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Paris Commune Flotilla operations (1871)

Soviet cogitations: 308
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 09 Nov 2018, 10:55
The short-lived Paris Commune, existing between March and May 1871, is the first experiment of modern socialist nation in the human history. The Commune controlled only the city of Paris during a time of turmoil following the downfall of Napoelon-III after the Franco-Prussian War and received the political backing of Karl Marx and other earlier socialist figures of the time: there was however little time to materialize military help and no foreign nation was interested to help the Communards.
Interestingly, the Paris Commune saw also the first confirmed existence of a naval force serving a socialist cause. Something that will happens only during the Russian 1905 mutiny ((viewtopic.php?f=149&t=55169)).
Another point of interest is the heavy presence of women fighting among the National Guard, however it is unknown if (and how many) women operated also the ships of the Commune’s flotilla.
Such record would be followed only by the presence of women (also as captains) on merchant ships part of the Soviet civil fleet before and during WW2, and the presence of few all-women manned riverine minesweeper in Volga River during the same conflict. However, soviet women sailors during WW2 almost certainly never saw direct actions on warships against enemy, because Germans had no naval presence in Volga, while the Communards could have witnessed real battles!)

Data of the Paris Commune’s flotilla are scarce.
Source come from the site with confirmation from few French based sites.

Extra information from French readers is welcome !!


While details of operations are scarce, it is known the exact composition of the Commune’s Flotilla.
2 floating batteries: Commune and Dauphin
8 riverine gunboats: Liberté, Caronade, Claymore, Escopette, Estoc, Perrier, Rapière, Sabre
1 yacht: Puebla
2 motor-launches: Vedette n°2, Vedette n°4

The Flotilla made shelling operations against advancing ground forces of the French Army, details (like the damage inflicted to enemy) is unknown.

Painting off the floating battery Commune.

13 May 1871
During one of these operation, the Communard riverine gunboat Estoc sunk by French ground artillery
It was effectively the first ever socialist-aligned ship lost in combat with an enemy force.

In addition, the enemy forces operated gunboats and armed ships (part of the Seine Flotilla), but there is no information n about possible ship versus ship engagements.

The captured the Flotilla with the downfall off the Commune, during the event known as the “Bloody Week”, when the Army forces massacred an estimated amount of 10.000 – 20.000 members of the Commune, including surrounded members of the National Guards, political staff and civilians. The bloodshed that followed the downfall of the Commune is remembered as the first early modern example of repression against a socialist experiment.

It is worth to stress how the legacy of the Commune carried on also with multiple ships serving in the Soviet Navy. For example the single battleship operating in Black Sea during WW2 carried the name “Parizhskaya Kommuna” before being renamed “Sevastopol” in 1943.
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