Historical Topic - French Cars in Russia.

There are many discussion forums on historical topics. Many host excellent collections of photographs. They sometimes intersect with an interest in French cars. One of the most interesting topics is the German use of French vehicles and equipment in the invasion of the Soviet Union. There are many photos of French vehicles in German service. To protect copyright of the original owners often put brands or marks on the photos they put up but they are still viewable and interesting.
Basically France had two million cars compared to the million in Germany. There were waves of requisitioning by model for which the owner received a certificate promising future payment. The German army still relied heavily on horse transport and the French vehicles were useful in the invasion of the Soviet Union. The war in the East was massive both in the size of the armies and the area covered, four years of intense warfare. The conditions for motor vehicles were the worst imaginable and the French vehicles were not designed for it. This is mainly on Peugeot but includes photos of other French makes.
402 command vehicle
402 in Russian mud - note the firewood tied to the front bumper
401 - the newest cars were taken first, then the older. There are hundreds of these photos, probably kept because the soldiers didn't come home
broken down 402 - a common photo
302 command vehicle with a German force
Renault and dog - always sad to see animals because the outcome was never good
Trying to start the 402
Citroen command vehicle with a strike team - used to fan out around the countless Russian villages
Not French but an illustration of mud and what you can do with enough people
Renault all wheel drive from the 1920's pressed into service
 

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The Germans took lots of good quality photos. Quite a few soldiers had cameras. The Germans also took a few colour photographs. Most photos are taken in the eighteen months of the advance, fewer in the retreat that started in 1943, very few photos as the retreat picked up pace in 1944.
The year after June 1940 was good in Germany. Soldiers were allowed to take their French cars home.
An older Luftwaffe Citroen broken down in Russia
202 on a road cleared of heavy snow
402 eclipse with a retractable roof that would never be retracted again
camouflaged Citroen
very young soldier in a Simca
Peugeot DMAH. This was forward control truck Peugeot built for the Germans.
French Somua half track with an impossibly bogged truck
Renault truck overturned
The fortress of Belfort that controlled the Belfort Gap surrendering after a siege of six hours. This not only placed the Peugeot works under German control but opened up all of Eastern France to the German advance.
 

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simca1100

Member
I'm not sure if this is relevant to your thread, Russell, but I find it interesting that at least one French car was copied to create a Russian model.
The Simca 1308 / Chrysler Alpine was copied to make the Moskvitch Aleko. (Pronounced "Alyeko.")
 
Interesting. The Moscow Komsomolets Auto Plant (AZLK) which made the Moskvich was a German plant taken as war reparations. (Opel?) The Aleko was late in the piece when western partnerships were being sought. I didn't know the Aleko was Alpine based. The old Moskvich OHC motor was always considered a German influenced design. Didn't save the company and it closed totally. Two Moskvich rally cars came to Australia in the London to Sydney but I didn't see them.
 

Restorer

New member
The second and eighth photos in first batch probably show the debogging equipment rather than bundles of firewood ! Would not be of much use in the situation depicted in photo 8 of second batch, a barge required there.
 
The officer with this Renault is wearing a nameplate which is probably field police.
Moving a Traction through mud
The 402 DK5 with a Luton Peak was quite common. Served as ambulances and general freight vehicles.(3 pictures)
So many photos of 402's with the bonnet up
This little pig would be wise not to open the door of the Simca
Citroen truck in mud
This is in France - but how to convince the RAF a PZKW is a harmless little Simca.
202 with no headlamps
 

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The Citroen Kergresse (sp) was old but used because of its tracks
402 coupe. Snow meant the mud hardened and froze so it was easier to move.
But soft snow could stop even a Panzer
Vehicles were assigned to divisions by make in an attempt to ease maintenance problems. DMAH trucks.
At first the cars were well looked after.
There are many photos of soldiers proudly posing with their cars.
This driver is having to explain the damaged mudguard on the 402.
Life was much better with your own Citroen - even a dog.
 

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Dano

1000+ Posts
Russel,

Very interesting photos and info. Thanks for taking the time to compile and share.

Dano
 
Service dog in a 402 cabriolet
Company on bicycles following a 402 DK5 - very straight lines
Rosengart?
British Bedfords led by a Renault convertible command vehicle. Captured in France, they were sent to the Russian front and their glass fuel bowls split in the first frost
Very small Renault tanks in Russia. Most ended up being used as airfield tugs.
Refueling. Certain they got good driveway service.
Note the lack of winter footwear in this 402 crew. No doubt expected to be warming their toes in Moscow. The 402 had a heater in the cabin, wonder how it worked in a Russian winter.
As the crew of this Renault found travel in Russia was hazardous and unpredictable.
Half a million partisans were operating behind German lines. This crew learned too late not to stop for strange women.
The idea of putting an aero engine on a car had been tried by the British in the desert in WW1. There are several photos of Wehrmacht cars in Russia with prop drive, sometimes with skis. Probably uncontrollable.
 

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Kim Luck

1000+ Posts
"British Bedfords led by a Renault convertible command vehicle. Captured in France, they were sent to the Russian front and their glass fuel bowls split in the first frost"

Glass is generally unaffected by cold temperatures, however closed glass containers filled with a substance that solidifies when frozen will obviously break when the contents crystalize and expand. That no-one could have perceived that ultra low temperatures (not just so-called "frost" in Russia) would not have adversely affected any vehicle that was built to survive an English winter highlights the desperation of the Germans for transport.
 
Te
"British Bedfords led by a Renault convertible command vehicle. Captured in France, they were sent to the Russian front and their glass fuel bowls split in the first frost"

Glass is generally unaffected by cold temperatures, however closed glass containers filled with a substance that solidifies when frozen will obviously break when the contents crystalize and expand. That no-one could have perceived that ultra low temperatures (not just so-called "frost" in Russia) would not have adversely affected any vehicle that was built to survive an English winter highlights the desperation of the Germans for transport.
Temperatures in the Moscow region were under -40C during the winter of 1941. "Frost" in Russia is generally used to describe very low temperatures. The Germans were running their tank engines all night.
 
Russia had a countless number of villages. In the small ones roads were unpaved and roads unmade. The Citroen front drive joints may not have liked mud running.
So many photos of 02's with the bonnet up. The grilles are often gone, perhaps indicating a problem with overheating in the summer.
This piece of German humor shows why the Wehrmacht needed French vehicles so badly - much of their transport relied on the horse. Macabre photo as they were on their way to Stalingrad.
This photo shows a train in the background carrying new Renault trucks. In moving an invasion force of four million men the contribution of French vehicles was significant.
French buses were sent to the East, even if they did need a hand sometimes. When the Sixth Army became trapped at Stalingrad, orders went out for thousands of trucks, buses and cars to be sent from occupied Europe with a plan to carry the six hundred thousand men out. The attack to break the encirclement failed and an unknown number of vehicles were abandoned on the frozen steppes.
This photos speaks of retreat. The tank on the float with a door left open, the haphazard parking possibly because of air attack, the rather shabby Peugeot 302 (or is it a 402 legere). 1943 or 1944.
 

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jaahn

1000+ Posts
Great photos thanks Russell :cool:
That MUD MUD MUD bloody hell literally.o_O It is hard for me to appreciate that degree of cold as well. Man's inhumanity to man for sure !
But those old cars and machines were also not very reliable. It was normal to need constant work to keep them going and regular servicing and the average soldier would not have any experience with these new foreign cars ! Hell on wheels ! Beats marching though I guess. ;) I was thinking that the outfit was probably best as it was easier to push when needed !!
Jaahn
 
Great photos thanks Russell :cool:
That MUD MUD MUD bloody hell literally.o_O It is hard for me to appreciate that degree of cold as well. Man's inhumanity to man for sure !
But those old cars and machines were also not very reliable. It was normal to need constant work to keep them going and regular servicing and the average soldier would not have any experience with these new foreign cars ! Hell on wheels ! Beats marching though I guess. ;) I was thinking that the outfit was probably best as it was easier to push when needed !!
Jaahn
They could always march - like this photo of a battalion on the march in summer. They've been on deployment a while because they need haircuts.
 

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Buttercup

Member
How did the cyclists behind maintain such a neat peleton while balancing their load, at walking pace?
I'd be wobbling all over the place, and bring all those behind, down with me.
 
A handy PZKW for a traction. In peacetime the Russians kept off the roads after the autumn rains or in the spring thaw. The military highway between Moscow and Crimea was clay and use was forbidden for part of the year. When the first frosts came the mud froze solid so the ruts were like concrete. The advantage to Russia was that both Napoleon and Hitler found the roads to their disadvantage.
A Renault led team on an operation in the country and a Peugeot 202 leading a Panhard and other trucks on a mission. Probably anti-partisan operations. Their method of operation was to destroy villages with their entire populations, Oradour repeated thousands of times. Estimates of two million victims.
New looking 202 with neat and clean Luftwaffe soldiers. The cars had military registrations, WL Luftwaffe, WH Wehrmacht (army) WM Medical.
Peugeot produced 22,000 cars for the Germans before Jean Pierre Peugeot helped blow up the plant in 1943.
When advance turned to retreat your chances of survival improved if you had a vehicle to live in. Both of these DK5's have retreated into thickets to spend the night although the second one has been through a rough time.
What retreat in the snow looked like. Not unlike Napoleon. Travel in that DK5 would greatly improve your chances.
Warm weather brought firm ground and tank offensives that were fast. Why there are few German photos of 1944. And few surviving French cars in Russia. There were Soviet offensives in 1944 that threw the Germans out of Russia. There was awful carnage on the roads in the offensive against Army Group Central.
 

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