France, Colonies, History, 20th century, World War, 1939-1945, Campaigns, Italy
The French Expeditionary Corps that fought in Italy during World War II was a French army, but that description must be qualified. Therefore this thesis asks two questions: how did France manage to send the equivalent of an army to Italy if French military leadership in 1943 had no direct access to French manpower resources; and the most important question since it is unique to the historical debate, why were the troops that were sent to Italy so effective once there when compared to the 1940 French army? To answer the first question, it was a French colonial army - soldiers mainly from Africa - that enabled France to send an army to Italy. The second question was not so easily addressed and is actually composed of two parts: current scholarship finds that at the tactical level French troops of 1940 no less capable than the troops in Italy, but more importantly it was the French military leadership's willingness to expend the lives of their colonial solders with little regard that allowed the French Expeditionary Corps to allow the United States Fifth Army to enter Rome just days before the Allied invasion of Normandy. And in order to understand why the French military was willing to expend the lives of its African soldiers, this thesis also had to examine the French colonial system dating to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Finally, this paper explores the different components of leadership that each army, which were African (primarily from North Africa and French West Africa) and metropolitan (mostly from European France), used to lead and direct their men. Thus, this study is more than just a pure military history. It is also a cultural and social history of France in relation to its colonies.
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
White, Brook, "Another Forgotten Army: The French Expeditionary Corps In Italy,1943-1944" (2008). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3634.