Born on 30 August 1926, at Tunis, René Rossey was barely 16 years old when he joined the Free French Forces, after having lied about his age. He, all by himself, went to Lebanon, where he received basic military training.
Two months later, he went to the United Kingdom, and was sent to the Camberley camp, where from he was subsequently sent to the “Bir Hakeim” barracks, London. There he met Major Philippe Kieffer, who recruited for the 1st Commando Naval Riflemen Battalion.
Upon completing his commando training at Wrexham camp, René Rossey joined the Commando “Kieffer” K-Gun machine-gun section.
On 6 June 1944, he was the youngest of the 177 French soldiers that landed at the Colleville-sur-Orne (or Colleville-Montgomery) beach. He was only 17 years old when he saw France for the very first time…
After the Normandy Battle, Commando Kieffer returned to England to have a rest. But the respite was rather too short as in November 1944, he was once again called up for a landing operation on the Walcheren island, in order to capture the Flessingue port (Holland), which was then seriously guarded by the enemy. And René Rossey took part therein.
The operation was a resounding success. Despite the fierce resistance of the German troops, which was three times greater in number, the Flessingue port was captured in under 7 hours and the rest of the island fell a week later, after the German garrison surrendered. The Allied high command described this feat of arms as “one of the bravest and boldest of the entire war.”
After the surrender of Nazy Germany, René Rossey, who had decided to fight only for the duration of the war, returned to civilian life. Uneducated and poor, he roamed the streets of Paris without being able to land any job [he is the homeless guy we refer to nowadays as tramp). As in the words of Léon Gautier, another Kieffer commando, “no plan had been made for us and it wasn’t any better for him, a Tunisian, who fought for the liberation of France.” He decided to return to Tunisia.
In 1954, married, and back in Paris, he met again with Major Kieffer, who recommended him for Total, where René Rossey spent 34 years.
At his resident at Maurepas (Yvelines), René Rossey passed on to eternity on 19 May 2016.
So self-effacing concerning his feats of arms and munificent according to those who knew him, this famous volunteer serviceman was made Officer of the Legion of Honour in 2014. After his death, only 6 commando Kieffer soldiers are still alive, namely Léon Gautier, Jean Masson, Yves Meudal, Paul Chouteau, Jean Morel and Hubert Faure.