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"French long-service chevrons" Topic


21 Posts

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476 hits since 2 Jan 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Lord Hill02 Jan 2019 2:27 a.m. PST

What colour were they? I've tried looking in my books and researching online and most say red stripes on left arm but some sources seem to show yellow.

All help much appreciated! Thank you!

TodCreasey Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2019 7:43 a.m. PST

Red for service (upper arm) yellow for rank (lower arm)

von Winterfeldt02 Jan 2019 12:11 p.m. PST

the lower arm stripes or "sardines" were for distinction of rank and up to caporal made of wool, but then for higher rank of metal lace – the service chevrons were supressed during the French Revoltion – but reactionary Boney re-introduced them – they were initially red, but later seemingly in some units and the Guards, more senior NOCs had them of metal lace as well, in case of wool, it was aurore in the Guard.

The service stripes were worn on the left upper arm only.

Brechtel19802 Jan 2019 12:22 p.m. PST

Napoleon a 'reactionary'? Do you know what a reactionary is?

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2019 12:36 p.m. PST

But he brought back something the revolutionaries had got rid of. That must make him a reactionary, right!

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2019 2:07 p.m. PST

Well we have to remember that the Red Army ended up producing some of the most exaggerated officer uniforms of any of the Allies in WWII. Shoulder boards, collar decorations, cap ornaments, chest medals….in a complete contrast to the pre 1940 outfit.


For a good reason, that applies to this day. But it was "Counter Revolutionary". In those days that meant "Reactionary". Actually it could mean a bullet in the back of the head if badly timed.

Brechtel19802 Jan 2019 2:45 p.m. PST

But he brought back something the revolutionaries had got rid of. That must make him a reactionary, right!

The revolutionary governments got rid of common sense particulars of military service. Restoring those is not reactionary, but for the good of the service.

von Winterfeldt02 Jan 2019 2:55 p.m. PST

well Boney never understood the men who fought for la patrie – he did never understand that some generals of the Armée du Rhin wore only blue coats, without any distinction of rank, he failed to understand that for those glitter did not count anything, neither baubles, he had to be a reactionary, reintroduced distinction and pollute their minds, which he alas achieved – with sang impure.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2019 3:07 p.m. PST

What! A government not using common sense? Surely not….

Brechtel19802 Jan 2019 4:39 p.m. PST

well Boney never understood the men who fought for la patrie – he did never understand that some generals of the Armée du Rhin wore only blue coats, without any distinction of rank, he failed to understand that for those glitter did not count anything, neither baubles, he had to be a reactionary, reintroduced distinction and pollute their minds, which he alas achieved – with sang impure.

You couldn't be more wrong or inaccurate in your 'assessment.'

'The French soldier is the most difficult of all to lead. He is not a machine to set in motion, but a reasoning being which you must govern…The French soldier loves to argue because he is intelligent. He is a severe judge of his officers' ability and courage…'When he approves of the operations and respects his commanders there is nothing he cannot do…The French soldier is the only one in Europe who can fight on an empty stomach [but] he is more demanding than any other when he is not in combat…A French soldier has more interest in winning a battle than a Russian officer…The art of retreating is more difficult with the French…A lost battle destroys his confidence in his leaders and incites him to insubordination…[He is] humiliated…The French soldier's only motivation is honor; it is that motivation which must be the source of [our] punishments and rewards.'-Napoleon as noted by Octave Aubrey in his Les Pages Immortelles de Napoleon, 232-233.

Interestingly, Thiebault in his Manuel des Adutans-Generaux (page 72) noted in a warning to staff officers that 'in our armies where the soldier thinks and judges' the French soldier would always note the mistakes made by officers and that they were seldom pardoned.

von Winterfeldt02 Jan 2019 11:44 p.m. PST

other reactionary steps of Boney

re introducing the rank of the colonel, and also regiments instead of the glorious demi brigades which fought so efficiently against all Europe and Britian, the attempt to introduce white coats – as well as new colour designs which looked quite Ancien regimes, in his satellite states he created very often monarchies and not republics, Boney a true traitor of the French Revolution.

Lord Hill03 Jan 2019 1:37 a.m. PST

So…gold service stripe(s) on upper left arm for line Serjeants and maybe silver for Light Inf serjeants?

Red for other ranks.

Have I got this right?

von Winterfeldt03 Jan 2019 1:45 a.m. PST

In the beginning, when Boney did not yet had plundered all Europe – it was technically red for all, later they could be gold or silver, respectively to button colour, in the Guard they seem to be of button colour for Senior NCOs from the start – at least for Old Guard

Lord Hill03 Jan 2019 4:24 a.m. PST

Thanks von W, much appreciated!

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP03 Jan 2019 6:23 a.m. PST

NB Guardsmen below Sergeant rank had the long service and rank stripes in Aurore (orangey pink), as von W points out above. The rank stripes with red piping.

Seems odd to us now, but the upper arm inverted chevrons were not the rank stripes! The diagonal straight stripes above the cuff denoted rank.

Lord Hill03 Jan 2019 7:54 a.m. PST

I think someone talked about this in another thread, but wouldn't the requirements of being in the Old/Middle Guard mean that EVERY soldier had long-service chevrons? But I'e never seen this depicted.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP03 Jan 2019 8:00 a.m. PST

They surely did and seemed to have resolved that in the end;


TMP link

Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP03 Jan 2019 8:16 a.m. PST

I don't have time to research it now, but my recollection is that the service stripes on the upper arm were aurore, a French term for a color that is sort of an orange. It is often translated as "dawn".

Tom

von Winterfeldt03 Jan 2019 1:14 p.m. PST

aurore for the Guard

Brechtel19805 Jan 2019 12:07 p.m. PST

…when Boney did not yet had plundered all Europe…

Hyperbole.

Perhaps some actual evidence can be posted on this subject?

Brechtel19805 Jan 2019 12:09 p.m. PST

other reactionary steps of Boney re introducing the rank of the colonel, and also regiments instead of the glorious demi brigades which fought so efficiently against all Europe and Britian, the attempt to introduce white coats – as well as new colour designs which looked quite Ancien regimes, in his satellite states he created very often monarchies and not republics, Boney a true traitor of the French Revolution.

Please explain how the use of colonel for a regimental commander is ‘reactionary.'

And an explanation for the replacement of the term ‘demi-brigade' with the traditional term ‘regiment' is reactionary?

It is worthy of note that only the infantry were termed demi-brigades during the Revolution and not either the cavalry or the artillery.

Further, the French infantry in the early days of the Revolution and the first amalgamation were hardly ‘glorious.' There was much wastage, inefficiency, and disorganization. The term ‘demi-brigade' was prompted by the amalgamation of the regular battalions and volunteer battalions, one regular and two volunteer, and there weren't enough regular battalions to brigade with volunteer battalions. There were more than twice the number of volunteer battalions than regular battalions.
One of the reasons for this amalgamation was to destroy any trace of Royal Army traditions and loyalties, many of the former being kept alive in the units anyway.

The first attempt to rectify the mess that the army had become was in 1793 for not only were there volunteer as well as regular infantry battalions, but also federal, legionary and free corps units of varying strengths.

And this amalgamation, common sense on paper, but fouled up in application as there was a war on. The entire process was not completed until mid-1794 and even then the entire process was a mess. There were no official tables of organization and equipment before June 1794, and the units' records were a jumbled mess.

This amalgamation resulted in demi-brigades that were authorized were not activated. Sometimes two or three of them had the same number. Both auxiliary and provisional demi-brigades were formed as were new legions and independent battalions. By 1795 it was utter confusion. There were now a total of 209 ligne and 42 legere demi-brigades, many of them understrength. The authorized strength of 2,400 had been reduced in some to 300; some actually had only 50 men around the colors.

The second amalgamation in early 1796 was a consolidation of the existing demi-brigades to 110 ligne and 30 legere demi-brigades. Battalions were now to have a strength of 1,067 all ranks.

This amalgamation hurt morale in many of the demi-brigades. Officers were transferred as there was now a surplus of officers and NCOs. Units that had been developing unit pride were either abolished or consolidated with other units. The 18th Demi-brigade for example represented the survivors of two regular and fourteen volunteer battalions.

It should also be noted that Napoleon was the most successful army commander in the French army for his performance in northern Italy and Austria in 1796-1797.

The change in name from Demi-Brigade to regiment after Napoleon's reorganization after he became First Consul sorted out some of the disorganization of the Revolutionary armies and would create the Grande Armee.

An excellent reference for the changes and amalgamations in French infantry organization for the period can be found in JB Avril's Avantages du Bonne Discipline. It is in tabular form and is easy to follow. It was published in 1824.

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