[WG news] The Story of Philippe Auboyneau



Philippe Auboyneau (1899–1961) was an admiral of the French Navy. In July 1940, he joined the Free French Forces and took command of destroyer Le Triomphant.

Shortly thereafter, Auboyneau took charge of all the Free French naval forces in the region and, together with Australian sailors, fought against the Japanese fleet. In April 1942, he became Commander of the naval branch of the Free French Forces, but resigned from this post in order to personally take part in the landings in Provence in August, 1944. After the war, he held high positions in the armed forces and government of the country. For his service, he was awarded with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor.

Philippe Auboyneau lived a vibrant life. Here are several major highlights of his biography.

Philippe Marie Joseph Raymond Auboyneau was born into the family of a banker on November 9, 1899, in Constantinople—the capital of the Ottoman Empire. At the age of 17, Philippe was enrolled into the École Navale naval academy, and from March to November 1918, he served on destroyer Typhon. In the period between the two world wars, he studied at École de guerre navale and was a destroyer commander. In December 1939, he was promoted to the rank of frigate captain (capitaine de frégate).

Philippe Auboyneau was a French Navy liaison officer to the Royal Navy. While in this post, he managed to develop a good basis of cooperation with the Admiralty, and established close contacts with many British admirals. At the time of the German invasion of France in May 1940, Auboyneau was on board battleship Warspite—the flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet Commander, Andrew Cunningham.

After that, Philippe Auboyneau joined General De Gaulle, who headed the “Fighting French Forces” (later renamed the “Free French” forces) in London. Behind the helm of destroyer Le Triomphant, he engaged in actions in the Atlantic and Pacific. One of the operations conducted in the Pacific, together with the Americans and Australians, was the evacuation of a garrison from the islands of Banaba and Nauru, located in close proximity to the Imperial Japanese Navy bases in the region.

In November 1941, Auboyneau was promoted to the rank of ship-of-the-line captain (capitaine de vaisseau), and by March 1942, he was in charge of all the Free France naval forces.

In November 1942, shortly after the Allied forces landed in northern Africa, Auboyneau arrived in Algeria along with other leaders of the Free France movement, where he served as chief of the naval staff. In January 1943, Auboyneau was promoted to rear admiral. In August 1944, Auboyneau led a cruiser division during Operation Dragoon—the Allied landings in Southern France.

Auboyneau was promoted to the rank of vice admiral and put in command of France’s naval forces in the Far East in September 1945. He stayed in the post for two years and took part in hostilities in Indochina. In August 1955, he became commander of the French naval forces in the Mediterranean, taking charge of the nation’s fleet during the hostilities in Algeria. He was promoted to admiral in December 1957. In May, 1958, he supported Charles de Gaulle’s return to power, and in 1960 he was appointed as a member of the Conseil d’État. For his service, Philippe Auboyneau was awarded with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor.

Auboyneau died in Paris on February 22, 1961.


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