Appui-feu de la 14 F
Base de Telergma
4 caporaux du 18e RCP
devant les ruines romaines
Collection Ange Fileti
Conflicts : The Algerian War
The causes of the rebellion
The Algerian war,
November 1954 to July 1962, took place on a vast territory
which France had conquered between 1830 (when they captured
Algiers) and 1843 (when they captured Emir Abd el Kader’s
During the pacification and colonization periods that followed
this conquest, France was still hesitant on deciding which
of the various policies to adopt: colonization, local government
regime, assimilation, semi-autonomy or departmentalization.
The fact is that a century later, at the end of the second
world war, Algeria was still very much dependent on France
both economically and politically. Many uprisings occurred,
notably in Setif and Guelma, and were brutally suppressed.
Organization of the
rebellion was underway...
The Algerian population was made up of native
Arabs and Berbers of Muslim faith, and settlers from various
parts of European the majority of whom were of the Jewish
or Christian faith.
Administrative posts were mostly occupied by the French.
difference between the living standards of the settlers
and the natives further widened the chasm separating both
communities. When Algerian combatants who participated
the Second World War within the framework of Free French
Forces, alongside those who fought the Indochina war returned
home, they no longer accepted to remain second class citizens
in their own very country. The stage was therefore set
for the nationalist movement, which was existing then in
latent state, to start perpetrating acts of violence.
The rebellion began on November 1, 1954,
with bombings against European civilians, targeted by the
National Liberation Front
(F.L.N.) as being symbols of occupation. The intensity
of these bombings increased over the next eight years.
Backed by several neighbouring countries, which served
as its sanctuaries and suppliers of arms and munitions,
F.L.N. created a secret organization, started rallying
and eliminating its political rivals through persuasion
of terrorism. It formed an armed wing, A.L.N, which soon
engaged intensive military operations against French forces
stationed on Algerian soil.
Contrary to the predictions of F.L.N.,
the French government, with a firm resolve, provided its troops
with all the logistics required to enable them stand the challenge.
Some seasoned officers and non-commissioned officers were called
in from Indochina to constitute part of the command team. The
duration of compulsory military service was stepped up from
18 to 28 months, reservists were called back, and necessary
equipment and ammunition were dispatched to Algeria.
depicting this war are those of bombings, to which the anti-subversive
fight, rallying and pacification responded in order to protect
the civilian population. Others are those of ambushes and
clashes, to which French troops responded through cordoning
off and search military operations as well as counter guerrilla
warfare carried out by her operational, legionnaires, parachutists
and commando units often using helicopters as means of transportation
or direct fire supports.
The war attained its climax between
1957 and 1959, when tens of thousands of A.L.N. elements were
killed during fierce fighting between French operational troops
and rebel units. During the same period, the secret organization
was eradicated from the major cities of Algeria and roadblocks
mounted along borders to prevent the influx of new combatants
from neighbouring countries. For the years that followed, the
action capacity of A.L.N. diminished considerably compared
to what it used to be in the beginning. Granted, the French
had accomplished their mission and, militarily victory was
theirs, but politically, it was the other way round...
Escadron de reconnaissance du 18e RCP -
Collection Ange Fileti
The Evian agreement - The toll
The war ended
in 1962, with the Evian agreement recognizing the Independence
of Algeria, which, in a few months, led to the exodus of
the quasi-totality of the «pied-noir» (French
colonial born in Algeria) population towards Metropolitan
France, and the massacre of thousands of harkis (Algerian
soldiers who fought on the French side in the Algerian War
of independence) alongside volunteer auxiliaries who served
in the French army.
According to a study carried out by the
French Ministry of Defence, 1 700 000 is the estimated figure
of persons, including
Moroccans and Tunisians, who were mobilized by France during
the Algerian War. The casualty figures are 25 000 dead and
100 000 injured. Neither do these figures include the loss
suffered by harkis and French auxiliaries nor do they reflect
the martyrdom of all those who stayed behind on Algerian soil
during independence, believing in promises which were never
kept, and who never had the opportunity of savouring "the
peace of heroes".
All the volunteers who fought on the French
side during this war, which was officially recognized as
a war in its own right
only several years later, will forever live to remember this
tragedy and the sacrifice of their comrades-in-arms.