René Rossey

During the Second World War the Frenchman René Rossey volunteered for a military career, at first in  the Free French Forces. In 1943, 17 years old, he joined the famous Kieffer Commando and participated in the Allied landing in Normandy. After the liberation of France his unit continued fighting the Germans and finally succeeded in the liberation of Holland. 

When the 16 year old Frenchman René Rossey, born in the French colony of Tunisia, heard the BBC-news on the radio about the Allied campaign in North-Africa against the Nazis, he decided to lie about his age and enlist in the army immediately. He was admitted in the British 8th Army in Tunis. After a few months he was sent to England for further training.  

In England, Rossey came into contact with  Phillipe Kieffer a French commander who was setting up a special commando unit. Attracted by the character of Kieffer, Rossey applied for this unit. After an extreme harsh selection program he joined Kieffers commando unit as a member of the machine guns section.  

In 1944 it was decided that the 177 extremely well trained soldiers of the Kieffer Commando would participate in the invasion of Normandy. On 6 June 1944 Rossey landed in the front line on Sword Beach, at Colleville-sur-Orne. The fighting in Normandy was fierce and few commandos survived the operation without being wounded but René was one of them. Three months after the liberation of France, Rossey set foot on the peninsula of Walcheren for the liberation of Holland, a mission that proved crucial to the Allied victory. 

After the war Rossey moved to Tunisia but in 1956 he eventually settled in France. In 2014 he was made an Officer of the French Legion d’honneur, as the youngest volunteer of the Kieffer Commando. Rossey died on 19 May 2016.