Total Strength of French forces in 1940? Question about Mobilization?

Discussions on all aspects of France during the Inter-War era and Second World War.
Lee-Sensei
Member
Posts: 10
Joined: 04 Aug 2022 06:19
Location: Canada

Total Strength of French forces in 1940? Question about Mobilization?

Post by Lee-Sensei » 25 Jan 2023 08:34

Hi. So I was doing some reading and apparently, the French had 135 divisions in 1940 (counting the British, Belgians etc.) against 141 German divisions and 22 Italian divisions. This number comes to around 3.3 million men on the Allied side. However, I also read that the average division was about 17000 men. 135 divisions of 17000 is about 2.3 million men. Where did the other 1 million come from? Also, I read that they mobilized one third of their male population between the ages of 20 and 45. 5 million men in total.

User avatar
Loïc
Member
Posts: 1130
Joined: 14 Jun 2003 03:38
Location: Riom Auvergne & Bourbonnais France

Re: Total Strength of French forces in 1940? Question about Mobilization?

Post by Loïc » 25 Jan 2023 19:42

To count the size of an Army and the total military personnel this doesn't work at all like that with a ratio men/Division

not the whole military personnel belong to Divisions, nor all the soldiers were concentrated in the Front, it existed Armies, Corps, many others support and services units, rearguard Territorial units, logistics etc...

the US Armed Forces had until 12 millions of soldiers with only 96 Divisions

the French Army had as "Divisions" 95 in Europe and 14 in North Africa & Levant = 109 Divisions France and Mediterranean theater
there were 2 completed Divisions of the Polish Army of France

the sources counting more than 95 French Divisions it is only because they add some Fortified Sectors

quoting Goyet the French Army in Metropolitan France gathered 3 985 320 men of which 2 651 802 on the Front
of the 5 096 629 mobilised men the 1st may 1940

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 9371
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: Total Strength of French forces in 1940? Question about Mobilization?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 Jan 2023 19:06

Loïc wrote:
25 Jan 2023 19:42
To count the size of an Army and the total military personnel this doesn't work at all like that with a ratio men/Division

not the whole military personnel belong to Divisions, nor all the soldiers were concentrated in the Front, it existed Armies, Corps, many others support and services units, rearguard Territorial units, logistics etc...
US logisticians planned in terms of "division slice". ie: for the 90 days planned for Operation OVERLORD a division slice consisted of all Allied soldiers ashore in the Normandy lodgment, divided by the number of division HQ ashore. This included corps & army support groups, the independent logistics echelon, the tactical air force bases ashore, and Army port operations units. it did not include Navy personnel/units at the ports. For this 90 day period the division slice was assigned a nominal number of 44,000 men. That was not a firmly set number but was expected to be less in the opening week/s and possibly higher at other dates in the campaign. In other campaigns the logisticians set the division slice at other numbers.

There are other methods better than counting only counting ground combat divisions. I like to look at the number of corps HQ. Also counting the air forces numbers on each side adds perspective. Forgetting ground strength and considering air strength is another perspective. ie: in mid 1944 the Germans could muster a little over 5,000 operational combat aircraft. A low estimate for the Allied airfares that same date was some 22,000 operational combat aircraft on the battle fronts.

Return to “France 1919-1945”