Best Colonial Army in World War 2

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Hardrada55
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Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by Hardrada55 » 15 May 2019 23:08

Which colonial troops, composed of members of the native population, performed best in WW2? By colonial troops, I’m talking about countries with colonies which have an army at least partially made up of indigenous peoples defending that colony. Examples would be the Dutch KNIL army; British troops like the Indian Army, the King’s African Rifles, the Sudan Defense Force, and West African and East African divisions, The French colonial troops like the Senegalese, the Goumiers, and the Tonkinese and Annamite troops; the Italian Askaris; the Belgian “Force Publique”; American “Philippine Scouts”. What colonial army provided the best performing soldiers? Which colonial army contributed the most to it's "mother" country's war effort?

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pikeshot1600
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Re: Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by pikeshot1600 » 26 Jul 2019 17:06

Based on its widespread areas of engagement, its numbers (approx. 2,500,000 men mobilized) and its reputation, the Indian Army.

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Re: Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 01 Feb 2020 19:39

In terms of manpower mobilized and combat effectiveness on multiple fronts, presumably the Indian Army, although its worth keeping in mind that every "Indian" division or brigade had a substantial number of "British" personnel (officers, especially, but also varying numbers of enlisted personnel) assigned to it, alongside the Indian and Nepalese nationals. Using divisions as a yardstick has problems, but simply in terms of divisions that served outside of Indian proper, the "Indian" order of battle over the course of the war amounted to one armoured division (31st, which served in southwest Asia, although it did not see action as a division) and no less than 16 (4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 14th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 23rd, 25th, 26th, 34th) served outside of India, although the 6th and 34th did not see action as such.

The French forces raised/equipped for active service after the 1943 ANFA agreement with the US all had substantial "non-European" elements, and some were almost entirely "colonial" ... the total personnel mobilized for the French 1st Army before liberated manpower became available in 1944-45 were roughly 60-40 non French/French, as well.

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Loïc
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Re: Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by Loïc » 01 Feb 2020 21:59

I don't know any French Division almost entirely colonial, this didn't exist in the French Army, certainly not at the level of a Division, even a Tirailleurs Sénégalais Regiment can count until a third of pure French, the French Divisions raised in 1943 are mixed
among the 8 Divisions of ANFA plan, roughly the most "indigenous" were 4e DMM around 75%, 2e DIM 3e DIA 9e DIC around 55/60%
while the 1ère 2e 5e DB were ~80% French and the 1ère DMI/DFL ~60%, in 1944 there were furthers metropolitan Divisions added, or like 9e DIC europeanized

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Re: Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 01 Feb 2020 22:57

Loic -

I don't think we disagree, unless you really want to argue over whether an infantry division with 75 percent of non-European personnel was "almost," "entirely", "significantly", or whatever. Of the "non-European" forces alluded to in the OP, essentially the most impressive, numerous, and effective by far were the Indian Army and the French "imperial" forces, which was the point of the first post.

Bottom line is the French 1st Army (and the FEC in Italy, which overlapped) was majority "non-European," especially in the infantry, and remained so until liberated manpower became available in 1944-45. The Goum Mountain Group, which amounted to an infantry division in strength (12 maneuver battalions, I seem to remember) would have been up there in terms of percentages, as well. In that period (1943-44, roughly) the French "non-Europeans" were quite comparable to the Indians (which included the Nepalese, of course).

It was complimentary to the French, etc.
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 02 Feb 2020 00:47, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by OpanaPointer » 01 Feb 2020 23:44

US Army.

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Re: Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 02 Feb 2020 00:46

Not what the OP was asking about... ;)

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Re: Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by OpanaPointer » 02 Feb 2020 00:57

daveshoup2MD wrote:
02 Feb 2020 00:46
Not what the OP was asking about... ;)
My friend in Manchester have sent me about a dozen "Man City" hats, saying it would raise the tone of the colonials. I replied that Britain had sent her best and brightest in the 1600s, so we were well set.

And so on and so forth. :lol:
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Re: Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 02 Feb 2020 01:23

Americans and Britons, two peoples separated by a common language... ;)

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Loïc
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Re: Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by Loïc » 02 Feb 2020 03:15

actually the 1st French Army didn't remain mainly non-european once the landing in Provence was done
the 9e DIC was totally europeanized by 1st november 1944 with 3 Divisions (2e DIM 3e DIA 4e DMM) keeping an indigenous orientation while 3 others having already a French orientation (1ère 5e DB 1ère DMI)
the Goumiers equivalent to a division-strenght maybe, but there were also numerous European units equivalent in strenght to divisions certainly lesser known than the Goums who also renforced the 1st Army, 1er RCP, 9e Zouaves, the Shock Battalions, several armored regiments 2e 8e Dragons, RCCC, 7e 8e 9e 11e RCA, both 1er and 2e Recce "Algerian Spahis" were 80% europeanized, there were also several FFI units attached to the 1st Army being converted into regiments and further Divisions etc...
and if the CEFI Expeditionary Corps in Italy can count around 40% vs 60% curiously the US Quartermaster Corps in 1943-1945 delivered 26 109 872 rations to the French in Italy, 52,6% were French rations while 47,4% were specific moslems rations

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Re: Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 02 Feb 2020 07:56

Again, we're not disagreeing.

Pretty much what was said above: The French 1st Army (and the FEC in Italy, which overlapped) was majority "non-European," especially in the infantry, and remained so until liberated manpower became available in 1944-45.

Non-European French troops included a lot of Catholics, obviously. They weren't all Moslem.

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Re: Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by Kelvin » 02 Feb 2020 13:11

Loïc wrote:
02 Feb 2020 03:15
actually the 1st French Army didn't remain mainly non-european once the landing in Provence was done
the 9e DIC was totally europeanized by 1st november 1944 with 3 Divisions (2e DIM 3e DIA 4e DMM) keeping an indigenous orientation while 3 others having already a French orientation (1ère 5e DB 1ère DMI)
the Goumiers equivalent to a division-strenght maybe, but there were also numerous European units equivalent in strenght to divisions certainly lesser known than the Goums who also renforced the 1st Army, 1er RCP, 9e Zouaves, the Shock Battalions, several armored regiments 2e 8e Dragons, RCCC, 7e 8e 9e 11e RCA, both 1er and 2e Recce "Algerian Spahis" were 80% europeanized, there were also several FFI units attached to the 1st Army being converted into regiments and further Divisions etc...
and if the CEFI Expeditionary Corps in Italy can count around 40% vs 60% curiously the US Quartermaster Corps in 1943-1945 delivered 26 109 872 rations to the French in Italy, 52,6% were French rations while 47,4% were specific moslems rations
Hi, Loic, did Pacific Marine Infantry battalion was consisted of French colonist mixed with People in New Caldonia or Tahiti ? Thank

And any unit was mixed with People of Reunion Island ? Thank

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Re: Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by OpanaPointer » 02 Feb 2020 13:39

daveshoup2MD wrote:
02 Feb 2020 01:23
Americans and Britons, two peoples separated by a common language... ;)
Props to Robert Frost, who didn't actually speak either language. 8-)
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Re: Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by daveshoup2MD » 02 Feb 2020 17:37

I thought it was Churchill... ;)

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Re: Best Colonial Army in World War 2

Post by Rob Stuart » 02 Feb 2020 21:54

While the NEI, the Philippines and India all had locally raised armies (India also had the Royal Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force), there was no Korean Army. Korea had been annexed by Japan in 1910 and by 1941 had around 24 million people, so if the Japanese had pursued a more enlightened policy toward Korea they could have easily raised a sizable Korean counterpart to the Indian Army. Unfortunately for their cause all they did was to conscript several thousand Korean men into construction units or Japanese industry and force an uncertain number of Korean women into brothels. It's ironic and very telling that in many respects the colonies which Japan aimed to "liberate" enjoyed more freedom than Korea did under Japanese rule.

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