NOBODY likes the French

Not even soldiers fighting in the squalor and horror of the trenches of WWI- on opposite sides:
The Christmas Truce of 1914 was a brief moment of humanity amid the horrors of the First World War. 
But when Tommies and German troops emerged from the trenches to shake hands and swap gifts in no man’s land, the festive goodwill clearly did not extend to the French, a newly discovered letter reveals. 
Lance Corporal William Loasby tells how a shared contempt for Britain’s Gallic ally in the Great War helped the opposing sides briefly find common ground when they met, with one German officer even remarking: ‘Ten Frenchman don’t make an Englishman.’ 
In his letter to his mother, Lance Corporal Loasby, 25, of the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment, tells how he and a comrade met two Germans between their trenches, which were just 40 yards apart. 
One of the Germans was an officer who shook hands, then asked in English: ‘Are you all English in front there, and no French?’ 
Lance Corporal Loasby wrote: ‘I answered, “All English, no French”. He replied, “I thought so”. Then he said, “Ten Frenchman don’t make an Englishman”. I thought, “Compliments”. 
‘He weighed me up and down. Gave me six cigars, some chocolate, shook hands again and turned about, went back to his trench.’ 
The letter is expected to fetch up to £20,000 when it is sold at auction in March. Lance Corporal Loasby describes the Christmas event as ‘a remarkable experience… unbelievable I should say, had it happened to anyone else’. 
But in the letter, dated December 27, 1914, he adds: ‘We are at each others’ throats again now.’ The letter was discovered by a collector who bought it unwittingly in a house clearance sale, historical documents expert Richard Westwood Brookes of auctioneers Mullock’s said yesterday. 
Lance Corporal Loasby tells how his meeting with the officer came after an earlier encounter with another German in no man’s land on Christmas Eve. He asked if the British would stop firing on Christmas Day and Boxing Day so the Germans could bury their dead.
This sort of reminds me of an old joke about French tanks:

Q: How many gears does a French tank have? (Note: this applies equally well to Italians.)

A: Ten. One forward and nine reverse.

OK, enough with the Frenchist jokes. The fact remains that once upon a time, the French had the most feared and fearsome military in the known world. They were a great people, a powerful empire, a good ally and a dangerous enemy.

Indeed, for all that I have a great fondness for Americans, I find them curiously reluctant to face up to the undeniable fact that they owe the existence of their country to the Frogs.

When General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, he did so not because he was cornered by American regulars under Washington- he did so because the French had cut off his escape to the Atlantic by blockading the harbour. According to at least one interpretation that I've seen of the events of 19th October, 1781, Lord Cornwallis sent his subordinate, General O'Hara, to surrender his sword to Washington because he didn't much respect the man's military skills.

So the question remains: what the hell happened to the French?

That is a rather knotty question, which I'm not qualified to answer. I can only say this: I've never come across a more disagreeable people, a more stupid government, or a more irritatingly out-of-date national self-image than I have with the French.

Which is why, if I have anything to say about it, I'll never go back to France again. And I have no doubt that the French themselves will have no problems whatsoever with this arrangement.

Comments

  1. French rifle for sale. Never fired. Only dropped once.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What happened? Bled dry by Napoleon, WW1, WW2 and countless other little wars .Modern war breaks men and you get what we have now.

    ReplyDelete

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