Gendarmerie Nationale

Discussion in '1940' started by Warlord, Mar 20, 2018.

  1. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Lads, I'm kind of a newbie in most aspects of the 1940 débacle, so in this one I'm asking for help:

    According to Osprey, the Gendarmerie Nationale, as a part of the Armée de terre, fielded combat units during Fall Rot, which actually saw combat, something I had never heard about.

    After a somewhat shallow search, I haven't been able to find anything on this subject, so, can someone provide in-depth information? I've always been interested in the involvement of paramilitary or law-enforcement organizations in open warfare.
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  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Mobile Gendarmerie - Wikipedia

    More than 6.000 GMR gendarmes fought in 1940 either in line Gendarmerie combat units or as detached personnel seconded to the Army. After the 1940 armistice, the Germans demanded that the GRM be disestablished. A new organization, 6.000 strong, called "La Garde" was created and was attached, first to the minimal French Army remaining in the unoccupied zone, then after the whole country was occupied in the wake of the Allied landings in Africa in November 1942, to the Ministry of Interior. Being attached to the cavalry branch of the Army, the Garde traded its companies for squadrons

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  3. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Thanks mate, Osprey (MAA 516, by the way) plus this, is about all I had when I decided to post...

    However, your info points out to the main subject of this thread: Gendarmerie combat units during Fall Rot. Any info on organization, ToEs, deployment, combat exploits, etc.?
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I note that there was perhaps another name for them Prevote Militaire

    gnome-rhone 800 ax2 w/side car prevote militaire 1940

    Armée belge en 1940 — Wikipédia
    À l'arrière, les 10 000 gendarmes chargés de la police militaire (la prévôté militaire) - qui peuvent combattre l'ennemi, étant entraînés et équipés militairement

    En 1940, 650 000 hommes et 10 000 gendarmes équipés comme infanterie légère et destinés à faire la police de l'armée (prévôté), mais entraînés pour combattre l'ennemi, surtout dans le cas de parachutistes, et 50 000 jeunes recrues du contingent de 1940, mais qui seront envoyées en France dès le 10 mai pour y suivre un entrainement que l'on n'aura pas eu le temps de leur apporter. La totalité des effectifs traduit un effort considérable puisque les mobilisés représentent 8 % de la population totale de la Belgique, soit 46 % de la population masculine entre 20 et 40 ans. Il s'agit d'un effort de mobilisation supérieur, statistiquement parlant, à celui des Alliés.

    There seems to be a forum that may help answer your question in more detail and faster - Google Translate

  5. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    The french gendarmerie nationale has a long history, going back a few hundred years. Google it.
    They're still very active as the armed branch of the Police Force in rural France. Keeping law and order together with their unarmed counterparts the National Police.
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  6. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    This is getting interesting, with two conflicting but very informative posts. Were then the gendarmes the French Military Police, as in Belgium, or the armed branch of the civilian Police, militarized because of the pace of events back then?

    BTW, nice link, TD; very interesting pictures of the French redcaps.
  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I think, in France, they are the military (armed) arm of the civilian police. I would also guess the same system is in Belgium as it is in France.
    In fact in the UK there are specialist arms of the Police force, Dog sections, high speed drivers, firearms section etc etc

    Reading the history
    Gendarmerie - Wikipedia
    A gendarmerie or gendarmery (/dʒɛnˈdɑːrməri/ or /ʒɑːnˈdɑːrməri/) is a military component with jurisdiction in civil law enforcement. The term "gendarmerie" is derived from the medieval French expression gens d'armes, which translates to "armed men".[1] In France and some Francophone nations, the gendarmerie is a branch of the armed forces responsible for internal security in parts of the territory (primarily in rural areas and small towns in the case of France) with additional duties as a military police for the armed forces

    The word gendarme comes from the Old French gens d'armes, meaning men-at-arms. During the Late Medieval to the Early Modern period, the term referred to a heavily armoured cavalryman of noble birth, primarily serving in the French army. The word gained policing connotations only after the French Revolution when the Maréchaussée of the Ancien Régime was renamed the Gendarmerie.

  8. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    Note that in the Netherlands, the Marechausse still exists!
  9. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I believe that some parts of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were mobilised en-masse for provost duties with the Canadian forces in England. Period 16H & Big 4 & period publications 608.jpg
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  10. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    The terms of the Franco- German Armistice allowed Vichy an Armistice Army of 100000 men equipped with minimum arms intended to cover security in the unoccupied zone.The Vichy French police structure was a separate organisation.

    French regular army officers were enrolled in the Armistice Army leadership.From this group who largely did little initially to get involved in clandestine or passive resistance were the "Johnny come latelys"who when they saw the tide turning against the Germans joined resistance activities.They thought that they could command resistance and FFI units on account of their seniority and military acumen which the irregular military leadership refused to recognise.

    Present day,the CRS is the specialist force at the top of the GN structure and have a prime duty of state security....involved in riot and crowd control.
  11. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

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  12. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    I've read some of your second link, Orwell, as I wondered whether the Gendarmerie in France became the dreaded Milice, who were a paramilitary force linked to the Vichy govt.
    But it seems the Milice were recruited and trained during the war.
    Like other aspects of the history of France during the war, the part of the Gendarmerie is still not clear, fear of guilt and blame etc.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
  13. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I think the milice were civilian French prisoners (or criminals) of the justice system and the Germans 'liberated' them from the prisons to effectively bolster their numbers, to all intense and purposes from what I have read about the milice they were not liked at all by the normal French

    Milice - Wikipedia

  14. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    The formation of the Milice in 1943 came about from the evolution of the Legion des Combattants which in turn was formed in 1940 as a veteran's organisation.It became the nucleus of a Petainist party and in November 1941 was incorporated with the quasi fascist Party Social Francais.

    Then in March 1942 a para military Service d' Ordre Legionnaire was formed within the LdC which by January 1943 became known as the Milice Nationale....the Milice.

    The background to this transformation came about from the collaboration policy of Laval who openly recorded that he wished for a German victory to save Europe from Bolshevism

    Anti communists readily joined the Milice. It became an instrument of terror and repression against the Resistance working closely with Germans.It's interesting to note that young men still motivated by the Petain/Laval Vichy ideology were joining the Milice after the invasion of France in June 1944.

    An auxiliary,the so called "French Gestapo" was formed by using the criminal characters Bony and Lafont,Known as the Bony- Lafont gang,they assisted the German SD in the German rule of terror.Their role gave them opportunity to carry on their criminal activities with the backing of the Germans.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
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  15. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

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  16. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Yes I saw this account in the past. Mussidan and the Dordogne in general suffered badly from these excesses.Then the region suffered again when the 2nd Division Das Reich made their murderous progress from Montauban to Normandy.

    I remember seeing a good account of the activities of Pierre Bony (seen both Bony and Bonny spellings) and Henri Lafont...without doubt a pair of murderous criminals who were finally brought to book on the liberation of France.

    Regarding the formation of the Milice,it was the collaboration of Laval with the Germans to satisfy Hitler that the Milice was formed.By June 1943,the Milice had a strength of 30000 men and were well equipped by the Germans to carry out operations and reprisals against the Resistance including the assassination of political opponents...overall a state within the Vichy state.Even Petain complained to Laval of their excesses

    Laval had a number of collaboration charges against him but the main one which sealed his fate was related to his declaration of wishing for a German victory.
  17. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    It may need to be said, for some members/public reading this thread, that the milice were not just geographically in the Vichy controlled area of France, they worked in collaboration with the Germans throughout France.

  18. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

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