General De Gaulle was buried today (Thursday) in his family tomb at Colombey-Les-Deux-Eglises after a simple funeral service in a small country church in the village.
General De Gaulle was buried today (Thursday) in his family tomb at Colombey-Les-Deux-Eglises after a simple funeral service in a small country church in the village. Tens of thousands of ordinary French men and women lined the streets of Colombey to pay silent tribute to their former leader -- the man who had towered over his country through war and peace.
The plain oak coffin containing the body of Charles de Gaulle was carried to the stone church on an armoured car, covered with a French tricolour flag.
Ten young men fro Colombey, where the General died at his country home on Monday evening, carried the coffin into the packed church, The simplicity of the funeral -- requested by General de Gaulle -- contrasted with the gathering of 100 world leaders who attended a religious service for the former President at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
At the Colombey Church, also known as Notre Dame, an illuminated figure of Christ dominated the Church as the village choir sang a solemn mass at the service. The 50,000 churches of France rang out a peal of honour as the funeral service began.
It was at General de Gaulle's express wish that his funeral took place in the village, which is situated 150 miles (240 kms) South-East of Paris. Among the chief mourners, apart from Madame de Gaulle, were the General's son Philippe, a Captain in the French navy, his daughter Elisabeth and other close relatives.
The funeral mass was celebrated by General de Gaulle's nephew, Father Francois de Gaulle, and by the Bishop of Langres.
Outside the church, at least 20,000 people massed in the village -- normal population 400 -- listened silently to the service as it was relayed by loudspeakers. The mourners had arrived in Colombey by train, by bus, by car and on foot. Some spent the chilly night in the open. Red Cross officials said later that they dealt with about 300 stretcher cases in Colombey -- mainly people who had collapsed from exhaustion.
From the church the funeral procession carried the body of General de Gaulle to the graveyard where he was buried in a family tomb beside his daughter, Anne.