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Compagnies Franches de la Marine

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Compagnies Franches de la Marine

I had an e-mail from Luc Baronian concerning an old subject: the colors of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine (CFM for short; French colonial troops in Canada 17th-18th centuries).

We thought we'd established that the drapeau d'ordonnance of the CFM was blue, quartered by a white cross, with gold fleurs-de-lis on the cross and gold anchors in the quarters. According to the Canadian armed forces, this is incorrect. They show on one of their Web sites a quite different flag with red and blue quarters, a thunderbolt device at the intersection of the cross, and the inscription "By Land and Sea" (in Latin).

I believe this to be the drapeau d'ordonnance of the Corps Royale de la Infantrie de la Marine, but I can't find a reference. It seems that there were several French regiments and corps designated de la Marine in the 17th-18th centuries and perhaps this is the source of the confusion.
Tom Gregg - 28 February 1999

The red and blue colour with the decorated cross is a reconstruction of the CFM colour by the military artist / writer Michel Petard. I think it was done for the Canadian Government. The colour appears in Rene' Chartrand's book on Louis XV's Army vol 5: Colonial and Naval Troops (Osprey Men-at-Arms 313, published 1997) on pages 32-33, but he does not give a source for his information; Charrie' on the other hand says that the colours of the CFM are not known.

A light blue flag with anchors in the quarters and a decorated cross is the colour of the Saint Malo detachments of the Corps Royal de l'infanterie de la Marine, but these colours were only introduced in 1772.
Ian Sumner - 01 March 1999

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