Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Assassination Attempt on de Gaulle

Office of Security, Washington D.C.
September 27, 1962
Regional Security Office, Amembassy Paris
Attempted Assassination of President de GAULLE – August 22, 1962
Ref: Our Office Memorandum dated September 18, 1962

On September 21, 1962, Mr. E. A. STOCCANE, Chief, Local Investigation Unit, of this office, interviewed M. Andre DUCRET, Commissaire Divisionnaire de Police, Chief of the Security Services of the President of the Republic, for details concerning the attempted assassination of President Charles de Gaulle on August 22, 1962. Mr. Stoccane obtained the following:

The automobile in which the President was riding was a current model CITROEN DE without any protective devices. The tires were identified as Michelin “X”. An older model car but armored has been available for the President’s use but he had repeatedly declined to use it. His car was identified as a CITROEN (traction avant 13 CV) and has been stored for several years in the garage of the Prefecture de Police.

Until lately, President De Gaulle had proved to be a very difficult person to protect because of his aversion to security arrangements to ensure his personal safety. In fact, he actually dislikes being protected. In his private moves, he does not wish to see any policeman, in or out of uniform; nor does he want any motorcycle escorts. This was his attitude and the situation on August 22, 1962 when the latest attempt on his life was made.

There was no protection in front of his car and only a single police car was following the President’s vehicle at a discreet distance. Without the President’s knowledge M. DUCRET, as was his usual practice, had detailed two motorcycle policeman to follow the convoy at even a more discreet distance. They were to intervene only in case of a serious incident. Meanwhile, they had to maintain the appearance of traffic policeman who were not involved in the President’s movement. Thus the President’s vehicle was traveling in the same manner as any other on the highway, stopping at traffic signals and moving with the traffic flow. This was the manner in which President de Gaulle had been proceeding between the Elysee Palace and his private residence at Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises on August 22, 1962.

It was only after the first attempt against his life at Pont-sur-Seine that the President made one concession to the staff in charge of his security: he agreed to use an aircraft as transport from Villacoublay to St. Dizier.
He had also been advised to vary the vehicles in which he rode, even to the extent of utilizing cars painted in colors other than black. However he refused, declaring that he always wanted to ride in the same black CITROEN DS.

The distance between the Elysee Palace and Villacoublay Airport is approximately twenty kilometers. While the route within Paris proper to the airport could have been varied, it was necessary once on the outskirts and in the vicinity of the airport to proceed via a crossing known as “Rond Point du Petit Clamart” or by a devious route using a road emerging from Versailles. The shortest route, however, is by way of the “Rond Point du Petit Clamart.”

Investigation of the August 22 attempt disclosed that the ambush had been organized and directed by a person with military experience and this was immediately noted. The tactics employed were similar to those used by the infantry in attacking convoys. One group comprising two men with machine guns had, it is believed, the mission of immobilizing the first vehicle in order to block the convoy. This was offered as an explanation why the assilants aimed low since it appeared that they had sought to neutralize the vehicle’s hydraulic system, and puncture the tires and gasoline tank. It further assumed that another group was to have attacked the President himself.

As it developed, the tires deflated slowly and the car was thus able to proceed to the airport in the vicinity.

M. Jean-Marie BASTIEN-THIRY, the aeronautical military engineer, who was recently apprehended and who admitted having organized the attempt revealed during the course of his interrogation that if the itinerary followed by the President had been known earlier and more important, the line-up of the vehicles, his tactics would have been different and more effective. He informed the authorities that the assailants three vehicles would have passed the President’s car and the last of these vehicles, a small delivery truck, would have had its rear door thrown own and fire directed at President de Gaulle.

On Sunday, September 16, 1962, President de Gaulle acceded to the request of his security staff and used a helicopter from the Ecole Militaire to his private residence at Colombay-les-Deux-Eglises. However, upon arriving at his destination, either because of wounded pride or because these measures ran counter to his usual attitude, he appeared to be extremely bad temper as a result of which he neglected to attend Mass on that day, an omission that astonished his associates.
M. DUCRET had subsequently forwarded to the President a list of security recommendations to ensure his safety. These were returned to him crossed with red crayon, indicating disapproval.

The combined security elements of the Ministre de L’Interier, Ministre des Armees and the Prefet de Police have agreed that henceforth all presidential moves, irrespective of what they might be, shall be considered as official movements.

Consequently, the itinerary will be carefully scrutinized, the convoy framed with motorcycles and the movement will be accompanied by suitable sound warnings to cause other traffic to halt. Further, a heavily armed car will precede the President’s vehicle and the entire convoy will travel at a rate of speed which, according to M. DUCRET, will be one of the most important security elements.

Since the foregoing and other material previously transmitted constitute the maximum data obtainable from the French authorities, the requirement levied on this office is considered as fulfilled. In the event of further specific request for additional information received from headquarters, efforts will be exerted to comply.

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