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Let's Build.. Free French Forces Serving in North Africa.

Discussions on all aspects of France during the Inter-War era and Second World War.

Let's Build.. Free French Forces Serving in North Africa.

Postby David W on 31 Oct 2004 01:57

I have always wanted more information about the Free French who fought in North Africa. I have found reliable information difficult to come by as the best books & websites are usually (and not suprisingly) in French.
I hope you will enjoy contributing to this thread. If it is very successful it might end up being a useful source of reference. (you never know, the "powers that be" might even make it a sticky!)
Enough of my woffling, down to business. The following is what I have got, and what I believe ( note "believe" not "know", so don't be afraid to correct anything that is wrong) to be accurate.

OOB

1st Free French Brigade Group.

2nd Battalion 13th Legion Etrangre
3rd Battalion 13th Legion Etrangre
2nd Battalion Marche De L'oubanghi
1st Battalion D'infantrie De Marine (BIM)
1st Battalion Du Pacifique
1st Fusiliers Marines Anti-Aircraft Battalion
1st Free French Artillery regiment
22nd Nord-Africaine Infantry Company.
2nd Anti-tank Company.


2nd Free French Brigade Group.

1st Battalion 13th Legion Etrangere
3rd Battalion De Marche
4th Battalion De Marche
11th Battalion De Marche
5th Battalion De Marche
21st Nord-Africaine Infantry company
23rd Nord-Africaine Engineer company


Other units of the Brigade Group.

1st Regiment De Marche De Saphis Marocains (Recce)
31st? Free French Anti-Tank Battalion

Other Free French units.

Free French Motor Marine Infantry Battalion (a.k.a French Motor Battalion)


T.O&E

2nd Battalion 13th Legion Etrangere:
Arrive El Daba 02/01/'42
500+ men in 2,3 or 4? companies. one Company is titled "5th"

3rd Battalion 13th Legion Etrangere:
Arrive El Daba 02/01/'42
500+ men in 2,3 or 4? companies.

2nd Battalion Marche De L'oubanghi:
Arrive May '41?
800 men in 4 companies. one Company is titled "6th"

1st Battalion D'infantrie De Marine:
Arrive March '41?
800 men in 4 companies. Colonial Infantry, not Marines.
May not have fought as a cohesive Battalion, the four companies may have been spread about the Brigades other Battalions.

1st Battalion Du Pacifique:
Arrive El Daba 02/01/'42.
800 men in 4 companies, recruited from French colonies in the South Seas.

1st Fusiliers Marines Anti-Aircraft Battalion:
Arrive El Daba 02/01/'42.
18x40mm Bofors & 2x13.2mm Quad.

1st Free French Artillery Regiment:
Arrive 19/12/'41
4 Batteries each of 6x75mmL/36.
2x25pdr's (left behind by 150th Brigade)

22nd Nord-Africaine Infantry Company:
Arrive El Daba 02/01/'42.

2nd Anti-Tank Company:
Arrive?
30x75mm A.T.G


1st Battalion 13th Legion Etrangere:
Arrive Mersa Matruh 28/04/'42.
800 men in four Companies.

3rd Battalion De Marche:
Arrive Mersa Matruh 28/04/'42. Withdrawn June '42
800 men in four Companies.

4th Battalion De Marche:
Arrive Mersa Matruh 24/04/'42.
800 men in four Companies.

11th Battalion De Marche:
Arrive Mersa Matruh 24/04/'42.
800 men in four companies.

5th Battalion De Marche:
Arrive June '42.
800 men in four Companies.

21st Nord-Africaine Infantry Company:
Arrive?
200 men.

23rd Nord-Africaine Engineer Company:
Arrive?
170 men.


1st Regiment De Marche De Saphis Marocains:
Arrive July '42.
18x25mm A.T.G mounted on Marmon Herrington Armoured Cars, 6x75mm Conus gun mounted in M13/40 turret, on Ford Lorry base!

31st(?) Free French Anti-Tank Battalion:
Arrive?
46x37mm Bofors A.T.G. 18x25mm A.T.G. 7x47mm Italian A.T.G. . This is a large ammount of guns for one Regiment. My guess is, that all except the Bofors guns, were parcelled out to the Brigade's Infantry Battalions.


Free French Motor Marines Infantry Battalion:
Arrive Jan '41
Poor Quality (Unlike all the other units)
800 men in four companies.


Add to that, gentlemen please.

Regards.................. Dave. (Edited for dates of arrival 07/11/04.
Last edited by David W on 07 Nov 2004 02:51, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby David W on 31 Oct 2004 17:36

Nice one Andy! :D
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Postby Andy H on 31 Oct 2004 17:37

(you never know, the "powers that be" might even make it a sticky!)


Ok I'll take the bait. I hope it proves a success

Abu El Banat
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Postby PPZ on 05 Nov 2004 15:42

- You can find a lot of information about the Free-French (before August 1943) military forces on this site (in french) :
http://www.francaislibres.net/
- Cordialement !

PPZ (son of fighter in Bir-Hackeim : 1er RFM)
- Pozdrowienia z Warszawy
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Postby David W on 13 Dec 2004 13:40

I have a date of arrival for the anti-tank unit (CAC)

19/04/1942.
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Postby PPZ on 14 Dec 2004 00:09

- 26 mai 1942 : Bir-hakeim : all about the 1st BFL (in french and english)

http://www.birhakeim-association.org/index.htm

- click : ... historique
............. le cimetière et le musée
............................. retrospective de la bataille de Bir-hakeim

- Cordialement !
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Postby David W on 14 Dec 2004 09:06

Thanks PPZ.

I have come across this site before, but regretably it only ever seems to partially download, and most of the English text is too small to read.

But thanks anyway.
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Postby PPZ on 14 Dec 2004 17:15

- Hello David !

- I'm going to try talking to you the history of Free French in North Africa
(in 8 parts : until the august 1st 1943 and the end of official engagement in Free French army)

- Part 1 :........... August 1940 : Dakar's operation

OOB of 1st DFL ( Free French Division)

-- 13e Demi-Brigade de la Légion Etrangère : Lt-Cl Magrin Verneret (pseudo : Monclar)
-- 1e Bataillon de Fusiliers-Marins : CC Détroyat
-- 1e Compagnie Franche : Cpt Duriff
-- 1e Compagnie de Chars (tanks) : Lt Volvey
-- 1e Section d'Artillerie : Lt Chavanac
-- 1e Section de Sapeurs-Mineurs : Lt Desmaisons
-- 1e Compagnie du Train (transport) : Lt Desmaisons
-- 1e Section de Transmissions (radio) : Lt Renard
-- 1e Section d'Intendance (logistic) : Int. Bouton
-- Service de Santé (doctors) : Md.Capt Delavenne
-- Ambulance Chirurgicale Légére ( light surgery) : Md.Cdt Fruchaud

In all : 1 445 men

-- Participate in this expédition :
........ Gn de Gaulle and his E.M. and H.Q. Company (Cpt Dreyfus-Ducas)
.........Gn Spears and his E.M.
.........Air Combat Group N°1 FAFL (Cdt Lionel de Marmier)

Period from june 19 to october 10, 1940 :
- after the june 19, 1940 and formation times ( Morval and Delville camps near Aldershot), Free Frenchs volunteers constitue an expeditionary corps
and leave Liverpool in august 31, 1940 (on board "Westernland" and "Penland" troops transport ships).
- September 23, de Gaulle try to rally of Senegal (Operation "Menace")
These troops will constitue the base of the 1e DFL.
- British warships helped the Expeditionary french corps.
- Free French Navy : (FNFL) participations :
...August 26, 1940 : heavy convoy :
- Aviso : " Savorgnan de Brazza" : CC : Roux
- Patrol boat : "President Houduce" : Lt V Favreau
- Merchant ships : " Casamance", "Fort Lamy", "Anadyr"
...August 31, 1940 : convoy
- Aviso : "Commandant Duboc" : Lt V Bourgine
- Aviso : " Commandant Donimé" : Lt V de La Porte des Vaux"

- Dakar's Operation is a defeat (september 25, 1940) and the Free French after the stopover in Freetown, will be continued to Congo and Cameroun: (frenchs colonies rallied)

Part 2 : Gabon : october 1940..............................

Cordialement !
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Postby David W on 14 Dec 2004 19:00

PPZ.
I am very flattered, that is a huge undertaking. Thank you. :D :D

Do you think you ought to keep it to North Africa, to keep on topic?


Many Thanks David.
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Postby PPZ on 14 Dec 2004 21:24

- Affirmatif ! (yes!) : but i need few times ......callsign my poor english ! :oops: .
- All this informations comes from : "Annuaire de la 1ere DFL" (1972)
Cordialement !
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Postby David W on 14 Dec 2004 21:44

PPZ.
Take all the time you need, I am in no hurry :)

Your English is NOT poor. :)

Merci! :wink:
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Postby PPZ on 15 Dec 2004 16:22

- Part 2 : ..........October 1940 : Gabon's enter.

OOB of 1st DFL

- Army : under command of Lt Col Leclerc de Hautecloque

- Group Dio :
- Element of Bataillon de Marche n°4 : Lt Dronne
- Element of 1e Compagnie de Chars : Lt Volvey
- One Artillery's Battery (75mm) : Cpt Laurent Champrosay
- Group Parent :
- Element of Bataillon de Marche n°1 : Cpt de Boissoudy
- Element of Pointe-Noire's french position : Lt Duclerc
- Element of 1e Bataillon de Fusiliers-Marins : EV Le Bourgeois
- Element of Colonial Artillery of Pointe-Noire : Lt Lucciani
- Group Delange :
- Bataillon de Marche n°1 : Cdt Delange
- Group Koenig :
- Element of 13e Demi-Brigade de la Légion Etrangère : Cdt Koenig
- Ambulance chirurgicale légère : Md. Cdt. Fruchaud
- Element of Transmissions : Adj Maetzu

In all : 1060 men

- Navy : under command of C.F. Thierry d'Argenlieu

- Aviso FNFL : "Savorgnan de Brazza" : CC Roux
- Aviso FNFL : "Commandant Dominé" : LV de la Porte des Vaux
- Merchant ship FFL : "Casamance" : Cdt Brias

- Air Force : under navy's command

- Groupe de combat aérien n°1 FAFL* : Cdt Lionel de Marmier
* change of name :
- Tchad : November 1940 : GRB1 : Groupe reservé de Bombardement n°1 : Cpt Astier de Vilatte (missions : Koufra : mars 1941, Abyssinie : april to july 1941, Erythrée)
- Syrie (Damas) : september 24, 1941 : Groupe de Bombardement "Lorraine" composed by two squadron "Metz" and "Nancy" using Blenheim (30% lost) : Cdt Corniglion-Molinier
November and december 1941 : Libye :after the death of Lt Cl Pijeand , Cpt Saint-Péreuse
January 1942 : Syrie : "Nancy" in Damas, "Metz" in Rayack
October 1942 : Group "Lorraine" move to England (Greenock)
- England : 342 RAF Squadron with Boston Douglas

Period from october 10 to december 24, 1940 :
- In AEF, French Equatorial Africa : Tchad, Cameroun, Congo and Oubangui-Chari have rallied. Only Gabon keep loyal to Vichy gouverment. Decision is taking to make a military demonstration with only Free French Forces ( english warships keep away Dakar Vichy's forces).
- October 27, 1940 :
- Group Dio through the forest move to the south from Cameroun
- Groups Parent and Delange move to the north , take Lambaréné and
by the Ogoué's river menace Port-Gentil
- Koenig and his Foreign Legion, land from the merchand ship
"Casamance" and march to Libreville
- FNFL warships elimine Vichy's units
- Airforce assume recco and attack Port-Gentil
- November 12, 1940 Gabon is under control of Free Frenchs (new goverment)

- At the same times, in Libye's desert, 1e Bataillon d'Infanterie de Marine : Cdt Lorotte participate at "Compass" operation with British forces ( Italien's force out of Grazziani) and 1e Escadron de Spahis Marocains : Cpt Jourdier was in Soudan with the 5th Indou Division.


Part 3 : Erythrée , february 1941.....................

P.S. :a few of this men and units receive the "Croix de la Libération". You can get more information about it : biography, picture, ect .................. (in french and english)

http://www.ordredelaliberation.fr/fr_in ... ueil2.html

Cordialement
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Postby PPZ on 16 Dec 2004 16:17

- Part 3 : ..............february 1941 : Erythrée's campaign.

OOB of 1st DFL

- Eastern Free French's Brigade

- Brigade's Commander : Cl MagrinVerneray (Monclar)
- QG's compagny : Lt Deway

- First Group : Lt-Cl : Cazaud
- 1e Bataillon de la Légion Etrangère : Cdt Amilakvary
- 3e Compagny of 1e Bataillon d'infanterie de Marine : Cpt Savey

- Second Group : Cdt Garbay
- Bataillon de Marche n°3 : Cdt Garbay
- 1e Escadron de Spahis Marocains : Cpt Jourdier
- 1e Group of Colonial Artillery : Cpt Laurent Champrosay
- 1e Section de Sapeurs-Mineurs : Lt Desmaisons
- 1e Compagnie du Train (transport) : Lt Dulau
- 1e Section de Transmissions : Cpt Renard
- 1e Section d'Intendance (logistic) : Int. Bouton
- 1e Groupe d'Exploitation : Lt de Guillebon
- Service de Santé (doctors) : Md-Cpt Delavenne
- Ambulance chirurgicale légère : Md-Cdt : Fruchaud

In all : 1200 men

Period from december 24, 1940 to may 20, 1941
- Libye : 1e Bataillon d'Infanterie de Marine in action against Italiens with british forces.
- South of Libye : Leclerc's column marches to Koufra

- Gn de Gaulle decides to create an Eastern Free French's Brigade (with mens staying in AEF) mustering in british-egyptien Soudan under command of Gn Wavell.
- Bataillon de Marche n°3 (BM3) : transiting by train
- All men from AEF by see
- To be reinforced by 3e Compagny of Bataillon d'Infanterie de Marine and 1e Escadron de Spahis Marocains coming from Egypt

- February 18, 1941 : BM3 in action : occupies Kub Kub the february 20
- February 23 : all brigade in action : occupies Keren the march 27
- April 1 : Asmara capitulates
- April 8 : Massaoua'port is occuping

- There is no more Italien's port on the Red See: US merchands ships can ravitailled Suez and the figting forces (Libya, Greece and Crete).

- At the end of Erythrée's operation, Eastern Brigade is dissolved and all units move to Palestine (by see - from Massaoua to Suez- with FFL troops transport ship "Paul-Doumer" : Cdt Mantelet )


Part 4 : Syrie, may 1941 ........................

P.S. : If you have any question (especially about the Régiment de Fusiliers-Marins), go head ! :)

Cordialement !
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Postby PPZ on 17 Dec 2004 16:52

- Part 4 : ......................may 1941 : Syria's campaign

OOB of 1st DFL

- 1st Free French's Light Division

- 1e DFL Commander : Gn Legentilhomme
- Headquarter's Chief : Lt-Cl Koenig
- Compagny of QG 50 : Cpt Bélan

- First Brigade : Cl Cazaud
- 1e Bataillon de la Légion Etrangère : Cdt Amilakvary
- Bataillon de Marche n°1 : Cdt Delange
- Bataillon de Marche n°3 : Cdt Garbay

- Second Brigade : Cl Génin
- 1e Bataillon d'Infanterie de Marine : Cdt de Chevigné
- Bataillon de Marche n°2 : Cdt de Roux
- Bataillon de Marche n°4 : Cdt Bouillon
- 1e Bataillon de Fusiliers-Marins : CC Détroyat*
- 1e Artillery Battery : Cpt Laurent-Champrosay
- 1e Escadron de Spahis Marocains : Cpt Jourdier
- 1e Compagnie de Chars : Cpt Volvey
- Section de Sapeurs-Mineurs : Lt Desmaisons
- 1e Compagnie de Transmissions : Cpt Renard
- 101e Compagnie Auto (transport) : Lt Dulau
- Intendance (logistic) : Int Bouton
- Groupe d'Exploitation : Lt de Guillebon
- Service Santé : Med Cpt Delavenne
- Ambulance chirurgicale : Med Cdt Vernier
- Hôpital de Campagne : Hadfield-Spears : Med Cdt Fruchaud
* CC Detroyat is murdered by Vichy's french prisoners in Damas

In all : 5400 men*
- * and women : drivers, orderlies and nurses

.............." Gent Force" : under Gn Legentilhomme's command...............
- Not included in Division but in action in Operation "Exporter":
- Groupe d'Escadrons Tcherkesses (453 men) : Cl Collet
- 5th Hindu Brigade : Gn Lloyd
- two British bataillons
- one Royal Dragoons Escadron (machine-gun's car)
- one Australian Infantery's Battalion
- one Australian Scouts Escadron (machine-gun's car)
- one British Artillery's Group

Period from may 20 to august 20 1941
- All Free French's Forces* are based in Quastina (Palestine).
- from AEF
- from Erythrée : Eastern Brigade
- from Lybia : 1er Bataillon d'Infanterie de Marine
forming the 1e DLFL : may 25, 1941
* Pacific Battalion arriving in Damas in july 1941
...........................Operation "Exporter" ...............................
- British Government decides to occupe Lebanon and Syria (under control of Vichy's French Troops)
- Enter : 1st day : june 8, 1941
- Left side (sea's coast) : Australian Division targeting Beyrouth
- Inside the territory : ahead, Hindu Brigade but stopped before
Cheik Meskine. After Cheik Meskine, 1e DLFL ahead, targeting Damas
- june 21, 1941 : Damas is taken by Free Frenchs
- july 10, 1941 : Beyrouth is taken by Australians
- july 14, 1941 : armistice is signed in Saint-Jean d'Acre

- A significiant number of frenchs volunteers rallied the DFL
- BM1 returns to Congo for renforcing the Leclerc's column
- BM4 moves to Ethiopia (in action in Gondar in november 1941)

Part 5 : Bir-Hakeim, december 1941.....................

-Cordialement !
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Postby PPZ on 18 Dec 2004 14:52

- Part 5 : .....................december 1941 : Libya's desert

OOB of 1st DFL

- 1st Free French's Independent Brigade

- Commander of 1st BFL : Gn Koenig
- Headquater's Chief : Cl Masson
- Compagny of QG 51 : Lt Olivier

- First Group : Lt-Cl Amilakvary (Demi-Brigade de Légion Etrangère)
- 2e Bataillon de Légion Etrangère : Cdt Babonneau
- 3e Bataillon de Légion Etrangère : Cdt Puchois

- Second Group : Lt-Cl de Roux (Demi-Brigade Coloniale)
- Bataillon de Marche n°2 : Cdt Amiel
- Bataillon du Pacifique : Lt-Cl Broche
- 1e Bataillon d'Infanterie de Marine : Cdt Savey
- 1er Regiment d'Artillerie : Cdt Laurent-Champrosay
- 1er Bataillon de Fusiliers-Marins (A.A.) : CC Amyot d'Inville
- 22e Compagnie Nord-Africaine : Cpt Lequesne
- 1e Compagnie Anti-Chars (A.T.) : Cpt Jacquin
- 1e Compagnie de Sapeurs-Mineurs : Cpt Desmaison
- 1e Compagnie de Transmissions : Cpt Renard
- 101e Compagnie Auto (transport) : Cpt Dulau
- 1er Atelier Lourd de Reparation Auto (heavy mechanic) : Cpt Bell
- Intendance : Int Bouton
- Groupe d'Exploitation n°1 : Cpt de Guillebon
- Groupe Sanitaire Divisionnaire n°1 : Med-Cdt Vignes
- Ambulance Chirurgicale Légère : Med-Cpt Guillon
- Hôpital de Campagne Hadfield-Spears : Med-Cdt Fruchaud
- Diverses Services : furniture, treasury, post-office, military police,
military justice, religious services, supplys, instruction's centers ......

In all : 5109 men

Period from august 20, 1941 to april 1st 1942
- August 20, 1941 : 1e DFL is dissolved and it's constituted three Free
French's Independent Brigades
- Beginning of december , 1st BFLI is ready.
- December 30, 1941, after crossing Palestine and Syrie, the 1st BFLI
take position on the Libya's frontier (to renforce the VIII's Britsh army
of Gn Ritchie in action - operation " Crusader") face to Halfaya's pass
- January 17, 1942 : South Africans and Free Frenchs received the
capitulation of Halfaya's position (5000 men)
- January 20, 1942 take position at El Mechili (principal front : 300 kms
to West) in south of allies lignes.
- February 4, 1942 : under pressure of Rommel's advance, 1st BFLI
creates à retrenchment in one point of desert "Bir-Hakeim"
- Start a strange war : desert is like ocean and combats have "navals
battlefieds" aspects. Il's times of "Jock-Columns" in "noman's land"

Part 6 : Desert of Libya : april 1942....................

Cordialement !
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