Developmental French Forces – Land Ironclads
The conventional forces of the Ancien Régime have been supplemented by the addition of Land Ironclads. The French began experimenting with and developing Land Ironclads around the same time that the British did, although arguably the French vehicles have more style and just look prettier. A decision was made initially that the Land Ironclads and contraptions would form a wing of the French Navy, in the same way the French Aeronefs and Aerostats as well as Aquanefs formed a part of the la Royale; de la Marine Nationale Français, or la Royale for short. However, practice in the field suggested that the Land Ironclads were better utilised as a part of the Armée de Terre, initially treated as Arme Blindée Cavalerie, then later as the Corps Mécanisée consisting of the Régiments de Cuirassiers Mécanisée and Régiments de Hussards Mécanisée along with the Corps Medical Offensif.
Aeronefs and Aerostats were, of courses, separated to form the Service Aéronautique whilst the Aquanefs are now an integral part of la Royale. They will be discussed separately later.
The French developed their Blockhaus Roulants and contraptions as a result of their experiences against the Prussians in particular, Previous to that engagement the French had built slow, heavily armoured Blockhaus Roulants but by the time these had reached the battlefield, the battlefield had moved elsewhere. These powerful weapons of France then never actually got to fire a shot in anger during the entire war except for the now famous incident where the commander of one near Sedan mistook a flock of pigeons for a heinous Prussian biological weapon and opened fire on that flock, setting back communications with the frontlines a decade, although ensuring that the battalion ate well that night.
The French rethought the whole concept of their non-conventional forces doctrine and decided that it was better to be light and present at the battle than well protected and elsewhere – from the point of view of the other troops that is. As a result of this thinking more emphasis was put on developing fast machines with less armour as well as exploring La Guerre Miasmatique, the French’s own use of chemical, biological and bacteriological elements on the battlefield – although mercifully with regards to pigeons the emphasis was purely on the carriage of messages. The French now led the world in developing chemical weapons.
It was noted by the eminent commentator on matters military in Peshawar, Wessex ((principally the writers M Hartley, S Blease, P O’Grady and D. Crook)), that “French ironclads were grouped together in Régiments de Cuirassiers Mécanisée, four ironclads per company, four companies to a two battalion regiment. Contraptions were similarly organised with four sections per company into Régiments de Hussards Mécanisée, except Corps Medical Offensif contraptions which were allocated to the frontline as required.” Note that each section of contraptions could contain a variable number of contraptions – sometimes two or three but usually four contraptions being present.
Within the terms of Peshawar, this means that basically the Land Ironclads are based one to a base whilst the contraptions are based two or more to a base.
The next instalment in Peshawar will look at the French Service Aéronautique Forces – Aeronefs and Aerostats.
Previous Articles on Peshawar
Previous posts referring to Peshawar are:
- Peshawar – Capital of the New World – Introduction
- Peshawar – Background and Timeline to the Great Game
- More Aeronefs and Land Ironclads
- Peshawar – The French – Part 1
Vive la France et vive le Roi!