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Your opinion of French forces & militaria of WWII?

Article about: I have mixed opinions about the French. IMO, I would have to break it up to the present day younger generation and the older generation. The younger generation in France seems to have almost

  1. #1

    Default Your opinion of French forces & militaria of WWII?

    Hello all!

    I do not intend for this topic to be disrespectful and inflamatory. I have just made an observation and wanted to generate discussion about it.

    In the U.S. at least, the French in WWII and especially French militaria in general seems very unpopular. In fact, as I go about putting together a collection of rifles from each of the major powers of the war, I've mentioned to friends that I still need to get a French MAS 36. To this, most people reply: "French?! Major power?! THEY DON'T COUNT! "

    In terms of militaria, I only have a rather sad looking M26 helmet... Topics about French militaria seem few and far between on this forum. Polish items seem more popular, which is surprising to me.

    Personally, I think French forces, especially the Free French and the French Resistance (especially in aiding in the return downed airmen/ sabotage/ preparing for the Normandy Invasion) were extremely brave and gave it their all to contribute to the war in a positive way.

    I think the French get a bad wrap because of how poorly they were led early on and because they were knocked out of the war. I think their leaders were mired in WWI military doctrine/ too concentrated with avoiding the slaughter that French faced in The Great War. We all know that they were too dependent on the Maginot Line and that came back to bite them...

    So! What do you guys think? Why do the French get such disrespect? Why does French militaria seem so unpopular? Is this only an American mentality (of course Amercans tend to think that we are the best and won the war on our own...), or am I on to something?

    THANKS FOR YOUR TIME AND CONSIDERATION!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Your opinion of French forces & militaria of WWII?

    I believe that the horrible disrespect towards the French comes from the same "reason" as the "What colour is the French war flag? -white" joke. In my opinion, the French deserve the same respect as everyone else, and the militaria is just as interesting and collectable as any other nation. And France has just an incredibly interesting history, especially the times of Napoleon and the Revolution. The people who treat France and its people with disrespect should think twice.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Your opinion of French forces & militaria of WWII?

    The Free French distinguished themselves at the battle of Bir Hakeim !
    For the Free French, a victory was badly needed to show the Allies that the army of the Free France was not, as often suggested, a bunch of desperados, but a serious force that could contribute in the battle against the Reich. The Free French used the battle to show the world that France was not the decadent nation it appeared to be after its catastrophic defeat in 1940. De Gaulle used it to delegitimize cooperation with the Vichy regime. To withstand the overpowering German and Italian armies led by Rommel was an enormous achievement .

    Nick
    "In all my years as a soldier, I have never seen men fight so hard." - SS Obergruppenfuhrer Wilhelm Bittrich - Arnhem

  4. #4

    Default Re: Your opinion of French forces & militaria of WWII?

    I agree Joe, IMO early terrible leadership, and poor cooperation with Britain in the Battle of France is to blame for most of their woes and subsequent stereotypes. The Germans simply wanted it a hell of a lot more too in 1940.

  5. #5
    ?

    Default Re: Your opinion of French forces & militaria of WWII?

    Being in the US, I have to agree with your observations. I also have heard similar opinions and statements. I believe, like you had somewhat stated......that the French leadership was very poor when it came to larger-scaled early decision making, which led to poor outcome and organization. The attitudes of the higher-ups also seemed to be a bit stubborn and stuck in there ways. But how can we judge without being in their shoes I guess!?

    I think that the French fought bravely with what they obviously had to deal with. These men (including the Resistance) stood up to the "scary German war-machine", and that right there is enough to gain my respect! But of course there will always be people who will say "What if they did this...", or "They should have done that".....etc.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Your opinion of French forces & militaria of WWII?

    True,
    It's quite sad that people have forgotten those who fought to free France from the grip of the German's. And hey I'd love to have a French uniform in my collection, and those helmets are pretty awesome. I just love those Adrian helmets!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Your opinion of French forces & militaria of WWII?

    Thanks for the responses, everyone! This is just the type of discussion that I wanted to generate!

    I'd love to hear some of our French forum members comment as well!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Your opinion of French forces & militaria of WWII?

    Here is a shot of the only piece of French WWII militaria that I own. It's a beat up M26 Adrian helmet that has been repainted a number of times. I see traces of red as well as the more evident green and original blue. Liner has rotted out, and I believe the chinstrap is not original.

    To restore or not to restore... THAT is the question!
    574569_628674409559_27800490_32731622_1108663451_n.jpg

  9. #9

    Default Re: Your opinion of French forces & militaria of WWII?

    I often wonder if the might of the Wehrmacht had slammed into Britain as quickly as that in 1940 that we would have carried the same 'tag' as the French forces .

    Nick
    "In all my years as a soldier, I have never seen men fight so hard." - SS Obergruppenfuhrer Wilhelm Bittrich - Arnhem

  10. #10

    Default Re: Your opinion of French forces & militaria of WWII?

    I just can't find anything french around here to buy!
    A few rifles but they are usually pretty beat.

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