Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

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daveshoup2MD
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Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

Post by daveshoup2MD » 25 Apr 2021 07:15

Looking through various sources, found mention of 3-4 separate regiments (in the sense of a French or US operational unit with multiple organic battalions) either deployed with the French 1st Army in 1944-45 or earmarked for it. These included:

9th Régiment de Zouaves (3 infantry battalions)
1st Régiment de Tirailleurs Algériens (3 infantry battalions)
1st Parachute Regiment (never used as airborne, however; unk if two battalions or three)
a dismounted cavalry regiment, presumably with two squadrons along US lines

does the above gibe with others' understanding? Presumably all four were (mostly) North African, originally, equipped along US lines; were they also filled with liberated manpower as replacements during the 1944-45 campaigns?

Any more background on these units?

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Re: Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

Post by wwilson » 25 Apr 2021 09:26

Not sure about 1re RTA being one of those units, Loic may have more information.

IIRC, the para regiment started with two battalions and expanded to three before the end of the war.

There were also the 29e RTA and the 4e Zouaves. Some of these regiments were formed as the French decided they could not form the number of divisions in north Africa that they had originally wanted to form.

The Métropolitain forces also included IIRC some 65 separate infantry regiments. Some of these served with the First Army, first as FFI units and later as regularized units of the French Army.

Not sure, in terms of general commentary, about 'equipped along U.S. lines'. Probably varied a lot, photographs from the era show a variety of uniform items. The parachute regiment, again IIRC, was uniformly equipped with U.S. gear, to include M1 rifles.

Other bits were the attachment of FFI infantry companies to one or two of the armored divisions to beef up their infantry complement.

ETA: Also, four groups of Moroccan Goumiers (although only three were active with First Army at any one time), each of three battalions. They were equipped as light infantry. A bit of information here: https://www.warhistoryonline.com/world- ... miers.html

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Re: Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

Post by Loïc » 25 Apr 2021 18:25

These regiments are not North African except the 1er RTA who was with the 4e DMM Moroccan Mountain Division

there were quite a lot of FFI units joining the 1ère Armée and several taking or renamed with traditional historical numbers of the French Army 51e 60e 80e 81e 126e RI 159e RIA...1er 5e 19e 20e BCP for Chasseurs à pied Battalions...etc

the dismounted cavalry regiment, with no nothers numbering details could be the 8e Dragons or 11e Cuirassiers FFI maybe...

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Re: Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

Post by daveshoup2MD » 25 Apr 2021 22:53

wwilson wrote:
25 Apr 2021 09:26
Not sure about 1re RTA being one of those units, Loic may have more information.

IIRC, the para regiment started with two battalions and expanded to three before the end of the war.

There were also the 29e RTA and the 4e Zouaves. Some of these regiments were formed as the French decided they could not form the number of divisions in north Africa that they had originally wanted to form.

The Métropolitain forces also included IIRC some 65 separate infantry regiments. Some of these served with the First Army, first as FFI units and later as regularized units of the French Army.

Not sure, in terms of general commentary, about 'equipped along U.S. lines'. Probably varied a lot, photographs from the era show a variety of uniform items. The parachute regiment, again IIRC, was uniformly equipped with U.S. gear, to include M1 rifles.

Other bits were the attachment of FFI infantry companies to one or two of the armored divisions to beef up their infantry complement.

ETA: Also, four groups of Moroccan Goumiers (although only three were active with First Army at any one time), each of three battalions. They were equipped as light infantry. A bit of information here: https://www.warhistoryonline.com/world- ... miers.html

Cheers
Thanks;

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Re: Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

Post by daveshoup2MD » 25 Apr 2021 23:01

Loïc wrote:
25 Apr 2021 18:25
These regiments are not North African except the 1er RTA who was with the 4e DMM Moroccan Mountain Division

there were quite a lot of FFI units joining the 1ère Armée and several taking or renamed with traditional historical numbers of the French Army 51e 60e 80e 81e 126e RI 159e RIA...1er 5e 19e 20e BCP for Chasseurs à pied Battalions...etc

the dismounted cavalry regiment, with no nothers numbering details could be the 8e Dragons or 11e Cuirassiers FFI maybe...
Thanks. I know the French (North African colonial) divisions re-quipped with US equipment under the ANFA agreement (2nd, 3rd, 4th Mountain) all got "a" North African regiment replaced by a metropolitan regiment (equipped under the LMP agreement); were those detached maintained as independent formations, broken up for replacements, or something else?

Setting aside the parachute regiment and the four Goumier groups (regiment equivalents), were there "any" separate infantry regiments, equipped under ANFA, that went to Italy with the FEC or to DRAGOON with the First Army? Essentially, non-divisional regiments that predated those raised via the LMP program?

Finally, last question (I think ;) ) Corsica was liberated by the first week of October, 1943; presumably, given the French need for manpower, there was recruiting/conscription. Corsica even today has a small population, but were there any specific French units recruited there after liberation?
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 26 Apr 2021 07:30, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

Post by Loïc » 26 Apr 2021 01:55

~ For the first point they returned home, in North Africa to be rebuilt, being replaced by 27e 49e 151e RI

~ I don't see any infantry regiment who can be described like that, there were battalions of 8e RTS and 18e RTS but as pioneer units

~ I asked to myself the question, it is greatly significative that the traditional local unit associated to Corsica, even if not exclusively recruited from Corsicans, the 173e RI was not raised again before 1945 and an other area, all I found until now is a 92nd Artillery Group for the defence of the island and small units, it seems that the 12 000 Corsican conscripts were mainly sent to North African to be merged with the units reorganized there having a great need of European personnel...

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Re: Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

Post by wwilson » 26 Apr 2021 06:54

@Loïc: The "cavalry regiment" may be a reference to the Spahis brigade (5th Moroccan Spahis and 7th Algerian Spahis) which served with First Army in 1944-45. This is an interesting bit about the brigade claimed on the French Wikipedia:
In 1943, the 1st Brigade of Mounted Spahis was reformed in North Africa with the 7th RSA and the 5th RSM. In September 1944, this brigade arrived in France and restored order in the Toulouse region. In winter, the brigade was sent to Alsace in the Huningue-Mulhouse region and reached the Rhine at Chalampé on 9 February 1945 after an impressive mounted manoeuvre. However, the unit lost its chief of staff, Colonel Winsback, near Mulhouse. It later conducted mopping-up operations in the Black Forest and eventually reached the Arlberg Pass. The brigade was the last French cavalry unit engaged on horseback in Europe.

The brigade was disbanded in 1946. This led to the formation of two groups of Algerian-Moroccan autonomous squadrons, each consisting of a squadron of the 7th RSA and the 5th RSM, stationed at Senlis and Baden-Baden.
were there "any" separate infantry regiments, equipped under ANFA, that went to Italy with the FEC or to DRAGOON with the First Army?
Not sure given the conditions under which they formed, but the 9th Zouaves landed in southern France and was an element of the First Army.

Not part of First Army, but the 8th and 18th Senegalese Rifles (RTS) also landed in southern France and were intended to be part of the 1st Far East Colonial Division (DCEO).

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Re: Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

Post by daveshoup2MD » 26 Apr 2021 07:31

Loïc wrote:
26 Apr 2021 01:55
~ For the first point they returned home, in North Africa to be rebuilt, being replaced by 27e 49e 151e RI

~ I don't see any infantry regiment who can be described like that, there were battalions of 8e RTS and 18e RTS but as pioneer units

~ I asked to myself the question, it is greatly significative that the traditional local unit associated to Corsica, even if not exclusively recruited from Corsicans, the 173e RI was not raised again before 1945 and an other area, all I found until now is a 92nd Artillery Group for the defence of the island and small units, it seems that the 12 000 Corsican conscripts were mainly sent to North African to be merged with the units reorganized there having a great need of European personnel...
Many thanks.

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Re: Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

Post by daveshoup2MD » 26 Apr 2021 07:35

wwilson wrote:
26 Apr 2021 06:54
@Loïc: The "cavalry regiment" may be a reference to the Spahis brigade (5th Moroccan Spahis and 7th Algerian Spahis) which served with First Army in 1944-45. This is an interesting bit about the brigade claimed on the French Wikipedia:
In 1943, the 1st Brigade of Mounted Spahis was reformed in North Africa with the 7th RSA and the 5th RSM. In September 1944, this brigade arrived in France and restored order in the Toulouse region. In winter, the brigade was sent to Alsace in the Huningue-Mulhouse region and reached the Rhine at Chalampé on 9 February 1945 after an impressive mounted manoeuvre. However, the unit lost its chief of staff, Colonel Winsback, near Mulhouse. It later conducted mopping-up operations in the Black Forest and eventually reached the Arlberg Pass. The brigade was the last French cavalry unit engaged on horseback in Europe.

The brigade was disbanded in 1946. This led to the formation of two groups of Algerian-Moroccan autonomous squadrons, each consisting of a squadron of the 7th RSA and the 5th RSM, stationed at Senlis and Baden-Baden.
were there "any" separate infantry regiments, equipped under ANFA, that went to Italy with the FEC or to DRAGOON with the First Army?
Not sure given the conditions under which they formed, but the 9th Zouaves landed in southern France and was an element of the First Army.

Not part of First Army, but the 8th and 18th Senegalese Rifles (RTS) also landed in southern France and were intended to be part of the 1st Far East Colonial Division (DCEO).

Cheers
Many thanks. My recollection - and that's all it is - is that at one point, the Zouaves regiment was officially a "mixed" unit, with an (ethnically) French battalion and two (ethnically) North African battalions.

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Re: Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

Post by Loïc » 26 Apr 2021 08:28

Actually this regiment once in France was also merged with the FFI forming 2 battalions of the 3 battalions, in particular from the Régiment de marche Corrèze-Limousin

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Re: Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

Post by daveshoup2MD » 27 Apr 2021 07:15

Loïc wrote:
26 Apr 2021 08:28
Actually this regiment once in France was also merged with the FFI forming 2 battalions of the 3 battalions, in particular from the Régiment de marche Corrèze-Limousin
Thanks; does the "mixed" organization turn out to be correct, as far as you know?

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Re: Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

Post by wwilson » 27 Apr 2021 08:49

Re: Mixed.

The 4e Zouaves were initially formed as a 'mixed' organization and later were retitled as a regular Zouaves regiment. This unit was with the French forces confronting the Royan Pocket on the Atlantic coast.

The 9e Zouaves did not have the title 'mixed' in its name.

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Re: Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

Post by Loïc » 27 Apr 2021 18:51

From what I know the 9e Zouaves was an understrenght unit upgraded by the FFI metropolitan recruitment
the north african battalions are given as being replaced by FFI in the 9e Zouaves

Paul Gaujac wrote that the regiment once in Marseille in september 1944 completed its strenght by 600 youngs Provençaux, I will take a look at Muelle's book

in Mémoire des Hommes the losses reflect this fluctuating regimental organisation, the 9e Zouaves lost 239 men in 1943-1945,
8 French and 8 North Africans in 1943
76 North Africans and 40 French mainly pieds noirs from Algeria in 1944
89 French mainly metropolitan and 18 North Africans in 1945

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Re: Separate infantry regiments in French 1st Army, 1944-45

Post by daveshoup2MD » 28 Apr 2021 05:03

Thanks to you both.

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