Tuesday, September 29, 2015

La Musée de l'Armée

Courtyard Musée de l'Armée
Paris, FR
La Musée de l'Armée is one of the great military museums in the world (http://www.musee-armee.fr/accueil.html).  It can be be found in Paris adjacent to the tomb of France's greatest commander -- Napoleon.
Good Knights!
The French have a proud military tradition which long precedes Napoleon.  Clovis was a King of the Franks who triumphed at the battle of Soisson in 486 and converted to Christianity.

Liege Belgium
Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor on one of history's most memorable dates -- Christmas Day 800.  This museum guides the visitor through this rich history from knights in shining armor to the World Wars of the 20th century.
Comte de Rochambeau
A visit to this museum reminds us that France too has invaded many countries over its long history.  It has projected its influence over much of the world to a surprising extent.  The French fleet and army intervened decisively in the American Revolution aiding Washington at the siege of Yorktown.  In America Invades we noted, "The direct intervention of the French began with Rochambeau landing a force of about six thousand French soldiers in Providence, Rhode Island. These forces and, critically, the French Navy led by the Comte de Grasse helped secure the surrender of Lord Cornwallis’s army at Yorktown." 
Napoleon I
Fans of Napoleon will certainly appreciate this deep collection of militaria from the first Empire.

A horse fit for an Emperor
You will even find Vizir, one of Napoleon's horses, stuffed and mounted and, seemingly, ready to ride.
French Revolutionary Flag
The Napoleonic period including the Revolution was the zenith of French military glory.
Franco-Prussian War
La Patrie en danger
Napoleon III eventually succeeded his uncle and led France into the disastrous Franco-Prussian war in 1870.  The provinces of Alsace and Lorraine were lost to Germany until the treaty of Versailles that ended World War I.  Napoleon III fled to England where he begged shelter from his London wine merchant -- Berry Brothers (http://www.bbr.com/). They have a Napoleon cellar to this day.
In the age of imperialism France planted its flag in colonies around the world.  The French and British empires would briefly collide at Fashoda in what is now South Sudan in 1898.

French artillery, WWI
But in 1914 the British and French would fight alongside each other in the Great War.  Their Russian ally would eventually collapse into a bloody revolution after suffering humiliating defeats such as the battle of Tannenberg (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Tannenberg).

WWI Trench warfare
The Western Front would become a wasteland as both sides dug deeper trenches and pounded each other with artillery.  Infantry assaults would be ground up by machine guns and barbed wire.  Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, asked, "Are there not other alternatives than sending our armies to chew barbed wire in Flanders?"

The First World War would devastate France.  Over 1.3 million soldiers of France and its empire would be killed as a result of the First World War.

Victory Parade 1918
Eventually, with the aid of American doughboys, the Allies would prevail.  The bitter peace that was negotiated at Versailles, however,  assured that war would be renewed in Europe.  Marshal Foch stated, "This is an armistice for twenty years."

Hitler in Paris, 1940
In 1939, following the invasion of Poland, France would find itself at war again with Germany.  In 1940 the German blitzkrieg stormed through the Ardennes forests in Belgium outflanking the Maginot line and France fell.  France was occupied and Hitler toured Paris.
Free French WW2 Poster
All French forces did not, however, surrender.  Many in Africa rallied to the cause of Free France and many would fight at places such as Bir Hakeim and El Alamein.
De Gaulle broadcasts from London
They were inspired by the words of General Charles de Gaulle, a 6' 5" veteran of World War I who refused to acknowledge defeat.  He would lead France to victory.
Charles de Gaulle
In America Invades we wrote, "on August 25, 1944, the French 2nd Armored Division, led by General Leclerc, was allowed the honor of being the first Allied force to liberate Paris. Ernest Hemingway personally led a group of irregulars that liberated the Ritz Hotel drinking seventy-three martinis that night in its bar. General Charles de Gaulle spoke from a balcony at the Hotel de Ville, “Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! But Paris liberated! Liberated by itself, liberated by its people, with the help of the whole of France!”
Vive La France!
You can purchase your copy of America Invades here...www.americainvades.com
or on Amazon...www.amzn.com/1940598427

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