History of Corsica - Modern Era - First World War and After

First World War and After

In World War I Corsica responded to the call to arms more intensely than any other allied region. Out of a population estimated by a diplomat of the times to have been about 300,000, some 50,000 Corsican men were under arms: a ratio greater than one of every six Corsican citizens.

The civilian population was correspondingly pro-allied. Prisoners of war were sent to Corsica. There they occupied every available space from rooms in monasteries to cells in citadels. Stone sheds were converted for their use. When all else failed, wooden barracks were constructed on the mountainsides. The prisoners were put to work in agriculture and forestry. Corsica was also turned into a hospital for the wounded. Most of the allies sent medical units or volunteers. The island was so useful as a base that the sea lanes leading to it were under constant surveillance and attack by U-boats.

Corsican poilus were fought loyally and with valor. Estimates of casualties vary but most are over 50%. As a result, the survivors became established in the upper echelons of the French military and police. However, the loss of manpower contributed to a recession and mass exodus from Corsica in favor of southern France in the post-war period. Corsicans of means became colonizers during this period, the descendants of the former signori starting agricultural enterprises in Vietnam, Algeria and Puerto Rico. It was on them that the blow of subsequent wars of independence fell most heavily.

Read more about this topic:  History Of Corsica, Modern Era

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