RIP Paul Chouteau | 1922-2017
Troop 8 – Commando No4
1st Special Service Brigade
Paul Chouteau was born in Gray on 3 March 1922. At just 17, when World War II broke out, he joined the French Navy on 6 June 1939 and participated as a gunner in escort convoys in the North Sea. In June 1940, France surrendered and the “Commandant Dominé” warship on which he served was captured by the British: made prisoner, he asked to return to his country.
He continues to serve in the navy aboard the cruiser “Émile Bertin”. While in the Caribbean, on the island of Martinique, he learned of the rapprochement of the Vichy regime with the Germans. Opposing this collaboration, he rallied with another sailor and in kayac the neighboring island of St. Lucia, administered by Great-Britain.
He succeeded in joining England, where he joined the Free French Naval Forces (FNFL) and then joined the commandos, a unit he had not known a few weeks earlier. Despite particularly difficult conditions and harsh tests, he is admitted to No. 8 Troop.
On June 6, 1944, he landed with his brothers-in-arms at Colleville-sur-Orne (today Colleville-Montgomery) on Sword Beach sector. He said: “It was difficult to walk because of the weight of our equipments. But we were not afraid. There was nobody in front, the bullets whistled. We fell right into the barbed wire. Everything was well protected“. But Paul Chouteau is wounded by five shrapnels due to the explosion of a shell.
Evacuated to England for medical treatment, he was reengaged in Normandy in July 1944 with his unit to defend positions east of the Orne in the Bréville-les-Monts area. He also took part in fights led by the Kieffer Commando in Holland at Flessingue on 1st November 1944.
Paul Chouteau was demobilized in 1945 with the rank of quartermaster. He then began a career in the National Police but remained very discreet about his participation in the landing of Normandy. He died on January 26, 2017.