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Date Posted: 21:37:37 02/26/17 Sun
Author: Albert Parker
Subject: Ecole superieure de guerre navale student papers

Last December, I happened upon a citation to what proved to be a student paper completed at the French navy's staff college, the École superieure de guerre navale in 1929. More recently, Ted Sozaev brought to my attention another such paper. These essays were based heavily on documents in the French navy archives. The first provided a more complete list of French trans-Atlantic convoys in the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War than the one I had been using from a much more recent French doctoral dissertation, and cleared up a lot of confusion and filled in missing information about the movements of the several French squadrons active in the summer and fall of 1744, which have been poorly described in other naval histories.

I recently searched the "Gallica" Web site of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and found about 200 of these papers, all written in the interwar (1920–38) years. All of the ones I looked at also used unpublished documents from the French naval archives in addition to published material of their time. Although most material published since 1922 is not available on the Internet due to international copyright rules, these are all downloadable, perhaps because their status as naval college papers makes them government property. A few additional ones I looked at follow the same pattern as the first two I had obtained: one on the Battle of the Saintes (1782) cites the log (journal de navigation) of every or almost every French ship involved, as well as much else. Like unpublished doctoral dissertations, many of these papers are probably the only detailed studies of their subjects based on primary sources.

As can be expected, many of the papers are on naval operations during World War I, but they range over most of French naval history; a few, written by Danish or Swedish officers apparently seconded to the École superieure de guerre navale, concern naval operations in the Baltic, and might be based on their navies' archives.

I have compiled a list of 58 of these papers, including one by a professor, concerning naval wars in the age of sail, containing the title and author, the year of completion, and a link to the PDF on the Gallica site. That's too long to post here, but readers who would like the list may request it from me by e-mail.

Keep in mind that the papers are all in French; their value to you will depend on your ability to read or at least understand that language.

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