The First Escape
Working in his camp was Edith Cavell, a British nurse who had come to realize she could do more than help prisoners recover from their injuries. By the time Henri had been captured, she had helped establish an escape route from Belgium into the neutral Netherlands. Henri soon asked Cavell for her help and, sure enough, two months after he had been captured by the Germans, he had broken out of the camp and was on the run.
Getting across the border was no easy feat, however, and Henri was required to use every bit of his cunning to evade the enemy. Slowly but surely, he made his was across the country, adopting an array of imaginative disguises, from travelling coal salesman to a circus labourer. Eventually, thanks to his ingenuity and ability to improvise, he made it into the Netherlands from where he travelled to England to re-join his army-in-exile. Captain Giraud would go on to fight another day, leading the 4th Zouaves regiment in several campaigns on French soil. For the Edith Cavell, however, the ending was not so happy. The nurse’s secret work was uncovered by the Germans and she was executed in October of 1915.
The World (and Henri) Goes to War Again
While many of his countrymen demobbed as quickly as possible once the war was over, civilian life evidently held little appeal for Henri. In fact, while the “War to End All Wars” may have ended, his remarkable soldiering career nowhere near over. In fact, just three years after the ink had dried on the Treaty of Versailles, Henri was back in action, this time in Morocco. It was here where he was awarded the Legion of Honour, France’s highest military decoration. But once again, his African adventures would come to an abrupt halt. His country needed him back home.
Appointed the commander of the Seventh Army, Henry – by now General Giraud – found himself in the Netherlands in the spring of 1940. Here, he was tasked with halting any German advance through the Ardennes and, once again, he was determined to lead from the front, which is why he embarked on a reconnaissance mission behind enemy lines.