May 25, 2024

Adm. Philippe de Gaulle, the oldest child of the French wartime leader and former president Charles de Gaulle, died on Wednesday in Paris. He was 102.

His death was confirmed by the Élysée Palace, the seat of the French presidency. His son Yves told the newspaper Le Figaro that he died “on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday” at the Institution Nationale des Invalides, the historic French veterans hospital in central Paris. The French Navy’s official Twitter account said Admiral de Gaulle died on Wednesday.

Admiral de Gaulle spent his life in the shadow of his father, France’s wartime savior and the founder of its Fifth Republic, despite his own illustrious record in the French Resistance and his distinguished military career afterward.

As a young naval officer in World War II, he fought in the English Channel and in the Atlantic; personally received the surrender of German troops in Paris occupying the Palais Bourbon, now the French Senate, in August 1944; “took part in all the battles of the Liberation,” the Elysée said; and was wounded six times.

He later became a naval pilot and fought in France’s wars in Indochina and Algeria. He ended his military service in 1982 as inspector general of the French Navy.

None of that career had been enough to earn any special warmth from the austere General de Gaulle. Philippe was nonetheless the careful custodian of his father’s memory, entrusted with the general’s papers and with the family home in northeastern France, at Colombey-les-Deux Églises. He unexpectedly revealed of his father’s human side in a series of interviews that formed the book “De Gaulle, Mon Père,” which became a best seller in France in 2003.

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