Maréchal Jean de Lattre de Tassigny – grandson and national hero

Jean and Séraphine Favre had a daughter Marie-Gabrielle (1835-1923) who married Gaston-Joseph de Lattre de Tassigny (1834-1913) at Pleuville in 1854. The ancestral home of the de Lattres was at Mouilleron-en-Pareds in Vendée (about 100 km west of Poitiers). Both families were minor aristocrats and probably came into contact on the Poitiers social scene. Jean Joseph Marie Gabriel de Lattre de Tassigny (1889-1952), a grandson of Marie-Gabrielle and Gaston, had a glittering career in the army and played a major role in 20th century French history (1). He led the French army of liberation which re-occupied France and invaded Germany in 1944-5, alongside the American and British armies, and received the German surrender in May 1945 as one of the four supreme allied commanders.

Montgomery, Eisenhower, Zhukov and De Lattre de Tassigny, Berlin, June 1945.

General de Lattre was born at Mouilleron-en-Pareds and stayed at Pleuville in his youth. He died in 1952 aged 62 after further military successes in the far east, and was given a spectacular state funeral in Paris lasting five days, with Eisenhower and Montgomery among the pallbearers. Although he had remained loyal to the Vichy government in 1940-41, de Lattre did not enter politics, and retained widespread admiration as a successful soldier, liberator, war hero and patriot: any link with him was a source of pride and status. He was posthumously made a Maréchal de France.