Military Review

French soldier of the First World War

1) "the French army went to war in red pants for the sake of profits of domestic paint manufacturers."
- The last French manufacturer of red paint "garans" went bankrupt at the end of the 19 century and the army was forced to buy a chemical dye in ... Germany.

In 1909-1911, the French army carried out extensive work on the development of protective color uniforms (“Boer” uniform, reseded uniform, “Detail” form).
Its first and most vehement opponents were ... journalists and experts of the then media, who quickly set the public against the "degrading human dignity and the French spirit" of a protective uniform.
Then populist parliamentarians, forever economical financiers and army conservatives joined in, and the initiative was buried until 1914, when they had to urgently extract Detai's gray-blue overcoats from warehouses, which, fortunately, were not written off, unlike their predecessors, khaki and resedy.

French soldier of the First World War

2) "The offensive to the limit theory developed by general intellectuals has put France on the brink of disaster."
- Absolutely all sides of the initial period of the PRC adhered exclusively to the offensive image of war. The theoretical calculations of the French General Staff — by the way, less mechanistic than those of the Germans and those who paid great attention to the psychological aspect of the conduct of hostilities, were not distinguished by anything special against this background.
The real reason for the August hecatombs was a failure in the corps and divisional level officers, which was distinguished by a high average age and low quality.
In the regular military, in view of the low standard of living, there remained people who were not capable of anything else, and the reservists of the masses had no idea about modern methods of warfare.

3) "Merciless melee fights in trenches."
- Medical statistics on this score is merciless. To the lot of cold weapons accounted for 1% fatal injuries in 1915 year and 0,2% - in 1918. The main weapon of the trenches was a grenade (69%) and a firearm (15%).
This correlates with the distribution of injuries over the body: 28,3% - head, 27,6% - upper limbs, 33,5% - legs, 6,6% - chest, 2,6% - stomach, 0,5% - neck.

4) "Deadly Gas"
- 17000 killed and 480000 injured on the Western Front. That is, 3% cumulative loss and 0,5% dead. This gives us the ratio of killed to wounded 1: 28 versus the average on the front of 1: 1,7-2,5.
That is, no matter how cynical it sounds, much more soldiers survived after the gas, who could tell everyone about their suffering - despite the fact that only 2% of the wounded became disabled for life, and 70% of the poisoned returned to service in less than 6 weeks.

5) "France bled to death in the trenches of Verdun."
“Near Verdun, France lost about as many soldiers as it did in the 1918 mobile war of the year and almost half as much as in more mobile border battles on Marne.”

6) "The officers hid behind the backs of the soldiers."
- The percentage of those who died and disappeared from those drafted into the army, officers / soldiers: infantry - 29% / 22,9%, cavalry - 10,3% / 7,6%, artillery - 9,2% / 6%, sappers - 9,3, 6,4% / XNUMX% aviation - 21,6% / 3,5%. At the same time, so as not to speak again - this is the question of cavalry destroyed by machine guns.

7) "The generals shot the rebel soldiers."
- The number of soldiers sentenced to death by military field courts (including those who committed criminal offenses) is 740. This is 0,05% of all dead French infantrymen.

As you know, by the beginning of the First World War, the armies of Russia, Germany and Great Britain were equipped with machine guns of the same design (Hiram Maxim), differing only in ammunition and machine tools - the Sokolov wheeled machine in Russia, the tripod in Britain (such machines are used all over the world today ) and unusual sled machine in Germany. It was the last and the reason for the legend.
The fact is that the machine gun with such a machine was supposed to be carried either as a stretcher, or dragged along like a skid, and to facilitate this work, belts with carbines were attached to the machine gun.
At the front, when carrying, machine gunners sometimes died, and their corpses, fastened with straps to the machine gun, gave birth to a legend, and then rumor and the media replaced the straps with chains, for greater effect.

The French went even further, and talked about the suicide bombers locked outside the "Schumann armor-carriers". The legend received a very wide spread, and as Hemingway later wrote in one of the post-war stories, "... his acquaintances who had heard detailed stories about German women chained to machine guns in the Ardennes Forest as patriots were not interested in unchallenged German machine gunners and were indifferent to his stories. "
Somewhat later, Richard Aldington mentioned these rumors in the novel The Death of a Hero (1929), where a purely civilian man teaches a soldier who came from the front on leave:
“- Oh, but our soldiers are such great, such great, you know, not that Germans. You’ve probably already seen that the Germans are faint-hearted? You know, they have to be chained to machine guns.
“I didn't notice anything like that.” I must say, they fight with amazing courage and perseverance. Do not you think that assuming the opposite is not very flattering for our soldiers? After all, we have not yet managed to really press the Germans. "

By the beginning of the Great War, the German command and officers did not hide the disdainful attitude towards the French army, associating it with the "Gallic rooster" - it was assumed that it was just as hot-tempered and loud, but in fact weak and frightened.
But already in the first battles, the French soldiers confirmed the long-standing reputation of staunch and courageous fighters, sincerely ready for self-sacrifice in the name of the motherland.
Their high combat qualities turned out to be more valuable because they had to fight this time with practically the worst weapon of all that was in the arsenals of both allies and opponents.

The main weapon of the French soldier - the 8-mm rifle "Lebel-Berthier" - could not be compared with the German "Mauser M.98", yielding in many respects to both the Russian "trilinear" and the Japanese "Arisack Type 38" and the American " Springfield M.1903 ", and many even attributed the gun machine gun" Shosh "to the category of weapons curiosities.
However, since the French infantrymen were doomed to use it (although they tried to replace the trophy or allied ones at the first opportunity), it was ultimately the “victory weapon” of the Great War, in which the French army certainly played a decisive role.

Machine gun "Shosh" began to develop also spontaneously, in response to the global trend to create automatic weapons systems.
The basis of the future automatic rifle (and the French created it) was taken nowhere more unclaimed and potentially unsuccessful machine gun system of the Austro-Hungarian designer Rudolf Frommer, based on the recoil energy of the barrel with a long stroke.
For quick-fire weapons, this scheme is the most undesirable because it leads to increased vibration. However, the French opted for it.
The tactical and technical characteristics of the new weapons were at the level "below the lowest." Perhaps the only positive quality of "Shosh" was a small weight - no more than 9,5 kg with equipped box magazine on 20 cartridges and a bipod.
Although here he did not become a champion: the Danish “Madsen” machine gun, which had excellent combat and reliable automation, weighed no more than 8,95 kg.

Despite all its shortcomings, the Shosh machine gun was a commercial success, albeit scandalous. In service with the French army, he remained until the 1924 of the year, and the total output of the machine gun at this point was quite a few 225 thousand.
The French managed to get the main income from the sales of their machine gun-outsider from the US military, which had a very saturated market of automatic weapons.
In the spring of 1917, shortly after America entered the war, the director of the American Army’s Armaments Department, General William Crozy, signed a contract to supply almost 16 thousands of Shosh machine guns.
It is noteworthy that several years earlier, the same official categorically rejected the idea of ​​producing the excellent Lewis machine gun in the United States, but argued that the purchase of an obviously unsuccessful French model was "obvious lack of firepower of the American formations."

The result of its use in the US Army is not difficult to predict: the French machine gun received the same unflattering marks. Nevertheless, General Crozi continued to bulk purchases of these weapons.
17 August 1917, the Arms Commission of France received an order for another 25 thousand CSRG machine guns, only under the main American cartridge 30-06 Springfield (7,62? 63 mm).
The fate of this contract has been very remarkable. The automatic rifle Model 1918 (Chauchat) machine guns began to shoot even worse than those made for the native 8-mm cartridge.
The more energy-powerful 30-06 munitions not only often jammed, but it also very quickly broke the recharge mechanism. It is not surprising that, having received a little more than 19 thousands of machine guns under a new contract, the Americans categorically refused further deliveries.
Several deputies of the French parliament then tried to initiate an investigation into where the profits from the sale of obviously useless machine guns to the Americans went, but it was quickly closed - too many high-ranking military and diplomats were involved in a deal on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

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  1. svp67
    svp67 30 January 2016 07: 38 New
    THANKS to the author.
    But the question is, why are the French so committed to the blue color? "He's not like that, he looks like blue ..."
    1. Riv
      Riv 30 January 2016 09: 26 New
      Photos, of course, retouched. At that time, color photographs were taken either with three cameras with color filters (for obvious reasons, this method was excluded in the trenches) or very difficult to use Lumiere photographic plates. That is, a studio color photo was still likely to be taken, but not in the field.

      Hence the uniformly blue color of faces, greatcoats and uniforms. Climb in the full profile trench. How long will you stay clean? Therefore: "This is an artist, he sees it that way." And for comparison, google pictures of Prokudin-Gorsky and pay attention to the supersaturation of the red color.
      1. lysyj bob
        lysyj bob 30 January 2016 10: 02 New
        Quote: Riv
        Hence the uniformly blue complexion, overcoat and shape

        The uniform of the French army at that time was actually blue, this is not an artist's "vision". Well, the fact that "uniformly blue" is, apparently, from the fact that people posing for a photo did it in clean clothes. And the soldiers are in the trenches - so it is clear there that they are dirty. Very nice photos and professionally retouched. Thanks to the author.
        Quote: igordok
        It’s bad that without signatures, where possible.

        I agree.
      2. Orionvit
        Orionvit 30 January 2016 19: 34 New
        Interestingly, the color retouching of these photos was already done manually then, or already painted on the computer?
      3. saygon66
        saygon66 30 January 2016 23: 04 New
        - This color was called "blö orizon" (excuse my French) - "blue horizon", and the cavalry trousers were more "burgundy", not "rouge"! Zouaves have from bright scarlet to orange at all ...
    2. Max_Bauder
      Max_Bauder 30 January 2016 15: 18 New
      Quote: svp67
      But the question is, and why are the French so committed to the color blue?

      Have you seen the colors of the royal musketeer of the 17th century? Dartanyana for example? smile
      The blue color is the color of the royal bourbon dynasty, which was restored by the British and Russians after the defeat of Napoleon.

      PySy. each country had its own predominant color, the Russians green, the British red, the Prussians blue, the Austrians white, the French blue.
      1. Camel
        Camel 30 January 2016 18: 21 New
        ... each country had its own prevailing color, the Russians had green ...

        Sorry, but where does this information come from? If my memory serves me right, the crimson color was highly revered in Russia, while the green color has always (for me personally) been strongly associated with Islam.
        1. Max_Bauder
          Max_Bauder 30 January 2016 20: 43 New
          Quote: Camel
          Sorry, but where does this information come from? If my memory serves me right, the crimson color was highly revered in Russia, while the green color has always (for me personally) been strongly associated with Islam.
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 30 January 2016 07: 40 New
    Interesting photos, thanks ...
    1. igordok
      igordok 30 January 2016 09: 12 New
      Quote: parusnik
      Interesting photos, thanks ...

      It’s bad that without signatures, where possible.
  3. Pig
    Pig 30 January 2016 07: 57 New
    "" Its first and most violent opponents were ... journalists and experts from the then media, who quickly turned the public against the "protective uniforms" that humiliate human dignity and the French spirit. "
    as one deputy-demagogue was speaking: red trousers cannot be canceled - because "red trousers are France!"
    to which the then Minister of Defense remarked:
    "this foolish attachment to the most visible of flowers will cost us dearly"
    one god knows how many soldiers France lost because of the red-blue-white uniform (the color of the flag of the aga) in which the war started ...
  4. aszzz888
    aszzz888 30 January 2016 08: 01 New
    Yes, brave warriors.
    Especially in skirts! laughing
    1. Nikolaevich I
      Nikolaevich I 30 January 2016 09: 02 New
      Quote: aszzz888
      Especially in skirts!

      Isn't that ..... "salwar"?
      1. creak
        creak 30 January 2016 11: 17 New
        Quote: Nikolaevich I
        Isn't that ..... "salwar"?

        Exactly so, this is part of the Zouaves uniform - the colonial units manned by natives of North Africa ...
        About the same as the skirt (kilt) - part of the national costume of the Scottish highlanders - this part of the costume did not affect their high fighting qualities ...
        Well, for some connoisseurs that Kalym, that Kolyma is all one - incomprehensible or unfamiliar - it’s funny ....
  5. Rashid
    Rashid 30 January 2016 08: 49 New
    The British changed their bright uniforms (red uniforms, etc.) during the Boer War. This is very well described in the book by L. Bussenar "Captain Rip Head". In the same place, by the way, a new German rifle Mauser-98 is described.
  6. Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I 30 January 2016 09: 07 New
    I liked the article .... both in "general" and in "particular". Moreover, in "particular", especially! The author showed real people "bygone days" who once "made history"! How many such articles come across on the Internet ?
    1. Oorfene Deuce
      Oorfene Deuce 30 January 2016 13: 06 New
      Yes. Extremely interesting article and beautiful illustrations. I express my gratitude to the author hi
  7. igordok
    igordok 30 January 2016 09: 17 New
    As I understand it, the author wanted to refute the myths about the French Armed Forces in WWI. A little clumsy, but succeeded. Thanks.
    But is the myth true that WWII "broke" the French, that they could not provide decent resistance in WWII.

    Question on the article. In the second photo, a man in white. Who is he? In the sense of specialty.
    1. bionik
      bionik 30 January 2016 14: 15 New
      Quote: igordok
      In the second photo, a man in white. Who is he? In the sense of specialty.

      Maybe a cook?
    2. Morrrow
      Morrrow 13 February 2016 12: 53 New
      Do not fight the Germans - this was a personal decision of General Peten, whose authority was the highest at that time. There was no military propaganda as such in the country.
  8. itr
    itr 30 January 2016 09: 55 New
    Was last year at the Mikhailovsky Ravelin Museum in Sevastopol
    Damn, we always fought as if with aliens
    Judging by the photo, a well-equipped soldier
  9. AK64
    AK64 30 January 2016 11: 00 New
    One of the rare articles here which, as far as I can tell, is neither copy-paste from the Web, nor a translation from English (French).
  10. vomag
    vomag 30 January 2016 11: 05 New
    Judging by the photo, the mustache fashion was in the army! The standings still blow in the article ...
  11. bionik
    bionik 30 January 2016 11: 23 New
    Colonial troops of France of the First World War.
    1. bionik
      bionik 30 January 2016 11: 23 New
      Colonial troops of France of the First World War.
      1. bionik
        bionik 30 January 2016 11: 25 New
        Colonial troops of France of the First World War.
        1. bionik
          bionik 30 January 2016 11: 28 New
          Colonial troops of France of the First World War.
          1. bionik
            bionik 30 January 2016 11: 35 New
            Colonial troops of France World War I
  12. Monster_Fat
    Monster_Fat 30 January 2016 12: 09 New
    "The number of rebel soldiers shot by military tribunals is equal to 740 people" - this is the number of those shot only during the so-called "riots" of 1917. A huge number of deserters were shot - several tens of thousands of people. In the book by Jean Louis-Bocarnot "Our families in the Great War" (Nos familles dans la Grande Guerre), it is indicated that in 1917 alone, there were about 21 thousand deserters who, most often, were shot.
  13. xomaNN
    xomaNN 30 January 2016 12: 22 New
    So maybe the "blue" and went from these colored heavenly French uniforms? wassat
    But seriously, this populism of the leaders who refused the army in "khaki" cost hundreds of thousands of lives of the trench soldiers.
    1. saygon66
      saygon66 30 January 2016 23: 23 New
      There is an official version: From the play of the English words "blue" and "sad" .... In particular, in the 40s, those dismissed for offenses from the US Marine Corps were issued blue (from denim) and not green, uniform, and the corresponding nickname "Baby blue marine" ... smile "Sad Children of the Marine Corps" ..
  14. AlexW
    AlexW 30 January 2016 12: 38 New
    The article is definitely Plus. For the photo, special thanks.
  15. Fat
    Fat 30 January 2016 14: 08 New
    Very interesting article, a wonderful selection of photos. I also liked the love of retouching (apparently, computer, although this does not matter) hi
  16. Ossetian
    Ossetian 30 January 2016 14: 49 New
    the photos are simply gorgeous, thanks to the author for the article.
  17. Pomeranian
    Pomeranian 30 January 2016 16: 03 New
    Excellent material, and the selection of photos is generally beyond praise. All armies had both good weapons and frank guano. But the French 75 mm gun was the best in its class.
    I wonder why the article slammed two minuses? What is wrong ??
    1. igordok
      igordok 30 January 2016 20: 41 New
      Quote: Pomoryanin
      I wonder why the article slammed two minuses? What is wrong ??

      Alas, there are such. We have to not pay attention to them. When articles appear, especially of a patriotic orientation, they will quickly put down cons to the article and the comments that appear, and quickly dump them. As a rule, they do not appear on the article again. I guess their work is so hard what control and "minus" sites similar to "Military Review".
  18. Mountain shooter
    Mountain shooter 30 January 2016 16: 13 New
    The author has tried to "dispel" most of the myths about WWI. And about the French army in its trenches. And who wants details, there is an excellent book by Barbusse "Fire". Not worse than Remarque.
  19. Robert Nevsky
    Robert Nevsky 30 January 2016 17: 40 New
    The French are not the same ... A very interesting article! soldier
  20. parafoiler
    parafoiler 30 January 2016 18: 13 New
    Yes ... The French are largely knocked out of the usual state of things, and in military fashion, much is so strange, to put it mildly ... Article is a big plus!
    1. saygon66
      saygon66 30 January 2016 23: 28 New
      - About French military fashion: The nickname of the French soldiers - "poilu" (hairy) is from there ...
      - Wanting to be like seasoned front-line soldiers, the military men grew bearded ...
      1. Sashenka
        Sashenka 31 January 2016 01: 09 New
        "Poilus" This is not from a desire to be like seasoned front-line soldiers, but rather from a reluctance to shave. Hygiene in the French army at that time was far from the level of the German!
        1. Sashenka
          Sashenka 31 January 2016 02: 00 New
          Hairy is the nickname given by the French soldiers of the First World War. This nickname is typical of this war, and was used only on rare occasions in World War II (probably based on how long the company was lost). The word "hairy", as established at the time, is the slang for brave, courageous.

          "This is the symbol of virilité2
          1. saygon66
            saygon66 31 January 2016 02: 18 New
            - Ekskuse mua, camarade ... smile I myself did not live at that time ... everything from books ... everything from books ...
  21. Alxii
    Alxii 31 January 2016 01: 06 New
    In the photo, only I noticed a complete St. George’s bow? It would be interesting to know about this worthy person ...

    found: French volunteer pilot, lieutenant of the Russian service, complete St. George cavalier Alfons Poiret, who came to Russia on tour before the war. When the war was declared, Poiret went to the front, fought first in 2 army squadrons, then in the 4th IAO.
    about how ... you can write a separate article about this person ...
    1. moskowit
      moskowit 31 January 2016 10: 35 New
      Thank you for identifying the name of the Hero.
      In the photo, a sergeant of the French army, the full knight of St. George's Cross, the knight of the Order of St. Stanislav of the second degree.
      French: Legion of Honor and Military Medal.
      It looks like the Order of Vladimir of the 4 degree with swords on an arbitrary tape ...
  22. moskowit
    moskowit 31 January 2016 10: 57 New
    Yes, I looked at Wikipedia. It turns out that he was also awarded the St.George weapon. The pilots were given St. George's daggers ... True, the compilers of the encyclopedia apparently got a little excited, attributing to the Hero the award of the Order of St. Vladimir of the 3rd degree with swords. Poiret in the Russian service was a lieutenant, the rank was in the 10th grade of the "Table of Ranks" and did not have the rights to be awarded the above-mentioned order (especially since he received this rank on 16.10.17/XNUMX/XNUMX) ... And even if we had received it if you, dear friends-commentators, would see it on the Hero's neck, and Stanislav's neck mark would be released over the side of the uniform or would go to the stock. The rules for wearing orders of foreign countries are almost the same everywhere. Foreign awards are worn after domestic ones, in no particular order, which we see in the portrait. And since Alphonse Poiret does not have neck French orders, the Order of St. Stanislaus of the second degree with swords also took a worthy place ...
  23. Jääkorppi
    Jääkorppi 31 January 2016 15: 57 New
    360 people shot by their allies as soldiers !!! That's how draconian methods supported discipline in the trenches of the first world !! Where are our NKVD detachments! And how people did not want to die for the sake of the bourgeoisie and how close the world revolution was!
  24. Roll
    Roll 1 February 2016 23: 58 New
    The author does not want to repeat but many thanks for the article and amazing PHOTOS
  25. Torkvat torkvat
    Torkvat torkvat 18 October 2016 21: 52 New
    During the First World War, the rifle has established itself as a very accurate, powerful and reliable weapon, capable of withstanding the conditions of a trench war. For all Lebel's shortcomings, this is Wikipedia. About "shosha" the same thing ... and the Germans and ours massively used both.
  26. alatanas
    alatanas 9 January 2017 15: 34 New

    Bulgarian soldiers with captured Shosha machine guns on the southern (Solun - Thessaloniki gr.) Front.
    1. alatanas
      alatanas 9 January 2017 15: 41 New

      French prisoners of war, incl. from the colonial troops.
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