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Conus, Adrien

Date of birth:
January 6th, 1901 (Moscow, Russia)
Date of death:
September 1st, 1947 (Bangui, Central African Republic)
French (1870-present, Republic)


During his military service, he participated in Morocco's operations from 1924 to 1926.

Public works engineer in Equatorial Africa in Bangui, he gave up his first profession to become a hunter.

Mobilized as reserve sergeant-chief in September 1939, he participated in the rallying of the Oubangui-Chari, and joined the Free French Forces in August 1940.

Under the command of Pierre-Louis Bourgoin, he joined the Frankish group of the 2nd March Battalion of the AEF (BM 2), created on November 1, 1940 in Bangui under the orders of Commander de Roux.

At the beginning of January 1941, the BM2, after having received its pennant, left Bangui to join Brazzaville, in Congo, where it received new recruits. He made another move towards Durban, in February, before reaching Suez, in April, then Qastina, in Palestine, where the land forces of Free France were regrouping. On May 26, 1941, the Battalion was reviewed by General de Gaulle.

Staff Sergeant Conus took an active part in the campaign in Syria in June 1941; his courage and his qualities at the head of a frank group, quickly make him one of the most appreciated elements of his unit (operations of Abu, Atriss-Kaden and Nébec).

Promoted to second lieutenant in September 1941 and assigned to an administrative post in Jebel Druze, he was bored and joined BM2 in Egypt on his own at the end of 1941.

In May 1942, in Libya, Adrien Conus had the daring idea of ​​mounting the British Bren Carrier, the French 25 mm gun, thus transforming this tracked vehicle into a formidable machine which, during numerous patrols, caused great damage. to enemy vehicles. Conus took part in particular in the fights of El-Michellé and El-Tellin.

At Bir-Hakeim, at the head of his section of Bren Carrier thus equipped, he breaks all the armored assaults he receives in his sector. During the night out by force, an anti-tank destroyed his machine, he was then wounded by gunshot to the shoulder.

Assigned to the Experimental Work Shop in the Middle East, he still showed ingenuity by developing an autocannon, the "Conus Gun". This time it is a French 75 mounted on a truck chassis, thus giving it extreme mobility which allows it to integrate into all motorized patrols. From El-Alamein to Tunisia, two platoons of these auto-guns inflicted considerable losses on German armored vehicles and vehicles.

He himself joined in April 1943 the 1st Moroccan Spahis Marching Regiment (1er RMSM) to take part in the Tunisian campaign during which he received a second shrapnel wound to the foot.

Sent to London in October 1943, he was assigned, after a brief convalescence, to the parachute unit of Colonel Bourgoin who commanded the Frankish group of BM 2, before undergoing long training on British soil. Under the pseudonym "Volume", it was dropped off by air operations in Ain in early July 1944 as part of the allied mission "Eucalyptus"; he joined the Vercors and placed himself under the authority of Lieutenant-Colonel Huet, military leader of the Vercors.

On July 21, 1944, the Vercors was surrounded; Adrien Conus volunteered for an impossible liaison mission with the Oisans maquis. On July 23, he was taken prisoner by the Germans with some comrades. Interrogated, horribly tortured for hours (his executioners dislocate both shoulders and tear off his nails with his left hand), he persists in refusing to give any information that may be useful to the enemy. Designated for the firing squad with his companions, they were taken to Saint-Guillaume in Isère.

Four men have already been shot when, placed in front of the firing squad, Adrien Conus jumps on the men who were going to shoot him, pushes them aside, throws himself into a 10-meter deep ravine and hides in a hole, covering himself with leaves . He thus escapes death and, heading south-east, towards Oisans, he arrives at the edge of the Drac at the beginning of the afternoon of the next day. Helped by an old woman who looked after him and by the parish priest of a small village, he was received a few hours later by the FFI who led him to the officer in charge of the Mûre sector and, from there, to Commander Bastide (Alain Le Ray) to whom he reports. His mission was carried out.

Barely recovered, he returned to his post in the Vercors and took part in the battles of the Dauphinois maquis. Promoted battalion commander in September 1944, he then fought in Germany in infiltration behind enemy lines with the A220 commando of Colonel Duclos.

After the German surrender, he left for Indochina where he set up a parachute unit, the "Commando Conus". Lieutenant-Colonel Conus left Indochina at the beginning of July to return to France where he was treated.

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Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
July 13th, 1945
l' Ordre de la Libération
Second World War (1939-1945)
5 citations
Croix de Guerre (1939-1945)
Second World War (1939-1945)
with rosette
Médaille de la Résistance Française
Second World War (1939-1945)
with clasp « Maroc »
Médaille Coloniale
Second World War (1939-1945)
Commandant (Major)
Awarded on:
"Commandant Adrien Conus who had served in Lybia and Tunis and has been wounded at BIR HAKIM was parachuted behind the lines in France on the 6th July 1944 as the French member of an inter-allied mission to the Vercors. He tok an active part in the vigorous fighting which followd D-Day in South-East France.

When the mission and its maquis were attacked by a greatly superior enemy force, he volunteered to cross the Isere to contact an F.F.I. Commander South-East of Grenoble, in order to ask him to attack the enemy in the rear. He travelled in civilian clothes well aware of the slender chances of getting through the enemy lines at their strongest point and through controlled passes.

Commandant Conus was caught by the enemy and tortured: the nails of all ten fingers were smashed by a hammer, he was stabbed about the eyes and both his shoulder were dislocated. In spite of this he gave no information about his comrades to his interrogators. Finally he was placed with the comrades, inf ront of a German firing squad. He was the eleventh man in the line and escaped by jumping over the side of a cliff in front of the squad. Two German bullits hit him. In spite of his wounds Commandant Conus continued to take part in local guerilla fighting.

It is recommended that this officer be appointed a Companion in the Distinguished Service Order."

Colin Gubbins
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)