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?
Posted 30 March 2016 - 07:40 AM
You are talking about the Pianlevé Act. Conscripts who belonged to the generrtions between the 1928 and 1938 acts were just called when they were 19, 20, 21 or later. Even when you were suposed to be drafted , you could could request a delay . I have several log bookss that mention class 1936 with enlisting date at 1937 or 1938 for example.
Posted 04 July 2016 - 05:53 PM
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.)
Posted 07 July 2016 - 10:00 AM
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.
Posted 07 July 2016 - 04:34 PM
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.
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