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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Introducing the French Navy

The French Navy, aka 'the Royale' was officialy established in the early 17th century and was historically locked in a rivalry with the British Royal Navy and also fought some conflicts against the Dutch and the Spanish. At the onset of the Second World War, the French Navy weighed 800,000 tonnes and was ranked 4th in the world along with the Italian, after the British, American, and Japanese navies. Up to the summer of 1940, it participated in operations against Germany in Norway, the Mediterranean and the Dunkirk evacuation. After the armistice, the British were seriously concerned about the possibility that the French ships might fall in German hands. Many went willingly to the allied side, or were boarded by the British while in port, and later became the Free French Navy. Some did not want to join, particularly those based out of the Senegalese port Dakar, and they remained part of the Vichy forces After a series of ultimatums, the Royal Navy engaged them, sinking several vessels in July of 1940. Over 1200 French sailors died. The Vichy navy remained hostile for the next two years, until November of '42 when seeing the success of Operation Torch -the North African invasion- unfold, they switched sides. The Germans quickly tried to take over the remaining ships at Toulon, but the French sailors scuttled most of them or fled to allied ports. The Free French Navy continued to fight alongside the allies through the Normandy invasion and the landings in southern France. Once the European ports were recaptured by the allies, the French Navy did not see any more significant action. By the end of the war only half of its original tonnage remained. As far as toy soldier figures, Starlux, a French firm has given us a few poses to consider. Let's check them out. 

Starlux French Navy - Part I
A couple of  French sailors. I only have two as I got them from that batch of mixed figures. They are wearing their summer uniforms and the distinctive cap -the 'Bachi' bonnet- with the red decoration on top. The poses are not very exciting, but the figures are still unique as there are no other French Navy sailors that I am aware of.

Starlux French Navy - Part II
OK, so here are a few more poses, but also from Starlux. Most of them are on parade. In this batch you have a couple of high ranking officers. You also have the guy carrying the submg, which he does in a rather elegant manner.

Starlux French Navy - Part III
Then you have a few members of the marching band. Interesting to see that they also played the bag pipe.

Starlux French Navy - Part IV
And a couple more percusion instruments and a horn.

Starlux French Navy - Part V
Now, for these folks you might need to get yourself a warship, as I can definitely picture them on its deck taking care of business. 

Starlux French Navy - Part VI
The two guys in the middle could the the ones watching the parade go by. The man on the left could be an officer on the ship's bridge. And then finally, we have an action pose, although I don't really picture many scenarios in which a navy guy would be using his hand gun.

Click here to see other Starlux figures
Click here to see the French Infantry soldiers
Click here to see the French Alpine Troops


  1. Part VI 'the guy with the hand gun' - just right for landing party duty surely? Lovely to see all these - I had no idea Starlux had covered the topic so well.

    On the topic of landing parties, the AIP RN figures can be readily converted to sailors fighting ashore for any nation and period because they are wearing the basic jumper, trousers and gaiters which were the norm. They are wearing sennet hats but that's easily fixed.

    1. Thanks for the tip! Will have to look up the AIP figures. Given the fact that I don't have any warships, my use of navy guys is pretty much limited to landing parties :-)