Easily Find French Military Records 1831-1940

In France, when a man reached the age of 20, he was required to enlist in the French Military. He would then report to a subdivision (bureau) in his residential department. The military enlistment year was called a classe’ (matricule/encruitments) and that soldier’s military records would be found under that year. As Americans, we tend to think ‘class of” as a year of graduation from High School (class of 1976) or year of military academy graduation (class of 1955), so it seems that is how French military enlistments were handled. Example: Jules Nicolle was 20 y/o. He enlisted in the subdivision of Lisieux in Calvados. His classe was 1868, his year of birth was 1848.

Military enlistments and records can have a wealth of genealogical information! Besides the full name of the enlisted man, you could find:

  • Names of Parents
  • Place of Birth
  • Date of birth
  • Residence
  • Physical Description
  • Profession
  • Rank
  • Dates of Service
  • military history.
  • date of death during years of service

Below are links to the military records for each continental department of France. Most of the years cover are from 1867 to 1940, but you can find French enlistments and records as early as 1831. You have the option of search by name, bureau and classe. If you know what year your ancestor was born, let’s say 1852, then the year of enlistment would be 1872.

Finistere (29)

Departments surrounding Paris