Retired U.S. Army Col. John L. Chamberlain Jr., former professor of French at West Point and Georgetown University, and press liaison officer to the first Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, died Saturday at Georgetown University Hospital. He was 74.

Col. Chamberlain, who was still active in the university's adult education program at the time of his death, was a graduate of the Groton School in Groton, Conn., and a 1925 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

He also received degrees from the Sorbonne and Alliance Francase in Paris and a master's degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

A native of San Francisco, Col. Chamberlain taught both French and German at West Point prior to World War II. He fought with the 7th Army in North Africa and was liaison officer with the First French Army in campaigns through Italy, France and Germany.

He was awarded the Croix de Guerre and made an officer of the French Legion of Honor for his work with the French army.

Following the war, Col. Chamberlain served from 1947 to 1948 as Forrestal's press liaison officer. He retired in 1955, joining Georgetown University as associate professor of French. He retired from Georgetown in 1973.

A member of the Cosmos Club, he lived in Washington.

Besides his wife, Marie, of the home, Col. Chamberlain is survived by two sons, Dr. John III of Washington and Dr. Heath of Vancouver, B.C.; a sister, Mrs. Frederic M. Bradley of Washington, and three grandchildren.

The family requests that memorial contributions be sent to Christ Church in Georgetown or Children's Hospital.