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French Draft

Discussion in 'Prelude to War & Poland 1939' started by GJPBoston, Mar 29, 2016.

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  1. GJPBoston

    GJPBoston Member

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    My understanding is that the French conscription age, which had been 21 starting in 1928, was reduced to 18 by a 1938 law. I assume this was implemented starting in 1939, but does anyone know how the 19 and 20 year olds, who had not yet been drafted, were handled? I assume they did not just skip those two classes--did they just draft a very large class of 18-20 year olds in 1939?
     
  2. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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  3. GJPBoston

    GJPBoston Member

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    Was French conscription in the 1930s limited to the army, or was it used before or during WW2 by the Navy or Airforce (Armee de l'Air)? From what I can gather, it appears during the post-war France filled the navy with recruits, and I think that may be the case for the airforce too. I do see that both called up reservist upon mobilization, but I am guessing those reservists were reserves who had served voluntarily and were required to serve as reserves following the end of their voluntary enlistment, but I have not been able to confirm--does anyone know?

    Re: officers in the French army pre-war, I have seen a reference of 37,000 career officers and 90,000 in reserve. The 90,000 in reserve sound like a lot (compared to the 37,000 serving) if they are all regular army officers who elected not to enlist--or did France have a separate track reserve officer program? (I noted that the British army's French Army Handook lists pre-war 20,000 French officers and 47,000 warrant officers, so not certain of the 37,000 pre war number.)
     
  4. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Recruits were sent wherever men were needed, regardless, Armée de Terre, Airforce or Navy. You could apply for a specific branch of course, but you'd need to pass specific tests. In 1939, 5 million were in the army (on paper), whereas in fact many of these were office clerks, doctors, reservists etc.. and with the lack of instruction and material , only about 2.50= million men were ready to be thrown in the pitt.
    De Gaulle and Estienne were among the fist ones to suggest a remedy for this archaic situation, by recruiting 100.000 professionnals (20 years terms) and assign them to brand new tankk units. Due to lack of money and political will , this did not happen. However Guderian loved the idea and was largerly inspired by it and used it against the French in 1940.

    You'll find more here.

    http://www.institut-strategie.fr/RIHM_83_26.htm
     
  5. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    2.5 million or 5 million men is still a significant number for battle in the West, because I read somewhere that French birthrates were down in the 20s and 30s post-WWI so they had a small manpool and were only capable of fighting a defensive war. 2.5 million men seems capable of offensive action to me.
     
  6. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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