. The French 2nd Armoured Division with about 14,000 personnel including 3,000 Spanish Republicans and the lowest Divisional proportion of black soldiers at 25% was chosen to lead the liberation of Paris.

All © WyrdLight McCallum Photography 2009 Contact Antony