On a journey of discovery to historical sites? Download the TracesOfWar app directly on Google Play or the Apple App Store.

Varnier, André Albert

Date of birth:
March 12th, 1914 (Toul, France)
Date of death:
December 15th, 1949 (Perpignan, France)
Service number:
FAFL Nr.: 30.442
French (1870-present, Republic)


aka "Jacques Leblanc"
Son of a non-commissioned officer, André Varnier was born in Toul (Meurthe-et-Moselle) on March 12, 1914.

Volunteered in February 1932 for two years in the 2nd Engineer Regiment, he was appointed corporal in October 1932 then sergeant in April 1933. Released in October 1934, he enlisted six months later in the Republican Guard from which he resigned in May 1935.

In September 1935, he enlisted again for two years in the 1st Engineer Regiment. In 1937, when his contract came to an end, he became an industrial designer in a factory in the Nord department.

Recalled in September 1939, André Varnier joined the 1st Engineer Regiment in Sarrebourg and was employed with his unit in the construction of the northern defense line.

On June 4, 1940, he embarked at Dunkirk, spent two days in Dover, landed at Cherbourg and took part in the French campaign with the North African Division.

On June 17, he was taken prisoner in Argentan in the Orne and sent to the camp at Verneuil-sur-Avre from where he escaped after 12 days.

Decided to rally the Free French Forces, he crossed the Spanish border on August 9, 1940; taken prisoner in Figueiras, he managed to escape by jumping from the train of prisoners that took him to Barcelona.

Refugee at the British embassy in Barcelona, ​​he crossed the Portuguese border at Morvao-Bura where he was arrested again on August 27. 3 days later he escaped again and remained in hiding for a month at the British Embassy in Lisbon, from where he took a regular plane which took him to London on September 3, 1940. The next day, he joined the FFL .

Assigned to the 1st Air Infantry Company (1st CIA), he passed his parachutist certificate at the Ringway School in December 1940.

Appointed master sergeant in January 1941, he gave sabotage courses and then instructed paratroopers until May 1941, when he was detached from his unit (which in the meantime had become the 1st Parachute Company) and sent to sabotage mission in the Bordeaux region with the aim of destroying the Pessac power station as part of Operation "Joséphine B".

His mission completed, he went to the free zone and, via Spain and Portugal, and reached England in September 1941.

Assigned to the 2nd Company of Parachutists, he was appointed adjutant in October 1941 then chief warrant officer in December.

André Varnier then participated as an instructor in the training of the 4th Air Infantry Battalion (4th BIA), then followed various jumping and sabotage courses in an English school.

Second lieutenant in June 1943, he was incorporated a year later into the 1st Company of Parachutists. On June 7, 1944, with a stick of 4 men, he jumped over Brittany. With his comrades he destroys a train in Saint-Senoux in Ille-et-Vilaine. Once his mission was accomplished, he joined the elements of his unit (renamed the 2nd Regiment of Parachute Chasseurs) and participated in the defense of the Saint-Marcel maquis with the 2nd FFI Battalion. After the dispersion of the Saint-Marcel camp, André Varnier took part in the training of the FFI, organized ambushes and joined his unit in Vannes.

On September 2 in the Nièvre, he defends the village of Pouilly with 12 men against the attempted breakthrough of a German company; the next day, he repulsed an attack at Garchy; on September 5 he was wounded by bullets and took part in the liberation of the Center region: he was the first to enter Bourges and ensured the maintenance of order there until the arrival of the new civilian powers on September 20.

At the end of December 1944, he fought in the Ardennes in Belgium where he campaigned until February 1945. Returned for two months to Great Britain for a new period of training, he was parachuted in April with the 2e RCP in the east. from Holland. After 15 days of fighting, the Regiment was sent back to England; Second Lieutenant Varnier returned to France in July 1945.

Volunteer for Indochina, he arrived in Saigon in February 1946 and took part in the clean-up operations of the city and was parachuted into Laos.

Appointed lieutenant in November 1946, he was repatriated to Marseille in March 1948 after contracting malaria. In June 1948, he was assigned to the 11th Shock Battalion and promoted to captain the following year.

Transferred with his unit to Perpignan, Captain André Varnier was accidentally killed on December 15, 1949 during a jumping exercise on the training ground of the Perpignan base. He is buried in Estrennes in the Vosges.

Do you have more information about this person? Inform us!

Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
September 26th, 1945
l' Ordre de la Libération
Second World War (1939-1945)
with 4 citations
Croix de Guerre (1939-1945)
Second World War (1939-1945)
Sous-Lieutenant (Second Lieutenant)
2e Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes
WIA 05.09.1944
Médaille des blessés de guerre
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
June 29th, 1940
Médaille des Évadés
Second World War (1939-1945)
with clasp 'Extrême-Orient'
Médaille Coloniale
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
December 20th, 1940
n° 396 - Ringway
Insigne Parachutiste FFL