Born in Lille on November 22, 1 890, de Gaulle graduated with distinction from St Cyr Military Academy. He was commissioned into the 33rd Infantry Regiment commanded by Colonel Philippe Petain and fought in World War I where he was wounded and taken prisoner at Verdun in 1916. In the interwar years he had already become a public figure by his book Vers I 'Armee de Metier and was cultivating political contacts. He was commanding a tank brigade in 1939 in Alsace and was given the half-formed 4th Armoured Div in May 1940. The division launched two attacks at Laon and Abbeville and then de Gaulle was summoned to Paris and appointed Under-Secretary of State for War and National Defence in Paul Reynaud's short lived government. He visited London and met Churchill. When Renaud resigned de Gaulle was in danger of being arrested by General Weygand and flew to Britain. It was here on June 1 8 he made his historic broadcast calling on the people of France to continue the fight and making himself head of the Free French movement. In France he was tried in absentia, found guilty of "treason, threatening state security and desertion abroad in time of war” and condemned to death by the Vichy government. He was viewed with suspicion by many non political Frenchmen. In Great Britain de Gaulle developed the France Combatant - Fighting French - as a political and military force with his headquarters at 4 Carlton Gardens, London. Though sidelined by the Allies during much of World War II by May 1944 he had become the head of an alternative French government and was acknowledged as such by the United States. De Gaulle's triumphant entry into Paris on August 26, 1944 confirmed his position as national leader and saviour of France, a role in which he gloried.