Thursday, April 06, 2017

WW1 - French Fun

Some French troops having fun with captured German helmets. This is from 1917, which was the year of the French mutinies that nearly ended the war. The French are much maligned as 'surrender monkeys'. This is a strange reputation considering they were the most feared military force for a century. Most of 19th Century European continental policy was on containing the fierce French. It is possible immediacy bias as they did roll over quickly in WW2, and then lost in Vietnam... which has been a losing fight for many a foreign invader.


Anonymous said...

On the contrary, French military prowess did not long survive the Revolution. Starting from the late 19th century we have the Fashoda Incident where France attempted to establish itself in the upper Nile. As Lord Salisbury correctly calculated, they ignominiously backed down under British pressure.

In the WWI their reaction to the German threat was horribly inept, a gift for the Germans that almost lost the war in 1914 (perhaps it would have been better if they had). As you note, they later approached collapse in 1917 but were shored up by their allies, mostly the British.

Decline deepened in the inter-war period, followed by rapid collapse in 1940. Then they lost in Vietnam, backed down in Suez and lost in Algeria.

icr said...

The French won the war in Algeria, but "Winds of Change" pressure from Washington persuaded them to give them independence. Another version of the story (I think I read it at Moldbug), is that DeGaulle decided that Algeria could no longer be part of France because that would mean that France ultimately would be Islamicized!