French units at Alamein

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jwsleser
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French units at Alamein

Post by jwsleser » 11 Sep 2022 12:01

I am looking to verify some information on the French units fighting at Alamein in Oct 1942.

1. What is the correct designation of the two French Brigades? Playfair states that the French units had changed their name from the Free French to the Fighting French in April 1942 (vol IV, p.2 footnote).

2. The 1 FF Bde attacked the Nagb Nala position on the night of 23–24 Oct. Two of the battalion were Foreign Legion. What are the correct designations of the three battalions involved?

3. Some sources state that a battalion of the 2 FF Bde attacked the Deir el Munassaib position on 26 Oct. Did this attack actually take place? If it did, which French units was involved and can anyone offer a brief description of the fight?

Cites for the source(s) used would be great! Thank you for any assistance.

Pista! Jeff
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Martin_Schenkel
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Re: French units at Alamein

Post by Martin_Schenkel » 11 Sep 2022 21:25

According to "The British Armies in WW2: An Organisational History - Supplement three - OOB 1942-1944" (Ryan, Rothwell, and Broshot) Nafziger 2003...

French forces at Alamein for 23 Oct 1942 are listed as:

1re Brigade Francaise Libre (with 7th Armd Div)
2e Brigade Francaise Libre (with 50th Northumbrian Div)

I have no idea as to their official French designation, but this wording suggests they were using the "Free French" designation.

The infantry composition of the 1re Bde is listed as:
1re Bataillon de Légion Étrangère
3e Bataillon de Légion Étrangère
Bataillon d'Infanterie de Marine du Pacifique

I don't know how accurate to the official French designation these are, but this series of books seems to be reasonably accurate, and certainly try to be as accurate as they can when it comes to smaller details like this.

That's all I have.

Martin

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Re: French units at Alamein

Post by jwsleser » 11 Sep 2022 21:54

Martin

Thank you for that bit of info. It does help.

Pista! Jeff
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Loïc
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Re: French units at Alamein

Post by Loïc » 13 Sep 2022 17:26

hello

from French Army Archives
INVENTAIRE DES ARCHIVES DE LA GUERRE
SÉRIE P 1940-1946
TOME II GRANDES UNITÉS

https://www.servicehistorique.sga.defen ... 0P_11P.pdf
brigade.PNG
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Loïc
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Last edited by Loïc on 13 Sep 2022 18:31, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: French units at Alamein

Post by jwsleser » 13 Sep 2022 18:24

Loïc

Excellent information. So.....

The name changed to Fighting French in Oct–Dec 42, then back to Free French. So during the time of Alamein, Fighting French is correct.

I thought I read a bit in the post that there wasn't an attack on 26 Oct, but that now appears to be gone. Was there a correction/edit?

Pista! Jeff
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Re: French units at Alamein

Post by Loïc » 19 Sep 2022 17:42

Hello
yes because I mixed the activities of the 1st with the - limited participation - of the 2nd Brigade represented by both Bataillon de Marche n°5 and Bataillon de Marche n°11

not found yet about this affair on the 26th


On the 26th october, the B.M. 5 covers by a curtain of Bren-carriers 2 groups of British artillery in battery between the "Volga" and "Don" minefields.
Les forces françaises dans la lutte contre l'Axe en Afrique: Les Forces françaises libres en Afrique, 1940-1943



https://1dfl.fr/category/les-unites/dec ... marche-n5/
The Brigade is not envolved : doing deception, agitates behind the front to mislead the enemy. From October 24 to November 2, the B.M. 5 changed position four times: night movements in blackout, painful and tedious.

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Re: French units at Alamein

Post by jwsleser » 20 Sep 2022 13:34

Loïc

Thank you for the information. Volga and Don minefields. First I have heard of those names. Do you know where those minefields were located? Given the position of the 2 FF Bde during the battle, I assume somewhere north of Deir el Munassib. For your last paragraph, it appears that there could have been some feints but no actual attack.

The sources I have stating a French unit attacked on 26 Oct are Terzo offensive Britannica in Africa settentrionale, p. 128 and Morsi Folgore p.154. Arena in Folgore p.200 states that the French attacked in three columns against the IV/187º. The IV/187º was located just west of Deir el Mussassib. What is unclear is whether the French movements were timed with the attack of the 69 Bde during the night of 25–26 Oct or at 1400 on 26 Oct.

Again thank you for the help.

Pista! Jeff
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Re: French units at Alamein

Post by Urmel » 21 Sep 2022 10:32

jwsleser wrote:
13 Sep 2022 18:24
Loïc

Excellent information. So.....

The name changed to Fighting French in Oct–Dec 42, then back to Free French. So during the time of Alamein, Fighting French is correct.

I thought I read a bit in the post that there wasn't an attack on 26 Oct, but that now appears to be gone. Was there a correction/edit?

Pista! Jeff
McCreery still refers to 'Fighting French' on 5 Dec 42.

There was an attack on Hunter's Plateau by 1 & 2 battalions Foreign Legion on 23 October, and it generated a lot of casualties, incl. Col. Amilakvari killed, and also ill feeling between Koenig and Horrocks. The attack came in at night.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: French units at Alamein

Post by Loïc » 21 Sep 2022 13:38

Indeed concerning the 1st Brigade and Foreign Legions Battalions,
André-Paul Comor's book about 13e DBLE doesn't precise nothing other for the 26 and this sector than (the following 29th october) they replace the 69th Brigade in Deir el Munassib
confirmed by Captain Brunet de Sairigné in his diary who wrote for the 26th october calm moorning
Matinée calme. Je prends liaison avec le Commandant de la 22e brigade blindée. Il paraît que tout va bien au nord


but concerning the 2 March Battalions (BM 5 and 11) of the 2nd Brigade and this affair on the 26th october is more unclear...

again if reading the website of the 1ère DFL
https://1dfl.fr/1942-egypte-participati ... l-alamein/

The 2nd Brigade (March Battalion n°5 and March Battalion n°11) is in line 10 kilometers north of the HIMEIMAT and takes part in the battle, was joined on the night of October 27 to 28 by the 1st Brigade which moved in alongside her, to the south.

General Montgomery attached the French Brigades to two different British Divisions, the first to the 44th Division, the second to the 50th Division.

Their mission is to carry out "mock attacks" (false attacks, but real fights), in order to attract enemy attention to them far from the Main Action which marks, at this moment, real progress in the North near on the side.

Facing the French and covered by the Von” and “Volga” minefields, the German paratroopers of the Burckhart Group and those of the Italian Folgore Division held solidly organized strongpoints on hills 104, 103, 92 and 101.

The two Brigades receive the order to seize these strong points, and on October 30, the BM 5 of Lieutenant-Colonel GARDET, and the BM 11 of Captain LANGLOIS seize 104 and 103, but they are stopped in their advance by mortar fire and heavy machine gun fire from 101


Bataillon de Marche 11
En octobre 1942, le BM 11 prit part à la bataille décisive d’El Alamein, où il fit face au groupement parachutiste Huebner.*
* (Kampfgruppe Hübner I assume)

http://www.qattara.it/desertwar_files/L ... meimat.pdf

la 2e Brigade déployée plus au nord à Alam El-Alfa
ALAMEIN.PNG



at last the official Ordre de la Libération's website precises
https://www.ordredelaliberation.fr/fr/armee-de-terre

On the 20th, stationed in the region of Alam El Alpha;
on the 23rd, the battle of El Alamein is engaged.
BM5 and BM11 respectively hold the west and south faces of the "Hogs Back" sector, located 10 km north of the Himeimat.
On the 27th, they moved towards the position of "Great Circle", suffering some losses by bombardment or mines, without however actually giving battle.


better if we could read the Grandes Unités Françaises Historiques Succincts or the JMO what they say exactly for the 26th october
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Re: French units at Alamein

Post by jwsleser » 21 Sep 2022 15:22

All

Thank you for the additional information. It does require a bit of clarification.

RE: 1 FF Bde. The British sources gives the two Legion battalions as the 1re and 3e Bataillon de Légion Étrangère. The French sources state the 1re and 2e Bataillon. I would tend to believe the French sources, but it is unusual that something that should be easy to establish generates questions.

The French account of the attack of the 1 FF Bde on Naqb Sala on 23–24 Oct matches up with the British and Italians accounts that I have of that action.

RE: 2 FF Bde. This accounts adds some detail for the events 26–30 Oct. Trying to pin down the hills is a challenge. The III FJ (Hubner) was to the west of the II/187º while the IV FJ (Buckhardt) was northwest with the I/19º rgt. in-between the two German FJ units. The Italian accounts mentions some actions during this period but no lost positions. The «Folgore» didn't begin its retreat until the evening of 2 Nov. I will need to work through the accounts.

Pista! Jeff
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Re: French units at Alamein

Post by Loïc » 21 Sep 2022 15:44

for the 3rd Battalion 3e BLE, the organization within 13e DBLE is clear : it was disbanded after Bir Hakeim in june 1942 and not recreated before november 1944

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Loïc

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Re: French units at Alamein

Post by jwsleser » 21 Sep 2022 16:00

Excellent! Thank you.
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Re: French units at Alamein

Post by Urmel » 21 Sep 2022 16:09

It might be helpful to try to get the order documents. E.g. the order from 7 Armd Div for the attack on 23/24 October would have a lot of detail on where/what/when and I suppose whoever was bossing around the FF days later would have left detailed written orders too.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: French units at Alamein

Post by jwsleser » 23 Sep 2022 22:32

Loïc

I am trying to cite the October 1942: Qaret el Himeimat article by Franck Ségretain but can't determine the magazine. In fact, I can't find the link for the article listed on the Qattara.it site to see if it provides the original source.

Any idea where this article was originally published?

v/r Jeff
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Re: French units at Alamein

Post by Loïc » 24 Sep 2022 14:05

hello

it comes from a past issue of Ligne de Front n°8
http://www.ligne-front.com/ldf8.php

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Loïc

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