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50e anniversary of the return of the Pacific Battalion

Withdrawn   The Battalion was formed with 300 Tahitian «volunteers» who joined the Free French Forces as soon as September 9, 1940. They left Tahiti aboard the "Monowai" to meet 300 of their New Caledonian comrades. The Battalion of the Pacific was created in Nouméa on May 5, 1941 under the command of Major Félix BROCHE, who was the instigator thereof.

This elite unit of the Free French Forces became famous on the battlefields of Lybia in 1942 (Bir Hakeim, El Alamein), Tunisia in 1943 (Cape Bon), Italy in 1944 (sector of Monte Cassino, Sienna, Rome) and France in 1944 (landing in Provence, the Rhone Valley, the Vosges, Belfort, etc.).

The harsh winter conditions of 1944 - 1945 were such that the command made the decision of withdrawing the Polynesian and Melenesian soldiers fron the Easter Front of France, to assign them to the guarding of military Government of Paris, under the threat of an offensive led by General von Runsted in the Ardennes. They joined General Koenig, their commander in the Battle of Bir Hakeim.

As the maritime links with France in the Pacific had been discontinued for the full duration of the war, it was in March 1946 only that the "Sagittaire", a mixed cargo ship of the Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes, was able to reopen line, arriving in Papeete on May 8, 1946, taking the Tahitian and New Caledonian survivors of the Battalion of the Pacific back to their homland after 5 years and 9 days away from home, along with a detachement of sailors, aviators and paratroopers as well as a number of gendarmes and public servants who came to take over positions who had remained vacant due to war.

Under the name or "BP1" and then "B.I.M.P." (Marine Battalion of the Pacific), the flag holds the 1939-1945 Military Cross, with 5 palms, making it one of the most decorated flags of the French Army. The battalion is also part of the 18 French Military units having been given the Cross of the Order of the Liberation from General de Gaulle himself in 1945 while war was not finished yet.

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