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Bill Thayer

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General Henri Giraud

Mes Évasions
Illustrations by Henri Faivre

The Author and the Book

General Henri Giraud (1883‑1949), French soldier and patriot, fought for France as a young captain in the First World War, then as an army general (général d'armée) in the Second World War, in command of the first and for a long time the largest Free French army to fight the Germans. Much less savvy in matters political, he saw himself sidelined by General de Gaulle (a latecomer to battle, but a media genius who succeeded in garnering British support while Gen. Giraud was cooling his heels in a German prison). The online Larousse encyclopedia gives us a good summary of his career (in French); fortunately for English speakers, you will find on my site an entire 282‑page book devoted to him, Giraud and the African Scene: it was published in 1944, and is thus a contemporaneous report of events still unfolding while the war was yet unwon.

But from that German prison, like from another German prison in World War I, Henri Giraud managed to escape, as he did from the reach of the collaborationist Vichy regime that was trying to hunt him down: escapes that made him famous — and which during World War II significantly energized French morale. After the war, he very quickly published the story of these three escapes that you are about to read (Julliard, 1946).

The edition I transcribed here is that of Hachette's "Bibliothèque verte", 1st series, and is thus aimed at a younger audience; but to be honest, the account of various political difficulties, and even a few little more personal details of his story (despite being told rather delicately), seem to me somewhat unsuited to children, so I think the text is complete and identical with that of the first edition.

To my daughter Renée,
who died for France, in Germany.





A Captain's Escape


An Army General's Escape


Three's the Charm


Technical Details

Edition and Copyright

The text on this site is my transcription of Henri Giraud's book published in Paris in 1949 by Hachette, and thus governed by French law; it thus rose into the public domain on January 1, 2020, seventy years after the author's death, which was also in 1949.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

Although the print edition was fairly well proofread, I did spot a few mistakes: they are all trivial, however — mere typos — and I've corrected them thruout with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet or the underscored words to read what was actually printed. Somewhat similarly, glide your cursor over bullets before measurements: they provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles. Very occasionally, also, I use this blue circle to make some brief comment.

The occasional inconsistency in punctuation has been corrected to the author's usual style, in a slightly different color — barely noticeable on the page, but it shows up in the sourcecode as <SPAN CLASS="emend">. Finally, a number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have the printed edition in front of you.


The book includes a few illustrations, which I reproduce of course: lithograph drawings, black-and‑white with rose-bistre accents; they are just imaginative vignettes illustrating certains high points of the story. After all, we have before us a book for young people; here for example is the portrait of Giraud found on the title page, the only one of the images without a trace of color:

[ALT de l'image : Lithograph portrait of a man in middle age, with a moustache, his military uniform barely sketched in, and wearing a garrison cap with a saltire of five stars. He is General Henri Giraud.]

Pagination and Local Links

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is indicated by local links in the sourcecode and made apparent in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line p57 ). Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

[image ALT: A photoportrait, three-quarters right, of a middle-aged man in military uniform, with a képi. The image is used thruout this site as the icon for the book 'Mes Evasions': a personal account of the three prison escapes of General Henri Giraud, the first during the First World War, the other two during the Second World War.]

The icon I use for this book is taken from the dust jacket of my copy.

[ALT de l'image : HTML 4.01 valide.]

Page updated: 26 Apr 22