Seniority of French troop types

Discussions on all aspects of France during the Inter-War era and Second World War.
wwilson
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Seniority of French troop types

Post by wwilson » 06 Jul 2021 13:36

I am looking for a description of the seniority scheme of the French Army in the war.

Certainly, infantry, artillery, and cavalry ranked among the senior arms. Was there a breakdown within those arms; for example, did metropolitan infantry have seniority over north African tirailleurs?

Cheers

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Loïc
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Re: Seniority of French troop types

Post by Loïc » 06 Jul 2021 16:34

Seniority...
It doesn't speak to me...of course the Line Infantry is older than the Algerian Tirailleurs, the Cuirassiers more "elite" historically than the Dragoons more older than the Light Cavalry...but it is such meaning here

it seems quite Ancien Régime when there was a clear ranking with the Royal Military Household, the Guards then Gendarmerie (not to be mixed with Maréchaussée) Carabiniers, Cavalry, Dragoons, the Artillery Corps ranked after at least 45 infantry regiments ending by coast guards and provincial militias regiments etc...as in the British Army where the several Corps are "ranked" one after the other

the "seniority" in the French Army I don't know where it is in 1939 when you raise in the Infantry an insipid new serie-600 Pioneers Regiments or newly-raised Machine-Gun or Pyrenean Chasseurs Battalions or Regional Regiments without any "seniority" nor History nor even military past before 1939 while 107 reserve regiments and all the territorial regiments having fought in the Great War remained vacants, or that the 17e RI one of the 12 oldest "senior" infantry regiments is still vacant in the French Army ORBAT and definitively since WWI or the 9e RI among the 6 oldest seniors French regiments only raised in emergency in june 1940 by renumbering a provisional unit, to not say nothing about the newly-raised Reconaissance Groups replacing certainly more seniors regiments in the Cavalry

je botte en touche...

wwilson
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Re: Seniority of French troop types

Post by wwilson » 06 Jul 2021 18:36

Thanks Loïc

I note there is an order that is shown in the SHAT document "Petites Unités" referring to French units of World War II that operated post the 1940 campaign. It runs initially as infantry - cavalry - artillery which seems correct in terms of which types of formations would be the oldest, but I am not sure if that is a formal scheme or simply one determined by the author of the document (may be the case as colonial units of all kinds are listed at the end of the document.)

I hear you about the lack of regard for tradition when units are created or activated. The U.S. Army has been doing that regularly since the end of the Second World War.

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wwilson
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Re: Seniority of French troop types

Post by wwilson » 07 Jul 2021 07:11

The listing order in "Petites Unités" is matched by the order used in "Les Grandes Unités Françaises":

Staff and Headquarters
Infantry
Armored and Cavalry Arm
Artillery
Anti aircraft artillery
Engineers
Signals
Trains
Ordnance (maintenance)
Quartermaster
Medical

Again, not clear if this is an official understanding or not. It does not appear to be strictly based on seniority of arms; armies had quartermasters before they had anti-aircraft artillery.

ETA. The Canadian system in the modern era: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-nat ... dence.html

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Loïc
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Re: Seniority of French troop types

Post by Loïc » 07 Jul 2021 10:26

It is rather something "conventional" than a real ranking or anything else concerning the "seniority" because of course the Gendarmerie coming from Cavalry could claim the the seniority and order of precedence remounting to Charles VII's Compagnies d'Ordonnance in 1445 and the Maréchaussée

and in this case of the Petites Unités 1940-1945 it includes changes occured throughout WWII because previously in 1939-1940
the Armored was a subdivision of the Infantry,
Signals a branch of the Engineers
and Ordnance a Service of the Artillery

in the Bulletin Officiel Unités Combattantes 1939-1945 they are listed as following
Infantry (included Armored and Colonial Infantry)
Artillery (included Ordnance and Colonial Artillery)
Cavalry
Engineers (included Signals)
Train
Service de Santé/Medical
Intendance/Quartermaster
Gendarmerie

the numbering of the Directions at War Ministry in the Interwars
1st Infantry
2nd Cavalry and Train
3rd Artillery
4th Engineers
5th Intendance/Quartermaster
6th Powders
7th Service de Santé/Medical
8th Colonial Troops
9th Control
10th Military Justice & Gendarmerie (this one 13th until 1933)
11th Army Staff

wwilson
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Re: Seniority of French troop types

Post by wwilson » 07 Jul 2021 13:18

Thanks again, Loïc

For what I want to do, that will suit the purpose.

As a point of curiosity, I imagine the French Army has guidance for parades about which units appear first; that might indicate préséance (this is the word used by the Québécois).

Cheers

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