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World War I The war to end all wars.

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  #1  
Old 25 Sep 17, 21:21
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Question France had a massive Fleet...

What did it get up to in WW1?

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  #2  
Old 25 Sep 17, 21:29
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Mostly operations in the Med, some convoy duty in the Atlantic. Some were stationed in the Far East. The Dardanelles come to mind. The French and Royal Navy might have lost some old battleships who became minesweepers when they tried to force the way in to Istanbul. They may have also reinforced the Blockade the Italians had of the Adriatic.

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Old 26 Sep 17, 05:59
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The French fleet had a lot of older 2nd class ships in it and some rather odd designs. Part of the agreement reached as part of the Military Conversations before the war was that France would concentrate mainly on the Med and leave the RN to deal with Germany's fleet in the North Seas and Atlantic. Churchill actually signed an agreement to this effect. It was made clear to Germany that if in the event of a war between her and France any attempt by the German fleet to attack the French coast would bring Britain into the war This guarantee enabled France to put much more effort in building up her army rather than her navy.

By the end of the war the Med had become a melange of navies with British, French, Italian, Japanese, American and Brazilian ships from the Allied/co belligerant navies
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Old 26 Sep 17, 07:47
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At the outbreak of war France only had four modern battleships of dreadnought standard (the Courbet class) . However they were not deemed to be first class battleships capable of taking on German dreadnoughts. They spent WW1 in the Med acting as shore bombardment ships and then as a reserve for the Otranto Barrage. One was torpedoed but stayed afloat. A further three of the Bretagne class were commissioned in mid 1916, they were stationed in the Med to block KuK ships from leaving the Adriatic and saw no action.
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Old 26 Sep 17, 11:02
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Quote:
France entered the war in 1914 with an ageing “fleet of prototypes” of dubious military value compared to the standards of the time.
Although in 1914 there were 26 battle ships 22 of these were pre dreadnoughts many of a design that can best be described as quaint ands with no coherent design principles to unite them It has been said that on seeing one of them at a naval review the kaiser had remarked "What a splendid target".

Of the 29 armoured and protected cruisers all were out of date no new construction having started after 1903 and many predated 1890

About 10 or 11 modern high seas torpedo boats were in service, these were destroyers in all but name. On paper there were about 100 destroyers of relatively recent design (1903 - 1908) however about half (possibly even more) of these were laid up in reserve. Most destroyers were deployed in the Med

There were about 84 torpedo boat destroyers. In general these were small and unsuited for Atlantic waters and most served in the Med. Most were elderly although there were about four or five which had been built to a modern design in private French yards for foreign navies and requisitioned in 1914. The same yards managed to turn out a few more destroyers during the war but most of their workers were conscripted for the army. The French navy had to order destroyers from Japanese yards, these were to a British design and resembled the American four funnel types supplied to Britain in 1940.

There were about 80 submarines. Many of these were of modern design and shared common features with the larger German U boats'

There was a plethora of minesweepers, sub hunters, escort vessels etc etc many conversions by private yards of commercial vessels.

In essence whilst on paper France had a large fleet in practice she had not much in the way of naval might. By various accounts the officers and men were well trained, skilled and motivated but let down by their government which equipped them with a load of floating scrap metal.
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Old 26 Sep 17, 15:35
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Here you go from Naval-History.net:
THE FRENCH NAVY: HONNEUR, PATRIE, VALEUR, DISCIPLINE 1900-1922
World War 1 at Sea:FRENCH NAVY
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Old 27 Sep 17, 04:45
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Thumbs up

Thanks chaps, just reading a book written by a WW1 German Naval Occifer, he's a tad disparaging about France's Navy.

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Old 27 Sep 17, 05:52
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There was a 1912 plan to modernise the French navy but in truth once France had come to terms with Britain and could rely on the RN to guard her Atlantic coast line from the German navy she didn't really need a big modern navy. None of her imperial possessions were under much maritime threat and the antique ships she had were good enough to see off things like indo chinese war junks and the like. So the 1912 plan was never implemented and the money spent on things like more field guns for the army.

One reason why the French were so keen on ensuring that Britain would send a BEF to France in the event of war was not that they thought they needed the assistance of the British Army, they didn't give that much credence, but that it would lock Britain into an alliance so that France could continue to rely on the RN
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Old 27 Sep 17, 09:00
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Were there any ship to ship battles the French Navy was involved in during WW1?
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Old 27 Sep 17, 09:25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparlingo View Post
Were there any ship to ship battles the French Navy was involved in during WW1?
A French destroyer MOUSQUET, was sunk off Penang harbour by the Emden on 28th October 1914,
A number of French ships were torpedoed and French ships did sink some submarines in one case by ramming
One French mine-layer sank itself by running into one of the mines it had just laid

A number of French ships were damaged or sunk in collisions with British and Italian ships.

Otherwise losses were due to mines or shore batteries
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Old 27 Sep 17, 10:27
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The French submarine Foucault had the dubious distinction of being the first submarine to be sunk by aircraft when on 15th September 1916 she was bombed by a pair of KuK flying boats in the Adriatic.

A number of French submarines were destroyed by enemy forces after having run aground. One was rammed by the cruiser Helgoland. One was captured intact after being caught in anti sub nets at Pola

To be fair French responsibilities lay mainly in the Med and the Central Powers' naval resources there were pretty well bottled up much of the time so that the opportunities for ship to ship combat were sparse.
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Old 27 Sep 17, 12:11
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Not too bad , 660 casuaties ..
https://www.battleships-cruisers.co.uk/bouvet.htm
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Old 27 Sep 17, 12:39
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When the Dreadnought Jean Bart was torpedoed by a KuK U boat on 21st December 1914 the Austrian torpedo stuck her in the wine store - perfide. Despite this she made it back to Malta.
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Old 27 Sep 17, 12:51
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Quote:
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Two other pre dreadnoughts were sunk both by torpedo. Gaulois which sank slowly on an even keel so that losses were limited to four men killed when the torpedo struck and Suffren torpedoed by a German U boat in the Bay of Biscay when en route back to France for repairs - her magazine exploded and there were 647 lost.

Incidentally Bouvet was initially reported as being hit by a wire guided coastal torpedo rather than a mine. Later research suggests a mine but is not conclusive. It is not helped by the fact that mines were originally called torpedoes
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Old 27 Sep 17, 20:50
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How much action did the French Navy see during WWI?
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