There have been a lot of exaggerated numbers tossed around about the French mutinies of 1917. Some, by the way, prefer the use of terms like collective or systematic disobedience or indiscipline, since it involved a whole range of behaviors, much of which was not an open revolt against military authorities.
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The late French historian Guy Pedroncini's work, Les mutinenès de 1917, is considered authoritative and here are his numbers. Unlike other commentators, he freely uses the term "mutiny."
- The French Army consisted of 112 divisions, and 68 were affected by mutiny.
- Of these 68, five were “profoundly affected," six were “very seriously affected,"15 were “seriously affected," 25 were affected by “repeated incidents,” and 17 were affected by “one incident only."
- A total 35,000 men were involved in mutiny.
- 1,381 were given a “heavy prison sentence” of five years or more hard labor. Twenty-three men were given life sentences.
- 1,492 were given lesser prison sentences, though some of these were suspended.
- 57 men were probably executed (seven immediately after sentence and possibly another 50 after they received no reprieve.
- There were 43 certain executions (including the seven summarily executed) and 14 “possibly” or “doubtfully." Two more men were sentenced to death, but one committed suicide and one escaped (Corporal Moulin, who was known to be still alive after World War II).
- It is known that of these 57, some were executed not for mutiny but for other crimes committed in the time when the mutinies occurred, including two men shot for murder and rape.
- Therefore, fewer than 3,000 men received some form of punishment out of a total of 35,000.
See our earlier article on the 1917 Mutiny for more background here.
Source: The Learning Site