French Military Victories
Contrary to what many people believe (or are taught by the Internet), the French have had a storied military history to be envied by many.
(Updated: 08/27/2018): With a far-reaching history dating back to Roman times (then known as the Gauls - which we include as France here, and then, later, as the Franks), heroic French military exploits begin to cover thousands of years of warfare. The listing below showcases the various successes (and failures) of the French throughout their long-established existence - an existence that brought about the knight as the mounted chivalric warrior and produced military tacticians such as Joan of Arc and Napoleon Bonaparte. France's battlefield commanders would go on to earn military victories against many of the major principalities governing Europe and the Middle East during their respective time periods. Consider the words of first-hand accounts by those having visited the French frontlines of World War 1:
'...and a certain unconscious brutality of hurry and gesture in the men is related to their inexhaustible and extraordinary military courage. (...) Let a fool hate France.' - G.K. Chesterton
'The French soldiers are grand. They are grand. There is no other word to express it.' - Arthur Conan Doyle, A visit to three fronts (1916)
'Their business is war, and they do their business.' - R. Kipling, France at war (1915)
Note: While Franks actually represent the beginnings of both the French and German peoples (and, as such, their military victories are often claimed by both parties) we have included them in this listing of French Military Victories. A special thanks to of Pierre M and Nicolas C for their contributions to this section.
This listing contains text exclusive to www.MilitaryFactory.com. No reproduction permitted.
Sphere showing FULL French colors represents a military victory.
Sphere showing HALF French colors represents a military draw.
Sphere showing ALL-WHITE represents a military defeat.
387 B.C. - Battle of Allia
The outnumbered Gauls, led by Brennus, defeat the army of the Roman Republic led by Quintus Sulpicius and ultimately go on to sack Rome itself.
295 B.C. - Battle of Sentinum
The outnumbered Gauls and Samniums - under Egnatius - are defeated by Decius Mus and Fabius Maximus Rullianus of the Roman Republic.
224 B.C. - Battle of Telamon
The outnumbered Gauls, led by Concolitanus and Aneorestus, are defeated by Atiliua Regulus and Aemilius Papus of the Roman Republic.
52 B.C. - Battle of Gergovia
The Gallic Tribes, led by Vercingetorix, defeat the Roman Republic army led by Julius Caesar. Despite the victory, the Gauls take heavy casualties among their ranks, forcing a retreat to Alesia.
52 B.C. - Battle of Alesia - September
The Gauls, led by Vercingetorix and Commius, and, despite owning an advantage in numbers, lose upwards of 250,000 men in this decisive Roman victory by Julius Caesar.
The Franks and the Kingdom of Francia
486 A.D.- Battle of Soissons
The Franks, led by King Clovis I, defeat Syagrius and the remains of the Western Roman Empire.
496 A.D. - Battle of Tolbaic
The Franks, led by Clovis I, are victorious over the Alamanni.
507 A.D. - Battle of Vouille
The Franks, led by Clovis I, defeat Alaric II (the conqueror of Spain) and his Visigoths in a decisive victory.
732 - Battle of Tours / Battle of Poitiers
The Carolingian Franks, led by Charles Martel, defeat a large invading Muslim force under the command of Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi.
773 - Battle of Pavia
Charlemagne and his Frankish forces defeat King Desiderius of the Lombards.
885-886 - Battle for Paris
The Franks are victorious over the invading barbarians, the hordes having laid seige to the city.
1047 - Battle of Val-es-Dunes
William, the Duke of Normandy and King Henry I of France are victorious against the rebel Normans led by Guy of Burgundy.
1066 - Battle of Hastings - October 14th
A Norman-French Army led by Duke William II of Normandy successfully handles the English led by King Harold Goodwinson. A decisive victory, this marks the beginning of the Norman conquest of England.
1097 - Battle of Dorylaeum - July 1st
Unified Christian Crusaders defeat the Seljuk Turks.
1099 - Battle of Ascalon - August 12th
Godfrey de Bouillon and his Crusader army defeat the Fatimids of al-Afdal Shahanshah.
1119 - Battle of Bremule
Louis VI of France and his invasion force is defeated by Henry I of England.
1177 - Battle of Montgisard
King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem and Raynald de Chatillon gain a major victory over Saladin.
1198 - Battle of Gisors - September 27th
Richard I of England is victorious over Philip Augustus of France.
1213 - Battle of Damme - May 30st-31th
In a preemptive strike, King John of England sends William de Longespee to attack the harbor of Damme, finding only light resistance, whilst King Philip II of France and his army is away in Flanders.
1214 - Battle of Bouvines - July 27th
Philip Augustus of France overwhelmingly defeats Germany's Otto IV and Count Ferrand of Flanders.
1217 - Battle of Lincoln - May 20th
Louis VIII of France is beaten by King Henry III of England.
1340 - Battle of Sluys - June 24th
The English, led by Edward III of England, are victorious over the French, led by Hugues Quieret and Nicolas Behuchet.
1342 - Battle of Morlaix
French forces beat back the attacking English and force a retreat.
1345 - Battle of Auberoche - October 21th
The French led by Louis of Poiters are defeated by the English, led by Henry, the Earl of Derby.
1346 - Battle of Saint-Pol-de-Leon - June 9th
The House of Blois, allied with France (Charles of Blois), is defeated by the House of Montfort, they being allied with England (Sir Thomas Dagworth).
1346 - Battle of Caen - July 26th
The French and Raoul II of Brienne lose Caen to Edward III of England.
1346 - Battle of Blanchetaque - August 24th
The French and Gudemar du Foy fail to stop the English river crossing of the Somme by Edward III.
1346 - Battle of Crecy - August 26th
Philip VI of France falls to Edward III of England.
1347 - The Siege of Calais - September 4th-August 3rd
The French under Jean de Fosseux surrender after nearly a year-long seige by Edward III and his English army.
1347 - Battle of La Roche-Derrien
The French along with Duke Charles of Blois are defeated by the English and Sir Thomas Dagworth.
1349 - Battle of Lunalonge
The French force the withdrawal of a combined Anglo-Gascons force.
1351 - Battle of Ardres
French forces are victorious over the English.
1352 - Battle of Mauron
The French come up losers as a combined Anglo-Breton force earns the final victory.
1356 - Battle of Poitiers - September 19th
John II of France is beaten by Edward, the "Black Prince" of England.
1364 - Battle of Cocherel - May 16th
The French and Bertrand du Guesclin find victory against Charles II of Navarre.
1364 - Battle of Auray - September 29th
Charles of Blois falls to Sir John Chandos of England and John de Montfort of France.
1367 - Battle of Najera - April 3th
Pedro the Cruel and his English allies are victorious over brother Henry of Trastamara and his French allies.
1369 - Battle of Montiel
The Franco-Castilian combined forces led by Henry II of Castile find victory against a conglomerate of Portuguese, Jewish, Granadine and Marinid forces led by Pedro of Castile.
1372 - Battle of La Rochelle - June 22nd
The French-Castilion fleet wins control of the Channel after a decisive victory over the English.
1373 - Battle of Chiset
French forces, whilst laying siege to Chiset, repel an English relief force.
1382 - Battle of Roosebeke - November 27th
Louis II of Flanders and Philip the Bold lay waste to Philip Van Artevelde and the Flemish.
1396 - Battle of Nicopolis - September 25th
The French Crusaders fall to the Ottoman Turks near Nicopolis.
1415 - Battle of Agincourt - October 25th
Jean Le Maingre and Charles d'Albret fall to Henry V of England in what would become a massacre of their men-at-arms knights.
1419 - Siege of Rouen - July 1418-January 1419
The city of Rouen and Guy le Bouteiller fall to an English siege.
1421 - Battle of Bauge - March 21st
A combined force from France and Scotland defeat the English in one of the earliest English defeats of the Hundred Years' War.
1421 - Siege of Meaux - March 21st
The city of Meaux falls to the English.
1423 - Battle of Cravant - July 31st
Comte de Vendome of France falls to Thomas Montacute of England in a renewel of English-Franco hostilities.
1424 - Battle of Verneuil - August 17th
England and John, the Duke of Bedford, is victorious over a combined Franco-Scotish force led by Viscount Aumale.
Joan of Arc
1429 - Siege of Orleans - October 12th-May 8th
Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc), Gilles de Rais and Jean d'Orleans of France defeat the Earl of Shrewsbury, the Earl of Salisbury and the Duke of Suffolk.
1429 - Battle of Jargeau - June 11th-12th
Jeanne d'Arc of France leads victorious against William de la Pole of England.
1429 - Battle of Beaugency - June 16th-17th
Jeanne d'Arc delivers yet another French victory over the English.
1429 - Battle of Patay - June 18th
La Hire and Poton de Xaintrailles of France defeat Sir John Fastolf of England, effectively turning the tide of the Hundred Years' War.
1429 - Siege of Compiegne - June 18th
Though Jeanne d'Arc is taken prisoner (and ultimately executed), the French resist the English siege from Philip the Good and John II of Luxembourg.
1435 - Battle of Gerbevoy
French forces, led by commander La Hire and Jean Poton Xaintrailles, defeat the English.
1444 - Battle of St. Jakob an der Birs - August 26th
The French Army is forced to retreat at the hands of the determined Swiss Pikemen.
1450 - Battle of Formigny - April 15th
Comte de Clermont and Comte de Richemont of France defeat Thomas Kyriell of England.
1453 - Battle of Castillon - July 17th
Charles VII of France defeats John Talbot of England.
1509 - Battle of Agnadello
French forces are decidedly victorious over the Venetians.
1515 - Battle of Marignano
Francis I and his French forces defeat the Swiss.
1525 - Battle of Pavia - February 24th
Francis I loses out to the Spanish-Imperial army under Charles de Lannoy.
1544 - Battle of Ceresole
French forces defeat the Spanish Imperial Army.
1643 - Battle of Rocroi
French forces are victorious over the Spanish once more.
1645 - Battle of Nordlingen
French forces are victorious over an army fielded by the Holy Roman Empire.
1648 - Battle of Lens
French forces, once again, defeat the Holy Roman Empire's Imperial army.
1658 - Battle of Dunes
A combined Anglo-French army is victorious over the Spanish.
1690 - Battle of Fleurus
This naval battle sees the French victorious over the Anglo-Dutch.
1690 - Battle of Beachy Head
Another naval battle sees the French victorious over their Anglo-Dutch counterparts.
1693 - Battle of Landen
Marshal Luxembourg and his French forces decidedly defeat an Anglo-Dutch contingent.
1704 - Battle of Blenheim - August 13th
A turning point in the War of the Spanish Succession, the Holy Roman Empire, the Dutch Republic, Denmark and England deliver a blow to France and the Electorate of Bavaria. France alone records some 30,000 casualties and Commander-in-Chief Marshal Tallard is taken prisoner by England.
1706 - Battle of Ramillies - May 23rd
The combined forces of France, Spain and the Electorate of Bavaria fall to the Grand Alliance made up of England and the Dutch Republic during the War of the Spanish Succession.
1707 - Battle of Almansa - April 25th
During this battle of the War of the Spanish Succession, the kingdoms of France and Spain proved victorious over the English, Portuguese and Dutch.
1707 - Battle of Toulon - July 29th - August 21st
During the War of the Spanish Succession, a combined French and Spanish force defeat a combined army of Austria, the Dutch Republic, Savoy and Great Britain.
1708 - Battle of Oudenarde - July 11th
The Duke of Burgundy and the Duc de Vendome fall to the coalition of nations made up of Great Britain, the Dutch Republic and the Holy Roman Empire.
1709 - Battle of Malplaquet - September 11th
France and the Electorate of Bavaria are defeated by Austria, Great Britain, Prussia, the Kingdom of Denmark and the United Provinces.
1712 - Battle of Denain
French forces, led by Marshal Villars, are victorious over the Austrian and Dutch forces.
1742 - April 20th
French forces successfully take Eger.
1743 - Battle of Dettingen - June 16th
Part of the War of Austrian Succession, an alliance of British, Hanover and Hesse forces defeat the French Army.
1744 - Battle of Toulon
Joining the Spanish in this naval battle against Great Britain (when victory was already within Spanish reach), the French assist in ending a British naval blockade. Part of the War of the Austrian Succession.
1745 - Battle of Fontenoy - May 11th
Maurice de Saxe and his French army defeat a contingent of Anglo-Austrian-Dutch-Hano troops.
1746 - Battle of Roucoux
Maurice de Saxe is once again victorious over the Anglo-Austrian-Dutch-Hano forces.
1747 - Battle of Lauffeld
Maurice de Saxe is, yet again, victorious over the Anglo-Austrian-Dutch-Hano forces.
1756 - April 20th
The Galissonniere at Minorca secure the landing of Richelieu by defeating the British Navy led by Admiral Byng.
1757 - Battle of Hastenbeck
French forces in Germany defeat an English army.
1758 - Battle of Carillon
General Montcalm and his vastly outnumbered French forces are victorious over the British.
1759 - Battle of the Plains of Abraham - September 12th-13th
French General Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm leads his New French Militia to defeat at the hands of the British led by General James Wolfe outside of Quebec City in what is today Canada. Both generals are mortally wounded in the fray. The defeat signals the beginning for the end for French control in North America.
The American Revolution
1781 - Battle of Yorktown
French forces, allied with the Americans, are victorious over Cornwallis and his English army.
1781 - Battle of the Chesapeake - September 5th
France, coming the aid of America's George Washington, defeats the British in a strategic victory.
The French 1st Republic: 1792
1792 - Battle of Valmy - September 20th
France defeats the invading armies of Prussia and Austria.
1793 - Siege of Toulon - September 18th - December 18th
French Republic forces (to include a young Captain by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte) earn the victory against a combined enemy force led by the British and , Spanish. Also known as the Fall of Toulon.
1794 - Battle of Fleurus
Jourdan and his French forces are victorious over the Austrians.
1794 - Battle of the Vosges - July 13th
France defeats a coalition of Prussian, Austrian and Saxon troops.
1796 - April 21st
Napoleon Bonaparte is victorious over the Piedmontese in Mondovi.
1796 - Battle of Lodi
The French beat a force of Austrians.
1796 - Battle of Castiglione
The French are victorious over the Austrians yet again.
1796 - Battle of the Bridge of Arcole - November 17th
Napoleon Bonaparte I of France leads victorious over the Austrians.
1797 - Battle of Diersheim, April 20th
French General Moreau is victorious against Austrian General Staray.
1797 - Battle of Rivoli
Napoleon's French forces net a victory over the Austrians.
1798 - Battle of the Nile / Battle of Aboukir Bay
The French First Republic, led by Francois-Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers, is handed defeat at Aboukir Bay in Egypt by the British under Rear-Admiral, Sir Horatio Nelson.
1798 - Battle of the Pyramids
French forces route Egyptian Mamelukes.
Napoleon Takes Control: 1799
1799 - Battle of Mount Tabor
Outnumbered French forces decimate a much larger Turkish force.
1799 - Battle of Trebia - June 19th
French General Macdonald loses to the Russians led by General Suvorov.
1799 - Battle of Novi - August 15th
General Barthelemy Catherine Joubert loses to the combined forces of Austria and Russia led by Fieldmarshal Alexander Suvorov.
1799 - Battle of Abukir
Napoleon's French Army defeats another Turkish force in Egypt.
1799 - Second Battle of Zurich
Massena and his French force route the Russians in Switzerland.
1800 - Battle of Marengo
Napoleon's French forces are victorious over Melas and his Austrians.
1800 - Battle of Hohenlinden - December 3rd
A decisive French victory by General Moreau over the Austrian Empire led by Archduke John.
1803 - Haitian Independence - November
Napoleon Bonaparte's army, led by Charles LeClerc is defeated by the Haitian indigenous army, led by Dessalines.
Emperor Napoleon: 1804
1805 - Battle of Trafalgar - October 21
Pierre Charles Silvestre de Villeneuve, and his combined Franco-Spanish fleet of 33 ships, is defeated by Viscount Horatio Nelson and his smaller band of 27 British ships in this decisive naval battle of the Napoleonic Wars.
1805 - Battle of Austerlitz - December 2nd
Napoleon I of France is decidedly victorious over Russia and the Austrian Empire.
1806 - Battle of Jena-Auerstedt - October 14th
Napoleon I of France is victorious over Frederick William III of Prussia.
1806 - Battle of Pultusk - December 26th
Marshal Lannes of France leads against General Bennigsen of Russia in this inconclusive engagement.
1807 - Battle of Eylau - February 7th-8th
The battle results are inconclusive as Napoleon of France combats the powers of Russia and Prussia led by Bennigsen.
1807 - Battle of Friedland - June 14th
Napoleon Bonaparte is victorious against General Bennigsen's Russians.
1808 - Battle of Bailen - July 18th-22nd
Pierre DuPont of France loses to Francisco Castanos of Spain.
1808 - Battle of Tudela - November 23rd
Jean Lannes of France is victorious over Francisco Castanos of Spain.
1809 - Battle of Ucles - January 13th
General Victor of France is victorious over General Venegas of Spain.
1809 - April 21st
Napoleon Bonaparte defeats Austrian forces in Landshut.
1809 - Battle of Corunna - January 16th
Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult is unable to prevent the British evacuation of British troops from Spain led by John Moore.
1809 - Battle of Aspern-Essling - May 22nd
In Napoleon's first major defeat, he loses out to the determined Austrians under Archduke Charles.
1809 - Battle of Ciudad-Real - March 27th
A French victory for General Sebastiani against Spain under direction from General Cartojal.
1809 - April 20th
Napoleon and his French forces are victorious over the Austrians in Abensberg.
1809 - Battle of Eckmuhl - April 21st
The French, under Davout, defeat Archduke Charles and his Austrian army.
1809 - Battle of Wagram - July 5th-6th
A decisive victory for Napoleon Bonaparte over Austria's Archduke Charles.
1809 - Battle of Medellin
Marshal Victor and his French troops decidedly defeat Cuesta and his Spanish army.
1809 - Battle of Ocana
Marshal Soult and his outnumbered French forces crush the Spanish army yet again.
1810 - April 21st
The French score a victory at Astorga.
1811 - Battle of Albuera - May 16th
France, led by Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult, falls to the coalition of nations made up of Britain, Portugal and Spain.
1812 - Battle of Badajoz - March 16th-April 6th
Surrender and retreat by the French garrison to a force of Anglo-Portuguese is one of the bloodiest sieges of the Napoleonic Wars.
1812 - Battle of Salamanca - July 22nd
A major French defeat for Auguste Marmont against the Anglo-Portuguese-Spanish Alliance.
1812 - Battle of Smolensk - August 17th
Napoleon Bonaparte of France is victorious against Russia led by Prince Bagration.
1812 - Battle of Borodino - September 7th
Napoleon Bonaparte of the First French Empire is victorious against Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov of the Russian Empire.
1812 - Battle of Maloyaroslavets - October 24th
General Delzons of France claims a victory over the Russians led by Marshal Kutuzov. Russians claim a strategic victory. Napoleon's stepson Eugene de Beauharnais is involved in the battle.
1813 - Battle of Dresden
The outnumbered French route a larger multi-national contingent.
1813 - Battle of Lutzen - May 2nd
Napoleon I of France is victorious against Germany's Gebhard von Blucher, Peter Wittgenstein and Gerhard von Scharnhorst.
1813 - Battle of Vitoria - June 21st
France, led by Jean-Baptiste Jourdan and Joseph Bonaparte, loses out to the Anglo-Spanish coalition led by Arthur Wellesley.
1813 - Battle of Klum - August 30th
General Dominique Vandamme of France loses to the allied forces of Austria, Russia, and Prussian led by Field-Marshal Barclay de Tolly.
1813 - Battle of Leipzig - October 16th-19th
Napoleon I of France loses decisively to the coalition of Britain, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Prussia, Austria, Sweden and several German states.
1814 - Battle of Vauchamps - February 14th
Napoleon and his band of 18,000 Frenchmen defeat 30,000 Prussian troops in the final battle of the Six Days Campaign.
1815 - Battle of Ligny
Standing as Napoleon's final victory, French forces find success over the Prussians.
1815 - Battle of Waterloo - June 18th
In Napoleon's last battle, he loses out to a coalition consisting of England, Russia, Austria and Prussia.
French Monarchy Re-Established: 1815
1823 - Battle of Trocadero
The French defeat the Spanish.
1827 - Battle of Navarino - October 20th
A coalition force of French, British, Irish, Italian, Belgium, United States, Dutch and Russian forces defeat the Ottoman Empire and Egypt in this large-scale sea battle.
1830 - Invasion of Algeria
French forces invade and conquer the North African country of Algeria.
The French 2nd Republic: 1848
The Second Empire: 1852
1854 - Battle of Balaclava - October 25th
A coalition of French, British and Turkish troops defeat Russia during this Crimean War engagement.
1855 - Battle of Malakoff
French forces help in overtaking the Russians.
1859 - Battle of Solferino
The French are victorious over the Austrians.
1862 - Battle of Puebla - May 5th
An outnumbered Mexican force led by Ignacio Zaragoza defeats Napoleon III's French forces - led by Charles de Lorencez - giving Mexico its "Cinco de Mayo".
1863 - Battle of Camaron - April 30th
The French Foreign Legion become legendary as 62 soldiers stave off complete elimination against a Mexican Army force of some 2,000 strong. After their showing, the two remaining French survivors are granted safe passage by the Mexican commander in respect to their battlefield conduct.
The French 3rd Republic: 1870
1870 - Battle of Worth - August 6th
Patrice MacMahon of France falls to Crown Prince Frederich Wilhelm.
1870 - Battle of Gravelotte - August 18th
The battle results in a draw as Francois Achille Bazaine of France secures a tactical victory and Helmuth von Moltke of Prussia secures a strategic victory.
1870 - Battle of Sedan - September 1st
Napoleon III, Patrice MacMahon and Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot of France fall to the Germans led by Wilhelm I and Helmuth von Moltke.
1870 - Siege of Metz - September-October
Besieged by superior Prussian forces, General Bazaine surrenders his army and the fortress of Metz.
1870 - Siege of Paris - October-January
Besieged by superior German forces, and after several unsuccessful sorties, the starving capital of France surrenders.
1884 - Battle of Foochow
French navy forces destroy the Chinese navy.
World War 1: 1914
1914 - Battle of the Frontiers - August 14th-24th
French and British forces fall to the Germans.
1914 - Battle of the Ardennes - August 21st-23rd
France, led by Pierre Ruffey and Fernand de Langle de Cary lose to Germany and Albrecht, the Duke of Wurttemberg and Crown Prince Wilhelm.
1914 - Togoland - August 26th
A Franco-British force successfully invades the German West African protectorate of Togoland.
1914 - First Battle of the Marne - September 5th-10th
A Franco-British (largely French) force led by Joseph Joffre and John French defeat Germany led by Helmuth von Moltke and Karl von Bulow.
1914 - First Battle of the Aisne - September 12th-15th
French and British troop actions end in a draw with the Germans.
1914 - Battle of Ypres - October 19th-November 22nd
French and British forces gain a victory against Germany.
1914 - Battle of Champagne
France earn a draw against Germany.
1915 - Third Battle of Artois - September 15th-November 4th
France and Britain earn a draw against Germany and Crown Prince Rupprecht.
1916 - Battle of Verdun
Casualties mount on both sides but French forces ultimately push back the German tide.
1916 - Battle of the Somme - July 1st-November 18th
The battle, like many others in World War I, results in a draw between French and German forces.
1917 - Second Battle of the Aisne - April 16th-May 9th, October 24th
The French take 187,000 casualties of their 850,000-strong commitment against 163,000 German casualties with an overall strength of 480,000, the enemy forces holding Chemin des Dame ridge.
1918 - Second Battle of the Marne
A French-led force beats back the German advance with help from British, Italian and American forces.
1918 - Third Battle of the Aisne - May 27th-June 6th
French, British and American forces halt the German advance.
1918 - Battle of Belleau Wood - June 1st-26th
France, Britain and the United States led by John J. Pershing and James Harbord are victorious over the German Empire and Crown Prince Wilhelm.
1918 - Battle of Chateau-Thierry - July 18th
The combined French and American force (largely American) succeeds in taking the Germans by surprise.
1918 - Battle of Amiens - August 8th-11th
French, British, Canadian and Australian forces are victorious over Germany.
1922 - Battle of Maysalun
French forces rout the Syrian army.
World War 2: 1940
1940 - Battle of France - May 10th-June 22nd
In defense of France proper, French, British, Polish, Belgium and Dutch armies are defeated by the combined Axis powers of Germany and Italy.
1940 - Battle of Dunkirk - May 26-June 4th
Britain and France are soundly beaten by the advancing German army, with hundreds of thousands of survivors eventually seeking refuge across the English Channel in Britain and northern France formally falling to German occupation.
Vichy France / Free France Est.: 1940
1941 - Battle of Koufra
French forces, led by LeClerc, defeat the Italians.
1942 - Battle of Bir Hakeim - May 26th-June 11th
Charged with delaying a combined German-Italian force of 45,000 (led by General Erwin Rommel), the Free French Force - under the command of Brigade General Marie-Pierre Koenig and numbering 3,700 men - digs their heels in the Libyan desert. Though the Axis eventually claim the overall victory, the successful French delay aids in reinforcing Allied strength at El Alamein. "A grain of sand had curbed the Axis advance...this grain of sand was Bir Hakeim" - General Bernard Saint-Hiller.
1944 - Battle of Normandy - June 6th-August 25th
A combined force - led by the United States, Britain and Canada (including a contingent of Free French) - ultimately turn the tide in war-torn Europe during World War 2 through a large-scale amphibious assault against German-held northern France.
1944 - Operation Dragoon
Tassigny and his French forces liberate the towns of Toulon and Marseilles from German control.
1945 - April 21st
French forces cross the Danube River and repel German SS counterattacks.
1953 - Battle of Dien Bien Phu - Nov. 20th 1953-May 7th 1954
French forces led by Christian de Castries put up a valiant defense against overwhelming odds, eventually surrendering to the advancing Viet Minh led by Vo Nguyen Giap.
1962 - Algerian Independence
After years of urban and rural warfare, French forces leave colonial Algeria, earning the African country its formal independence.
1991 - Operation Desert Storm - January 15th
A limited contingent of French forces, as part of a greater global alliance, assist in the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation.
1994 - Operation Turquoise
Operating under the banner of the United Nations, a small French force attempts to provide safety for civilians caught in the middle of the Rwandan genocide. Perhaps as many as tens of thousands are saved by the intervention.
2002 - Mission Heracles
Participating in the War in Afghanistan alongside primary players US and Britain, a French force conducts 140 successful air sorties against suspected Taliban positions before standing down.
2002 - Afghanistan
French special forces elements join the US/NATO initiative against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
2002 - Mission Unicorn (Operation Licorne)
A French peace-keeping force is sent to the Ivory Coast under the flag of the UN during the Ivorian Civil War. A short-lived "peace" is established.
2003 - Cote d'Ivoire - January
French peace-keeping forces of the United Nations succeed in stabilization of lawless western border.
2004 - Haiti Rebellion - February 5th-29th
As part of the United Nations, France provides her troops in the peace-keeping effort.
2006 - Operation Baliste - July
The French Navy is successful in extracting nearly 15,000 people to safety, an operation brought about by the 2006 Lebanon War.
2006 - Lebanon War
To manage the cease-fire agreement between Lebanon and Israel, French peace-keepers (as part of the UN) are stationed along the shared border.
2011 - Libyan Intervention - Operation Harmattan
French aircraft, as part of a NATO contingent, fly strike missions against the Army of al-Gaddafi in enforcement of a "No-Fly Zone" designed to protect Libyan civilians.
2013 - Operation Serval - January 11th, 2013-July 15th, 2014
A French military operation involving combined air and ground elements in support of the Mali government against Islamic militant forces attempting to gain control of the country.
2014 - ISIS Intervention (Ongoing)
French air power joins a U.S.-led effort in conducting strikes against ISIS positions and control points across Iraq.