Philippe François Marie, comte de Hauteclocque, from 1945 known as Jacques-Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, or by his French resistance alias Jacques-Philippe Leclerc, (November 22, 1902 - November 28, 1947), was a Marshal of France and a famous French military leader.
He was born in Belloy-Saint-Léonard , Somme, France. He attended the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr, graduating in 1924, and entered the French Army; he attained the rank of captain in 1937, brigadier-general in August 1941, and major-general in 1943. He was Governor of French Cameroon from August 29, 1940 to November 12, 1940.
During World War II, he joined the Free French forces and distinguished himself in Tunisia. Sent in from Normandy, his 2nd Armored Division freed Paris. Some argue that General George S. Patton freed the bulk of northern France, and was ordered to halt at the outskirts of Paris by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, to give Leclerc the appearance of freeing the city. Others note that the Allied troops were avoiding Paris, moving around it clockwise towards Germany, and that Leclerc and De Gaulle had to persuade Eisenhower to let some troops help the Parisians who had risen against the German troops.
Leclerc accepted Dietrich von Choltitz's surrender at the Gare Montparnasse. His troops subsequently liberated Strasbourg and finished their war course in Berchtesgaden, Hitler's headquarters in the Austrian Alps.
When the war was over in Europe, he received command of the French forces in Pacific, and represented France during the surrender of the Japanese Empire; in May 1945 he was appointed a member of the Légion d'honneur, and the same year legally changed his name to Jacques-Philippe Leclerc de Hautecloque, incorporating his pseudonym.
As commander in Indochina, he defeated Vietminh in South Vietnam but recognized need for a negotiated settlement. Leclerc's forces set forth in October, first cracking a Vietminh blockade around Saigon, then driving through the Mekong delta and up into the highlands.
Jean Sainteny flew to Saigon to consult Leclerc, then acting as high commissioner, approved Sainteny's proposal to negotiate with Vietnam. Admiral d' Argenlieu bluntly denounced Leclerc: "I am amazed-yes, that is the word, amazed-that Frances fine expeditionary corps in Indochina is commanded by officers who would rather negotiate than fight.
The negotiation did not work. General Leclerc, returned to Paris form Vietnam, now warned that "anti-communism will be a useless tool unless the problem of nationalism is resolved." But his wisdom was ignored. The French Communists, after breaking with Paul Ramadier, triggered a series of strikes and other disorders that plunged France into civil strife. Leclerc was later replaced by Jean Etienne Valluy.
He died in 1947 in an airplane accident near Colomb-Béchar , Algeria.
He was awarded the dignity of Marshal of France posthumously, in 1952.
The Leclerc - a main battle tank built by GIAT Industries of France - is named after him.