11 March 1963 – Jean Bastien-Thiry

Jean Bastien-ThiryThey say there’s a bullet out there with your name on it. Well French President Charles de Gaulle had over 200 fired at him and he managed to evade them all.

Jean Bastien-Thiry was completely set on killing when he oversaw a plot to murder the then President. And roughly 220 bullets were found at the scene of an attempted assassination of the French head of state.

It’s all a bit of mystery as to why really. The French assassin was born into a family of army officers, so battling was in his blood. And he was hugely talented to boot, going to France’s top engineering school, before qualifying and turning his hand to aeronautical weapons.

Independence day

It turns out he was helping a secret body, which was heavily anti-Algerian independence on the side. Algeria was at war with France – the African country craved independence – and this was their attempted break for freedom.

The battle raged for roughly eight years before a referendum was held to find out how Algerians actually felt about French control. French citizens living in Algeria didn’t get a vote. So, of course the vote was overwhelmingly in favour of breaking away from France.

A secret organisation of right-wing extremists came together to fight this development and somehow they managed to enlist the help of Bastien-Thiry. Together they schemed to assassinate President de Gaulle, who’d signed his name to the Evian agreement, which effectively ended the war and gave Algeria its longed-for independence.

Gunned down

The President’s car was peppered with 14 bullet holes, while a further 20 hit a nearby café with a stonking 187 just lying around on 22 August 1962. Of course, the machine-gun attempt failed – de Gaulle survived, thanks largely to, well… a pretty ordinary car really – a Citroën DS – plus some pretty nifty manoeuvres on the part of his driver, despite two blown out tyres. Bastien-Thiry wasn’t so lucky.

At the beginning of the trial, de Gaulle reckoned he’d get off with about 20-odd years of incarceration, but by the time it came to his being sentenced de Gaulle had changed his mind and Bastien-Thiry got given the death sentence. Why? Because it transpired during the trial, that while Bastien-Thiry hadn’t actually pulled the trigger at any point, he’d been the brains behind the operation and that made his the more treasonous, premeditated crime.

As a result Bastien-Thiry got a taste of his own bullet flavoured medicine just over six months later, aged 35, when he came face to face with his very own firing squad at Ivry-sur-Seine on this day in 1963.

If you want some further de Gaulle based assassination chicanery you could do a lot worse than watching Edward Fox in Day Of The Jackal where Bastien-Thiry is played by Jean Sorel.

Be careful not to confuse this with Bruce Willis in “The Jackal though or you might end up being sick all over your DVD player.

Also on this day

11 March 1889 – Jessie King

Bookmark this site
del.icio.us | digg | facebook | reddit | StumbleUpon


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: