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|Corporal Louis LeBeau|
|Enlisted In||Allies, Armée de l'Air|
|Appearances||Full List of Appearances|
Louis LeBeau is born in Bordeux, France on May 4, 1927 (said by himself in one episode). He has once claimed that his father owns a paint store in Paris. Other than his father, his only other known relative is his cousin, Emil, who is a big game hunter. LeBeau went through the French educational system, during which he learns to play the piano. He also learns how to cook, either learning it from his mother, or from a cooking school, or a combination of the two. Sometime before the start of World War II, LeBeau is going out with a girl whom he did or did not later marry. (One episode of the series says that he has a girlfriend, while another says that he is married.) At some point, more than likely between the Munich Crisis of 1938 and the French declaration of war on Nazi Germany of September 3, 1939, LeBeau is drafted into the French military and after training, is posted to the French Air Force.
World War II Edit
Sometime after the declaration of war, he is posted to an air unit which spends the drôle de guerre period of 1939-40 preparing for the German attack. It is to be assumed that he is involved in the Battle of France and is captured by the Germans either during the campaign, or at some time after France's surrender of June 25, 1940 in the vicinity of Salon. He is placed in a German prisoner of war camp along with hundreds of his countrymen. Some time between then and his being sent to Stalag 13, he is strung up by his thumbs by the Gestapo while being interrogated for information.
In 1942, LeBeau is transferred to Stalag 13. At some point after his transfer, LeBeau joins Hogan's anti-Nazi organization to fight back at the Germans. LeBeau helps with the group's general work of spying and sabotage, including photography of secret German papers. Apparently having learned the skill, or at least the code, from Corporal Newkirk, he also sneaks into Klink's office to retrieve items from the office safe. Although apparently claustrophobic, it is often necessary for LeBeau to spend time in very small spaces to listen or even drive a miniature tank - this is due to the fact that he is the smallest of the "heroes," and the only one who can fit. Corporal LeBeau has also befriended the camp's guard dogs so that they would not raise the alarm on either him or his fellow prisoners, especially when they need to use the secret entrance that is under one of the doghouses. At times, he helps with the tailoring of the disguises that he and the other prisoners would wear for certain missions, although towards the end of the series, his skill with a needle was sometimes criticized by his fellow prisoners. LeBeau washes the clothes of the POWs when needed, using a special German detergent that gets clothes "whiter than white" (rather pointed, considering the racial opinions of the Nazis). He also has some skill with a razor, as he gives Col. Hogan a shave in at least one episode. Since LeBeau faints at the sight of blood, having him wield a razor may be a bit risky.
His cooking skills are not only used to keep the other prisoners reasonably healthy to conduct their missions, but also to help distract the German officers who come to the camp as Klink's guests with the best in either French or German cuisine. While the Germans eat, Hogan and the others photograph their papers. LeBeau also uses his cooking to make German foods such as strudel and potato pancakes; these are at first used to bribe Schultz to get information or special privileges from him, but later become more of a reward. Other food creations whipped up by LeBeau include apple crumb cake, bouillabaisse a la Marseillaise (fish stew), cherries jubilee, chateaubriand, hors d'œuvre (deviled eggs/smoked salmon/stuffed mushrooms/pâté de foie gras), and schnapps punch. He even cooks up special food for the guard dogs, "that is better than what the Krauts serve you."
For entertainment, LeBeau joins the other prisoners in playing cards in the barracks, or volleyball, basketball (where he gets affectionately referred to as "Shorty"), or horseshoes during exercise period. He also can sing and dance very well, and was, for a time, an entertainer before the war.
LeBeau is an intelligent soldier who is very loyal to Colonel Hogan, as well as being a very patriotic Frenchman. He is sometimes very emotional, especially if he thinks that either his cooking or his homeland has been insulted, especially by the Germans. He is not above rash action, even going so far as to steal the Édouard Manet painting The Fifer (incorrectly titled by the show's writers as "The Boy With The Fife") to prevent it from winding up in Hermann Goering's art collection (Art for Hogan's Sake)
Like the other prisoners, he has a soft spot for Sergeant Schultz. Schultz has nicknamed him "Cockroach," which he mostly uses to sound tough. LeBeau was also something of a romantic, with a tendency to attempt to woo any female he met. This was especially true of the Soviet spy Marya (although she could have led LeBeau on to get information for her Soviet masters). However, at one point, LeBeau claimed to have a girlfriend, and at another time that he was married. Marya refers to him as "My little one" or "My small one".