Portal:Military history of France

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Military history of France

The military history of France includes both those military actions centered on the territory encompassing modern France, and the military history of French-speaking peoples of European descent, both in Europe and in Europe's overseas possessions and territories.

If starting from the Franks, French military history encompasses about 1,500 years. However, the Gauls are the more preferred and popular starting point, partly because Gallo-Roman culture laid the foundation for the current French people. In that case, the breadth and scope of French military history extends for a few more centuries. Such lengthy periods of warfare have allowed peoples of France to often be at the forefront of military developments, and as a result military trends emerging in France have had a decisive impact on European and world history.

Selected article

Thua Thien-Hue Province
Operation Camargue, one of the largest operations by the French Far East Expeditionary Corps and Vietnamese National Army in the First Indochina War. It took place from July 28 until August 10, 1953. French armored platoons, airborne units and troops delivered by landing craft to the coast of central Annam, modern-day Vietnam, attempted to sweep forces of the communist Viet Minh from the critical Road One. The first landings took place in the early morning on July 28, and reached the first objectives, an inland canal, without major incident. A secondary phase of mopping-up operations began in a "labyrinth of tiny villages" where French armored forces suffered a series of ambushes. Reinforced by paratroopers, the French and their Vietnamese allies tightened a net around the defending Viet Minh, but delays in the movement of French forces left gaps through which most of the Viet Minh guerillas, and many of the arms caches the operation was expected to seize, escaped. For the French, this validated the claim that it was impossible to operate tight ensnaring operations in Vietnam's jungle, due to the slow movement of their troops, and a foreknowledge by the enemy, which was difficult to prevent. From then on, the French focused on creating strong fortified positions, against which Viet Minh General Giap could pit his forces, culminating in Opération Castor and the battle of Dien Bien Phu.


Selected picture

Henry IV at the Battle of Ivry
Credit: Peter Paul Rubens

Ivry was the most important battle in the French Wars of Religion; victory there allowed the Protestant Henry IV to ascend to the French throne and establish the Bourbon dynasty, although he converted to Catholicism to soften the political transition.

Unit of the month

1reg.JPG

The 1st Foreign Engineer Regiment (French: 1er régiment étranger de génie) (1er REG) is a Military engineer regiment in the French Foreign Legion. It is a part of the 6th Light Armoured Brigade. The regiment is station in Laudon.

It was created on 1 October, 1939 as the 6th Foreign Infantry Regiment. The manpower came from 3 battalions of the 1st Foreign Infantry Regiment and one from 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment. It was disbanded 1 January 1942 and its soldiers were transeferred into the 1st Foreign Regiment and Foreign Legion depots. (More...)

Selected biography

Lazare Ponticelli (center) between two reenactment members in old uniforms in 2006
Lazare Ponticelli (December 7, 1897 – March 12, 2008) was, at the time of his death, the last documented surviving French veteran of the First World War and the last poilu, or foot soldier, of its trenches. Born in Italy, he moved to France at age nine and lied about his age to join the French Army in 1914. However, upon the entry of Italy into the First World War in 1915, Ponticelli was transferred to its army when authorities discovered his true ancestry. After World War I, he and his brothers founded the piping and metal work company "Ponticelli Frères" ("Ponticelli Brothers"), which assisted with the Second World War effort and is still in existence. At the time of his death, Ponticelli was both the oldest living man born in Italy and the oldest man living in France. In his later years, he was critical of war in general and humbly kept his war awards in a shoe box. While he felt unworthy of the state funeral the French government offered him, he eventually accepted one, although he asked for the emphasis of the procession to be on the common soldier that died on the battlefield. Ponticelli was born "Làzzaro" in Groppo Ducale near the village of Bettola, Piacenza province, in northern Italy. Raised in the mountain village of Cordiani, he was one of seven children born to Jean and Philomena Ponticelli. His father worked the fairgrounds and occasionally as a carpenter and cobbler. His mother cultivated the family's small plot of land and, like many women of the area, commuted three times a year to the Po Valley to work in its rice fields. When Lazare was two, his mother moved to France to try to earn a better living.


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Isle of FranceLouis de Brancas de Forcalquier de CéresteChristian Louis de Montmorency-LuxembourgNicolas de Neufville, Duc de VilleroiHenri de La Ferté-SenneterreJean Baptiste Budes de GuébriantPhilippe de La Mothe-HoudancourtCharles de La Porte de MeillerayeJean-Baptiste Louis Andrault de MaulévrierUrbain de Maillé-BrézéUlrich Friedrich Waldemar von LöwendahlEmmanuel Félicité de Durfort de DurasHenri de SchombergPaul de La Barthe de ThermesJacques d'Albon de Saint-AndréOperation BrochetOpération CorseOperation HirondelleRobert NivelleLouis Vincent Le Blond de Saint-HilaireBattle of VerdunSecond Battle of the MarneMartha DesrumeauxBattle of Bapaume (1871)Battle of LutterbergBattle of FreibergSiege of GroningenSecond Battle of Orleans (1870)Georges Loustaunau-LacauClaude d'AnnebautPhilippe de CulantJean de LescunJacques de TrivulceCharles II d'Amboise de ChaumontRobert Stuart d'AubignyGaspard I de ColignyThomas de Foix-LescunRobert III de La MarckGaspard de SaulxCharles de Choiseul-PraslinAntoine III de GramontJean de GassionArmand-Nompar de Caumont, duc de la ForceJacques Henri de Durfort de DurasGuy Aldonce de Durfort de LorgesRené de Froulay de TesséPierre de Montesquiou d'ArtagnanAlain Emmanuel de CoëtlogonCharles-Armand de Gontaut, duc de BironGaspard de Clermont-TonnerreLouis Antoine de GontautLouis Charles César Le Tellier, duc d'EstréesHubert de Brienne, Comte de ConflansJean Isidore HarispeMarie-Madeleine FourcadeBattle of ZeelandMarcel-Bruno Gensoul
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