22/05/2024
Norwich, GB 15 C
Researching and reporting on the lives of some really interesting people (RIP)

HUBERT GERMAIN, aged 101

THE GOOD COMPANION

Hubert was born in Paris, the son of General Maxime Germain.

He went to the French Military Academy in Bordeaux and was an extremely promising student. In June 1940 he had just one exam to go to be qualified when the Nazis invaded France.

His exam paper was on the table, but he said to the examiner, “What is the point of taking an examination which, in the event you will pass, will oblige you to obey a German order?”.

He then handed in a blank piece of paper with only his name on it. The invigilator told him there was four hours to go. He responded, “There’s no point – I’m going to war.

He immediately joined the Free French. Hubert was only 19.

Hubert at war
Hubert at war (courtesy of the Daily Telegraph)

He saw action in the Battle of Bir Hakeim and was also fighting in the Battle of El Alamein (1942).

In 1944 he was wounded in Italy but returned to action to participate in Operation Dragon, the Allied landing in Provence.

In November 1944 Hubert was made a Companion of the Order of Liberation. This had been created in 1940 by Charles de Gaulle, to honour soldiers, resistance fighters and civilians who had fought the Nazi occupation of France.

After the war Hubert was in the French contingent of the Allied army who occupied Germany until 1946.

During the war there were 1,032 male companions and 6 women. Three companions were foreign statesmen who had helped France – General Eisenhower, Winston Churchill and King Mohammed 5th of Morocco.

Over 300 Companions were killed during the war, leaving 700 surviving when hostilities ended.

Prior to being demobbed, Hubert married Simone Millon. They were to have two daughters and a son.

In 1953 he became Mayor of Saint-Cheron in the Essonne Department of Northern France, a position he held until 1965.

Overlapping this, Hubert became a Deputy (i.e., equivalent to an MP) in Paris’ 14th Constituency. He served here for 11 years until 1973.

He also was a member of the French Government, serving under Pierre Messmer as Minister of Posts and Telecommunications.

On the 20th November 2020, Daniel Cordier died. This left Hubert as the last surviving Companion of the Order of Liberation. He was immediately promoted to be Honorary Chancellor of the order.

When Hubert died in October 2021, his funeral took place on Remembrance Day with a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe. It was shown live on French television. All the leading politicians were present.

His coffin, with his medals draped on them was carried through Les Invalides. He was laid to rest in the crypt of the Memorial de la France Combattante. There had been a place reserved in Crypt 9 for the last survivor, since 1945.

President Macron gave the eulogy and said, “He defended freedom with his brothers in arms, with his brothers in spirit and all who recognise themselves as such – our task will be to continue the fight with the same fervour. We will.

In the last interview before his death, Hubert said, “I am just a companion amongst companions. I wake up at 5am, I daydream, and I prepare my spiritual life.”

RIP – Remembered In Paris

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