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Text Box: Charles DeGaulle

Captain Charles DeGaulle



Charles DeGaulle and Haller’s Army


An Excerpt from “White Eagle, Red Star”

By Norman Davies


The French Military Mission enjoyed quite the opposite reputation from the British. Unlike Carton de Wiart, its chief, General Henrys was regarded by the Polish Staff as a feather-brained busybody. He was studiously ignored by Pilsudski. He was eager for la gloire, and earnestly intrigued for a Polish offensive in the east, regardless of the caution expressed by his own government in Paris or by the Allied diplomats in Warsaw.


In contrast to its chief, however, the French mission commanded considerable respect and influence through the activities of its 400 officer-instructors. These men, distributed among the cadres of the Polish Staff, were entrusted with the task of training the officer corps in the art of military science and in the use of the French army manuals. Typical of them was a young captain, Charles de Gaulle. Newly released from internment as a prisoner of war at Ingolstadt in Bavaria, de Gaulle had been anxious for active service; as the son of a patriotic Catholic family, he was attracted by the prospect of an anti-Bolshevik campaign in Poland.


In May 1919, he joined the 5th Chasseurs Polonais at Sille-le-Guillaume and in the body of Haller's army traveled with them to East Galicia. At the end of that campaign, he was transferred to Rembertow near Warsaw where, in the former school of the Tsarist Imperial Guard, he lectured on the theory of tactics. In July and August 1920 he was attached for a short period to a Polish combat unit, and raised to the rank of major. In 1921, he was offered a permanent commission in Poland, but preferred to develop his ideas and experiences by returning to France as a lecturer on military history at Saint-Cyr.


Captain Charles DeGaulle
Military Advisor to Haller's Army
From 1920-1921
Period picture shows his WW1 rank of Captain.

"The post-World War French Army had plenty of officers to spare, and France sent an enormous number of officer-instructors to Poland... One of the French officers was a Captain named Charles de Gaulle, who had come to Poland with Haller's Army. He had served in East Galicia and had then become an instructor at the Polish training camp at Rembertow, about six miles from Warsaw. In the summer of 1920 he went into the field with a Polish division. In 1921 he was offered, but declined, a commission as a major in the Polish Army."

(Excerpted from
"Bitter Glory" by Richard M. Watt.)