War Diaries Talk

Mentions of the French

  • ChrisKemp by ChrisKemp scientist

    Hi everyone

    I've been really enjoying the first day on here so far, people are finding some great stuff!

    Just in case anyone notices anything as they go through the diaries, I would be particularly interested in anything that relates to interactions or encounters with the French army.

    If you've found anything good I'd really appreciate a heads up!


  • woollamc by woollamc

    Have had a very disgruntled entry in diary for 1st Battalion North Staffs, who arrived at their allocated billets on successive nights in two locations and found them occupied by the French, ending up in bivouacs in nearby woods. Was this common? "My" adjutant's irritation was compounded because an Irish regiment were also forced to camp in the woods (Leinsters from memory but can't recall the battalion) and made a lot of noise for which the North Staffs got the blame.


  • mrjackoboy by mrjackoboy in response to ChrisKemp's comment.

    Not sure of this is the type of things you are looking for:

    WO/95/1280/3 Page 119 of 533

    Beurvy ~ 1st Division to relieve French 58th S Div of Cuinchy. The Bte. were to take over the French trench. Company commanders went to French HQ in the trenches following a conference at French Div, HQ and French Bgd. HQ.


  • mrjackoboy by mrjackoboy

    Image AWD0000euk 6 DIVISION: 1/2 Battalion London Regiment (City of London) Page number 84

    description and drawing here of dug out accommodation being constructed by French Troops near Ypres


  • ChrisKemp by ChrisKemp scientist in response to woollamc's comment.

    It's probably fairly common. Regardless of what the plans for billeting etc were supposed to be in reality it was very likely a mix of 'first come first served' and 'finders keepers'. There were also ongoing disputes about who kept/left trenches/billets in better condition between British and French soldiers.


  • ChrisKemp by ChrisKemp scientist in response to mrjackoboy's comment.

    That's really useful, thanks. It might not seem overly exciting but just having a sense of who was where and near to whom is really useful in then trying to piece together some of the larger events and interactions.


  • ChrisKemp by ChrisKemp scientist in response to mrjackoboy's comment.

    Fantastic, thanks very much! Drawings like that are really interesting.


  • simonedi by simonedi moderator

    Shame its not second world war, my grandfather had some very.... interesting things to say about off duty americans but certainly even then it was a case of "we got here first"


  • The_Bluffer by The_Bluffer in response to simonedi's comment.

    Don't worry about this not being the Second World War simonedi, the Americans will be along (much) later in the Great War, too. 😉


  • charcinders by charcinders

    I have seen several references to the French and I've noticed that they are usually mildly derogatory, e.g. references to disorganisation and willingness to suddenly retreat leaving the end of the British line hanging in the air.

    The only compliment I've seen was from a cavalry officer who co-opted some "very well dressed" French infantry to defend a position. I think that may have been a back-handed compliment though.

    I just tagged a page where the writer carps about the state of some French trenches they have just occupied:



  • brecon_beacons by brecon_beacons

    3 CAVALRY DIVISION: 1 Life Guards wo/95/1155/1 page 20 of 147

    The Life Guards's Diary accuses the French of letting the enemy through the line at Zwarteleen in the first battle of Ypres:
    "Verbrandenmolen, Belgium, November 6th 1915: 4th (Guards) brigade asked for support, some French in (repudiation?) of some of the trenches in brigade line, having retired and let enemy through a quarter of a mile East of Zwarteleen."