Billotte, General Gaston Herve Gustave, 1875-1940

As Commander of the First Army Group in 1940, Billotte was effectively Chief of the principal front of operations, being directly subordinate to GEORGES (Commander in Chief, North East) and GAMELIN (the Supreme Commander), and having under him the best of the French Field Armies (the 1st and 7th) as well as the British Expeditionary Force. He was also said to be the only French General who knew Gamelin’s mind (for what that was worth) and in whom General Lord GORT and King LEOPOLD of the Belgians had full confidence. On the German invasion of Belgium he supervised the advance to the Dyle and the subsequent withdrawals to the Escaut and the Dendre but, at the moment of his death, in a road accident, was planning a counter-attack. His death could not have come at a worse moment for the Allies. His son, Pierre, rallied to DE GAULLE and commanded a Free French armored formation in the liberation of Normandy and Paris in 1944.

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