Swiss volunteers

Discussions on the Allies and the Neutral States in general and the countries that does not have sections of their own.
Mannet
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Joined: 19 Jul 2019 15:01
Location: Lower Silesia

Swiss volunteers

Post by Mannet » 30 Oct 2020 17:49

Were any Swiss volunteers serving in Allied forces? If yes-How many of them?

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Martin_Schenkel
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Joined: 29 Aug 2005 08:08
Location: Canada

Re: Swiss volunteers

Post by Martin_Schenkel » 12 Dec 2020 21:05

Interesting question! I've read many books about Switzerland in WW2 and can't remember any discussion about Swiss serving with the Allies. Some volunteered for German service. Seems to have been typically German/Swiss dual citizens living in Germany, and some came from Switzerland, but the numbers total a few hundred and not much more. Before the occupation of Vichy France in Nov 1942, Switzzerland was still able to do some trading with the Allies, including in some weapons and military tech (such as bomb sights). I'm sure there were some scattered Swiss ex-pats and dual citizens in the UK, Canada, and USA that would have ended up serving with those countries, but I've never heard mention of any significant numbers and certainly no dedicated Swiss units.

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Loïc
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Location: Riom Auvergne & Bourbonnais France

Re: Swiss volunteers

Post by Loïc » 12 Dec 2020 21:41

Both old-established civilian immigration and long tradition of military service, there were many Swiss residents in France (~80 to 120 000 in the Interwars) so not surprisingly, they served in the French Army or in the Maquis

Concerning figures the SHD website for the foreign volunteers (they were not exclusively in the Foreign Legion) in 1939-1940 lists 1308 names but some are counted twice or more, but instead of being volunteers, also as long-time residents many others could be simply mobilised in the French Army
I met the case of someone whose great father was a 46 years old Swiss volunteer in the French Army Quatermaster Service in my region being POW in june 1940

426 men (French born in Switzerland or Swiss) dead under the French flag in 1939-1945
of which 150 in 1940, 87 between 1941 and 1943, 92 in 1944, 81 in 1945

around 300 to 500 Swiss joining the Maquis FFI and/or the French Army c. 1944 (mainly from western cantons of french-speaking Suisse Romande)

the Confederation is quite sensible about the question of their citizens serving in others Armies since 1859 as the foreign service is forbidden and even more scrictly since 1927 so they can suffer conviction by a tribunal as it happened to 130 Swiss having joined or willing to join the French Resistance or the French Army in 1944-1945, the same misadventure occured to the Swiss volunteers coming from the International Brigades in Spain and others after WWII

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