Because of legal restrictions to access, it is rather difficult to research the men and women who fought in the Second World War in France. For those who fought in the Resistance or secretly, it is even more difficult, as documents were destroyed, or may exist only under an unknown nom de guerre, or never were created in the first place. As the participants age and leave this world, memories and secrets are lost forever. Many have established associations or organizations to preserve camaraderie and their memories. Unfortunately, their websites and their use of social media are not always the most sophisticated, so their laudable work often is missed.
For those of you seeking a parent or grandparent who served in the French Navy during World War Two, a bit of understanding of history is most necessary. Essentially, France was conquered and divided. Neither half was free. Occupied France was under Nazi rule and Vichy France was neutral and independent, but only so long as it complied with Nazi instructions. The French Navy's history during the war reflects this division. Part of it followed De Gaulle and part of it remained with Vichy France. It cannot have been an easy choice. (Should you wish to know more, we suggest that you read an extremely detailed defense of their positions by Rear Admiral Paul Auphan and Jacques Mordal, The French Navy in World War II.)
Once you have done your homework and understand the French Navy at that time, you will then be better equipped to research the website of ALAMER, of primitive design and much valuable information. It is dedicated to preserving the memories of all those who were at sea between 1939 and 1945, with a recent addition of information on World War One. It is not an official site of the Marine française but one created by those who were there and, more recently, by those researching them. Here, you will find:
- Lists of naval vessels - giving those crew members who could be identified. The vessel's history is also given.
- Lists of merchant vessels
- Lists of fishing vessels
- Most valuably, an alphabetic list of navy men and women
- An alphabetic list of merchant seamen
- An alphabetic list of fishermen
But the website is more than lists and ALAMER does more than just create those lists. There are photographs, of individuals and of vessels, and there are PDF versions of all issues of their publication, Faisons le point.
Other posts on naval research:
©2019 Anne Morddel