Item description for VANDENBERGHE: Le Commando des Tigres Noirs (Collection Mmoires) by Charles dePirey...
Following on from their excellent, large format studies on the 3 BCCP, French Aeronautical Badges, and Commando's Nord Vietnam, published here in the Spring, Indo Editions announce tow new series of first person accounts of life and death in French Indo-China. You need to be able to read French, but if you can, these high quality paperbacks will give you an unparalleled view of the ordinary men and women who toiled in vain, and fought and died to renew France's Empire after World War II.
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Good Bio by a comrade in arms Jun 2, 2006
Charles de Pirey's path crossed with Roger Vandenberghe's towards the end of the latter's career, and this orphan NCO made enough of an impression on a cavalry officer of noble birth that he resolved to write a book on "Vanden". We should be grateful that he did. Born in Paris the youngest of two sons to a Jewish mother and a WWI gas victim veteran then dying of tuberculosis, the family was so poor that they had to entrust their sons to the care of several farm families in the Pyrenees. After the fathers early death, and the mother's later deportation to the death camps, the Vandenberghe boys became charges of Public Assistance. Partly to avenge their mother, whose fate was then unknown, Albert joined the Corps Franc Pommies (CFP), an FFI unit headed up by a regular officer, to be soon followed by Roger, the youngest member of the corps at 16. With the Allied invasion, the boys were "activated" for supporting guerrilla operations, and were thereafter integrated into De Lattre's First French Army for the march to the Rhine and Danube. With war's end, they opted to make the Army a career, serving in the 49th Infantry, which was created out of the CFP. In the aftermath of ho Chi Minh's December 1946 "Tet" Offensive, both joined a provisional battalion of the 49th Infantry sent to Indochina. After landing at Danang in March 1947, and initial combat in Central Vietnam, they were redirected North, as the 49th Infantry was amalgamated into the 6th Colonial Infantry Regiment. By 1948 both Roger and Albert were serving in the same Partisan unit as junior NCOs leading Vietnamese troops. After Albert's death in combat, Roger began conducting daring raids against the Viet Minh that earned him both fame and implacable enemies. Severly wounded and evacuated to France as "France's most decorated soldier from Indochina", he exploited his fame to demand a return to his old unit once released from hosital. upon return to the 6th Colonials in late 1949, he was given carte blanche to raise another commando. His success as a commando leader earned widespread recognition, and with De Lattre's arrival commando operations became an integral part of French counter-revolutionary warfare. Promoted through the ranks to senior warrant officer (Adjutant-chef) well ahead of his time, he was nominated for a battlefield commission after an audacious thrust through Viet Minh lines to reinforce an overrun outpost at Ninh Binh and recover the body of General De Lattre's only son, who had been killed in the fight. Unfortunately for Vandenberghe, one of his Viet Minh recruits was a deep cover agent infiltrated for the sole purpose of earning his trust, killing Vandenberghe and his lieutenants, and dismantling the commando. On 6 January 1952, this coup succeeded. de Pirey's bio of Roger Vandenberghe is the most complete account of Vandenberghe and his operations available in any language. It does not enjoy the professinal detail of Jean-Pierre Pissardy's "Commandos Nord-Vietnam", but it is an easy read and provides valuable insights into Vandenberghe's character, methods of operation, and weaknesses. Highly recommended for anyone interested in Indochina, French commando operations, or the role of noncommissioned officers in special operations.