Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Barré, Georges Edmund Lucien (1886–1970)

French Army general who served as the military commander in Tunisia during the war years. Born at Saint-Augnan-sur-Cher on 26 November 1886, Georges Barré graduated from the French Military Academy of St. Cyr in 1912. He then became a colonial officer in Morocco. He distinguished himself in combat in World War I and in subsequent Moroccan pacification efforts. In December 1939, Barré was promoted to brigadier general, and when Germany invaded France in May 1940, he commanded the 7th North African Infantry Division, deployed on the French frontier. Barré's forces fought continuously, sustaining combat casualties of over 30 percent and winning high commendation.

After the June 1940 armistice, Barré was named to head the French delegation to the Italian demilitarization commission on the Libyan frontier. In January 1942, he was promoted to major general and appointed the senior military commander in Tunisia. When British and U.S. forces landed in Africa in November 1942, Barré initially hedged his bets and declared neutrality, his prudence the more advisable because German reinforcements under General Walter Nehring swiftly arrived in Tunisia, whereas the Allies had not yet landed the 5,000 troops they had originally promised to send there. Barré withdrew his forces into the hills, parleying with the Germans while waiting for Allied forces to arrive to reinforce him. Early in the morning on 19 November 1942, Nehring delivered an ultimatum to Barré, demanding his withdrawal from his stronghold of Medjez-el-Bab within three hours, before dawn. Barré refused, holding the critical redoubt and communications center all day against heavy German air attacks and assaults by the German 5th Parachute Regiment, while the 1st British Parachute Battalion and a U.S. artillery battalion hastily advanced to his support. The French troops finally withdrew under cover of darkness to join with the Free French XIX Corps, fighting hard for the rest of the Tunisia Campaign. In 1943, Barré was promoted to lieutenant general. He retired after the war and died in Paris on 22 January 1970.

Priscilla Roberts


Further Reading
Barré, Georges. Tunisie, 1942–1943. Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1950.; Crémieux-Brilhac, Jean-Louis. Les Français de l'an 40. 2 vols. Paris: Gallimard, 1990.; Dessaigne, Francine. Barré, cet inconnu! Plougrescant, France: Éditions Confrerie-Castille, 1992.; Jackson, W. G. F. The Battle for North Africa. New York: Mason/Charter, 1975.; Paxton, Robert O. Parades and Politics at Vichy: The French Officer Corps under Marshal Pétain. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1966.
 

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