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Collet, Philibert

Date of birth:
December 12th, 1896 (Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria)
Date of death:
April 15th, 1945 (Toulouse, France)
French (1870-present, Republic)


From modest origins, he enlisted in the infantry at the end of June 1914, at the age of 18 and ended the Great War with four citations.

Commander of a Frankish group in the Levant, in June 1920 he opened the road to Homs. Leader of the Ismailiehs, he distinguished himself in the pacification of the Alaouites.

Made Emir Ismailieh then, later, Emir Tcherkess, Philibert Collet commanded the 1st Tcherkesses Squadron which he led in September 1925, with the Gamelin Column, to the recovery of Soueida, capital of Jebel Druze (Syria).

Promoted captain in 1926, at the age of 30, he left the Tcherkesse group in January 1938 and took command of the 4th Battalion of the 1st Moroccan Tirailleurs Regiment (1st RTM).

Returning to his Circassian squadrons, Commander Collet was in Damascus in October 1940 and set up a group of Circassian partisans of 14 squadrons whose mission was to monitor the Transjordan-Palestine border.

In relation with General Catroux, Commander-in-Chief and General Delegate of Free France in the Middle East, he does not hesitate to receive the latter's emissaries, without being intimidated by the dangers to which he is exposed by receiving " dissidents ".

In April-May 1941, the Iraqi insurrection broke out and Collet did not hesitate, in May 1941, to protest to the High Commissioner, General Dentz, against the reception that Vichy reserved in the Middle East for enemy planes.

Decided to switch to the Free French Forces, he met General Catroux on May 20, 1941 at the Syrian-Transjordan border and the next day, with 23 officers, 30 non-commissioned officers and 400 Circassians, he joined the FFL in Palestine.

On June 8, 1941, he took part in operations in Syria at the head of the Group of Cavaliers of the Legentilhomme Division. On June 22, General Catroux appointed him Delegate to Damascus.

Successively promoted lieutenant-colonel, colonel and brigadier general (July 1941), he was appointed to command the region of Meknes. Unfortunately his health precludes a new start in operations.

In January 1944, General de Gaulle decorated him with the Cross of the Liberation in Algiers.

On October 15, 1944, he was appointed Commander of the 17th Military Region in Toulouse.

At the end of 1944, he was appointed general of division and grand officer of the Legion of Honor. He used his last strength to restore order and justice in the deeply troubled 17th Military Region in the weeks following the Liberation.

General Philibert Collet died in Toulouse on April 15, 1945, overcome by illness. He is buried in Toulouse.

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Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
December 9th, 1944
Grand Officier de l' Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
October 9th, 1918
Chevalier de l' Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
March 31st, 1944
l' Ordre de la Libération
Second World War (1939-1945)
4 citations
Croix de Guerre (1914-1918)
Second World War (1939-1945)
17 citations