Claude Barrès, grandson of the writer Maurice Barrès, was born on March 22, 1925.
Aged 17 in 1943, while France was under the Nazi yoke, he volunteered to join the Free French Forces in England where he was admitted in the Free France cadets’ school. He was posted to the 3rd Air Battalion commanded by Major Château-Jobert, alias "Conan". A go-getter, he was made second lieutenant.
On August 15, 1944, he was dropped in France, in the region of Lyons, where he joined the Resistance forces. Man of action and a born leader, he proved to be indiscipline as he exhibited outstanding authority at the front. Sharing the lifestyle of his commandos through his distinctive friendly character, he masterminded and led various ambushes and attacks against the German army which was retreating before the advance of the Allies. Even though France had entirely been liberated in the spring of 1945, Claude Barrès continued the fight right up to Holland where, in April, he was dropped behind enemy lines.
In 1950, Lieutenant Barrès was serving in Indochina, within the operational staff of the special airborne forces. During the four years that followed, he successively served in the 5° BCCP, followed by the GCMA, the famous Groupement de Commandos Mixtes Aéroportés (Mixed Airborne Commando Group), whose mission was to create insecurity in the jungle, at the rears of Viet-Minh, where Claude Barrès was dropped on several occasions. He also served as a volunteer in Korea, where he was wounded. Upon recovery, he joined the 3rd Parachutists’ Overseas Battalion.
In 1954, Captain Barrès became member of the SDECE Service "Action".
In 1958, Captain Barrès took over the command of the 5th Company of the 9th RCP in Algeria, where he once more exhibited his drive and qualities as a charismatic and brave leader. But his legendary luck soon forsook him. While leading his men to launch an attack against a rebel position in the Djebel Harraba at the Tunisian border, he was mowed down by machinegun fire.
Killed in action at the age of 34, when he was at the peak of his glory, this great volunteer serviceman was Commander of the Legion of Honour, and had received the Second World War Cross decoration and bar, and the Military Valour Cross decoration with a silver star. He had 10 commendations to his credit.
In 1993, his name was given to the 54th batch of trainee officers at the combined military academy (EMIA), in Coëtquidan. A stele was erected in his honour at the entrance of the drop zone of the school.