Souscrivez à l'emprunt de la Libération! 1918
Paris - Musée de l'Armée
Traitez les brutalement ! Rejoignez les chars! Auguste Hutaf - Paris - Musée de l'Armée
Modern tanks were used for the very first time during World War I.
The scale and duration of the war, as well as the nature of fighting in which French troops were involved caused the military headquarters to consider the invention of some sort of attack artillery, which could be used within the framework of a penetration strategy.
The leitmotiv was the necessity to forcefully break through enemy lines defended by the infantry. They imagined some sort of land armoured vehicle, a giant heavy metal box moving on Caterpillar tracks, carrying a cannon and invulnerable to rifle and machine gun bullets. It was General Joffre, who, based on a draft project drawn up under the supervision of Colonel Estienne, finally endowed the French Army with several hundreds of this vehicle.
Technically, the conception and the execution of the project was carried out by the two companies: Schneider, in 1916, and then Renault, in 1918.
The fact is that, these vehicles, which were not adequately reinforced, turned out to be less adapted for a penetration strategy. At that time, they were essentially used to provide back up to infantry units.
In July 1940, General de Gaulle, a fervent theorist of the armoured arm, all the way from London created the 1st autonomous tank company of the Free French Forces.
In July 1943, thanks to the contribution of several volunteers, the 501 st Tank regiment - the famous 501 st RCC - was created.
Before long, the 501st was already in action, proving its worth at several battlegrounds during World War II. This saga folded up in Berchtesgaden , in Hitler's eagle nest, with the surrender of the German garrison.
At the dawn of the XXI century, the 501st /503rd tank regiment, still existing, is stationed in Mourmelon, in the Delestraint neighbourhood.