Death to the French

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(Redirected from Rifleman Dodd)

The original title of the novel is Death to the French. However the novel is also known as Rifleman Dodd, after the main character of the novel.

The novel relates the adventures of Matthew Dodd, a British rifleman of the 95th Regiment of Foot, who is cut off from his regiment when the Allied army retreats behind the lines of Torres Vedras. He is forced to survive for several months in territory that has been devastated by the Allies and occupied by the French. With some help from a few local Portuguese, Dodd wages guerrilla warfare against the French. Its picture of the hero's resolution and devotion to duty in dangerous circumstances caused it to be put on the official reading list endorsed by the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.

Tropes used in Death to the French include:
  • Badass Normal: Dodd is just a rifleman and does feats many a guerilla leader would be proud of.
  • Band of Brothers: The rifle regiment. That is Dodd's home.
  • Battle Cry: Downplayed. "Death to the French" (in Portuguese) is sort of like one. But no one yells it out. It gives away one's position.
  • Cold Sniper: Dodd is unemotional and very much unaffected by the shocking things he sees and sometimes does. And yes, he is a sniper -- though they did not call them that then.
  • Consummate Professional: War is Dodd's calling and he knows no other.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Both the French and the Portuguese have this horrifically and neither worries about The Laws and Customs of War.
  • The Duke of Wellington: The British general.
  • Easy Logistics: Inverted. The book revolves around logistics. The sooner the French starve the sooner they leave.
  • Humble Hero: Dodd's main goal is to get back to his comrades and he does not realize that he is a hero.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted and played straight. Some characters who have taken what should be horrifically fatal wound continue on. Others are done in one shot.
  • Irony: Dodd manages to personally destroy much of the French bridging equipment just before the order comes down from French headquarters that it is time to retreat and anything the British might capture has to be destroyed anyway. When Dodd sees the French retreating he thinks he caused the event. Oddly enough He doesn't give himself airs.
  • La Résistance: Portuguese Guerillas. Dodd joins up with locals to assault the French while trapped behind enemy lines.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte: The leader of the French forces.
  • No One Left Behind: Averted leading to Dodd's seperation from his unit and subsequent adventures that result from him trying to rejoin them.
  • Old Soldier: Dodd of course.
  • Rape, Pillage and Burn: The French regularly do this.
  • The Red Baron: The French call Dodd The Green Englishman as if there were no others (that was the normal dress of riflemen).
  • Silver Bullet: The French soldiers whom Dodd is facing mold silver bullets. They believe Dodd is a supernatural entity and can be defeated only with the use of silver bulelts.
  • Sniper Rifle: Dodd's rifle. All military rifles were sniper rifles back then.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: The British are withdrawing to the lines of Torres Vedras. This results in Dodd being accidentally left behind to fend for himself.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilised: Portuguese love torturing Frenchmen who are separated from the main army.
  • Token Good Teammate: Dodd is a Jerk With a Heart of Gold in some ways but he comes from a disciplined army and in the guerilla type of war he is the only halfway decent character.
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines
  • War Is Hell: No kidding.
  • Weapon of Choice: The Baker Rifle