Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Tomb1302

Integration of Different Nations on the Front

Recommended Posts

sheldrake
18 hours ago, Tomb1302 said:

@nigelcave

 

Sorry if I misinterpreted, but are you saying French records for the war in general are poor and lackluster compared to that of the British?

A lot of French material is online.      This includes the 107 volumes of the history http://www.memoiredeshommes.sga.defense.gouv.fr/en/article.php?larub=214&titre=armees-franiaises-dans-la-grande-guerre-afgg- and official records - war diaries etc.   http://www.memoiredeshommes.sga.defense.gouv.fr/en/article.php?larub=79&titre=war-diaries-of-units-in-the-first-world-war

This issue is finding historians with an interest and language skills to cover the subject.   

The French have only recently rediscovered the First World War.  I have seen a lot more French groups on the battlefields since the start of the centenary.   

 

18 hours ago, Tomb1302 said:

Also, what situations or circumstances would prompt a battallion or regiment to occupy trenches of the other?

 

#1 confused desperate situations.  During the first battle of Ypres Oct-Nov 1914 a lot of French units taking over British positions. Ditto in the Fifth Army sector inn the 1918 retreat. 

 

#2 Additional firepower .  There were French 75mm battalions attached to most of the British Corps  on the st dayu of the Somme.

 

#3 On the boundaries between national units. 

 

#4 Some of the major reorganisations.  The British took over large sections of French trenches as the British Army expanded.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mva
3 hours ago, sheldrake said:

the war diaries (JMO = Journaux des Marches et Opérations) will give you official informations, sometimes maps), but they won't give you personal aspects (how the French soldiers thought of the British & vice versa) - many personal diaries of soldiers have been put on line, but they will only be useful if they have the 'search function ...

This one eg : https://correspondancedeguerre.blogspot.com/2018/03/zone-de-montdidier-27-mars-1918.html  (in March 18, the junction betw. French & British was there) : you have extracts of the JMO and in the diary the mention : it is the 1st & only time when I see British & French soldiers next to one another - btw note the postcard from Punch !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nigelcave
5 hours ago, sheldrake said:

A lot of French material is online.      This includes the 107 volumes of the history http://www.memoiredeshommes.sga.defense.gouv.fr/en/article.php?larub=214&titre=armees-franiaises-dans-la-grande-guerre-afgg- and official records - war diaries etc.   http://www.memoiredeshommes.sga.defense.gouv.fr/en/article.php?larub=79&titre=war-diaries-of-units-in-the-first-world-war

This issue is finding historians with an interest and language skills to cover the subject.   

The French have only recently rediscovered the First World War.  I have seen a lot more French groups on the battlefields since the start of the centenary.   

 

 

#1 confused desperate situations.  During the first battle of Ypres Oct-Nov 1914 a lot of French units taking over British positions. Ditto in the Fifth Army sector inn the 1918 retreat. 

 

But, perhaps surprisingly, rare - First Ypres is one example, as mentioned and Somme spring 1918 another, as also later stages of the Lys. The Chemin des Dames 1918 worked the other way and then, in due course, the French come back into the picture.

The extension of the British front to the south (and taking 'back' the Ypres Salient in 1915 and into 1916 - but generally the French units were not around; this is when I think most comments by the Brits re the state of the trenches etc etc are most commonly made. The one element of the French army that tended to stay on longer, maybe a few weeks, were the engineers, particularly those in involved in mining.

 

#2 Additional firepower .  There were French 75mm battalions attached to most of the British Corps  on the st dayu of the Somme.

 

These were concentrated on the right; the point to note here is that accommodation, supply etc would be by national armies in these 'settled' conditions (and, except in exceptional circumstances, the emergency ones too), so actually not all that much personal interaction except perhaps at staff level of the various formations (and maybe COs of battalions). On the hand, many British battalions had French interpreters attached - see, for example, Happy Days in France and Flanders by Benedict Williamson. And of course there were liaison officers at formation level, how far down depending on the situation.

 

5 hours ago, sheldrake said:

#3 On the boundaries between national units. 

 

True, but again rather limited.

 

5 hours ago, sheldrake said:

 

#4 Some of the major reorganisations.  The British took over large sections of French trenches as the British Army expanded.

 

See (1) above.

 

In general, I think that the interaction with members of the armies was, generally speaking, between officers and, more often than not, fairly senior ones at that or in a liaison capacity. There was, however, considerable contact with remaining civilians - so for much of the war it was not so much contact with the French army as contact with French civilians that would be 'common' amongst junior ranks of the BEF. There are numerous references in memoirs, however, of having to clean up after the French, notably the matter of burials of French casualties.

 

Funnily enough, I suspect that the 'ordinary' soldiers of the AEF had far more contact with French soldiers/ rank and file than the BEF did - partly because the AEF mainly operated in the French sector, partly because the AEF was very dependent on French military hardware - which, in the case of artillery and tanks, often included the manpower to operate a significant proportion of the guns and vehicles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Christopher Wiggins

Hi everyone, was hoping to investigate what happened to the 36th battalian a lot further and would appreciate any help from anyone who has evidence of the facts. What is written explains how they were ordered to walk rediculously slowly through no man's land which would have made them easy targets, however, with roars of no surrender they charged the enemy lines and secured 2 planned objectives only to be bombarded by their own artillery.  They were also opened fire on by enemy machine gun fire from the right flank when this flank should have been under attack from another paralel attack from another division of English troops. Shouldn,t this parallel attack (if it truly was under way as stated) have prevented the machine gun attack on the 36th battalian. Also, when holding their positions, no support came from behind to assist them as the Yorkshire division arrived supposedly too late. Seems to have been all round misfortune for Lord Carson's army misfortune that needs clearly investigating further as to what Field Marshal Haig had truly intended in this battle strategy on this day when the 36th battalian were seemingly left to be butchered by their brothers in arms.. oh and one more thing, very strangley very little was written about the true demise of Lord Carson's 36th battalian on that day and why the planned cavalry charge never took place, so this record needs to be properly researched and put straight for the record.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mva

Bonjour, @Christopher Wiggins    I'am afraid this question doesn't quite fit into the subject, but more into your other one ( Lord Carson's army )

kind regards from the Somme, martine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sheldrake

There is a function of scale.

 

Nigel Cave is right to point out that interaction at a unit to unit level only involved a minority of British or French troops.  Most of the time British and French troops  operated entirely within the boundaries of their own national armies. However, the  scale of the Western front means that substantial numbers of British and French troops did have some interaction - albeit only as a small minority within huge armies. 

 

The operations in the Tardenois, in two -three weeks in July 1918 were a minor part of the operations of the BEF in 1918.  However, four divisions and a corps headquarters took part: some 75,000 troops or three quarters the numbers in the BEF of August 1914.   

 

The vast majority of French artillery on the Somme was deployed, as might be expected, in support of the French Army.  However, a  three battery group of 12 x 75mm guns was assigned and deployed under command of each of the five army corps in the British Fourth Army. Their locations are marked on "Haig's artillery map."   Although these 60 guns and the few thousands men were  only a tiny fraction of the number of french 75s and men on the Somme, every British Army Corps had some French troops deployed in their sector for the week leading up to the 1st July 1916. Their soldiers and transport must have been a common sight on the roads. 

 

Edited by sheldrake
correcting grammar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield
13 hours ago, Christopher Wiggins said:

Hi everyone, was hoping to investigate what happened to the 36th battalian a lot further and would appreciate any help from anyone who has evidence of the facts. What is written explains how they were ordered to walk rediculously slowly through no man's land which would have made them easy targets, however, with roars of no surrender they charged the enemy lines and secured 2 planned objectives only to be bombarded by their own artillery.  They were also opened fire on by enemy machine gun fire from the right flank when this flank should have been under attack from another paralel attack from another division of English troops. Shouldn,t this parallel attack (if it truly was under way as stated) have prevented the machine gun attack on the 36th battalian. Also, when holding their positions, no support came from behind to assist them as the Yorkshire division arrived supposedly too late. Seems to have been all round misfortune for Lord Carson's army misfortune that needs clearly investigating further as to what Field Marshal Haig had truly intended in this battle strategy on this day when the 36th battalian were seemingly left to be butchered by their brothers in arms.. oh and one more thing, very strangley very little was written about the true demise of Lord Carson's 36th battalian on that day and why the planned cavalry charge never took place, so this record needs to be properly researched and put straight for the record.

 

Christopher - 36th battalion - I assume you refer to the 36th (Ulster) Division. If you do I must say that you seem remarkably ill-informed about the 1st July 1916. It might be worth starting a separate thread asking for book suggestions, or using the Forum search function to find previous discussions on the subject.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mva
2 minutes ago, Steven Broomfield said:

It might be worth starting a separate thread asking for book suggestions, or using the Forum search function to find previous discussions on the subject.

CH. Wiggins has already started another thread : https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/268653-lord-carsons-army/  (" that somme in 2016" )

kind regards from the (not : that) Somme, martine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nigelcave
On 29/12/2018 at 03:33, Tomb1302 said:

I wanted to know about the bond and interactions between French and British soldiers. Did they often encounter and/or interact? Were sectors or trenches shared by people other than one's compatriots? If so, how was the bond, and did they look at each other with admiration or respect?

 

The point I was trying to make, in line with the original post, was that, in the great scheme of things, the interaction between French and British troops was, perhaps surprisingly, small. I am quite confident that British troops at least would have come across French troops fairly regularly, not so often as formed units but rather as smaller groups or individuals: there are obvious exceptions, in particular towards the end of 1914 and for considerable chunks of 1918. But even then, interaction, with a few exceptions, amongst the rank and file would have been limited and rather superficial. A big obstacle to anything more profound would of course have been the language issue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JulianR

Co-operation between the French Railways and the (British) Railway Operating Division (ROD) was good.  Col Paget the OC of the ROD had been General Manager of the Midland Railway and was fluent in French.  Reports state that once the ROD had set up control offices British NCO's acquired enough French to converse with their French counterparts and vica versa. But this is a special situation.

 

Julian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tomb1302

Wow, I've missed so much.

 

Again, everyone, thank you - Each response is key. Essentially, I left my question quite vague because I am writing a series of short stories detailing different aspects and emotions of the war. This particular one explored relations of any kind, and of any number.

 

Please, feel free to keep sharing - Thank you to everyone who's contributed!

 

Happy New Year

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kenf48
10 hours ago, Tomb1302 said:

Wow, I've missed so much.

 

Again, everyone, thank you - Each response is key. Essentially, I left my question quite vague because I am writing a series of short stories detailing different aspects and emotions of the war. This particular one explored relations of any kind, and of any number.

 

Please, feel free to keep sharing - Thank you to everyone who's contributed!

 

Happy New Year

 

You may find this thread of interest, esp. the long transcription by Forum Pal KevinBattle at post 8

It was not unusual for foreign awards to be granted to British officers and men, however what is unusual in this example is that they were actually presented to Lt Pierrepoint and Sgt Whitworth by a French General at a ceremonial parade following the action described.

 

Acknowledging Nigel's comments that essentially liaison and movement was at a strategic level this is a good and relatively rare example of that co-operation at a tactical level in a front line action.  It was in 1918 when such co-operation in action was, as noted by Nigel, at its most frequent and intense.

 

Ken

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
gmac101

Some more from the Official History for May June 1918 on cooperation between French and British Forces in that period.  Some of the key points.  They used French for communication as nearly all the English speaking French Officers had been moved to work with the Americans and the British Army had sufficient french speakers.  Most the issues mentioned are around different styles of operating and a failure to understand that in advance.  The French did not issue warning orders so the British units received complex orders very late (to their mind) but infact if your liason officer at HQ was on his toes he'd have heard about plans earlier and tipped you off, which is how the French units worked.  

Cooperation 1.JPG

Cooperation 2.JPG

Cooperation 3.JPG

Cooperation 4.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
gmac101
On 01/01/2019 at 09:09, mva said:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzancy,_Aisne : " It was the only monument erected in the field during the First World War by a French unit dedicated to a British one. It was a visible manifestation of the significant resurgence which the various actions at the time of XXII Corps brought about in the French command's faith in the continued fighting ability of its British ally, a faith which had lately been badly shaken by the dramatic British retreat at the start of the German Kaiserschlacht offensive "

Here (among other pics) : https://www.ww1cemeteries.com/buzancy-military-cemetery.html

and (1 of the 3 pics) : https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/27602/buzancy-military-cemetery/

 

Thanks - I wonder if this was an expression of the "auld alliance" between France and Scotland ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
r.m.willis

Fascinating & diverse thread. There is quite a lot written about liaison of the 4 BEF divisions fighting during 2nd Marne in War diaries, Division & Regimental histories.  Some good, some bad, some non-existent.

 

Also interesting to note that both 1D of AEF & 15th (Scottish) have memorials at Buzancy but neither Americans or Scots were able to take and hold the village and it was the French who actually finally captured it.

 

Some of the messages of thanks from various French Generals certainly talked about the contribution of British divisions during 2nd Marne.

 

The other thing to think about is the level of transfer of reserves both ways during the Spring offensives, particularly from Georgette onwards. This would have involved a huge amount of co-Operation between the French & British

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
phil andrade

There are rather too many unflattering comments about the French in Haig’s diary.

 

Any affinity between Scotland and France is not apparent there !

 

If the tone set by Haig is anything to go by, then mutual regard was a scarce commodity.

 

 

Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...