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Did Any French Forces Serve In World War Two?

#2
You need to dig around a bit to find a detailed answer, filthyphil.

They certainly fought in Syria on behalf of the Vichy government against the Allies (including AIF and French Foreign Legion). The fighting was severe enough for an Australian officer to be awarded the VC (Roden Cutler VC).

Even more obscure, because it doesn't fit what people want to believe, is that some French units stood and fought in 1940 to assist British (and some French) units to be evacuated at Dunkirk. Off the top of my head I can't quote which French units, where and when, but I have certainly read it.

Confused? You should be because it is not mainstream party line on the French.
 
#3
The French ended up fighting each other in Syria- General Legintilhomme's Free French division included troops from West Africa, the Pacific Islands and France as well as Legionnaires. As for other French battles, Bir Hacheim in May/June 1942 springs to mind, Koenig's 1st Brigade francais libre did pretty alright there. The French Expeditionary Corps (to a large extent Algerians and Moroccans) fought very well in Italy in 1943/44.
 
#4
baboon6 said:
The French ended up fighting each other in Syria- General Legintilhomme's Free French division included troops from West Africa, the Pacific Islands and France as well as Legionnaires. As for other French battles, Bir Hacheim in May/June 1942 springs to mind, Koenig's 1st Brigade francais libre did pretty alright there. The French Expeditionary Corps (to a large extent Algerians and Moroccans) fought very well in Italy in 1943/44.
Details escape me, but I'm pretty certain there was Legion vs Legion action in North Africa during WWII too, and I seem to recall hearing about two regiments (once again Legionnaires) that went all "handbags at 20 paces" during the Algerian crisis in the 1950s.
 
#5
crabtastic said:
Details escape me, but I'm pretty certain there was Legion vs Legion action in North Africa during WWII
Bir Hachiem, Libya. Rommel used a Panzer-Grenadier unit (Panzergrenadier Regiment Afrika) to spearhead an attack on the French Foreign Legion. They didn't press home the attack too well and everyone wondered why until it was pointed out that the unit had been formed largely from Legionnaires recalled to Germany. Typically, Rommel didn't make an issue of it.
 
#6
And don't forget the french who fought on the otherside during WW2, 8)

"This article will detail the history of all those formations within the German Wehrmacht or auxiliary services of French origin that existed during WWII (for the history of the French Axis Allied or Collaboration forces, see those individual sections).

The French volunteer units and those organizations that included French volunteers that will be detailed here include the Légion des volontaires francais contre le bolchévisme (Franzosischer Infantry-Regiment 638), Bretonishe Waffenverband der SS, Phalange Africaine, Brigade Frankreich, Legion Speer, NSKK Motorgruppe Luftwaffe, Organization Todt, Division Charlemagne, and many other unique and colorful units."

Web Page Name

Web Page Name



See there for more details


Daz
 
#7
Maybe I am missing something. Didn't one for two French forces have a bit of scrap in 1940 ? It was not only Brits involved in the defense of France before Dunkirk.
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#8
I am also pretty sure that the French had their own little war in the Far East. Before Pearl Habour, but after Dunkirk, they fought a war against Thailand. The French Navy did well, and sank most of the Thai boats, but on land they were beaten.... by the thais....

Meanwhile, the Nips took over de facto rule of Indochina as the French grew weaker. This gave them great staging posts when they decided to eventally invade Malaya, Burma and Singapore. Thanks, Frogs :(
 
#10
There were French elements landing on the beaches of Normandy and fighting as part of Brit Formations until the end of the war.

I see plenty of French names on the Battle of Britain memorial as well
 
#11
baboon6 said:
The French ended up fighting each other in Syria- General Legintilhomme's Free French division included troops from West Africa, the Pacific Islands and France as well as Legionnaires. As for other French battles, Bir Hacheim in May/June 1942 springs to mind, Koenig's 1st Brigade francais libre did pretty alright there. The French Expeditionary Corps (to a large extent Algerians and Moroccans) fought very well in Italy in 1943/44.
Quoting from General Mark Clark's autobiography, he describes how the FEC broke through the GUSTAV Line in May of 1944.

"Meantime, the French forces had crossed the Garigliano (River) and moved forward into the mountainous terrain lying south of the Liri River. It was not easy. As always, the German veterans reacted strongly and there was bitter fighting. The French surprised the enemy and quickly seized key terrain including Mounts Faito Cerasola and high ground near Castelforte. The 1st Motorized Division helped the 2nd Moroccan division take key Mount Girofano and then advanced rapidly north to S. Apollinare and S. Ambrogio. In spite of the stiffening enemy resistance, the 2nd Moroccan Division penetrated the Gustave Line in less than two day’s fighting.
"The next 48 hours on the French front were decisive. The knife-wielding Goumiers swarmed over the hills, particularly at night, and General Juin’s entire force showed an aggressiveness hour after hour that the Germans could not withstand. Cerasola, San Giogrio, Mt. D’Oro, Ausonia and Esperia were seized in one of the most brilliant and daring advances of the war in Italy, and by May 16 the French Expeditionary Corps had thrust forward some ten miles on their left flank to Mount Revole, with the remainder of their front slanting back somewhat to keep contact with the British 8th Army.
"For this performance, which was to be a key to the success of the entire drive on Rome, I shall always be a grateful admirer of General Juin and his magnificent FEC."
(and a little further)
"The 8th Army’s delay made Juin’s task more difficult, because he was moving forward so rapidly that his right flank---adjacent to the British---constantly was exposed to counter-attacks".

from: French forces in Italy
 
#12
OldSnowy said:
I am also pretty sure that the French had their own little war in the Far East. Before Pearl Habour, but after Dunkirk, they fought a war against Thailand. The French Navy did well, and sank most of the Thai boats, but on land they were beaten.... by the thais....

Meanwhile, the Nips took over de facto rule of Indochina as the French grew weaker. This gave them great staging posts when they decided to eventally invade Malaya, Burma and Singapore. Thanks, Frogs :(
Ironic - the missus & myself were discussing that very issue this morning after having watched the "Basil Fawlty & the Germans" episode of Fawlty Towers last night on BBC Prime...

Conclusion: the fall of Singapore in '42 was ultimately the fault of the French :D

lancslad
 
#13
France -ww2 war dead Military 199k 400k civilians (including 90k Jews)

Compared to
British Empire C375k military dead
USA 292 k Military dead

In relation to their time in the war the French took high losses.
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#14
But of course most of the Jews were selected and transported by 'Fellow' Frenchmen. There aren't many examples of the Empire Forces killing each other in this way, or as described in French on french conflicts elsewhere, either.
 
#15
The French Navy also took part in a few naval battles in Algeria in 1940. Sorry, did I say took part in naval battles ? I meant to say was comprehensively written off by the Royal Navy in Algeria in 1940 !

Flip
 

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#16
Flipper_T_Rox said:
The French Navy also took part in a few naval battles in Algeria in 1940. Sorry, did I say took part in naval battles ? I meant to say was comprehensively written off by the Royal Navy in Algeria in 1940 !

Flip
What I can't understand about those "battles" was that they were fought because the French refused to surrender!
 
#17
Fang_Farrier said:
Flipper_T_Rox said:
The French Navy also took part in a few naval battles in Algeria in 1940. Sorry, did I say took part in naval battles ? I meant to say was comprehensively written off by the Royal Navy in Algeria in 1940 !

Flip
What I can't understand about those "battles" was that they were fought because the French refused to surrender!
Well, only to us. If it were the Germans, then they have a fine tradition of surrender, as befits their 'battle honour', you know the one about singes qui mange de fromage....
 
#18
Futsukayoi said:
Maybe I am missing something. Didn't one for two French forces have a bit of scrap in 1940 ? It was not only Brits involved in the defense of France before Dunkirk.
They folded faster than Superman on laundry day.
 
#19
Pteranadon said:
France -ww2 war dead Military 199k 400k civilians (including 90k Jews)

Compared to
British Empire C375k military dead
USA 292 k Military dead

In relation to their time in the war the French took high losses.
Casualty figures like that point to the degree to which they were mullered because of

(i) Sh1te doctrine
(ii) Sh1te leadership
(iii) Shi1te training

Doesn't mean they fought hard. It means they died easily.
 
#20
Free French force participated in the Allied D-Day invasion and subsequent liberation of France.

http://www.answers.com/topic/free-french-forces

Free French Forces
The Free French Forces (Forces Françaises Libres in French) were French fighters who decided to go on fighting against Germany after the Fall of France and German occupation and to fight against Vichy France in World War II.

The Cross of Lorraine, emblem of the Free FrenchGeneral Charles de Gaulle was a member of the French Cabinet in 1940 and escaped from the German occupation in France. On June 18 1940 de Gaulle spoke to the French people via BBC radio. The British Cabinet had attempted to block the speech, but was over-ruled by Winston Churchill. De Gaulle asked French men and women to join in the fight against the Nazis. In France, de Gaulle's "Appeal of 18 June" (Appel du 18 juin) itself was not widely heard, but subsequent discourse by De Gaulle could be heard nationwide. To this day, the Appeal of 18 June remains one of the most famous speeches in French history.

De Gaulle also created the Free French flag with the red Cross of Lorraine in a white band. Despite repeated broadcasts, by the end of July that year, only 7,000 people had volunteered to join the Free French forces. The Free French Navy had fifty ships and some 3,600 men operating as an auxiliary force to the British Royal Navy.

To stop the Vichy Government-controlled ships from falling into German hands, the Royal Navy attacked the French Navy at Mers El Kébir and Dakar ( http://www.combinedops.com/mers el kabir.htm ) on 3 July 1940, causing bitterness in France, which was a contributing factor in discouraging French soldiers from joining the Free French forces in Britain. Also their attempt to make Vichy French forces join de Gaulle in Dakar failed.

In autumn of 1940, the French colonies of Cameroon and French Equatorial Africa joined the Free French side. French colonies in New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon and the New Hebrides joined later. French Indochina and the colonies of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the West Indies remained under Vichy government control.

In September 1941, de Gaulle created the Comité National Français (French National Committee), the Free French government-in-exile. On November 24 that year, the United States granted Lend-Lease support to the Comité National Français.

Free French soldiers participated in British and Allied campaigns in Libya and Egypt. General Marie Pierre Koenig and his unit fought well against the Afrika Korps at the Bir Hakeim in June 1942. Free French forces also fought Italian troops in Ethiopia and Eritrea and faced French troops loyal to Vichy France in Syria and Lebanon.

The French Resistance gradually grew in strength. Charles de Gaulle set a plan to bring together the different groups under his leadership. He changed the name of his movement to Forces Françaises Combattantes (Fighting French Forces) and sent Jean Moulin back to France to unite the eight major French Resistance groups into one organization. Moulin got their agreement to form the Conseil National de la Résistance (National Council of the Resistance). He was eventually captured, tortured, and executed by the Nazis.

During the Allied invasion in Northern Africa, various French troops surrendered and joined the Free French cause. After French General Henri Giraud broke his parole given to the Germans and rejoined the war in Operation Torch, the allied invasion of Vichy-controlled French North Africa, de Gaulle outmanoeuvred him to keep his leadership of the Free French.

100,000 Free French soldiers fought on the Allied side in Italy in 1943. By the time of the Normandy Invasion, the Free French forces numbered more than 400,000 people, thus reaching a strength roughly equal to that of the Polish Army. The Free French 2nd Armoured Division, under General Philippe Leclerc, landed at Normandy and eventually led the drive towards Paris. The Free French 1st Army, under General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, joined the Allies' invasion of southern France and took Alsace.

Fearing the Germans would destroy Paris if attacked by a frontal assault, General Eisenhower ordered his forces to cease their advance and reconnoitre the situation. At this time, Parisians rose up in full-scale revolt. As the Allied forces waited near Paris, General Eisenhower acceded to pressure from de Gaulle and his Free French Forces, who, furious about the delay and unwilling to allow the revolters to be slaughtered, as happened in Polish capital of Warsaw during the Warsaw Uprising, had threatened to attack single-handedly. General Eisenhower thus granted them the honor of spearheading the allied assault, liberating the capital city.

By September 1944, the Free French forces stood at 560,000, which rose to 1 million by the end of 1944, and were fighting in Alsace, the Alps and Brittany. By the end of the war in Europe (May 1945), the Free French forces comprised 1,250,000, including 7 infantry and 3 armoured divisions fighting in Germany.
 

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