Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Glory of the France

BG Robert Doughty (USAR Ret), a former history instructor at West Point, claims to be the proud owner of the largest collection of French Army jokes in existence. That's ironic because he and Professor Michael Neiberg of the University of Southern Mississippi have just brought the French Army of 1917 back to life, and reminded the audience of the fact that during the Great War that army was widely regarded as the epitome of self-sacrifice and valor. The image of the French as cheese-eating surrender monkeys is a revisionist portrait, minted long after the fact. In reality French defenses of 1917 featured "suicide trenches", manned only by volunteers, far in advance of the main line of resistance, who did not expect survive. One of the most evocative anecdotes was of Georges Clemenceau in tears after an inspection of a suicide trench, remarking that of all the marvels a man might hope to see in life, nothing could compare with that.

I will post a few more observations after the presentation on the German Army.

Nothing follows.

39 Comments:

Blogger NahnCee said...

THat was then.

This is now.

What has France done for the world lately, other than inflict their pedophiliac soldiers on third world victims, allow their Muslims to multiply and run amok with the barbecue every night, and try to screw America and act as a "counterbalance"?

France has got a lot of making up to do before I'll even admit they're human, let alone having "valor".

In the meantime, bring on the jokes.

11/01/2007 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger chigalum said...

Suicide Trenches? That's gotta be a French Military joke right?

Sorry Wretchard, most of us will resist any attempt to rehabilitate France's reputation.

11/01/2007 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hillary Returns to Wellsley.

Question:
How many Wellsley Girls does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer:
It's Wymin, and that's not funny!

11/01/2007 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Dispatches, Michael Yon.
Iraqi Islamic Party says, "Al Qaeda is Defeated." - Nov 1, 2007

11/01/2007 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger alohasteve said...

Great site!

Would you consider a Link Exchange with The Internet Radio Network? At the IRN you can listen for free to over 40 of America's top listened to Talk Shows worldwide via FREE STREAMING AUDIO!

http://netradionetwork.com

11/01/2007 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

Count me an admirer, mostly, of the French. Americans have had their problems with them, but the policies of recent French governments no doubt have Napoléon spinning in that gorgeous tomb of his, and Richelieu doing the same, wherever he is. DeGaulle was a pain -- but given his problems, we would have been pains for him too had the roles been reversed.

For every Sedan, Leipzig and Waterloo, there was an Austerlitz, Jena, Wagram and Fontenoy, to say nothing of Verdun the Somme and the First Battle of the Marne.

Their army in 1914-1918 was very fine, even if it started with bad doctrine and no heavy artillery and it held up under some awful blows. They put everything they had into that war in terms of manpower and resources -- I don't think we've ever had to do that, with the partial exception of the Confederate States of America. Small wonder they had no appetite for repeating the experience twenty-odd years later.

It should be remembered, when considering the collapse in 1940, that the Germans had the experience of the Polish campaign to work the bugs out of their system. Even the French Army did much better in the second half of the 1940 campaign than they had done in the early phases -- but they ran out of resources and space to profit by the learning curve. The Soviet Union, to take one example, was more fortunate in being larger.

Finally I'd argue that some of their para regiments in Vietnam and Algeria (and not just the Foreign Legion units either), were as fine a bunch of soldiers as any western country has ever produced.

11/01/2007 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11/01/2007 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

The French Army went on strike in 1917. The Forlorn Hope in the suicide trenches concealed that from the Germans.

The French ground their seed corn 1914-1918.

A generation later they staked the survival of the Third Republic on concrete and Force Protection and never recovered from the shock of being so catastrophically wrong.

11/01/2007 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11/01/2007 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

A man asks his companion, "What's the most common French expression"? His friend scratches his head, shrugs his shoulders and replies, "I give up!"

Ok, that's a cheap shot, but since W hasn't given us a link to BG Robert Doughty's jokes, it sort of an open invitation

11/01/2007 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

w/o the French, we would not have Steve Martin's "Roxanne!"

Rapier Wit and a Nose for Poetry

A revival of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” starring Jennifer Garner and Kevin Kline, opened tonight on Broadway.

11/01/2007 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Agree with Jefe; read Bernard Fall's "Hell in a very Small Place" about the ill fated defeat at Dien Bien Phu and you'll see all the valor in the world among the seasoned French para regiments.
In Algeria, they at least knew how to slit Jihadi throats and not toady in a politically correct tap dance like many of our leaders today.
I daresay, There still are some warriors in the French provinces
who might have a say about the Islamization of Europe.

11/01/2007 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Militants Draw New Front Line Inside Pakistan

For the first time, heavy fighting has moved beyond Pakistan’s tribal fringe and into more settled areas.
Times Topics: Pakistan

11/01/2007 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger dick said...

During the 1917 French Army 'strike', the French soldiers did not run or quit, but refused to make anymore suicidal frontal assaults against massively defended positions. In my reading I came across some testaments from doughboys who witnessed French valor in WW1:
July 15, 1918 in the Champagne:

In front of L Company, out in the open, a battery of Frenchmen fed their guns and sang La Madelon ‘Pour le repos’ crash! - ‘le plaisir’- slam!- de militaire – Bang! It was unbelievable. Men singing under threat of death!
John Taber, 168 Inf.., 42nd Div. “Story of the 168th Infantry”

A Frog battery galloped across the field Crimean style, and planked their guns a hundred yards to the right. No camouflage. No gun pits. Nothing but guts….Their officer was firing point blank at moving targets. All of a sudden – Whoooosh! And Vesuvius had opened under their feet. A mass of black and gray-brown smoke mushroomed up from where we saw them last, as a flock of six-inch shells dumped in. One of the prettiest sights of the war followed. A streak of fire shot through the dark cloud. The first gun was still firing. Another flash. The third was still there. For five minutes intermittent bursts. Then a single brave flash, twice. The cloud drifted away, leaving a clutter of gun tubes and broken wheels. Two or three survivors writhed on the ground...
Charles MacArthur, 149th F.A., 42nd Div. “War Bugs”

The 3rd Battalion of the 60th French Light Field Artillery Regiment... won the unqualified admiration of the Americans. The French gunners fired their barrages under heavy bombardment with complete indifference to their own safety. They professed to be bored and they acted as though they really were. This can be more easily understood when it is known that the 60th had received four army citations and been decorated with the fourragere and the Croix de Guerre. It had been engaged at the Somme, Ypres, Arras, Verdun, and on the Aisne.
Louis L Collins, 151st F.A., 42nd Div. "History of the 151st Field Artillery”
This after nearly four years of hard fighting.
Now recent French politics, well that's another thing.
dick

11/01/2007 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger davod said...

"Even the French Army did much better in the second half of the 1940 campaign than they had done in the early phases"

The French lost 240,000 men (Dead) fighting for France in 1940. Most probably when they set up a defensive line after the Maginot Line was taken out of the picture.

11/02/2007 01:41:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

"We can stand here like the French, or we can do something about it." —Marge Simpson

"I don't know why people are surprised that France won't help us get Saddam out of Iraq. After all, France wouldn't help us get the Germans out of France!" —Jay Leno

How many Frenchmen does it take to change a light bulb?
One. He holds the bulb and all of Europe revolves around him.

An old saying: Raise your right hand if you like the French.... Raise both hands if you are French.

11/02/2007 06:05:00 AM  
Blogger Sgt. Mom said...

I visited Verdun in 1983 - it's a haunted place, still. A couple of years ago I wrote this:

"This was the place of which the stalwart Joffe had commanded, “They shall not pass”, the place in which it could be claimed— over any other World War I battlefield— that France bled out as a significant military power. For ten months in 1916 Germany and France battered each other into immobility, pouring men and materiel into the Verdun Salient with prodigal hands, churning every inch of soil with shellfire and poison gas, splintering the woods and little towns, gutting a whole generation of the men who would have been it’s solid middle-class, the politicians and patriots, leaders who might have forestalled the next war, or stood fast in 1940. It was the historian Barbara Tuchman who noted that the entire 1914 graduating class of St. Cyr, the French approximation of West Point had been killed within the first month of war. For this was a wasteful war, as if the great generals all stood around saying “Well, that didn’t work very well, did it?— so let’s do it again, and again and again, until it does indeed work.” And afterwards, no one could very well say what it had all been for, and certainly not that it had been worth it, only that the place was a mass grave for a million men."

(Entire essay at http://www.ncobrief.com/index.php/archives/country-roads-and-confiture-bar-le-duc/ )

I concur with Cannoneer #4 - they ground up their seed corn 1914-1918

11/02/2007 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

I think the image of France being "cheese eating surrender monkeys" dates from WWII, not WWI.

Although the jokes mine as far back as they can.

One humorous rule: The French can win, as long as they're not lead by a male French general (i.e., Joan of Arc, Neapolitan, etc)

11/02/2007 06:27:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

In Israel, they love their kids so much they up-armor their school bus stops to protect them. In Gaza, they hate their kids so much they fire mortars from schoolyards hoping to trigger a retaliatory air strike on the school when it is in session.

The Home Front Command began installing beefed up bus stops which can withstand rocket attacks. These have been introduced following a demand by the PTA and the Sderot Security Headquarters to install them as a condition for beginning the new school year in the town.

On Wednesday Israeli intelligence released a video showing a cell of three terrorists launching mortar shells toward the Negev from a Gaza schoolyard.


I'm on the side of those who protect children.

11/02/2007 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...

Davod's 240,000 French dead in 1940 is correct, and should not be forgotten when evaluating the French performance in that campaign.

The Maginot Line was, mostly, not in the picture that year -- the heavy fighting was north and west of it -- first in Belgium along and north of the Meuse; in the north near the Dutch frontier (Holland proper is really a separate front); at Sedan and points west (the German breakthrough); and the encirclement in and around the Channel ports (Dunkirk and the Belgians packing it in here, and the best of the French units that had been sent north eaten up in the encirclement).

The second half of the campaign was along the Somme and in front of Paris. The French tried really hard to make a fight of it here -- but the mobile units and reserves were gone -- used up in the north.

The armies in the Maginot Line (a whole Army Group) capitulated after the Somme line went.

As for the 1917 "strike" that's more or less what it was. It was a hangover of, among other things, the horrible casualties produced by, among other things, the stupid Nivelle Offensive (1917), which produced 190,000 French casualties, and neatly illustrated the penchant of generals such as Nivelle and Charles Mangin (but not Petain) for massive frontal assaults without proper use of the artillery, or any attempt at infiltration. The French Army at the senior level was a little behind the learning curve at this point.

It didn't help that much of the left wing press along with the politicians was openly seditious (sound familar anybody ?). These political conditions were fueled not only by war-weariness giving an opening to left-wing pacifism, but by events in Russia.

Clemenceau straighened out the politics and politicians, clapped more censorship on the press, and Petain improved conditions somewhat in the trenches and tried to assure the troops their lives wouldn't be spent pointlessly. The ringleaders and troublemakers got blindfolds and a cigarette.

The "strike" was somewhat similar to the collapse in morale that drove the Russian armies out of the war, and collapsed the Germans in 1918, although not as virulent.

I think the American "cheese eating surrender monkeys" sterotype is a product mostly of World War II. Quite aside from the collapse of 1940 -- Americans were none too happy with the orientation of Vichy France. However, since this government was run by the traditional French political class and bureaucracy, the US bureaucracy, all the way up to FDR, tended to view it as more legitimate than DeGaulle and the France Libre crowd. This prejudice jumps out of the State Department documents. DeGaulle was viewed by the Americans till at least 1944 as a pushy and unofficial irritant. FDR thought that 1940 finished France as a power, and since DeGaulle's mission, among others, was to rebuild France as a power, they clashed for fundamental reasons.

The Vichy French defense of North Africa from the US invasion in Operation Torch certainly didn't do much for Franco-American relations -- convincing the US public that the French were in bed with the Germans. The story was more complicated than that, but this was not apparent at the time.

Sorry this has been so long.

11/02/2007 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...

I should mention that the majority of French tropps evacuated to England from Dunkirk returned to Vichy.

11/02/2007 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Historian Barbara Tuchman underscored in several of her popular books (From a Proud Tower, Guns of August, The Zimmerman Telegram) how ill-prepared the world was for the war that started in August of 1914.

There had not been a really substantial war between two major European powers since the end of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, almost two generations earlier. There had been the Boer War, and the Russo-Japanese war, and England had been involved in a whole nother fistful of military engagements in various colonies --- India, Sudan, etc. France, Germany, and Belgium had used their military to thrash rebellious colonials, too.

And in the run-up to the Great War, there were several military-political CRISES per year in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, starting certainly as early as 1911. None had involved much in the way of battles; threats and negotiations had mostly settled things.

America had experienced a vast bloodletting in its war of agression by the Northern States against the Confederacy. But in the intervening years amounting to three full generations, the United States military experience was like many European states: skirmishes with brilliant, brave, but primitively equipped native warriors. NONE of the great powers had fought battles against other modern armies trained and equipped with the latest rapid-fire automatic weapons, rifled artillery capable of accurate over-the-horizon placement of fused anti-personnel munitions, or aircraft.

In short, none of the armies participating in the massive campaigns of 1914 had any experience with the conditions that would be instantly and persistently governed by those new technologies. The Generals on all sides seemed to believe that ***Elán*** and *** Esprit de Corps *** would suffice for men trying to advance through carefully pre-sighted killing fields of artillery and machine-guns. In the Boer War the British commanders had resisted equipping their files with automatic weapons, insisting that a carefully aimed single round was what was needed in battle. Automatic weapons, so they reasoned, would encourage sloppiness, waste, and even weakened moral fibre among their men.

At the same time, the MODEL of bravery and courage that had been established by centuries of conflict for the common soldier, was to advance firmly and deliberately toward enemies who were firing at you. This had worked in previous conflicts, because the low rates of fire and intrinsic inaccuracy of earlier weapons had made it possible for a sufficiency of resolute soldiers to survive and serve as beckoning examples to others of maybe less resolve. Over and over through history, the success of frontal assaults had depended mainly on the willingness of troops to *** risk *** possible (NOT CERTAIN) death from enemy fire, and many charges that had wilted, faded not because the charging soldiers had been killed outright, but rather because they'd been discouraged and un-nerved.

No amount of bravery could make up for the hundreds of thousands of machine gun rounds raking the charging troops.

Someone once explained to me that the aggregate personality of northern states like Wisconsin and Minnesota have been shaped by the unrelenting winters. Those early settlers who were unable to tolerate being cooped up for nine months at a stretch tended to just give up, stride out the door and disappear in the deep snowdrifts.

Self-selection yielded a population that actually sorta likes the long cold winters.

That sort of self-selection in the Great War seemingly resulted in the permanent removal of a huge population of soldiers ready to march resolutely into the face of hostile fire.

Of course, there is no sure way of precisely identifying the factors that make for bravery. There were certainly plenty of brave folks in France and England after WWI, but among the LEADERS, there was timidity and an aversion to risk. The lessons for them from the Great War was an abiding sense of the futility of courage.

11/02/2007 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

I found a great comment by DH Lawrence on Harry Crosby. In the process of commenting on Crosby DH Lawrence gives a very good discussion of the process by which a people and civilization wakes up from history. I posted the comment under WretchardsFour Score and Ten Years Ago

I may yet go look for the contents of lincoln's speech

11/02/2007 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Doug said...

"For the first time, heavy fighting has moved beyond Pakistan’s tribal fringe and into more settled areas."

Here is another article supporting Doug's comment. The bad guys are definitely winning in Pakistan.

The only saving grace about this situation is the Indians (rather than the US or NATO) will feel compelled to do the clean up afterwards.

I've always assumed the Israelis will be the first to get nuked. Maybe it'll be the Indians.

11/02/2007 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Eggplant,
Mark Twain famously said “if you don’t read the newspapers you are uninformed — if you do read the newspapers you are misinformed.”

I think your take on Pakistan is mistaken.

There is currently a civil war going on within the Taliban. Al Quada is attempting a hostile takeover because they're losing in Iraq. All freshly-brainwashed jihadis are now being sent to Afghaistan and Pakistan, and the old guard militants are not happy about it.

Al Quada looks like the most likely candidate for the Bhuto Bomb Blast a few weeks ago precisely because she has ties to the Islamisist elements in Pakistan and if she allies herself with Gen Musharaf, she could relieve the tensions and bring a lot of the militants into the mainstream political process.

Al Quada can't allow this because it would further isolate their mostly-foreign jihadis. The down side for Al Quada) is that blowing up 130 or so innocents in an attempt to get Bhuto served as a wakeup call to the local islamists that they were dealing with the devil and they were getting tarred by association.

Some elements within the Pakistani government were Taliban-friendly. None of them are now Al Quada-friendly.

We are in a great strategic position as the Talibanis slaughter the jihadis and vice-versa. We just need to dust off the winner!

11/02/2007 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Peter Grynch said:

"There is currently a civil war going on within the Taliban.... Some elements within the Pakistani government were Taliban-friendly. None of them are now Al Quada-friendly.... We are in a great strategic position as the Talibanis slaughter the jihadis and vice-versa. We just need to dust off the winner!"

This would be great IF it is true. My reading is the secular Pakistani government is losing control and the islamists are slowly taking over. You can argue whether the islamists are Taliban or al Qaeda (they're both bad in my humble opinion). Keep in mind that Pakistan has nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Can you really argue that a "moderate" Taliban government armed with nuclear armed ballistic missiles is a good thing?

11/02/2007 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...


The only saving grace about this situation is the Indians (rather than the US or NATO) will feel compelled to do the clean up afterwards.

I've always assumed the Israelis will be the first to get nuked. Maybe it'll be the Indians.


I don't know who's winning in Pakistan, but have felt for some time that if Musharref and his pals are our friends, then we don't need enemies. I had hoped that in giving nukes to India, they would be our sheriff in herding Pakistan into a corral. In rejecting our nuke offer, I'm now thinking that India may turn out to be the herdee's rather than the herder. And I won't feel the least bit sorry for them, if they do feel the sting of a Pakistani attack.

11/02/2007 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

NahnCee said...

"I had hoped that in giving nukes to India, they would be our sheriff in herding Pakistan into a corral. In rejecting our nuke offer, I'm now thinking that India may turn out to be the herdee's rather than the herder."

We didn't give the Indians nuclear weapons. They got them on their own.

The Indian government is being stupid about the President's nuclear technology offer because the Indian Communist party is part of the ruling coalition. By definition the Indian communists are either moonbats and/or bad guys so their opposition to the US deal is logical. Why the major Indian political party (or any responsible political party) opted to form a coalition with communists is something that I do not understand.

11/02/2007 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Eggplant,
Ironic how the communist party in India aligns itself with the Democrat party in America to prevent closer ties between the world's most populous democracy and the world's most successful one.

Moonbats of the world, unite?

The two scariest presidntial candidates, IMHO, are Dennis Kucinich (a UFO abductee?) and Barack Obama. Kucinich reminds me of an old Monty Python sketch about an election featuring the Looney Party candidate. Obama is running on a platform of guarenteeing America's defeat in Iraq, and closer ties with Iran. Obama may well be the Muslim-Manchurian Candidate!!!

11/02/2007 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

So what exactly did Bush want to give them that they don't already have, that their communists and other anti-Americans don't want them to have? I knew they already had nukes, but have to believe it was some form of advanced goodiness that any sane politician would really want to have. And the fact that Pakistan threw a tantrum and demanded the same goodies and was firmly rejected confirms that it must have been something very sexy indeed.

11/02/2007 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Every once in a while I think it's worth reminding ourselves that the physics of nuclear fission and fusion cannot be kept secret. The secret is OUT, let loose by international scientific investigations, starting with Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn, who are credited with finding and describing nuclear fission.


The only things that can be kept secret --- for a little while --- are the details of particular devices for taking advantage of physical processes that have been studied and analyzed for most of the 20th century.

... by tens of thousands of scientists, and hundreds of thousands of technicians worldwide.

Somewhere in the Belmont comment stream in the last few weeks, someone made the point that analysts in the UK during World War II were able to recreate the mechanism (including electronics) of the German Enigma device, by analyzing patterns in the transformations from clear message to code. Combining their understanding of the logic embedded in the system with a knowledge of electronics, they were able to build a unit that later was found to match the actual design to within small fractions of an inch.

Okay, fractions of a millimeter.

This sort of thing actually happens a lot. Wise guys --- scientists, if you like --- studying a subject in different parts of the world are after all dealing with rules of logic and physics that are pretty darn universal. They may come up with different details, resources available to one group may not be available elsewhere, and ...

Somebody STOP ME!

Anyhow, Pakistan, India, Iran... It doesn't much matter. Sooner or Later their scientists and technical people are going to figure out how to build a device.

Without actually occupying their countries --- with all the problems THAT entails --- I don't know how we can prevent any country from learning how,

Make it illegal to sell them yellowcake.

That just brings out all the shit-heads like Wilson, trying for one reason or another to prove that no one really wants to buy Yellowcake.


And our recent experience with the alleged embargos against Iraq, South Africa, and others, demonstrate that the whole thing is a waste of effort.

I'm going to just go dig a hole...


... for a fallout shelter.

11/02/2007 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

nahncee asks "what exactly did Bush want to give them (India) that they don't already have"?

Faced with an acute shortage of uranium to run existing power stations, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd has advanced its maintenance schedule and started shutting down individual power units. Usually, these units are shut down in a staggered manner but this time they have been bunched together so that authorities get time to arrange for uranium supplies.

Over the past few weeks, as many as five units amounting to 1000 MW of the total 4000 MW were shut down on account of upkeep of plants: two units from Tarapur (Maharashtra) and one each from Kaiga (Karnataka), Kalpakkam (Tamil Nadu) and Kakrapar (Gujarat).

http://in.news.yahoo.com/071023/48/

The Indian Communists are not anti-nuclear, they are anti-closer-ties-with-America.

11/03/2007 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

So why wouldn't we give the same stuff to Pakistan if it was just power plant stuff?

11/03/2007 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Eggplant,
More on the Taliban/al Qaeda split
from Thomas Lifson:
Ray Robison's article yesterday outlining the emerging split between the tribal Taliban of Afghanistan and al Qaeda, run by the Saudi Arab Usama bin Laden, receives more support. The names are unfamiliar to most Americans, but the issue could not be more important to those who wish to see al Qaeda vanquished.

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2007/11/more_on_the_talibanal_qaeda_sp.html

11/03/2007 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

nahncee,
I suspect the difference between India and Pakistan is the stability of the Indian government. We may be leary of supplying uranium or nuclear technology to Pakistan while there exists a possibility of an Islamist takeover. Pakistan already has nuclear weapons. We don't need to make it easier for it to make more.

Also, near term India is an ally against Islamists, long term it can become a counterweight to Communist China, if we succeed in strengthening our ties.

India was a British colony and many of their institutions remain Western in nature. They would be a First World, rather than a Third World power today if they hadn't made the truely disasterous decision to flirt with communism and ally themselves with the Soviet Union.

We have really gotten off-topic!

11/03/2007 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger PSGInfinity said...

I disagree, Peter. We didn't get off topic, we stopped reminiscing and started to consider the future. I suspect that somewhere, on the fields of France, the ghost would approve...

11/03/2007 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Fen said...

that during the Great War that army was widely regarded as the epitome of self-sacrifice and valor

No argument here. In fact, the French reputation from WW1 is what caused so many Brits to over-estimate them in WW2. Can't find the quote, but I think Churchill said something about "we considered the French Army to be matchless, without realizing the term had ironic meaning" [Manchester, I think]

I've always believed that everything honorable about France died in the trenches of WW1.

11/03/2007 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I think the Brits have been cussing France for a long long time, and probably before WW1. If anyone has an accurate take on France and its 'honor', it would be England. Didn't France support America during our Revolution because it would annoy England, and not because they thought a brand new democracy would be a terrific idea?

Without remembering the details, I'm also thinking that France's "support" for America's revolutionary war has morphed into much more during the intervening time than it actually was back then.

In other words, France has been a nation of braggadocio and cowardice for much longer than just since WW1.

11/04/2007 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Befort said...

Commenters have been mistaking total French WWII death figures for 1940 figures. French military deaths in the Battle of France were about 92,000.

11/08/2007 10:24:00 PM  

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