Louis Chomette was born in 1919, at Saint-Etienne.
In 1939, when the war broke out, he joined the 7th Cavalry Spahi unit, and was admitted to the Saumur Cavalry Academy (Ecole de Cavalerie de Saumur).
In May 1940, promoted to senior officer cadet, he commanded a platoon of Somua tanks and fought German troops in the north of Loire till the cessation of hostilities. He distinguished himself by his outstanding performance.
Retained in the army after the armistice, Second Lieutenant Chomette was earmarked for service in Indochina in January 1941. He was initially sent to Tonkin, That Khe, and subsequently to Langson, at the Island’s fort that was under construction.
On 9 March 1945, the Japanese launched an onslaught against the French garrisons in Indochina. Louis Chomette led the resistance at the fort, since its leader had been put out of action at the beginning of the attack. The fort was attacked with heavy artillery from Japanese troops supported by the aviation.
On Sunday, 11 March 1945, towards dusk, the fort, having been overwhelmed, gave way. Louis Chomette and other last valid defenders were captured, tied to the stake and fired with automatic weapons. With blade weapons, the executioners proceeded to terminating their victims one after the other and threw their bodies into a ravine beside the fort.
At night, Louis Chomette and two other soldiers, despite their serious injuries, managed to crawl out of the mass grave and went to the Langson sick bay. Being a Japanese captive, Louis Chomette was incarcerated in the Hoa Binh “slow death” detention camp till September 1945 when the French forces arrived and released him. Without let-up, he fought in Laos within the Crèvecoeur column against Chinese troops.
Lieutenant Chomette returned to France in December 1946. In February 1947, he was transferred to Tarbes, in the 5 BPIC, the first parachute unit of colonial troops. After obtaining his parachutist licence (N°10.296), he left for Indochina in October 1947. Upon arrival at Saigon, the battalion assumed the name 2nd colonial parachute commando battalion (2 BCCP). Louis Chomette became commander of the 1st commando of the 4th company. On 25 December 1947, Louis Chomette participated in the first parachute operation (OAP) performed by the battalion in Cambodia.
On February 14, 1948, during the “VEGA” OAP, the 4th company lost its captain alongside the assistant officer. On the field, Louis Chomette took over command of the company and remained its commander till December 1949, when the 2 BCCP returned to France. During this campaign, he performed 14 war parachute drops. In spring of 1950, he was appointed Captain to Meucon for the creation and training of new colonial parachute battalions.
In 1952, he left for Tonkin with the 5th BPC, as company commander. The period 1952-1953 was exceptionally bloody for this unit as hostilities in Vietnam escalated. He was posted to the combined airborne commando group (GCMA), a Unihau, in the Highland Region of Tonkin, along the China/Laos borders, where he organized Deo Van Long indigenous companies that perpetrated guerrilla actions in the rears of the Vietminh enemy.
Early 1954, Captain Chomette returned to France, and was transferred to the colonial parachute brigade. Lieutenant-Colonel Fourcade entrusted him with the command of the reconnaissance squadron which became the mount company (compagnie montée) of the regiment in 1957. Louis Chomette with this unit participated, from 1956 to the end of 1958, in the Algerian campaign, notably in the battles of Saint Charles, Mechta Ain El Kseub, Tebessa, and Djidjelli.
On 1 January 1959, he returned to the Saharan group of East Niger, Zinder. As former French territories in Africa started gaining independence, Louis Chomette progressively transferred to them the infrastructure and equipment that hitherto belonged to French troops.
In 1963, at the end of this mission, Lieutenant-Colonel Louis Chomette retired and moved over to Cournon, thereby turning over a rather hectic military leaf of his life book. He embarked yet on a new adventure as a civilian in Auvergne. He spent his last days at the Brioude retirement home. His funeral was organized on 30 December 2009. He now rests in peace at the St. Beauzire graveyard, at Haute-Loire.
Obsèques de Louis Chomette - Photo Ange Fileti
Having received two war injuries and eight commendations, this famous volunteer serviceman was Commander of the Legion of Honour and Commander of the National Order of Merit. He was equally holder of the Second World War cross, Overseas Operations cross, military valour cross, volunteer servicemen cross, medal of aeronautics, and several other awards.