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Formation surrendering is a moderately effective tactic employed by the French in multiple would-be conflicts throughout history and today. It consists of forming into a giant line or pattern, such as a square or chessboard, and simultaneously dropping guns and raising arms or white flags into the air. It is intended to make the men surrendering look as nonthreatening and pitiful as possible.
French Uses of Formation Surrendering
Formation surrendering is a tactic employed by the French during World War II, the Hundred Years War, and periods of intense immigration from Germany. This idea has proven successful many times over, as the Germans, English, Spanish, Swiss, Andorrians, and several hot air balloons of varying nationalities were too busy laughing at the French to attack. Although in many of these situations (such as the Hundred Years War) formation surrendering was highly successful, more recently the tactic has become obsolete as the enemy is too far away to see the French surrender. Some ideas have been proposed for a new, highly-visible formation surrender (below).
Successful Examples of the Formation Surrender
One particular successful use of the formation surrender occurred during the Hundred Years War. The French had devised a plan to lead the English into a trap where one openly-visible division of troops would surrender on sight. The rest of the 300,000-strong army, hidden in the trees nearby, waited until the English moved in to take the troops prisoner to begin their attack. The attack consisted of most of the troops running in panicked circles while some men ran incoherently into the enemy ranks waving their weapon from sheer terror.
The operation resulted in the death of 127,000 French troops and capture of 156,000 French troops and was a smashing success.
Rethinking the Formation Surrender
As a countermeasure to increasing ranges on foreign weaponry (and thus the invisibility of the French surrender), in particular heavy artillery, some comparatively highly-respected French strategists and tacticians have proposed using methods such as fireworks to spell out a highly-visible "We Surrender" in the air. Another proposal is to use the bodies of the members of France's most recent revolution to create a message visible from above. Unfortunately, not much hope is held for the preservation of this historic practice. You can help, however, by contacting the French Council of Historical Preservation at (03) 9386 9946. Remember to use a soothing, gentle voice, or they might lapse into a fear-induced coma.
Foreign Uses of Formation Surrendering
Out of curiosity on how the tactic would fare with their forces, the Germans during World War II decided to assign an expendable unit of men to attack the Soviet Union and formation surrender on sight. Upon testing it was found that most of the Soviets laughed to see such fun, and the remainder jumped over the moon. This resulted in the Germans being able to walk straight past the incapacitated Russians, though exceedingly red-faced.
The unit made it all the way to Moscow, capturing Leningrad and Washington D.C. along the way, before the cold froze them solid. The German and Soviet governments signed a solemn pledge to never speak of the operation ever again; however, it is rumoured that the modern Russian government is considering trying out the tactic in a modern setting to compensate for their severe lack of funds.