No war was complete unless a little fun could be had out of it

Monday, December 7th, 2020

This Kind of War by T.R. FehrenbachThe French, already engaged in Vietnam, had supplied only one battalion of infantry to the Korean effort, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), but the battalion was a good one:

Professionals all, the unit contained many half-wild Algerians, to whom no war was complete unless a little fun could be had out of it, too.

As the first platoon of Chinese rushed them, a Frenchman cranked a hand siren, setting up an ungodly screech. A single squad fixed bayonets, grabbed up hand grenades, and when the enemy was twenty yards away, came out of their holes and charged.

Four times their number of CCF stopped, turned, and ran into the night. The Frenchmen went back to smoking and telling jokes.


  1. Ezra says:

    The commander of the French battalion in Korea was a handicapped general officer who took a demotion to the rank of major or Lieutenant Colonel just to be able to command the unit.

  2. Kirk says:

    As Napoleon Bonaparte put it, “In war, the moral is to the physical as ten to one…”.

    This is a truth that works well, right up until it runs into a well-positioned Maxim gun or two. At that point, morale usually goes into the shitter.

    It is interesting, though, as an illustrative vignette descriptive of the very French concept of elan in war. An equally well-prepared British or American unit might have done something similar, but the manner in which they’d have done it would have been totally different. Only the French would have been so insouciant, so casual about the whole thing. Which, in and of itself, would be a rather horrible thing for the Chinese to encounter. Not only did they only set a single squad on the attacking Chinese, the rest of the unit kept right on with their smoke break. One shudders to think what might have happened to the poor Chinese had they made the mistake of attacking when the Goumiers were low on tobacco, and suffering the ill effects of nicotine withdrawal. It would have been like attacking a very large and cranky car shredder…

  3. Harry Jones says:

    Morale doesn’t emerge from a vacuum to magically make everything better. It’s at least as much a result of winning as a cause of winning.

    First get the maxim gun, then you will have morale. Unless your soldiers are irredeemable cowards. Get decent soldiers and the maxim gun, and the morale will take care of itself.

  4. Lu An Li says:

    “Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.” — D. MacArthur.

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