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In the Sant Sernin basilica in Toulouse there is a monument to local people who died fighting for France, just like a lot of similar monuments in other parts of France (image here, description here). Quite as I would expect, the monument dates match the French wars of the century: it lists some hundred names from 1914-1918 (WWI), a handful from 1940 and 1944 (WWII) and a few from 1946 to 1957 (Indochina and Algeria). What I didn't expect was to found 18 dead in 1919 and 1920, which is supposed to be a time of peace.

A summary research shows that this is not an statistical oddity from an small sample but a general trend.

Then my question is: Were the French fighting a quite important war in 1919 and 1920 somewhere that I'm missing? Or it's just that soldiers dying in 1919 and 1920 from their 1914-1918 wounds are being counted as killed in war even if the war had ended by the time they died?

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2 Answers 2

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Wikipedia's list of 20th Century Wars from 1900-1944 gives several that France participated in from 1919-20, including:

  • Latvian War of Independence; and
  • Vue Pay Chay's Revolt in French Indochina.

However the main source of French casualties seems to be the roughly 7000 from participation in the Turkish War of Independence as an ally of Greece.

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    Perhaps some died of WW1 wounds after the war ended? Not sure how they would treat those.
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 16, 2023 at 14:34
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    I did a Google search for most of the names on the 1919-1920 list, without useful results so far. I did find a lieutenant Santhonnax in the artillery, but alive in 1920. I transcribed the names as follows: (1919) A. Barrère, G. Bouzignac, J. Comet, L. Memeteau, A. Pezet,, J. Pujos, L. Rolland, A. Sabatou, C. Tournie, H. Brousse, L. Santhonnax, J. Montaut (1920) J. Commenques, F. Dutrey, F. Facieu, C. Caussens, M. Rottier, J. Berol
    – njuffa
    Sep 16, 2023 at 22:30
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    I am leaning towards Jon Custer's idea. On a different French war memorial, I found an L. Santhonnax engraved under "1918", but in fact he is listed as having died in 1919: "Louis SANTHONNAX; Naissance: 10 février 1884 Marlieux (Ain); Décès: 15 février 1919 Haguenau (Bas-Rhin); Observations: † Maladie - Capitaine au 202e R.A.C - Gravé 1918"
    – njuffa
    Sep 16, 2023 at 22:48
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    My question caption was "Morts pour la France in 1919 and 1920". I suppose somebody edited it to fit some site rules but "Was France at war in 1919/1920?" is not the question I asked. The question is what war are those 1919-1920 dead from, and deaths from WWI wounds and wars I wasn't accounting for were the two (competing or complementary) explanations I could think of. PieterGeerkens's answer and @njuffa 's comments are both great contributions to answer my question and I'm thankful to both, and it doesn't matter whether they match the redacted caption.
    – Pere
    Sep 17, 2023 at 8:57
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    @Pere You should edit the question text to reflect what you want to ask. MCW was definitely wrong. The site rule that probably started him to act was that questions should be asked in English, but he definitely overstepped and broke the rule that edits should not change the meaning
    – ccprog
    Sep 17, 2023 at 14:24
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Like many other Allied countries after WW1, France was involved in invasions on then-Russian soil to help overthrow the Bolsheviks in 1919.

Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War - Wikipedia

On 18 December 1918, a month after the armistice, the French landed in Odessa and Sevastopol. In Odessa, a 7-hour battle ensued between the French and the forces of the Ukrainian People's Republic before they gained full control of the city.[21] The landings began the intervention in southern Russia (later Ukraine) which was to aid and supply General Denikin's White Army forces, the Volunteer Army, fighting the Bolsheviks there. The campaign involved mainly French, Greek and Polish troops. The morale of the French troops and the sailors of their fleet in the Black Sea was always low, and most wanted to be demobilised and sent home. The morale of the Greek and Polish interventionist forces was no better.[128] A local warlord, Otaman Nykyfor Hryhoriv, aligned himself with the Bolsheviks on 18 February 1919 and advanced his army against the foreign invaders. With his army of 10–12,000 men, he first attacked allied-held Kherson on 2 March which was occupied by just 150 French, 700 Greek and a few hundred Volunteers of questionable reliability. After heavy fighting, the city was taken on 9 March. The French lost 4 killed and 22 wounded, while the Greeks had some 250 casualties. Local Greek residents were also killed in the aftermath. After the conquest of Kherson, Hryhoriv turned his forces against Nikolaev, where there were even less allied troops present. There were still 12,000 well equipped German troops in the city, but they had no intention to participate in the fighting. The local French commander was allowed to negotiate a truce with Hryhoriv, and on 14–16 March all allied and German troops were evacuated by sea without any fighting, leaving considerable quantities of war material behind.

By April 1919, the troops were withdrawn from Odessa after further threats from Nykyfor Hryhoriv's Army,[129] before the defeat of the White Army's march against Moscow. A major mutiny amongst French sailors on the Black Sea had in part necessitated the withdrawal. Some British sailors dispatched to the Black Sea had also mutinied.[130] The last Allied troops left Crimea on 29 April 1919.

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