The Battle of Normandy

Yer, I shouldn't have conflated the two, however, supper was on the table so....
The Moroccans certainly took a beating in Verdun on behalf of the French, either they felt 'french' (with a small 'f') or wanted to get revenge on the Hun.... Earlier on, (Feb. I think) there were also Algerian troops fighting alongside the Maroc & French battling the 5th Mountain Division. The key difference as I see it is that the French and French trained / commanded troops attack doctrine was still that of the First World War, whereas that of the British & American led Div's. relied upon materiel (and to some extent, caution) to overwhelm the enemy. The German defence doctrine was predominantly and where resources allowed, was to counterattack as soon as possible, however, where you have an extremely mobile attacker focussed on moving forwards, there is no opportunity to counterattack because you're too busy defending to form-up a meaningful push back. That is why the French & French led troops succeded despite lack of materiel.

The French troops were efficient for several reasons:

-they were composed mostly of French officers and NCOs from the colonies and protectorates who made a point of showing their mettle; their losses were horrendous but they obtained results
-they had a point to make: the French were back. de Gaulle had told the FEC "you will wash the French flag with your blood"; Général Juin, the commander of the FEC explains very well in his mémoires how he had to start small because the US and UK forces had zero confidence in French forces after 1940 but how he was gradually given more support and resources from General Clark as he demonstrated the value of his units
-the FEC was composed of several mountain units with very little expectations in terms of logistics and support. They were not tied to roads. They fought at night. There were many professional soldiers among them. Many people today have a tendency to believe that of course the American had to be top soldiers and the French second rate but Italy proved just the opposite. Less than a year before the Americans were discovering the German with a resounding defeat while by 1943 many of the soldiers of the FEC had already been fighting for 3 to 4 years
-they were good at infiltration tactics
-they were there because they wanted to (many were escapees from occupied France)
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
To put it another way, the Moroccans succeeded by going on foot where no European or American would, finding flanks where none could be found using machinery, and using stealth and speed instead of firepower.

And then their achievement was airbrushed outta sight, either claimed by La Belle France, or ignored by the vain charmless twat General Mark Clark . . . . . ^~
I'd go for the latter explanation... The older French generations are very grateful to the Moroc. and Algerians
 
I'll readily bow to your better understanding.

I still think it is not right to paste a "Free French" wrapper on an important event in history that is uniquely, and heroically Moroccan.

It is not, the cadre were French and there were other North African units. The battle of the Belvédère was fought by the 4°Régiment de Tirailleurs Tunisiens

During this combat which lasted from January 25 to February 4, 1944, losses were heavy: half of the effectives of the regiment and three-quarters of its officers, including Colonel Jacques Roux, were killed or wounded (207 killed, 75 missing, 1090 wounded).
 
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The starting point was Op Catapult and Mers el Kébir. How could you imagine that it would be forgotten ? The fast exit of the BEF from 16 may 1940 on had also left its mark on many French officers even though it was justified.

Then came the Dakar expedition, then Syria, then Madagascar and the commandeering of the French commercial fleet which meant more hardship for the average French civilians since vital food stuff could no longer arrive from the colonies. Almost 100 civilians were killed by British fire in Dakar and many more would be by aerial bombing in the following year. It created a toxic atmosphere.

In those conditions, it was all too easy for Vichy to depict the British as the enemy, hell bent on stealing French possessions while they were cut off from the motherland.

Also, because de Gaulle had been undermined (after Dakar, the NYT headline read "Gaffe in Dakar" laying all blame surely at his feet), both the UK and the USA kept channels open with Vichy because they did not know how everything would end up. Only Churchill, when attacked in the Commons on Dakar on 28 September 1940, publicly supported de Gaulle.

Thus, secret contacts were kept between the British Gvt and Vichy through their respective embassies in Madrid. Churchill was fearing that France and Germany would sign a separate peace. The secret talks were aimed at finding a common ground regarding the status and role of French colonies in the war. They lasted until the death in a plane accident of Général Huntziger in November 1941

Regarding Syria, the main instigator was de Gaulle. He wanted to recruit among the 10,000 French soldiers present in Djibouti and the 30,000 present in Syria. He had had wind of the dealings of the collaborationist Amiral Darlan to allow German planes and vehicles to pass through Syria to Iraq. In spite of the fact that the Germans had already failed in their attempt in Iraq and only had 3 broken down planes left in Syria and about 10 servicemen only, he convinced Churchill, against Wavell who thought it wasn't a good idea. The operations lasted for about a month.

As soon as the British ambassador in Madrid, Sir Hoare, gave his French counterpart, ambassador Piétri, a document stating that the UK had no ambitions over French colonies, Général Legentilhomme, CDR of the Vichy forces in Syria, was authorized by Vichy to start negotiations to end hostilities.

Even though de Gaulle had stated from the beginning he badly needed to recruit in the French manpower pool made available by the cessation of hostilities, the Free French were not even invited to the negotiations. This led to a severe clash with de Gaulle, a very frosty period with the British and a renegotiation of the armistice agreement to make provision for the interest of the Free French. Even then, when Free French forces were deployed in the field, there were incident up to a British unit threatening to open fire on a Free French one when it came to do a relief in place in Soueïda.

At a higher level, the British authorities made sure the situation did not degenerate but, with Spears, there were still plenty of tensions over the Levant and plenty of hard feelings. On both sides. To such an extend that de Gaulle asked Soviet ambassador Bogomolov, on 6 June 1942, whether the USSR was ready to receive the Free French (Government and armed forces) in Russia if the relationship with the UK broke down completely.

In Madagascar, like latter on in North Africa and then again on D-Day, de Gaulle was not kept in the picture which led to tensions and unnecessary bloodshed while if the Free French had been informed, they could have activated their networks to facilitate the landings and avoid many casualties on both sides (out of 1,200 French troops captured in Madagascar, 900 joined the Free French !)

Instead, a direct attack was privileged. Even once the capital of the island had fallen, the British kept on negotiating with the Vichy authorities instead of, as previously agreed, allowing the Free French delegate to take control of the running of the island.

All these incidents, and many others such as the permanent attempt of the Americans to undermine de Gaulle well into 1944, caused a detestable atmosphere. When the Free French took control of the Saint Pierre et Miquelon islands, not far off Canada, in 1941, Cordell Hull, US Secretary of States asked for a return to Vichy control and called the French the "so called Free French" !

As often, two sides to a coin.

Every time Col De Gaulles name is mentioned by his allied hosts, there is always a hint that he was a arse that made George Smith Patton look shy humble and reticent.
He promoted himself when he left France going into exile in England. A lot of the evacuated French troops, chose to return to Europe rather that fight on. He got his revenge on England post war though, when the initial EU was set up every time GB asked to join De G said NON.
 
The French troops were efficient for several reasons:

-they were composed mostly of French officers and NCOs from the colonies and protectorates who made a point of showing their mettle; their losses were horrendous but they obtained results
-they had a point to make: the French were back. de Gaulle had told the FEC "you will wash the French flag with your blood"; Général Juin, the commander of the FEC explains very well in his mémoires how he had to start small because the US and UK forces had zero confidence in French forces after 1940 but how he was gradually given more support and resources from General Clark as he demonstrated the value of his units
-the FEC was composed of several mountain units with very little expectations in terms of logistics and support. They were not tied to roads. They fought at night. There were many professional soldiers among them. Many people today have a tendency to believe that of course the American had to be top soldiers and the French second rate but Italy proved just the opposite. Less than a year before the Americans were discovering the German with a resounding defeat while by 1943 many of the soldiers of the FEC had already been fighting for 3 to 4 years
-they were good at infiltration tactics
-they were there because they wanted to (many were escapees from occupied France)
So Kasserine was a resounding defeat but france 1940 wasnt? SMH only the french
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
It is not, the cadre were French and there were other North African units. The battle of the Belvédère was fought by the 4°Régiment de Tirailleurs Tunisiens

During this combat which lasted from January 25 to February 4, 1944, losses were heavy: half of the effectives of the regiment and three-quarters of its officers, including Colonel Jacques Roux), were killed or wounded (207 killed, 75 missing, 1090 wounded).
My apologies for missing out their contribution, I wasn't aware until now that they formed up as part of 3rd DIA
 
Russia lost more dead in the last 6 weeks of the war than did America and Britain in its entire duration.​
Russia in the last 6 weeks of war also had commanders (Zhukov & Chuikov IIRC) encouraging Blue on Blue to reach objectives ahead of other commanders in Berlin. Utter disregard for their mens lives in the rush to please Stalin
 
Every time Col De Gaulles name is mentioned by his allied hosts, there is always a hint that he was a arse that made George Smith Patton look shy humble and reticent.
He promoted himself when he left France going into exile in England. A lot of the evacuated French troops, chose to return to Europe rather that fight on. He got his revenge on England post war though, when the initial EU was set up every time GB asked to join De G said NON.

Your post is very interesting because it is a series of ill informed clichés. I am not writing this as an inflammatory remark but it is so typical of the misinformation and prejudice that surround this period of history that it is worthwhile to highlight it.

de Gaulle reputation is such because most of the initial books written about him in English made very little room for French sources and failed to understand that in his extremely feeble position he had no other choice than to be inflexible. Many in the UK would have liked him to behave like the Belgians, the Dutch or the Norwegians. The problem is that we are talking about France, not a smaller country or an entity which was created a century ago.

de Gaulle never promoted himself; had he wanted to he wouldn't have stayed a Brigadier for the duration of the war. He had been made temporary Brigadier when sent to London by the French Cabinet in June 1940.

The evacuated troop did not "choose to return to Europe"; they were ordered to, by their French commanders, after a very short stay in the UK (where they were disarmed BTW), to return to the West of France to continue with the fight. About 50% of those returned soldiers were actually engaged again in the last combats of June 1940.

Dunkirk had just been an evacuation in order to return to France and fight again; it was in nobody's mind when the evacuation took place that French forces could stay in the UK to start a new army there; the urgency was to go back to France to keep on fighting.

In some cases, the returning French units met in the harbors departing BEF units; this led to instances of French forces recovering and using British equipment.

The 342° Compagnie Autonome de Chars de Combat was thus equipped with 13 Cruisers A10 and A13 left in France by the departing British 1 Armoured Division.
 
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It is not, the cadre were French and there were other North African units. The battle of the Belvédère was fought by the 4°Régiment de Tirailleurs Tunisiens

During this combat which lasted from January 25 to February 4, 1944, losses were heavy: half of the effectives of the regiment and three-quarters of its officers, including Colonel Jacques Roux), were killed or wounded (207 killed, 75 missing, 1090 wounded).
Again I will bow to your better understanding: for clarity, I think you are saying "it is not [uniquely Moroccan]", and then highlighting that other units (whose exploits I have never seen a single word recorded in an English language history), under French command, comprising men from other territories in North Africa were fighting alongside the Moroccans - and have been comprehensively forgotten/ignored ever since.

Which would be exactly my point.
 
Perhaps they've included Filipinos? They lost 1/2 million civvies on the tail of the US defeat.
Filipinos were not US Citizens except those who served in the US Forces. However IIRC the were large number of US civilians captured in the PI who were sent to place like Santo Thomas and Los Banos. The Last surviving US veteran of WW1 (Frank Buckles) was captured as a civvie in Manila
 
Yes.

And?
And thats a reason why they had so many casualties, when commanders dont give a fcuk about the mens lives but ehn from the moment the Germans invaded their treaty ally that was the russian way, throw lives at the problem

Something US & UK officers husbanded
 
Again I will bow to your better understanding: for clarity, I think you are saying "it is not [uniquely Moroccan]", and then highlighting that other units (whose exploits I have never seen a single word recorded in an English language history), under French command, comprising men from other territories in North Africa were fighting alongside the Moroccans - and have been comprehensively forgotten/ignored ever since.

Which would be exactly my point.

Two important points you make:

- I have never seen a single word recorded in an English: this is true for so many topics....if it's not in English, it does not exist. There are plenty of sources on the FEC operations, but in French.

- have been comprehensively forgotten/ignored ever since : not in France; the "armée d'Afrique" is celebrated, both in the current FRA Army ORBAT and in studies, official celebrations etc. but there are of course pressure groups and lobbies who prefer to say the contrary.
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
Again I will bow to your better understanding: for clarity, I think you are saying "it is not [uniquely Moroccan]", and then highlighting that other units (whose exploits I have never seen a single word recorded in an English language history), under French command, comprising men from other territories in North Africa were fighting alongside the Moroccans - and have been comprehensively forgotten/ignored ever since.

Which would be exactly my point.
Oddly enough, I have this in my Kindle 'to read list' - not started it yet though
Amazon product
 
Your post is very interesting because it is a series of ill informed clichés. I am not writing this as an inflammatory remark but it is so typical of the misinformation and prejudice that surround this period of history that it is worthwhile to highlight it.

de Gaulle reputation is such because most of the initial books written about him in English made very little room for French sources and failed to understand that in his extremely feeble position he had no other choice than to be inflexible. Many in the UK would have liked him to behave like the Belgians, the Dutch or the Norwegians. The problem is that we are talking about France, not a smaller country or an entity which was created a century ago.

de Gaulle never promoted himself; had he wanted to he wouldn't have stayed a Brigadier for the duration of the war. He had been made temporary Brigadier when sent to London by the French Cabinet in June 1940.

The evacuated troop did not "choose to return to Europe"; they were ordered to, by their French commanders, after a very short stay in the UK (where they were disarmed BTW), to return to the West of France to continue with the fight. About 50% of those returned soldiers were actually engaged again in the last combats of June 1940.

Dunkirk had just been an evacuation in order to return to France and fight again; it was in nobody's mind when the evacuation took place that French forces could stay in the UK to start a new army there; the urgency was to go back to France to keep on fighting.

In some cases, the returning French units met in the harbors departing BEF units; this led to instances of French forces recovering and using British equipment.

The 342° Compagnie Autonome de Chars de Combat was thus equipped with 13 Cruisers A10 and A13 left in France by the departing British 1 Armoured Division.
Assuming you are French, you can access French records that show their perspective that may not be the same as the at the time British perspective.
Out of interest, any thoughts on why it took a german army kicking the absolute seven shades of shite in under three weeks. Out of a well armed motivated keen as mustard BEF? From a French perspective of course, it was the British Army that failed to secure the french flank.



There is a reason why the French hate begin reminded that a white flag is their national flag…….
 
Now coincidentally i've just seen on PBS (in UK) an account of the battle of Monte Cassino and the larger Anzio invasion, they stated (claimed?) that it was the Poles that broke through at Monte Cassino. Admittedly it, being PBS, had an American bias - however, there is no mention of Free French in the final breakthrough. The Free french were part of the Fifth Army, which comprised British, Americans, Poles, New Zealanders, South Africans and French - they achieved their objectives on 11-12th of May, in contrast, the American II Corps had stalled. The Free French captured Monte Maio on the 13th of May independently whilst moving to reinforce the flank of the British 8th Army. The 2nd Moroccan div. is also credited with penetrating the Gustav line in several key locations, but not Monte Cassino per se.
So 12th Podolian Uhlans didnt raise the Polish flagatop Monte cassino?
 
Oddly enough, I have this in my Kindle 'to read list' - not started it yet though
Amazon product
A Lancashire Fusilier, was Fred, from memory, IIRC,

I think I have a hardback of the book somewhere, awaiting reading.

It is highly recommended, by those who have given it time.

From personal experience, I would also offer you Cassino: Hollow Victory by John Ellis (a superb historian, much less well known than he deserves). I read it the first time in parallel with Spike Milligan's Mussolini: His Part In My Downfall, and was brought up short when suddenly I realised I'd reached a point in the two books where they were both describing exactly the same events, but from two entirely different perspectives, which was kind of oddly illuminating.
 
Assuming you are French, you can access French records that show their perspective that may not be the same as the at the time British perspective.
Out of interest, any thoughts on why it took a german army kicking the absolute seven shades of shite in under three weeks. Out of a well armed motivated keen as mustard BEF? From a French perspective of course, it was the British Army that failed to secure the french flank.

Regarding records, any historian worth his salt should look at all sides of the story he describes. It's not good enough to say "sorry, not in my lingo, I'll ignore that". That happens unfortunately too often.

The Germans had had since the invasion of the Sudetenland to fine tune their armed forces. They had practiced everything before for real in Spain and Poland; they were a dictatorial regime with a unity of purpose and effort that a Western Democracy could not equal. They had a revenge to take and wanted blood. They were motivated.
 

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