MIL OSI Translation. Government of the Republic of France statements from French to English –
He was one of the last three Companions of the Liberation, one of the last voices to tell the story of Free France in first person. Pierre Simonet, who joined General de Gaulle as a teenager to fight in the FFL, has passed away today at 99 years old.
However, France was at first for him only a distant horizon: born in Hanoi, to a father who was a public works engineer, the young boy discovered the French coasts at the age of five, from the deck of the boat. who had driven his family from Saigon to Marseille, at the end of an interminable journey. This brief stay before returning to Indochina anchored the young boy’s heart forever to his home port, the France he learned to love while being passionate about its culture.
But France was under threat the very moment his family returned to settle there, in Bordeaux. Pierre Simonet then continued his mathematics studies, but this year 1939-1940 was above all that of awakening to patriotic fervor: during the day, he paraded with his classmates to show their support for the Allies, in the evening he helped to hospital where the wounded flocked. He who had loved this homeland from afar, who loved it even more closely, refused to see it fall into the hands of a foreign power. We are sometimes serious when we are 17 years old.
The end of the fighting to which Marshal Pétain called on June 17 marked his entry into resistance. Learning that General de Gaulle was continuing the fight in exile across the English Channel, the young student immediately set out for England. It was for him an initiatory journey: his attempts to fly to London from Bordeaux, to reach Spain from Tarbes, to embark for England from Bayonne were all failures that transformed the adventurous teenager. as a persevering adult. On June 24, 1940, finally, resisting the pitch, his suitcase at arm’s length, he grabbed the net of a British freighter leaving the port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz and heading for Liverpool.
Assigned to the artillery of the Free French Forces, he took part in the expedition which attempted, in vain, to rally French West Africa to Free France. After Dakar’s failure followed five weeks of fratricidal fighting during the campaign in Syria. He then had his first experience of the desert, the sand that slows down all the impulses, the sun that traps each soldier in a straitjacket, and the lack of water that pushes them to wash their things with gasoline rather than exhaust their gourds. He then seasoned his skills, fighting in the Libyan reg at Bir Hakeim, then in the Egyptian desert at El Alamein, two resounding victories for the Allied forces.
Brigadier in charge of communications and observation, Pierre Simonet pulled the telephone lines between his exchange, the battery and the observation post, leaving his post only at the last moment as on March 16, 1942: while a ten German tanks approached at full speed and which the captain had given the order to unhook, he disconnected the wires, grabbed his telephone exchange and, weighted down with five kilos of equipment, began to run towards his vehicle. Discovered under German machine gun fire, he was able to rejoin the column and return to camp unscathed. At 21, he had already known thirst, came close to death, lived through the hell of fighting, and received his first two quotes.
Sentinel of the desert, Pierre Simonet then became a watchman of the skies during the Italian campaign and then the D-Day landings in Provence, having been assigned to the aerial observation platoon. An eagle hovering over enemy lines, it pierced German positions to guide Allied fire and swooped down on its prey when enemy battery fire had to be stopped. From his cockpit, Second Lieutenant Simonet was thus an actor and spectator of the liberation of Rome, then of the liberation of France. At the end of the campaigns in Italy and France, his counter displayed 250 flight hours and 137 war missions, which earned him 5 citations and his designation as a Companion of the Liberation on December 27, 1945.
Having become administrator of overseas France, in Indochina and then in Cameroon, he subsequently prolonged the nomadism that had been that of his youth as well as of his involvement in war. Then he joined the international civil service: from the Mekong where he carried out a mission for food and agriculture, he flew to Iran where he was assigned by the UN as an advisor in economic statistics, and ended his career as an economist then adviser to the OECD and the IMF before retiring to Provence.
Pierre Simonet was indeed a hero: no matter how much he refused this title, he possessed all the attributes – courage, moral strength, a sense of duty. The President of the Republic salutes the life of this man animated by the breath of freedom who, beyond risks and borders, was always guided by his immense love for France. He sends his saddened condolences to his family, loved ones and brothers in arms.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.