Henri Gouraud (French Army officer)

Henri Gouraud (French Army officer)

Infobox Military Person
name=Henri Gouraud

caption=Henri Gouraud in Morocco
born=17 November 1867
died=16 September 1946
placeofbirth=Paris, France
placeofdeath=Paris, France
branch=French Army
rank=Général d'Armée
commands=10th Infantry Division
Fourth Army
battles=World War I

Henri Joseph Eugène Gouraud (17 November 1867 – 16 September 1946) was a French general, best known for his leadership of the French Fourth Army at the end of the World War I.

Early life

Henri Gouraud was born on Rue de Grenelle in Paris on 17 November 1867 to Doctor Xavier Gouraud and Mary Portal, the first of six children. The Gouraud family originally came from Vendée, but had left during the French Revolution for Angers, then Paris. Gouraud was educated at home and at the Collège Stanislas de Paris. His decision for a military career was, like many Frenchmen of his generation, motived by the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871).

Gouraud entered the Saint Cyr Military Academy in 1888 as part of the “Grand Triomphe” promotion, a well chosen name as it included sixty future generals. He graduated in 1890 and joined the Troupes de marine. He expected to be posted overseas as the Troupes de marine served in the French colonial empire, but his father objected because he feared that the marines would be a bad influence on his son. Gouraud respected his fathers wish and was instead posted to the 21st Foot Chasseur Regiment at Montbéliard.


Henri Gouraud was assigned in 1894 to French Sudan. He developed a reputation as an effective if lucky commander. In 1898, he was ordered to head one of a number of units fighting Samori, the resistance leader who had been fighting the French for more than a decade. Driven into the highlands south of Niger River valley by a series of previous defeats, Samori's forces were defeated within the year. On 29 September 1898, Gouraud's unit stumbled upon Samori's encampment and captured him [ [http://calbears.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1310/is_1984_May/ai_3247486/pg_3 M'Baye Gueye, Albert Adu Boahen. West Africa; the fight for survival - a continent resists colonization] . UNESCO Courier, May, 1984.] . More importantly, it marked the end of the last large state opposing French colonialism in the WestMartin Klein. Slavery and Colonial Rule in French West Africa. Cambridge (1998) ISBN 0521593247. pp.119-121.] .

The capture of Samori made Henri Gouraud a celebrated figure in France, at the same time as nationalists were recovering from the setback against the British at Fashoda. The young captain was feted in the highest political circles of Paris, where he was introduced to powerful businessmen and politicians with interests in the colonial project. Among them were Auguste d'Arenberg and Eugène Étienne, future founders of what was called the "parti colonial". Thanks to the patronage of the "parti colonial", Henri Gouraud pursued a career across French Africa for the next fifteen years, with postings in Niger, Chad and Mauritania. In 1907, he was promoted to colonel and "commissaire du Gouvernement général" of Mauritania, where he led a campaign against Bedouin tribes who threatened transport between the colonies of Morocco and French West Africa.

In 1911, after attending the "centre des Hautes études militaires" in France, colonel Gouraud was stationed in Morocco, where he was promoted to général de brigade, serving under Lyautey. He was placed in command of the Fez military region, and in 1914 in command of all French troops in western Morocco.

World War I

As commander of the French forces committed in the Dardanelles Campaign of 1915 (Battle of Gallipoli) he lost his right arm. From July 1917 until the end of the war he commanded the Fourth Army on the Western Front, where he gained distinction for his use of elastic defense during the Second Battle of the Marne.

French Mandate of Syria

After the war, Gouraud served from 1919 to 1923 as representative of the French Government in the Middle East and commander of the French Army of the Levant. As commander of French forces during Franco-Turkish war, he presided over the creation of the French Mandates in Syria and Lebanon. Following the implementation of the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided the occupied remnants of the Ottoman Empire between France and Britain, Gouraud was commander of forces sent to enforce the French division of the Levant. Between 20 January and 10 February 1920 Gouraud's troops routed Turkish National Forces at the Battle of Maraş. His forces crushed King Faisal's short-lived monarchy at the Battle of Maysalun on July 23, 1920, occupied Damascus, defeated the forces of the Syrian Revolution and established the French Mandate of Syria. These territories were reorganised a number of times by Gouraud's decrees, the most famous being the creation of the State of Greater Lebanon on 1 September 1920. Gouraud became the French High Commissioner in Syria and Lebanon, effective head of the colonial government there.

He is remembered in the Levant primarily for this role, and for an attributed anecdote which portrays him as the epitome of Western triumphalism in the Middle East. After marching into Damascus in July 1920 to put down an anti-colonial rising, Gouraud is reputed have stood upon Saladin's grave, kicked it and said: "The Crusades have ended now! Awake Saladin, we have returned! My presence here consecrates the victory of the Cross over the Crescent." [There are a number of accounts of this, but the antecdote seems of fairly recent provenance.
[http://www.dawn.com/weekly/mazdak/20030405.htm Waiting for Saladin] , Dawn (newspaper), Irfan Husain, 05 April 2003.
[http://www.dawn.com/2005/03/27/op.htm Joining hands politically] , Dawn (newspaper), Anwar Syed, March, 27 2005.
[http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EC20Ak06.html Another Gulf War, another al-Qaeda] , Asia Times, Ahmad Faruqui, 20 March 2003.
[http://worldpolicy.org/journal/articles/wpj06-1/coda.html Syriana, or The Godfather, Part I] , World Policy Journal, Karl E. Meyer, Volume XXIII, No 1, Winter 2006.
Tariq Ali, The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity. Verso, 2002, p.43.
[http://www.robert-fisk.com/articles480.htm Memories of war, fear and friendship in my home city, where time has stood still] , The Independent, Robert Fisk, 19 March 2005.

Particularly unpopular following the brutal French taking of Damascus, the Syrian folk hero Adham Khanjar is famed for attempting to murder Gouraud.

Later years

In 1923, he returned to France, where was the Military Governor of Paris from 1923 to 1937. He also served on the Supreme Allied War Council from 1927 until his retirement in 1937. General Gouraud died in Paris in 1946.


*Légion d'honneur
**Knight (18 October 1898)
**Officer (31 May 1904)
**Commander (11 July 1909)
**Grand Officer (10 August 1914)
**Grand Cross (28 December 1918)
*Médaille militaire (10 July 1915)
*Croix de guerre 1914-1918
*Médaille Interalliée de la Victoire
*Médaille Commémorative de la Grande Guerre
*Médaille Commémorative "Syrie-Cilicie"
*Médaille Coloniale with agrafes "Sénégal et Soudan" "Maroc" "Mauritanie et Adrar"
*Grand Cordon of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Italy)
*Commander of the Nicham El-Anouar (Tunisia)
*Commander of the Nichan Iftikhar (Tunisia)
*Distinguished Service Medal (USA)

Published Works

"La Pacification de Mauritanie. Journal des marches et opérations de la colonne de l'Adrar", 1910 ; "Souvenirs d'un Africain, Au Soudan", 1939 ; "Zinder-Tchad. Souvenirs d'un Africain", 1944 ; "Mauritanie-Adrar", 1945 ; "Au Maroc", 1946


*Paris has a "Place du Général-Gouraud" in the 7th arrondissement.
*A commemorative statue to Général Gouraud stands in a garden next to Les Invalides.
*A massive Cedar tree near the town of Ifrane in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco was named for the General. The "Gouraud Cedar" is believed to be over 800 years old, and was "discovered" by Gouraud's troops during the French campaign against anti-colonial resistance on the Timahdite Plateau in the years 1917-19. [ [http://www.chleuhs.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=316 chleuhs.com, Histoires : L'agonie du cèdre dit Gouraud] , 3 June 2006.]
*Rue Gouraud in the Achrafieh district of Beirut is named for the General.



* This article encorporates translations of the French language Wikipedia articles and .
* [http://andurain.eu/ Le général Gouraud durant la Grande Guerre]
* [http://www.lyceefr.org/aaegd/gouraud1.htm Biographie de Henri Joseph Eugène Gouraud]

On his time in the Levant

*Philippe Gouraud. Le general Henri Gouraud au Liban et en Syrie (1919-1923) (Comprendre le Moyen-Orient). L'Harmattan (1993). ISBN 9782738420732
*Elizabeth Thompson. Colonial Citizens: Republican Rights, Paternal Privilege, and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon. Columbia University Press, (2000) ISBN 0213106610

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