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French Colonial Medal


ccj
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The Colonial Medal is by far the most confusing medal to me. There are different maker of which I don't know. There are at least two types of make, one with a detailed doubled sided hanger and one with a one sided hanger.

I have no idea how many clasps there are and which are official and which are not. Dating of the clasps and knowing what order they appear on the ribbon also confuse me greatly.

I don't speak French so this is the main reason I remain ignorant of these medals.

Edited by ccj
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Hello Charles,

I suggest you have a look on www.medals.be ... there's many an answer for you there, I think. Look under the "Spotlight on" heading.

Happy reading,

Hendrik

NICE! English website in Belgium? I have some reading for tonight... I also saw some interesting stuff on Belgium WW1.

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Here is an "Extreme Orient" group. Hendrik's superb website gives the following explanation of this clasp: "(5 August 1946) : awarded to those that participated in the fighting against the Japanese (who attacked garrisons and barracks of the French forces in Indochina by surprise on 9 March 1945) between 9 March and 18 September 1945 and against "rebels" from 23 September 1945 onwards. These so-called rebels are in fact the Viet-minh of the Ho Chi Minh government which was installed on 20 August. France would never be able to completely subdue them ... Recipients of this bar were also eligible for the Commemorative Medal for Indochina."

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Here is another EXTREME ORIENT clasp on a small ?Free French-issue? Colonial Medal, part of a pair with a 1939-1945 War Medal with the clasps FRANCE and ENGAG? VOLONTAIRE. They are in a period frame with a Colonial Medal certificate issued in Saigon in 1947 to Sergent Roger Loncle of the French Air Force?s Compagnie de Garde de l?Air 595.

The C.G.A 595 was tasked with securing Tan Son Nhut airport, near Saigon, after the Japanese surrender in August 1946. French armed forces had co-existed uneasily with the Japanese armed forces during their occupation of Indo-China and there would have been a contingent of French guards stationed at Tan Son Nhut. This unit might have been the Compagnie de Police S?curit? Tan Son Nhut. Some sources say that the C.P.S. Tan Son Nhut was redesignated C.G.A 595bis, then C.G.A 595 and, later, C.G.A 31/191.

I am inclined to believe that C.G.A 595 was the unit designation of the 150-strong contingent airlifted to Tan Son Nhut in August 1945 and that these men were drawn from Free French Forces in Europe. This might explain the presence of the FRANCE clasp on Loncle?s War Medal. The ENGAG? VOLONTAIRE clasp also points to a Frenchman who volunteered to join General de Gaulle?s forces rather than staying in France. However, perhaps there are some members here who can tell me more than I have so far been able to find out.

The document is signed by General Raoul Salan, Commander-in-Chief of French forces in Indo-China in the early stages of the First Indo-China War. Salan would later gain notoriety for his r?le in, amongst other things, the attempted coup d??tat against President de Gaulle in 1961. The rebels took control of Algiers and other major centres but the putsch des g?n?raux, as it is also known, was suppressed before they could carry out their planned airborne assault on central Paris.

Along with others, Salan was charged with treason and condemned to death in absentia. On the run, he and others founded the OAS or Organisation de l?Arm?e Secr?te, best-known to those unfamiliar with postwar French history through the opening scenes of Day of the Jackal, when OAS men spray de Gaulle?s Citro?n DS with machinegun fire.

Salan was captured in 1962 but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He and other officers were amnestied in 1968 and released. In 1982, their ranks and honours were restored in a move by the socialist Mitterand government that enraged many of France?s committed lefties. However, Mitterand himself had a chequered past, as one of the relatively few Vichy officials awarded the Ordre de la Francisque by P?tain before he reinvented himself as a R?sistance hero.

French politics and history are nothing if not complicated?

As a sidenote, the 1961 putsch is the reason why there is a 2eme R?giment ?tranger de Parachutistes but no 1 REP. The 1 REP was scheduled to jump on Paris to secure various centres of command and government. According to veterans with whom I have spoken, suggested drop zones included the Bois de Vincennes, which is full of trees and far enough from central Paris to have required an Arnhem-style tab from the DZ, or the Jardins des Tuileries, which is full of spiked railings and other lethal objects or, at any rate, objects likely to terrify descending paratroopers. The Tuileries proposal was apparently accepted and must rank as one of the most harebrained ideas since Otto Skorzeny?s plan for SS-Fallschirmj?ger-Btl 500 to jump on the Citadel in Budapest in 1944. Fortunately for the men of 1 REP, the mission was aborted as the planes werew warming their motors.

Anyway?just a piece of history found under a table in the Vanves flea market one cold, dark, wet Sunday morning.

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Here is an "Extreme Orient" group.

Hello Charles,

Small detail : the "Indochine" bar on the ribbon group's WW2 Commemorative Medal is an unofficial one. The bar does exist for the Colonial Medal but not for the WW2 Commemorative. On the latter, an "Extreme Orient" bar is possible. It is as if they switched places :-)

Cheers,

Hendrik

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