French motorized divisions??

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Markus Becker
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French motorized divisions??

Post by Markus Becker » 18 Aug 2006 10:42

How many motorized and armoured divisions did the French Army have in a) September 1939 and b) May 1940?
I was just told the Wehrmacht was "more mobile". Given the fact that just 16 out of 157 division were motorized or armoured I find it very hard to believe that the French Army was even worse.

Brad Hunter
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Post by Brad Hunter » 18 Aug 2006 12:30

Try this site:

http://france1940.free.fr/en_index.html

The information on this site is based on the French Official Unit Histories, "Le Grande Unites," which I was fortunate enough to obtain several years back.

Brad

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 18 Aug 2006 12:33

Hello,

The French army had about 400,000 motor vehicles including motorcycles, cars, trucks, tanks, armored cars etc. in 1940. This number is more or less equivalent to the German army. The small US army for example had 12,000 vehicles at the same time which shows how quickly it increased its size afterwards.
On May 10, 1940 there were roughly about 3,000 French frontline tanks facing 3,000 Germans tanks. Nevertheless the German tanks were all grouped in 10 Panzerdivisionen, whereas the French army had only 960 tanks issued to 7 big mechanized/armored divisions. The remaining 2,000+ tanks were spread all over the territory and in all kind of units in small numbers, unable to face any whole German armored unit.

In 1940, for the infantry arm, there were 7 "motorized" infantry divisions (1e, 3e, 5e, 9e, 12e, 15e, 25e DIM). There were also 4 armored divisions (1e, 2e, 3e and 4e DCr), 3 created between January and May 1940 and the fourth during the campaign.

The first motorized infantry divisions were formed during the early 30's. Initially there were to be 5, but by the spring of 1935 this was increased to 7. Despite their name they were not fully motorized units, they had no organic vehicles to move all the infantry. They even had an allotment of horses and wagons. Each regiment only possessed enough vehicles to move the regimental and battalion headquarters. The motorized infantry squads of a motorized infantry regiment are classical 12-men infantry squads but carried by trucks or buses (Laffly S20TL and Lorraine 38L are only for the Dragons Portés and Chasseurs Portés units). The troops of the division were moved by a GTP "groupement de transport de personnel" for strategical movements, which when not transporting the division was withdrawn for other duties near to where the regiment was stationed. Usually 3 GTPs are assigned to a motorized infantry division (DIM), one per regiment grossly. One GTP consisted of a staff and 3 transport groups, each group having 4-5 transport companies (1 GTP = 2 companies of trucks and 3 companies of buses for about 200 trucks and 200 buses). A division on open terrain would hold a front 5 to 7 kilometers wide and some 5 deep.

For the cavalry, there were 5 light cavalry divisions (1e, 2e, 3e, 4e and 5e DLC). These units are roughly half horse drawn and half motorized. There were also 3 light mechanized divisions (1e, 2e and 3e DLM) formed before May 1940 plus the 4e and 7e DLM formed during the campaign on reduced establishments from two shattered cavalry divisions.

Regards,

David

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Markus Becker
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Post by Markus Becker » 18 Aug 2006 15:25

So that´s 7 fully and 15 partially mechanized divisions. Can one still say the Wehrmacht was more mobile? On the one hand the mechanized divisions were fully mechanized/motorized, but on the other hand the Wehrmacht was larger.
By the way, the 2,000 plus FT-17 tanks the French Army had were all in some depots and not used by combat units weren´t they? I know you already wrote about this, but I can´t find the posting.

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Post by Somua S35 » 18 Aug 2006 17:59

You can find some informations about french divisions on ATF40 ( but in french )
http://alain.adam.perso.cegetel.net/

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 18 Aug 2006 21:06

Hello,

I think the discussion about the Renault FT17 tanks was here:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=98415

In May/June 1940 the French Army had indeed roughly 8 mechanized/motorized units (4 DCrs and 3 DLMs -- you can possibly add the 7e DLM in June 1940) and 12 partially motorized units [7 "motorized" infantry divisions which could be listed as motorized if the additional GTPs are dedicated to them and 5 DLCs] = 20 more or less motorized divisions.

To these units we could add all the reconnaissance groups (roughly battalion sized units) which were motorized (part of the GRDIs and GRCAs -- with ot without armored cars). There were also small independent units which were fully motorized etc.

In the infantry divisions there is a cavalry unit in charge of reconnaissance or GRDI (Groupe de Reconnaissance de Division d'Infanterie). In the army corps there is a cavalry unit in charge of reconnaissance or GRCA (Groupe de Reconnaissance de Corps d'Armée). They were mostly equipped with motorcycles and horses but in the motorized infantry divisions they were roughly composed of one squadron of AMD, one squadron of AMR, one motorcycle squadron and one support company (about 26 armored cars, 15 side-cars, 2 cars, 2 trucks, 4 light trucks, 24 FM 24/29 LMGs, 12 Hotchkiss Mle1914 MMGs, 2 60mm mortars and 3-6 25mm AT guns).

On the German side all the tanks are grouped in the 10 Panzerdivisionen, whereas on the French side you have many other battalions dispersed. To these 10 Panzerdivisionen you can add 6 motorized infantry divisions:
• 2. ID mot.
• 13. ID mot.
• 20. ID mot.
• 29. ID mot.
• SS VT mot.
• SS Totenkopf mot.
+ various reconnaissance elements included in several divisions etc.

About tanks, there are comparable numbers of allied and German tanks with schematically let's say 3,000 tanks. This apparent equality in the number of tanks is purely mathematical but in the facts it is completely false. All the about 3,000 German tanks are concentrated in the 10 Panzerdivisionen unlike only about 960 French tanks in the DCr/DLM. Each DCr/DLM has less tanks than a Panzerdivision: there are roughly 10x300 German tanks against 6x160 French tanks and many dispersed battalions. That was the reality on the battlefield. The allied armored divisions were used as a delaying or shock element, working for the infantry units, never as a decisive and independent arm.

Regards,

David

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Re:

Post by Kelvin » 12 Mar 2016 06:50

David Lehmann wrote:Hello,

The French army had about 400,000 motor vehicles including motorcycles, cars, trucks, tanks, armored cars etc. in 1940. This number is more or less equivalent to the German army. The small US army for example had 12,000 vehicles at the same time which shows how quickly it increased its size afterwards.
On May 10, 1940 there were roughly about 3,000 French frontline tanks facing 3,000 Germans tanks. Nevertheless the German tanks were all grouped in 10 Panzerdivisionen, whereas the French army had only 960 tanks issued to 7 big mechanized/armored divisions. The remaining 2,000+ tanks were spread all over the territory and in all kind of units in small numbers, unable to face any whole German armored unit.

In 1940, for the infantry arm, there were 7 "motorized" infantry divisions (1e, 3e, 5e, 9e, 12e, 15e, 25e DIM). There were also 4 armored divisions (1e, 2e, 3e and 4e DCr), 3 created between January and May 1940 and the fourth during the campaign.

The first motorized infantry divisions were formed during the early 30's. Initially there were to be 5, but by the spring of 1935 this was increased to 7. Despite their name they were not fully motorized units, they had no organic vehicles to move all the infantry. They even had an allotment of horses and wagons. Each regiment only possessed enough vehicles to move the regimental and battalion headquarters. The motorized infantry squads of a motorized infantry regiment are classical 12-men infantry squads but carried by trucks or buses (Laffly S20TL and Lorraine 38L are only for the Dragons Portés and Chasseurs Portés units). The troops of the division were moved by a GTP "groupement de transport de personnel" for strategical movements, which when not transporting the division was withdrawn for other duties near to where the regiment was stationed. Usually 3 GTPs are assigned to a motorized infantry division (DIM), one per regiment grossly. One GTP consisted of a staff and 3 transport groups, each group having 4-5 transport companies (1 GTP = 2 companies of trucks and 3 companies of buses for about 200 trucks and 200 buses). A division on open terrain would hold a front 5 to 7 kilometers wide and some 5 deep.

For the cavalry, there were 5 light cavalry divisions (1e, 2e, 3e, 4e and 5e DLC). These units are roughly half horse drawn and half motorized. There were also 3 light mechanized divisions (1e, 2e and 3e DLM) formed before May 1940 plus the 4e and 7e DLM formed during the campaign on reduced establishments from two shattered cavalry divisions.

Regards,

David

Hi, David, exactly how many troop did French truck or bus can carry in one time ? In DLM each Laffy S20 could carry ten dragoon.

steverodgers801
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Re: French motorized divisions??

Post by steverodgers801 » 21 Mar 2016 17:36

two other key factors, every German tank had a radio for communication and starting with PZ 3 had a crew a five allowing the commander to focus on the battle and not divide his attention doing other tasks

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Re: French motorized divisions??

Post by Jendrass » 11 Oct 2019 20:49

Hi,
It`s quite an old topic, but I don`t really want to create another one. Maybe some of You have in own collection, a document called: Instruction provisoire pour les unites de dragons portes edited in 1936 ? I tried to google it or buy through the net but failed. It`s crucial for me because of an article preparations. Can anybody help?

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Loïc
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Re: French motorized divisions??

Post by Loïc » 11 Oct 2019 21:22

the edition of 1938 is available on Gallica
https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k ... rk=21459;2

Regards
Loïc

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Leo Niehorster
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Re: French motorized divisions??

Post by Leo Niehorster » 24 Oct 2019 20:30

Outstanding find. :thumbsup:
Thanks Loïc

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Re: French motorized divisions??

Post by Leo Niehorster » 24 Oct 2019 20:35

By the way (honking his own horn :oops: ) See
    Motorized Infantry Division — 10 May 1940

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Re: French motorized divisions??

Post by Stiltzkin » 27 Oct 2019 07:20

By the way (honking his own horn :oops:
I hope that is not some kind of euphemism. :D

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Re: French motorized divisions??

Post by OldBill » 27 Oct 2019 21:44

A big THANKS! to all of you for putting this information out, Leo, Loic, David. Any time someone asks, you guys always come through. As an amateur historian who is fascinated by this time period, this is always appreciated. BZ!

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Re: French motorized divisions??

Post by Leo Niehorster » 27 Oct 2019 23:27

Stiltzkin wrote:
27 Oct 2019 07:20
By the way (honking his own horn :oops:
I hope that is not some kind of euphemism. :D
Nope, it's an idiom.
(And now, get your mind out of my gutter). :lol:

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