Free France officer cadets

As early as August 1940, de Gaulle decided to create a formation in which the students who had answered his call could be given officer training. At first they were accommodated in a kind of military boarding-school then, in February 1941, the first students of the future Free French equivalent of Saint-Cyr came together in Malvern (Worcestershire) to form an embryo Military Academy.

In October 1940, however, the General was based in Brazzaville, the capital of French Equatorial Africa, and decided to set up a military academy that would bear the name "Colona d’Ornano". The academy would produce two hundred officer cadets formed into six squads. At the end of that same year, another training course was started at a camp in Camberley in Great Britain, which would produce some 50 or so officer cadets. 

In Damascus, two student squads were formed from which over 40 officer cadets were promoted in October 1941. Meanwhile General Leclerc also decided to open a student squad in June 1941. The last of these squads, trained at Sabrattha (Libya), was to pass out in June 1943.

Over this period the Free French Cadet Military Academy, based since May 1942 at Riverfust Hall in Worcestershire, was to produce five cadet classes:

"Libération", June 1941, "Bir Hakeim", December 1942, "Fuzza  Tezzan and Tunisia", June 1943, and " 18 juin", June 1944.

Between 1940 and 1944, some four hundred officers were trained in the academies and squads. Losses among these junior officers of Free France, second lieutenants and lieutenants, were very high (one in four former cadets was killed in action).

The Cadet Military Academy was incorporated into the Saint-Cyr Military Academy by an act of parliament on 17 March 1954, and the Saint Cyr promotion of 1987 bears the name  "Cadets de la France Libre" (Cadets of Free France).

Active old boys' associations keep alive the contacts between former free French officer cadets.