Lieutenant Bouakkaz

sil01Lieutenant Bouakkaz was a Tunisian officer of the 3rd Battalion. At the head of the sections that took hill 862, Lieutenant Bouakkaz was adored by his men.

Bouakkaz was killed during the assault on hill 862. However, he had sworn that he would reach the summit and, after his death, his men carried his body to the top.

An expression of brotherhood which some may see as fanaticism, this disturbing scene powerfully illustrates the commitment of the so-called indigenous troops fighting alongside the French from France. General Chambe described Bouakkaz as a man who was loyal and faithful to the French, who got on well with the other officers, whether “indigenous” [i.e. North African] or of French extraction.

There is no hint of antagonism between Frenchmen and native North Africans in General Chambe’s book, and the idea currently in vogue that relations between colonists and colonized could be characterized only by antagonism or the domination of one group by the other must, in our opinion, be put firmly in perspective, indeed contested. The very fact that, brought together in a single army, these men gave their lives together in the fight for freedom, supports this view.

Marshal Juin paid a glowing tribute to Bouakkaz in his memoirs on the Italian campaign.