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10th Parachute Division
Insigne de la 10e division parachutiste.jpg
10th D.P. shoulde patch
Active 1956–1961
Country  France
Branch French army
Type Airborne forces
Engagements Suez Crisis
Algerian War
Jacques Massu (1956–1959)
Jean Gracieux (1959–1960)
Bernard Saint-Hillier (1960–1961)

The 10th Parachute Division (French: 10e division parachutiste or 10e D.P.) was a formation of the French Army. It consisted predominantly of infantry troops. It specialized in airborne combat and air assault. Established in 1956, it fought primarily in the Suez Crisis and the Algerian War. It was dissolved immediately after the Algiers putsch of 1961.

Composition[edit | edit source]

Organizational chart of the 10e D.P.

On July 1, 1956, the 10e D.P. is created with the following units:

  • Support:
    • 60th Headquarters company (60e CGQ)
    • 60th Transmission company of (60e CT)
    • Platoon of Army Light Aviation
    • Transport group n°507 (GT 507)
    • 60th Airborne engineers company (60e CGAP)
    • 60th Divisional Maintenance company (60e CRD)
    • 405th Medical company (405e CM)
    • 60th Military logistics section (60e SRI)
  • Airborne artillery
    • 20th Parachute artillery group (20e GAP)

Note: On the 1 December 1958, the "Colonial infantry" was renamed "Marine infantry".

History[edit | edit source]

Operation Musketeer[edit | edit source]

Barely created, the 10e D.P. took part in the Suez Crisis in Egypt, in an operation named "Operation Musketeer". The 10 D.P. was reinforced for this purpose with:

On the 5 November 1956, elements of the 10e D.P. were dropped on Port Fuad and Port Said, completed the next morning by amphibious assaults on both towns. Although the battle was a military success, allied troops had to withdrawn due to pressure from the United States.

Battle of Algiers[edit | edit source]

File:Casbah-bataille d'Alger 1957.jpg

Soldiers of the 3e RPC in the Casbah of Algiers.

In Algiers, the National Liberation Front (FLN) was carrying out a wave of terrorist attacks an urban guerilla which made many casualties, mostly Muslim civilians.[1] In January 1957, Robert Lacoste, Minister Resident in Algeria, reacted by giving full powers to General Massu over the Algiers area. Massu sent the 10 D.P. to search out, arrest and question FLN members. The battle of Algiers proved to be a clear succes for the French military, with most prominent FLN leaders killed or arrested and terrorist attacks effectively stopped.[2] However, the use of torture against some FLN members led to an increasing opposition to war in France and internationally.

File:10e DP Bataille d'Alger.jpg

The 10e D.P. in Algiers

Battle of the Frontiers[edit | edit source]

In 1956, the newly independent Republic of Tunisia was helping the FLN by smuggling weapons and men through its territory. The electrified fence known as the Morice Line was built up to prevent Algerian FLN guerrillas from entering the French colony of Algeria from Tunisia. The 10 D.P. was assigned to the surveillance of a portion of the electrified border, in order to intercept rebel bands that have managed to cross it. The Morice Line had a significant impact of the reduction of guerrillas activities by forces that originated from Tunisia. However, general Massu, the commanding officer of the 10 D.P. was relieved of his command as he criticized president Charles de Gaulle's actions.

Algiers Putsch[edit | edit source]

Despite the military successes, French Prime Minister Michel Debré's government started secret negotiations with the anti-colonialist FLN in order to grant independence to Algeria. French settlers and soldiers were stunned by this decision and a putsch was organized in Algiers. With the exception of the 3e RPIMa, the rest of the 10e D.P. supported the coup. When the putsch failed the 25e D.P. along with the 10e D.P. were dissolved and the 1er REP was the only regiment disbanded.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. In Le livre blanc de l'armée française en Algérie, p.37, between November 1954 et May 1957, 16,932 attacks were perpetrated against civilians and 9,134 against police and military forces, it resulted in the death of 6,325 Muslims and 1,035 Europeans.
  2. Bernard Droz, Evelyne Lever, Histoire de la guerre d'Algérie, Points Histoire, éd.du Seuil, 1982 p. 129-130

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