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Old December 16th, 2015, 10:40 PM   #11
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In my parts Italians are a military joke, not French.

One joke goes:

"What is the shortest book in the world? A list of italian war heroes."
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Old December 17th, 2015, 05:33 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Balian View Post
I mean considering that they have the best military record of any European country. In 800 years France has won 132 wars, lost 43 and drawn 10, making them the most successful nation in the history of Europe military wise.

It seems to me that some people base all of French military history on World War II.

Look it up. Its true
I don't think it at all "funny" or strange. A military's reputation is only as good as it's last few major wars. It just so happens that 2 of the last 3 major French wars(excluding colonial wars) ended in complete disaster for the French. Had someone made fun of the French military in the wake of the Napoleonic wars or WWI then making fun of them would indeed have been strange. Making fun of the French military post WWII was justifiable if not entirely accurate.
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Old December 17th, 2015, 05:49 AM   #13

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I've said elsewhere on this forum, it's not really an indictment on the french fighting prowess, it's merely a quick and cheap way of sticking it to the french who have the justified or unjustified stereotype of being a bit haughty and arrogant in their self percieved sense of national and cultural superiority over the last few centuries. Also, it is a bit funny that for such a powerful nation it got three times hit hardly by their despised neighbors and their uhlans...in 1870 they lost, in 1914 they held out, mostly thanks to a variety of factors including the BEF, and in 1940 well, that was just shocking to see europes premier army go down in a month. It's kinda of like football, no one cares or remembers cups and titles won a century ago, its you're present success or lack of success that people tend to care about in the present and will mock you accordingly.
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Old December 17th, 2015, 06:23 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Karl XII View Post
Also when you consider the fact that it took the United Kingdom, Russia, Austria, Prussia, Spain, Sweden, Portugal and other minor states to defeat Napoleonic France it really puts things into perspective.
Napoleon's army was far more complicated than 'French'. Examination of remains of Napoleon's soldiers found men of many nationalities marched with Napoleon.
I think many were probably hooked on the 'War to end allo Wars' thing that was preached at the Brits in 1914.
I don't know what proportion of the men were Conscripts but a good many of them were foreign volunteers (Legion d'etranger'.)
If what I think is true, then an ideology kept that army together.
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Old December 17th, 2015, 09:06 AM   #15

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Yeah but one has to note the numbers involved. You cant treat all military operations the same - Sweden supposedly operated in the Congo but guess what it was a very minor force we sent, likewise the French only had some 3000 men in Mali so its hardly the same kind of operation as the Gulf War, Iraq or Afghanistan. Another defining difference between the USA in Iraq and France in Mali was that the latter was invited to help and fought alongside the African Union and the military of Mali.

Not that I am saying the French cant fight, but keep the above in mind.
True, but but the question is not fully in the numbers committed but the effectiveness of the units involved.

So the French units that fought in the First Gulf War in 1991 were rather small, as were the units sent to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, but the fact remains that these French units fought well and showed real courage with regard to the tasks assigned them.

It should also be noted that many of the African Union members that had been confronted in Mali before the French were asked to join didn't fair well. It was the French involvement that provided the ultimate firepower and special forces units to win that campaign...

Their numbers may have been small, but they were still effective which demonstrates good capability and bravery, which is something that those who engage in French bashing do not believe the French have at all... regardless of the numbers.
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Old December 17th, 2015, 09:22 AM   #16

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Originally Posted by jackydee View Post
I don't think it at all "funny" or strange. A military's reputation is only as good as it's last few major wars. It just so happens that 2 of the last 3 major French wars(excluding colonial wars) ended in complete disaster for the French. Had someone made fun of the French military in the wake of the Napoleonic wars or WWI then making fun of them would indeed have been strange. Making fun of the French military post WWII was justifiable if not entirely accurate.
But World War II wasn't France's last war.

France's involvement in Vietnam was a defeat, sure...

But militarily in the Suez Crisis the French, British, and Israelis had won. It was political pressure from the outside that allowed the Egyptians to claim the political victory.

The war in Algeria militarily went France's way, but the French fell victim to the same problem that every army has struggled with when confronting guerrillas. They defeat one group only to have another group spring up elsewhere. De Gaulle decided the cost of "winning" the fight in Algeria was too high and cut his losses... not because the French army had been defeated there.

And as I'd stated earlier, France has played a role in the first Persian Gulf War in 1991, with units placed on the flank and to protect the American main armored thrust... and did well. They played some role as a member of NATO in the various Balkan wars regarding the break up of Yugoslavia. They've participated in the fighting in Afghanistan and won in Mali and Libya and are presently bombing ISIS targets.

The issue is that people are treating WWII as France's last war and not looking at the actions France has been in since WWII... unless it's to add Dien Bien Phu to the list of defeats.
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Old December 17th, 2015, 09:35 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by jackydee View Post
I don't think it at all "funny" or strange. A military's reputation is only as good as it's last few major wars. It just so happens that 2 of the last 3 major French wars(excluding colonial wars) ended in complete disaster for the French. Had someone made fun of the French military in the wake of the Napoleonic wars or WWI then making fun of them would indeed have been strange. Making fun of the French military post WWII was justifiable if not entirely accurate.
So why don't the Germans enjoy a poor reputation? When did they do anything other than lose a major war?

Really, it's not about winning here. Germany is given a solid record based on WWI and WWII, which they both lost. Otoh France gained a MASSIVE military record in the 19th c., for losing the Napoleonic wars. In that respect the Germans are to the 20th c. what the French were to the 19th.

Perceptions are highly deceptive here.
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Old December 17th, 2015, 09:50 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by macon View Post
In my parts Italians are a military joke, not French.

One joke goes:

"What is the shortest book in the world? A list of italian war heroes."
You mustn't say that! Next some careless person will post about Italian Tanks Having one forward and ten reverse gears! SSSSSSHH!
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Old December 17th, 2015, 10:00 AM   #19

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It had been discussed (over and over)...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackydee View Post
I don't think it at all "funny" or strange. A military's reputation is only as good as it's last few major wars. It just so happens that 2 of the last 3 major French wars(excluding colonial wars) ended in complete disaster for the French. Had someone made fun of the French military in the wake of the Napoleonic wars or WWI then making fun of them would indeed have been strange. Making fun of the French military post WWII was justifiable if not entirely accurate.
Usually, WW2 comes like the ultimate, decisive argument.

And each time I hear it, I can't ask myself: how much better anyone else did in face of the Wermacht in the first years ?

And another question comes to mind, if we talk about military reputation: only won wars matter ?

How about lost battles, does those count or not ?

The first, obvious example comes to mind (I think it was mentioned on this forum more than once, but I can't help it): what about the French units at Dunkerque, the last ones, that fought literally till the last bullet, the last man? They knew they will die there. The sea was at some hundred yards behind them. Ships were still embarking. None dropped his gun or his unit to embarque. None asked if comrades evacuated were French, Brits, Belgians. Their mission was to protect that evacuation and die there fighting. Which they did: fought till the very end.

You know, in the WW2 not everybody had a big stepe, a chanel, to absorb the force of the initial shock. French, Polish, Yougos, did fought like devils. At the beginning, they just faced a too superior army. So if You look at how they fought, none have anything to be ashamed of.
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Old December 17th, 2015, 10:28 AM   #20

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Hi everybody,

I'm not a lot of interested in this discuss because i consider that French military value doesn't need to be defended and according me, it's not very important if some people enjoy to speak ill of French military by using biased and scornfull considérations.
But let's play and let's "listen" what Germans generals said about french soldier in WWI, WWII, we can consider them as good experts.

WWI:
-1914: "That an Army can retreat and counter-attack with such a force was something we couldn't forecast. As from now we must take account of French courage in our miltary plan"Von Kluck (La Marne)
- 1916:"We all know the courage and the value of French soldier" Falkenhayn (before Verdun).
WWII :
1940 : "They fought like lion" Reichenau (campaign of France)
"How with so few people were you able to hurt us so badly" Galland Lutwaffe (campaign of France)
1942 : "Only French are able to achieve such stupefying victories. They are after us the best soldier of Europe". Hitler (Battle of Bir Hakeim)
1943: "Soldiers i fear the more are French" Kesselring (Battle of Italy).

Germans generals never said that about another allied soldiers. Then questions.
-why did Germans said that about French soldiers?

- Is there a little bit of jealousy in speak ill about french?

- A disguised inferiority complex? Is it very useful to attempt to convince fellow members of this forum that Weelington was greater than Napoleon? Seriousely..

As i already said, to speak ill about French military is absolutely not important, it changes nothing and don't be worry about French Army it's still an excellent one (Algeria 1950's, Battle of Kolwezi 1970's, Gaddaffhi 1980's, Iraq 1990's, Lybia 2000's, Mali 2010's) .

Is it so difficult to be honest with French military "performance"?
i let you think to that, i'm no longuer interested in this thread.

Best regards,

Last edited by phil1904; December 17th, 2015 at 10:35 AM.
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