His reputation is largely built upon his brilliant body of work within Catholicism, but he also left a luminous legacy as a medical orderly in World War I, as I noted in my recent book: Women in the Church, St. Catherine of Siena, Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, & Criminal Reformation; available free to Lampstand members, see https://catholiceye.wordpress.com/about/ or for purchase at Amazon.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. was one of the most extraordinary Catholic thinkers of the modern age; but, he was also a man of action as indicated by the list of citations from his war service as a medical orderly in World War I, noted in Chardin, Making of a Mind, (1965):

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, registered for non-combatant duties in 1902 and again in 1904, had never done his military service. In December 1914 a recruiting board passed him as ‘fit for active service’. He was called up almost immediately and posted as a medical orderly to the 13th infantry section of a unit stationed first at Vichy and later at Clermont-Ferrand. He left for the front on 20th January 1915, as a stretcher-bearer, 2nd class, in the 8th regiment of Moroccan light infantry (Tirailleurs), which on 23rd June 1915 became the 4th mixed regiment of Zouaves and Moroccan Tirailleurs. On 13th May 1915 he was promoted to corporal.


29th August 1915. Cited in Divisional Orders. ‘Volunteered to leave the aid-post in order to serve in the front-line trenches. Displayed the greatest self-sacrifice and contempt for danger.’

17th September 1916. Cited in Army Orders. ‘A model of bravery, self-sacrifice, and coolness. From the 15th to the 19th August he directed the teams of stretcher-bearers over ground torn by shell-fire and swept by machine guns. On the 18th August he went out to within 20 yards of the enemy lines to retrieve the body of a fallen officer and brought it back to the trenches.’

20th June 1917. Medaille Militaire. ‘A first-rate N.C.O. His sterling character has won him confidence and respect. On 20th May 1917 he deliberately entered a trench under heavy bombardment to bring back a casualty.’

21st May 1921. At the request of his old regiment he was made Chevalier of the Legion d’ Honneur. ‘An outstanding stretcher-bearer, who during four years of active service, was in every battle and engagement the regiment took part in, applying to remain in the ranks in order that he might be with the men, whose dangers and hardships he constantly shared.’ (p. 41)

Wikipedia describes the Médaille militaire:

The Médaille militaire (English: Military Medal) is a military decoration of the French Republic first established in 1852 by Emperor Napoleon III for award to privates and non-commissioned officers who distinguished themselves by acts of bravery in action against an enemy force. He may have taken his inspiration from a medal established and awarded by his father, Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland. An interesting feature of the médaille is that it is also the supreme award for leadership, being awarded to generals and admirals who had been commanders-in-chief. This particular médaille is considered superior even to the grand cross of the Légion d’honneur.

Retrieved November 28, 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A9daille_militaire

And the Legion d’honneur:

The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour (French: Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur) is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte on 19 May 1802. The Order is the highest decoration in France and is divided into five degrees: Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand Croix (Grand Cross).

Retrieved November 28, 2013 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%A9gion_d%27honneur

Lukenbill, D. H. (2014) Women in the Church, St. Catherine of Siena, Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, & Criminal Reformation, (pp. 81-84)