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.

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Map of the environs of Cádiz (c. 1813)
The Battle of Barrosa was an unsuccessful French attack on a larger Anglo-Spanish force attempting to lift the siege of Cádiz, Spain during the Peninsular War. During the battle, a single British division defeated two French divisions and captured a regimental eagle. Cádiz had been invested by the French in early 1810, but in March of the following year a reduction in the besieging army gave its garrison of Anglo-Spanish troops an opportunity to lift the siege. A large Allied strike-force was shipped south from Cádiz to Tarifa, and moved to engage the siege lines from the rear. The French, under the command of Marshal Victor, were aware of the Allied movement and redeployed to prepare a trap. Victor placed one division on the road to Cádiz, blocking the Allied line of march, while his two remaining divisions fell on the single Anglo-Portuguese rearguard division under the command of Sir Thomas Graham. Following a fierce battle on two fronts, the British succeeded in routing the attacking French forces. A lack of support from the larger Spanish contingent prevented an absolute victory, and the French were able to regroup and reoccupy their siege lines. Graham's tactical victory proved to have little strategic effect on the continuing war, to the extent that Victor was able to claim the battle as a French victory since the siege remained in force until finally being lifted on 24 August 1812.


Selected picture

Battle of the Somme
Credit: Lt. J. W. Brooke

A Cheshire Regiment sentry in a trench near La Boisselle during the Battle of the Somme. The battle is best remembered for its first day, 1 July 1916, on which the British Army suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 dead. With more than one million casualties over five months, it was one of the bloodiest battles in human history. The Allied forces attempted to break through the German lines along a 25-mile (40 km) front north and south of the River Somme.

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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 FreibergAlbert Severin RocheSiege 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 GensoulBattle of Foz de Arouce
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