Religious Figure, French Navy Admiral. A native of Brest, in Britanny, he studied first at the Stanislas College in Paris, then at the Saint-Charles College in Saint-Brieuc. He wad admitted to the “École Navale” in October 1906. As a 1st class ensign in 1911, he served aboard the cruiser “Du Chayla” in 1912 and 1913 and took part in the Morocco campaign, re-establishing order in the area of Mogador. He was awarded the Legion of Honor, at the age of 24. The war of 1914-1918 found him in the Mediterranean on board three vessels : the “Dehorter”, the “d’Iberville” and the “Eros”. In 1915, during a stopover in Malta, he asked his admission in the Third-Order, a Franciscan fraternity, and received the scapular. In July 1917, he was promoted lieutenant. In 1918, as commanding officer of the patrol boat “La Tourterelle”, he distinguished himself in the rescue of a troop transport ship. After WWI, he confirmed his vocation and his desire to enter the Carmel order by beginning studies at the College Angelica of Rome. In 1920, at the convent of Avon, he took the religious habit and became known as Louis de la Trinité. He pronounced his vows on September 15, 1921. Four years of studies followed at the Catholic faculties of Lille. On February 11, 1932, the Province of the Carmelite friars of Paris was restored and he was named its Provincial Prior, a charge he kept until the threshold of WWII by renewal of his mandate. In September 1939, he was mobilized as naval officer of reserve and he joined his station in Cherbourg. On February 10, 1940, he was promoted lieutenant commander. Against the besiegeing Germans, he took part in the defense of the arsenal of Cherbourg. Made prisoner on June 19, he escaped on the 22nd from the convoy en route for Germany. Disguised as a peasant, he landed first in Jersey, then in England where he rallied General de Gaulle on June 30. While he was in spiritual retirement in a religious community of London, he thought first that his place should be the one of Chaplain of Free France. But the small number of officers then present in England brought him, after authorization of his superiors, to keep the uniform, and in July 1940, he was named Chief of staff of the Free French Naval Forces (FNFL). On September 23, 1940, at the head of a delegation of negotiating officers trying to land in hostile Dakar (Sénégal), he was fired at and was seriously wounded. He was looked after during six weeks, in Douala (Cameroon). The next November, on board the “Savorgnan de Brazza” and in in his capacity of commanding officer of the FNFL in French Equatorial Africa, he was in charge of the the naval operations of Gabon in connection with the land action led by the future Marshall Leclerc. Made member of the Council of the Empire, he was promoted to the rank of captain, and was designated by General de Gaulle as the first Chancellor of the Order of Liberation, on January 29, 1941. After a political mission in Canada in March 1941, he was named, in July of this same year, High Commissioner for the Pacific with full civil and military powers. He had the mandate, in connection with the Allies, to ensure the defense of the French territories of the Pacific but also to reduce the disagreements which opposed several Free French administrators in Tahiti and in New Caledonia. On December 1941, he was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral. In May 1942, he presided the rallying of Wallis and Futuna territories. On July 19, 1943, he took charge of all the French Naval Forces in Great Britain. On June 14, 1944, on board “La Combattante”, he led General de Gaulle to France and accompanied him at the time of his entry in Paris on August 25. He was promoted vice-admiral in December 1944, and named Deputy Chief of staff of the Navy, as well as General Inspector of the Maritime Forces and Member of the “Académie de la Marine”. In April 1945, he took part as a delegate of France in the Conference of San Francisco which provided the foundations of the United Nations. On August 16, 1945, General de Gaulle appointed him High Commissioner of France and Commander in chief for Indochina. His mandate was to restore order and French sovereignty in the territories of the Indochinese Union and, once freed of the Japanese and Chinese occupation and recovered the Laotian and Cambodian provinces annexed by Siam, to set up a federation of the people of the peninsula. He was promoted squadron vice-admiral in March 1946 and admiral three months later. Although his military objective was achieved, his attempts to build new structures run up against the political good-will of the government of Hô Chi Minh. On December 19, 1946, the Viet-Minh attacked Hanoï by surprise and thus began a war which will last eight years. He was maintained at his station under the governments of Prime ministers Gouin, Bidault and Blum. But his action was debated and the Ramadier government replaced him on March 5, 1947. Upon his return to France, he was named Inspector General of the Maritime Forces and Vice-president of the High Council of the Navy before making retirement at the Convent of the Carmelite friars of Avon-Fontainebleau. At the end of 1947, he took back his charge of Chancellor of the Order of Liberation. About 1955, for reasons of health, he restricted his activities and, in 1958, he asked to be replaced as Chancellor and withdrew himself definitively in the Carmel. He had received the Grand Cross of the Légion d’Honneur and had been decorated by many Allied countries. He was the author of “La Croix de la Libération”, of “Chroniques d’Indochine 1945-1947” and “Souvenirs de Guerre : juin 1940-janvier 1941”. He passed away in Brest and his funerals were celebrated in the church of Avrechy-d’Argenlieu, in presence of General de Gaulle and many of his fellow Companions of the Liberation.
Bio by: Guy Gagnon