A member of an Aude Catholic family of officers, Armand Bénésis de Rotrou was born at Bône (Algeria) where his father was serving as a captain in the 3rd Algerian colonial infantry.
From 1938, he spent his childhood in the centre and east of France, and later on continued secondary school with the idea of becoming a soldier. This call was momentarily thwarted by his impaired hearing, which required several surgical operations to amend, and which prevented him from entering a renowned military academy.
At the beginning of 1956, as a young reserve officer, he volunteered to go to the front in Algeria, where upheavals, which started in 1954, had turned into an all-out war. He served there till the end of the war, in 1962.
He initially participated in the fighting as the head of a combat section, and later on as that of a unit of Harkis. In 1959, he became an assistant officer in the famous “Georges” commando trained from rebels rallied by Bigeard, commander of the Saïda operation sector. He was then called up to go through very diverse regions and to witness the most difficult operation situations ahead of the ceasefire, and thereafter even more tragic ones.
“Armand Bénésis de Rotrou heading the 2nd ‘Georges’ Commando Company,
the Saïda Muslim commando.”
Having become a zone commando (division), and later on an army corps and finally a general reserve, this assault troop, which recorded a toll of one thousand rebels killed or taken prisoners, invigorated by its motto “Chase away poverty”, immediately became a legend of the Algerian war, both because of its victories at the warfront and its successes in the conversion of souls and the social promotion of its fellow believers.
In September 1961, Lieutenant “Armand” (his Saïda battle name) was transferred to Constantine, as the commander of an isolated combat company, as a punitive measure for collusion with O.A.S. which he had joined at the order of his boss.
When Algeria gained independence, he continued to live within the native population which he knew very well and with which he had created serious ties.
After 1962, at his request, he reintegrated the Foreign Legion within which he served in Algeria and the Sahara, and participated in the 1969 Chadian campaign. In 1983, he left the army, at his request, and continued a second civil career overseas.
With a heart forever embittered by the thought of his army buddies from all origins, who fell or were exterminated, he gives a testimony of this war, which though was won at the front and in the conquest of souls, was lost politically. After having fought against poverty and savagery, in the book he published in 2009, entitled: Commando “Georges” et l’Algérie d’après, he decided to join the battle for the truth.
He is one of those who are of the opinion that France ought to have left Algeria shoulders high, by living behind a prosperous country and friend with its inhabitants.
Wounded twice and holder of six commendations, including one with a bar, holder of the military valour cross and a volunteer serviceman cross, Lieutenant-colonel Bénésis de Rotrou is commander of the Legion of Honour.