From regular armies to irregular resistance (and back)
in Fighters across frontiers
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This chapter explores the frontier zone between irregular resistance and fighting in regular armies. There was a two-way movement, drafted from internment and labour camps to fight in regular armies during the French war of 1940, in which exiled Polish and Czechoslovak armies also fought. Many former irregular fighters were unhappy with the established military hierarchies, which refused to recognise ranks gained in the International Brigades, had national rather than international war aims and often displayed blatant anti-Semitism. After defeat in France many moved from regular units into British army specialist units, into the Free French or back to partisan fighting in Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia. Former American International Brigaders joined the Office of Special Services (OSS), followed the Allies into North Africa and made contact in Italy with Italian communists they knew from Spain. Meanwhile former irregulars freed from North African camps joined regular units such as the Corps Français d’Afrique, which, far from being French, included European anti-fascists, indigenous Muslims and Jews. Many of these later became part of the new French army that liberated Paris.

Fighters across frontiers

Transnational resistance in Europe, 1936–48

Editors: Robert Gildea and Ismee Tames

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