Late(r) war French?

Moderators: Vis Bellica, Laffe

User avatar
Arlequín
Posts: 1290
Joined: Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:29 pm
Location: King's Vale Royal

Re: Late(r) war French?

Post by Arlequín »

Emilio wrote:Jim, following Dronne´s memories, these are the weapons that 9th company theorically had (in spanish, sorry):
No pasa nada... I don't think it is too difficult to translate for anyone who can at least manage to say "una cerveza por favor", but I have done so anyway.
:D

Armamento de los vehículos (Vehicle Armament):
- 5 ametralladoras pesadas del 50 (.50 HMG) - 1 per platoon, plus two extra.
- 17 ametralladoras ligeras del 30 (.30 LMG) - 1 per vehicle, two for the HQ?
Otro armamento (Other Armament):
- 3 cañones anticarros de 57 mm (57mm AT Gun) - 1 per platoon.
- 3 morteros de 60 (60mm Mortars) - 1 per platoon
- 6 ametralladoras del 30 (.30 Machine Guns) - 2 per platoon (looks like they did not go to the effort of dismounting them).
- 13 rocket-guns (bazookas) - I expected one per vehicle (17), but I guess the AT vehicles and 1 HQ vehicle did not need them
- 60 fusiles automáticos (M1 Garand) - Very low amount for a company.
- 70 carabinas (M1 Carbine) - Very high amount for a company.
- 25 metralletas Thomson (sic) - This is a new term for me... usually it's 'subfusil'
- 15 pistolas automáticas -
- 14 lanzagranadas (M7 grenade launcher attachments for the M1 Garand)
- 3 lanza cabos ('launcher head' I'm guessing this is the additional 'cup' fitting so that normal hand grenades can be used with the M7 fitting?)

It seems that the company commander (or battalion commander) got to choose what he wanted instead of the normal complement of personal weapons. I have never seen so many carbines and SMGs compared to so few Garands. The Garands are needed for the grenade launcher attachments though.

So rough numbers; 50 men per platoon, with a company HQ of 20 (pistols+smg+carbine+rifle), presuming some pistol-armed men were not also carrying a carbine or SMG.

Seret wrote: Indeed, extra .50cals were quite common. Often taken from wrecked tanks, adding them (and .30cals) to Bren gun carriers was popular. Belt fed MGs were rarely discarded, they'd be put to use even if it meant welding them to something.
Yes it is almost like they were purposely trying to confuse later generations of army list writers by making use of 'non-standard equipment' whenever possible.
;)

User avatar
Emilio
Posts: 622
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:43 pm
Location: Cee, Galicia, Northwest Spain
Contact:

Re: Late(r) war French?

Post by Emilio »

Metralleta is a very used coloquial term for a SMG.

The "lanza cabos" translates as rope launcher. I don´t know what is.

20 men are too much for company HQ. Most must be in the services platoon.

Only 13 bazookas is strange, yes. I would say 12 in the platoons (with 4 per platoon) and one in the company HQ halftrack. There are 17 halftracks in a company. One in the HQ, 15 in the platoons and one in the services platoon (workshop HT).

You have a .30 MG per HT (so 17 in total), one .50 in the HQ HT (that for the 9th company is a model M9), and 1 each in the platoons (in M9 halftracks too). One platoon has a .50 extra because there is a M5A1 hlaftrack in it. THe others are M5.

Nevertheless, after the first combats, several HT were lost, and they got M3 ones.

User avatar
Arlequín
Posts: 1290
Joined: Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:29 pm
Location: King's Vale Royal

Re: Late(r) war French?

Post by Arlequín »

The only rope launcher I can think of are the sort used to climb the cliffs on D-Day, presumably they saw a need for them if that is what they are.

Edit:-

I forgot the Company HQ. It is possible that 20 men might be correct, or thereabouts.

Firstly you have two half-tracks, each with a driver and an assistant - 4 men.

The company commander, his second in command, three platoon leaders and the officer made redundant by folding the AT Platoon - 6 men.

The officers apparently had 'ordonnance' - or batmen as we call them in the UK - 6 men.

Company sergeant major, quarter-master sergeant, 2 signallers, medic... and we are at 21 men without trying.

NickW
Posts: 49
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2015 11:07 pm
Location: SF Bay Area

Re: Late(r) war French?

Post by NickW »

I've been working on the CEF for Italy 1943-'44, and found this report helpfull:

http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/ ... b_11-6.pdf

Rearming the French - US Army Center Of Military History
http://www.history.army.mil/.../C...
United States Army Center of Military History
decision involved in French rearmament and in the logistic support furnished to the French forces .... The American Decision To Rearm the French in World War II . . . . . . . . 6 ...... 12 Report of the Military Board of Allied Supply. (Washington: ...

Some highlights:

Rifles: The M1 rifle was not available in sufficient numbers to allow it's issue to the French, who had to accept US substitute standard bolt-action rifles. Mostly P17 Enfields, and some '03 Springfields. I believe the ratio was something like 60/40 % Pictoral evidence seems to show that some M1's had been acquired my winter '44, but that would have been uncommon.

LMG's & BAR's: It's complicated. The US was short of BAR's at the time of French rearmament, and could not supply full numbers. This was not all bad, as the French preferred the FM 24/29, and the former Vichy units kept theirs to the extent possible, stripping Africa of all available 7.5mm ammunition to keep them in service. There is also some indication that former Free French units managed to keep their BREN guns (Though the British had demanded all loaned equipment back when the US started rearming the French) Lastly, to compensate for the lack of BAR's, the French negotiated a larger allotment of Thompson SMG's. So a French unit might have BAR's OR FM 24/29's, OR BREN's, OR a lot of Thompsons. (I've seen at least one picture of a French squad sized group riding on the back of an M10, where there are no LMG's visible, but at least three Thompsons in view.)

SMG's - see above.

Carbines: Along with extra Thompsons, the French managed to negotiate a larger allotment of M1 carbines than was usual. I presume these went to soldiers who would have had French carbines under the old French organization.

MG's: Like their US counterparts, French units used both the 1917 and 1919 machineguns.

Helmets: The former African-Vichy forces kept their old helmets in service, although by '44 yo start to see some US M1 helmets in pictures - my guess is the soldiers with them may be replacements. I'm not sure about former Free French, whether they initially kept their british helmets, or were issued US 1917 ones. (Goums used both French and US 1917 helmets, and in 1945 I've seen some with US M1's.) Free French in NW Europe seem to have started getting US M1 helmets in the winter of '44. (Well known picture of Senegalese in the snow with M1 helmets and a BREN gun.)

Someone asked why do late war French when they are basically the same as US? Well, just on arms alone, they have a quite different feel. Bolt action rifles change their basic fire, which may be compensated for by a better LMG.

Nick W.

User avatar
changl09
Posts: 122
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 1:04 pm
Location: Yamaguchi, Japan

Re: Late(r) war French?

Post by changl09 »

Most of the French units in NW Europe are mechanized infantry, it seems reasonable that they would build their firepower around the LMGs mounted on their halftracks and use lighter weapons such as M1 carbines/Tommy guns.

naash
Posts: 182
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2016 12:32 pm

Re: Late(r) war French?

Post by naash »

Hi all !
I’m bringing back to life this topic. ;)

When you try to figure out how those French French units where equiped and organised, you have to keep in mind several things.

1/ French army doesn’t proceed straight from the book.
Field Manual is not regarded as the Holy Bible : it’s more a kind of guide about how to proceed, officially.
Moreover, as someone stated in this topic, French Army received equipments accordingly to US Army standards, but adapted the French Army organisation.

2/ regarding the equipments and weapons :
A lot of free French soldiers, equiped themselves with what suit them the best: stealing weapons (or vehicles) in US Army logistical units , most of time trading goods for weapons with US people in charge of depots, sometimes using German automatic weapons “freed” during combat.

3/ regarding platoon HQ:
In the French Army, senior NCOs are often used as platoon leader (maybe 40 to 60% of infantry platoons leaders where Senior NCOs).
The most common organisation of the HQ squad would be;
- platoon leader
- senior NCO (PL deputy)
- 1 or 2 RTO
- 1 or 2 riflemen

lebedo
Posts: 68
Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:29 pm
Location: London, Ontario

Re: Late(r) war French?

Post by lebedo »

After Reading the 1946 rifle Platoon manual and the analysis made by the ministère de la guerre it appears that french training and doctrine were the same as in 1939. The main différence was that the manœuvre had a goal: the assaut. Fire was only to support the assaut. The voltigeur was the Key fighter in the group, not the fusilier as it was in 1939. Platoon and squad leaders were to lead the assaut with their voltigeurs. Tirailleurs were not specifically agressive unless their leader was. The exception were the Goumiers. As a result, the armored rifle Platoon was less manoeuvrable than thé tirailleurs Platoon, because it had only one voltigeurs squad instead of three. Platoon leaders frequently created just before deployment two manœuvre groups and one base of fire by grouping all thé voltigeurs in two squads and all the fusiliers in another. That squad was under direct control of thé Platoon 2ic while thé voltigeurs were under direct command of the Platoon leader.
Another unique thing were the two sous officiers à disposition you could find in thé tirailleurs Platoon hq. These guys were here to replace immediately a squad leader out of action . There was also an observer whose rôle was to inform thé Platoon leader of ennemy activity.
Each tirailleurs squad had two corporals, thé fusilier corporal with an smg leading thé fusiliers team and the voltigeurs corporal leading thé voltigeurs. He was also thé leader of thé scouts team when this one was used, made of 1 to 4 voltigeurs. They were the éclaireurs de pointe and were under direct control of the caporal voltigeur, not the squad leader. Once thé assaut was launcher they had to regroup with the rest of thé voltigeurs under control of thé squad leader.
Adrian helmet was worn by thé vétérans of italy. New recruits wore thé us helmet. Carabines replaced smg in thé hands of Platoon leader and 2ic only in 1944, but not in Every unit . In exemple, Platoon leaders and assistants in 2Rsar, an indépendant Recon unit, had smgs.
Thé cal 50 was fired by only 1 man and from thé véhicule. French used thé half-track as a transport and a combat véhicule. They Always tried to fight with thé direct support of thé véhicules. Thé atg was frequently left on thé initiative of its leader not thé Platoon leader . Sometimes, french crew of mmg and atg were used as voltigeurs . Thé 60mm mortar was thé main support weapon and was Always in direct support of infantry .
Thé Recon units used four différent types of teams:
2 Amm8 in two patrols
2 armed jeeps in two patrols
2 M3 scout cars in two patrols
1 armed jeep and 1 scout car in two patrols
I think that a first good rule for french would bé thé following: in close combat, where there is a junior leader, his squad is agressive if in command range. That would give thé position of thé squad leaders.
What do you think?
Last edited by lebedo on Sat Jan 16, 2021 5:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

lebedo
Posts: 68
Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:29 pm
Location: London, Ontario

Re: Late(r) war French?

Post by lebedo »

After Reading the 1946 rifle Platoon manual and the analysis made by the ministère de la guerre it appears that french training and doctrine were the same as in 1939. The main différence was that the manœuvre had a goal: the assaut. Fire was only to support the assaut. The voltigeur was the Key fighter in the group, not the fusilier as it was in 1939. Platoon and squad leaders were to lead the assaut with their voltigeurs. Tirailleurs were not specifically agressive unless their leader was. The exception were the Goumiers. As a result, the armored rifle Platoon was less manoeuvrable than thé tirailleurs Platoon, because it had only one voltigeurs squad instead of three. Platoon leaders frequently created juste before deployment two manœuvre groups and one base of dire by grouping all thé voltigeurs in two squads and all the fusiliers in another. That squad was under direct control of thé Platoon 2ic while thé voltigeurs were under direct command of the Platoon leader.
Another unique thing were the two sous officiers à disposition you could find in thé tirailleurs Platoon hq. These guys were here to replace immediately a squad leader out if action . There was also an observer whose rôle was to inform thé Platoon leader of ennemy activity.
Each tirailleurs squad had two corporals, thé fusilier corporal with an smg leading thé fusiliers team and the voltigeurs corporal leading thé voltigeurs. He was also thé leader of thé scouts team when this one was used, made of 1 to 4 voltigeurs. They were the éclaireurs de pointe and were under direct control of the caporal voltigeur, not the squad leader. Once thé assaut was launcher they regroup with the reste of thé voltigeurs under control of thé squad leader.
Adrian helmet was worn by thé vétérans of italy. New recruits wore thé us helmet. Carabines replacés smg in the hands of Platoon leader and 2ic only in 1944, but not in Every unit . In exemple, Platoon leaders and assistants in 2RSAR, an indépendant Recon unit, had smgs.
Thé cal 50 was fired by only 1 man and from thé véhicule. French used thé half-track as a transport and a combat véhicule. They Always tries to fight with thé direct support of thé véhicules. Thé atg was frequently left on thé initiative of its leader not thé Platoon leader . Sometimes, french crew of mmg and atg were used as voltigeurs . Thé 60mm mortar was thé main support weapon and was Always in direct support of infantry .
Thé Recon unités used four différent types of teams:
2 Amm8 in two patrols
2 armed jeeps in two patrols
2 M3 scout cars in two patrols
1 armed jeep and 1 scout car in two patrols
I think that a first good roule for french would bé thé following: in close combat, where there is a leader, troops are agressive. That would five thé position of thé squad and Platoon leaders.
What do you think?
Last edited by lebedo on Sat Jan 16, 2021 6:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

lebedo
Posts: 68
Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:29 pm
Location: London, Ontario

Re: Late(r) war French?

Post by lebedo »

Really sorry for the typo...

lebedo
Posts: 68
Joined: Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:29 pm
Location: London, Ontario

Re: Late(r) war French?

Post by lebedo »

Pourvoyeurs were basic ammo bearers . They could use their rifles if the main weapon was destroyed or replace thé crew.
Voltigeurs-ravitailleurs were at first voltigeurs. They could bring ammo if they were not supporting thé voltigeurs fire or manoeuver.
2nd armored division probably had garand for logistical issues as it was part of a us army. Thé same happened to 1st dfl when it joined french army b. Other french troops had b/a rifles as they were part of thé french army.

Post Reply