Captain Tixier

Captain TixierCaptain Tixier was 36 years old at the time of the Battle of Belvedere. He was the only officer of the 4th R.T.T. who was a graduate of Saint-Cyr [Military Academy].

He was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour at the age of 23, a very young age for such an honour.

He served in the French Campaign in 1940 where he was wounded for the first time.

He served in the Tunisian campaign in 1943 where he was wounded a second time in fighting at Mansour.

Commanding officer of the 7th Company of the 4th R.T.T., he led from the front during the fighting to take hill 700, arousing the admiration of all his soldiers.

On 31 January 1944, Captain Tixier had the top part of his face torn away by a piece of shrapnel. It was a terrible injury; Captain Tixier knew that he had been blinded for life. He was bandaged after a fashion by his men. He did not lose consciousness and was able to speak normally. His conduct after his injury testified to his exceptional courage and nobility. Sixty-four years after the events, the tragic circumstances of his death cannot be forgotten and can only remain as an example for present and future generations.

At the first-aid post, Tixier waited to be evacuated with the numerous other wounded men. The A.F.A.T. nurses pinned an evacuation slip on the men’s jackets. They were completely surrounded by mountains and transport was difficult. The officers and those most seriously wounded were evacuated first. The nurses looked for Captain Tixier but he seemed to have vanished. In fact, Captain Tixier had pulled off his officer’s stripes in order not to be evacuated as a priority, and had joined the troops.

Questioned by a nurse who believed he had found him, he replied that his name was Mohammed Ben Ali (the name of his orderly).

Recognized eventually, he replied calmly:

there are riflemen here in a worse state than me, I don’t want to be evacuated ahead of them.

Captain Tixier was then transported to Naples. After twelve days of terrible suffering without complaint, his agony came to an end. During this time he had the strength to dictate the citations of his men.

When he died, the head doctor, deeply moved, said :

he was a nobleman, a knight.

Captain Tixier was married and had three children. His wife, like many officers’ wives at the time, was in Tunis. He dictated to the nurse a letter for his wife and son which would become his spiritual testament.

Excerpt from “Bataillon du Belvédère”:

Tixier commended his son, in particular, to his wife. She was to bring him up as a Christian, directing him towards fine, noble and lofty ideas. She was to protect him against the contemporary malaise, the thirst for pleasure, the appetite for money, inspire in him a disregard for wealth, make him love poverty, which, alone, would free him from all the needs that diminish the souls of others, would ensure his independence of mind and would permit him to know the only passion worth living for: putting oneself at the service of an ideal, such as freedom, honour, or the independence of one’s country […]

In truth, it was indeed a nobleman, a knight, whom we took to the cemetery in Naples that February morning, and who would stand guard there, with his cross with open arms, a testament to French greatness.