Raoul Salan

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Raoul Salan
Birth nameRaoul Albin Louis Salan
Born(1899-06-10)10 June 1899
Roquecourbe, France
Died3 July 1984(1984-07-03) (aged 85)
Paris, France
Allegiance France
Organisation armée secrète
Service/branchFrench Army
Years of service1917–1959
RankGénéral d'Armée
Commands held6th Senegalese Tirailleur Regiment
14th Infantry Division
French Far East Expeditionary Corps
French forces in Algeria
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
First Indochina War
Algerian War
AwardsGrand Cross of the Legion of Honor
Other workLeader of the OAS

Raoul Albin Louis Salan (French pronunciation: ; 10 June 1899 – 3 July 1984) was a French Army general and the founder of the Organisation armée secrète, a clandestine terrorist organisation that sought to defend the French colonial empire by preventing Algerian independence. He served as the fourth French commanding general during the First Indochina War. He was one of four retired generals who organized the 1961 Algiers Putsch operation. He was the most decorated soldier in the French Army at the end of his military career.

World War I

Raoul Salan parading on the Champs-Élysées at the head of the 14th Infantry Division, 18 June 1945. (fr)

Salan was born on 10 June 1899 in Roquecourbe, Tarn. Enlisted in the French Army for the duration of the war on 2 August 1917, he was accepted in the École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr on 21 August 1917, being assigned to the cadet student platoon of the 16th Infantry Regiment stationed at Montbrison, as part of the promotion "de Saint-Odile et de La Fayette" (1917-1918). Salan graduated as an aspirant on 25 July 1918, and was assigned to the 5th Colonial Infantry Regiment (5e RIC) in Lyon on 14 August 1918.

As a platoon leader in the 5e RIC's 11e Compagnie, he took part in the fighting in the Verdun region (Saint-Mihiel, Les Éparges, Fort de Bois-Bourru, Côte de Oie, Cumières-le-Mort-Homme). He was mentioned in the Order of the Brigade by Order dated 29 December 1918.

World War II

Until France's surrender in World War II, Colonel Salan commanded a battalion of Senegalese troops. At first he sided with the Vichy Government, but when the tide turned to the Allied side, he campaigned hard and successfully in southern France with General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny's troops. Between the world wars he was attached in various capacities to the Ministry of Colonies, and in 1941–43 he served with the Free French forces in French West Africa. After participating in the Allied invasion of France in 1944, he went to Indochina in 1945 and was commander in chief there during 1952–53.

Indochina and Algeria

Salan served as the commander of French forces in Vietnam from 1945 to 1947. By 1948, he was commander of all French land forces in East Asia, and after the death of Jean de Lattre de Tassigny in 1952, Salan became the commander-in-chief in Indochina.

French General Salan and the Lao Prince Sisavang Vatthana in Luang Prabang, 4 May 1953

Salan served as commander-in-chief of French forces in French Algeria in 1956. In 1958, he established special military internment centers for PAM rebels. The Minister of Interior declared a state of emergency, while the army engaged in a "struggle against the terrorism" of the FLN. Special powers were devolved to the military and were returned to civilian powers only in September 1959, when Charles de Gaulle made his speech on self-determination. General Salan refused to apply the Geneva Conventions ratified by France in 1951 because the detainees were not POW's. The civil authorities had different attitudes concerning the use of torture by the military.

In 1958, Salan called for the return to power of Charles De Gaulle, believing that the latter would protect French Algeria. He retired shortly after, first moving to Spain, then to mainland France. He was banned from entering Algeria in 1960.

Nevertheless, Salan returned to Algeria to organize the putsch on 21 April 1961 with André Zeller, Edmond Jouhaud and Maurice Challe. After the failure of the putsch, he became the chief of Organisation armée secrète (OAS), which attempted to disrupt the April 1962 Peace Evian Accords. Salan, who was sentenced to death in absentia, was arrested in April 1962. He was tried for treason and sentenced to life in prison. Salan was pardoned and released from prison in June 1968. He was amnestied by the French parliament and re-instated to the rank of general in 1982.



Salan died on 3 July 1984. Every year, former members of the OAS bring flowers to his tomb on his death anniversary.


Salan was the most decorated soldier in the French Army.

A ribbon bar featuring all decorations received by General Salan

French and Colonial Decorations

Foreign Decorations



  1. ^ a b c d Krebs, Albin (July 4, 1984). "RAOUL SALAN DIES; LED ALGERIA PLOT". The New York Times. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  2. ^ Krebs, Albin (1984-07-04). "RAOUL SALAN DIES; LED ALGERIA PLOT". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-12-23.
  3. ^ "Saint-Cyr – Promotion « de Saint-Odile et de La Fayette » (1917~1918) - Forum PAGES 14-18". forum.pages14-18.com. 8 December 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  4. ^ Boÿ, Jean (25 October 2010). "Historique des 101e et 102e promotions (1917-18), promotions de Sainte-Odile et de La Fayette" (PDF). La Saint-Cyrienne: 11 – via Saint-Cyr.org.
  5. ^ "Raoul Salan Dies; Led Algeria Plot". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Raoul Salan | French general | Britannica". 29 June 2023.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Gen. Raoul Salan. France's most decorated soldier dies". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Santa Cruz, California. July 4, 1984. p. 10. Retrieved June 5, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ Silence in the Dock TIME Magazine Friday, 25 May 1962
  9. ^ "1962: Ex-general escapes death sentence". 1962-05-23. Retrieved 2023-07-17.
  10. ^ "OBITUARIES Gen. Raoul Salan, French Leader In Algeria, Dies From News Services". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2023-07-17.
  11. ^ To the guillotine TIME Magazine Friday, 27 Apr 1962
  12. ^ Cros, Philippe (June 11, 2014). "Les " fidèles " du chef de l'OAS commémorent". La Montagne. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  13. ^ Krebs, Albin (1984-07-04). "RAOUL SALAN DIES; LED ALGERIA PLOT". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-02-01.

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