Henri Guilleminot was born at Strasbourg on December 2, 1926.He was still a schoolboy when the 2nd World War broke out.
In 1943, barely 17, but burning with impatience to contribute to the liberation of his fatherland under occupation, he joined the Resistance within the Lorris maquis, in the Orléans forest. He took part in several battles as well as in operations that destroyed a German ammunition depot, a train and a number of bridges. Before long, his leadership qualities were detected and he was appointed second lieutenant of the F.F.I. (Internal French Forces) in Saône and Loire.
In June 1944, Second-Lieutenant Henri Guilleminot, who had joined the 1st French Army, was sent the 1st regiment in Bourgogne within which he fought for several months. This was during the German conquest offensive waged by Allied forces, characterized by a string of victories. Wounded in January 1945, at Nonnenbruck, Henri Guilleminot ended the war within the 35th I.R. (Infantry Regiment)
After the war, Second-Lieutenant Guilleminot was admitted to ESMIA of St-Cyr Coëtquidan from where he graduated as an active second-lieutenant. Then, he had barely turned 19.
In July 1946, he volunteered to go to Indochina where he was sent to the Thai country in Tonkin. During the six years that followed, interrupted by two permissions of a few months spent in France, Second-Lieutenant Henri Guilleminot fought with exceptional bravery, carrying out several raids in the heart of the jungle, where he sustained two new injuries. After yet another interlude of a few months in France, in summer 1952, he returned to the Thai country. Henri Guilleminot, having been promoted to captain, became the commander of a parachutist company, a unit he led to the entrenched camp of Nasan which had come under serious Vietminh attack. In December, he distinguished himself in a heroic feat of arms. Fixed bayonet, his parachutists followed him as he charged towards a strategic point held by legionnaires who were at the verge of being overcome by the Viet. The fierce bloody confrontation that ensued culminated in a hand-to-hand combat. The Viet were forced to retreat and despite a battalion that came in for backup, they could not reorganize themselves as bombers incessantly reduced them to fragments. By the time they withdrew, hundreds of bodies littered the battlefield. Thanks to the counter-attack of Captain Guilleminot’s company the entrenched camp was saved.
In Dien Bien Phu, when French forces were encircled, Captain Guilleminot was one of those who jumped amidst enemy fire to join their buddies for the last-ditch stand. Wounded several times, he was captured and imprisoned in Viet camps, but was released on September 2, 1954. He served once more in South Vietnam, as a trainer for the Vietnamese army, till June 1955.
On November 5, 1956, within the framework of the Egyptian expedition, the 2nd RPC, at the orders of Colonel Château-Jobert, dropped at Port Saïd and Port Fouad. Captain Guilleminot was one of the thousand 2nd RPC parachutists engaged in the campaign, backed up by a commando of the 11th response unit. In less than 48 hours, the Egyptian forces were repelled, despite their 11000-man strength and artillery support. The zone was under control when the ceasefire was declared. The victorious French-British forces had to withdraw. Captain Guilleminot left for Algeria, where he became commander of the reconnaissance company of the 2nd parachutist chasseur regiment, after which he took over the command of the Operations Bureau. Considering this post to be restrictive given his potentials, he requested to become commander of an assault company; and this was granted.
What a beautiful scenery those skyscraping cliffs are !
In Kabylie, on June 24, 1958, the 2nd RPC was out on an operation in the Abkou region. Captain Guilleminot was flying over the grandiose circus of Ouazellaguen, in the sector under the 4th company, whose actions he coordinated. A week earlier, while contemplating the extraordinary beauty of the landscape, he exclaimed: what a beautiful scenery those skyscraping cliffs are! Out of a sudden, his helicopter grazed a cliff, and there it went crashing brutally to the ground. By the time his men got to the scene of the crash, Captain Henri Guilleminot’s body was lying there, lifeless and motionless, amidst the wreckage of the scattered helicopter. He had just been killed at the front like Colonel Jean Pierre, commander of the 1st R.E.P., whose helicopter had been shot down a month earlier in the Guelma region.
Henri Guilleminot’s life was that of a soldier and hero. From the age of 17 until his death at 32, this born warrior, who always wanted to be at the front line despite the risks it entailed, had very few moments of peace and rest. He took delight in braving risky situations and fighting. Having received five wounds at the front during the three wars he fought and commended fourteen times, this volunteer serviceman, with unrivalled audacity that derided death, was Commander of the Legion of Honour, holder of the Second World War Cross, T.O.E. war cross, military valour cross, the war wounded medal and several other awards.
The 1975-1977 batch of ESMIA was christened Captain Guilleminot. PC