Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

The Moroccan Goumiers in the Free French Army


  • Please log in to reply
40 replies to this topic

#1 Skipper

Skipper

    Kommodore

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 21,595 posts

Posted 22 June 2008 - 07:46 AM

Four Moroccan groups served with the Allied forces during World War II. They specialised in night raiding operations, and fought against the forces of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany during 1942-45. Goumier units were also used to man the front lines in mountainous and other rough terrain areas, freeing regular Allied infantry units to operate along more profitable axes of advance.



In May 1940, 12 Moroccan Goums were organized as the 1st Group of Moroccan Auxiliaries (French: 1er Groupe de Supplétifs Marocains - G.S.M.) and used in combat against Italian troops operating out of Libya. After the armistice of 1940, the Goums were returned to Morocco. In order to evade strict German limits on how many troops that France was allowed to maintain in North Africa, the Goumiers were described as having Gendarmerie-type functions, such as the maintenance of public order and the surveillance of frontiers, while maintaining military armament, organization, and discipline.[2]



The 1st GSM (Groupe de Supplétifs Marocains) fought on the Tunisian front as part of the Moroccan March Division from December 1942, and was joined by the 2nd GSM in January 1943. After the Tunisia Campaign, the French organized two additional groups and retitled the groups as Groupe de Tabors Marocains (G.T.M.) Each group contained a command Goum (company) and three Tabors (battalions) of three Goums each. A Tabor contained four 81-mm mortars and totalled 891 men. Each infantry Goum was authorized 210 men, one 60-mm mortar, two light machineguns, and seven automatic rifles.[3]
An anonymous junior officer from the U.S. 26th Infantry Regiment, a unit which fought alongside the Goumiers in Tunisia, wrote:
Two companies of Goums...were stationed next to our CP, and these had sent out two raiding parties the same night... Mostly mountain men from Morocco, these silent, quick-moving raiders were excellent at night raids, and in surprise attacks. How successful they had been was attested by the two [French] officers who had command of the companies of the Goumiers. The companies lacked most of the clothing, equipment and weapons necessary for warfare. Several raids had remedied that. Inspection of their clothing revealed a good many German articles of clothing under their conventional brown and white vertical striped robes. Their rifles were mixed German and Italian, with a few old French rifles firing clips of four. Mess equipment, and a good deal of the food was also of enemy origin, as were the knives, pistols, blankets and toilet articles. From questioning of the Italian prisoners, it was evident that they had either heard or experienced the merciless raids of the Goums, and they wanted no part of them. Part of the Goums' success lay in their silence as they moved forward, and in their highly perfected art of camouflage. One anecdote ran that one warrior had so successfully camouflaged himself all day in full sight of the Germans that a German officer had wandered over to what he thought was a bush, and had urinated on the motionless head of the Moroccan soldier who bore the trial well, but who marked that particular officer down for special attention that night. Goums did not take any prisoners, and it was well-known to the Germans and Italians what befell anyone who ran afoul of those Moroccans. There was certainly no desire to have our battalion tangle with either of the two raiding parties sent out the same night.[1]



The 4th Tabor of Moroccan Goums fought in the Sicilian Campaign, landing at Licata on July 14, 1943, and was attached to the U.S. Seventh Army.[5][6] The Goumiers of the 4th Tabor were attached to the U.S. 1st Infantry Division on July 27, 1943 and were recorded in the U.S. 26th Infantry Regiment's log files for their courage. Upon their arrival many Italian soldiers surrendered en masse, while the Germans began staging major retreats away from known Goumiers presence.[7]
The Italian campaign of World War II is perhaps the most famous and most controversial in the history of the Goumiers. The 4th Group of Moroccan Tabors shipped out for Italy in November 1943, and was followed in January 1944 by the 3rd Group, and reinforced by the 1st Group in April 1944.[8]
In Italy, the Allies suffered a long stalemate at the German Gustav Line. In May 1944, three Goumier groupes, under the name Corps de Montagne, were the vanguard of the French Expeditionary Corps attack through the Aurunci Mountains during Operation Diadem, the fourth Battle of Monte Cassino. "Here the Goums more than proved their value as light, highly mobile mountain troops who could penetrate the most vertical terrain in fighting order and with a minimum of logistical requirements. Most military analysts consider the Goumiers' manoeuvre as the critical victory that finally opened the way to Rome."[2]
The Allied commander, U.S. General Mark Clark also paid tribute to the Goumiers and the Moroccan regulars of the Tirailleur units:
In spite of the stiffening enemy resistance, the 2nd Moroccan Division penetrated the Gustave [sic] Line in less than two day’s fighting. The next 48 hours on the French front were decisive. The knife-wielding Goumiers swarmed over the hills, particularly at night, and General Juin’s entire force showed an aggressiveness hour after hour that the Germans could not withstand. Cerasola, San Giorgio, Mt. D’Oro, Ausonia and Esperia were seized in one of the most brilliant and daring advances of the war in Italy... For this performance, which was to be a key to the success of the entire drive on Rome, I shall always be a grateful admirer of General Juin and his magnificent FEC. However, the military achievements of the Goumiers in Italy were accompanied by widespread reports of war crimes: "...exceptional numbers of Moroccans were executed—many without trial—for allegedly murdering, raping, and pillaging their way across the Italian countryside. The French authorities sought to defuse the problem by importing numbers of Berber women to serve as "camp followers" in rear areas set aside exclusively for the Goumiers."[3] According to Italian sources, more than 7,000 people were raped by Goumiers.
During their fighting in the Italian Campaign, the Goumiers suffered 3,000 casualties, of which 600 were deaths.[10]





The 2nd Group of Moroccan Tabors was part of the French Forces that took Elba from the Germans in June 1944. The operation was called Operation Brassard. The island was more heavily defended than expected, and there were many casualties on both sides as a result of the severe fighting.



The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Groups of Moroccan Tabors fought in the campaigns in southern France, Vosges Mountains, and Alsace during late 1944 and early 1945. The Goumiers started landing in southern France on August 18, 1944. Attached to the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division, all three groups took part in the combat to liberate Marseille from August 20 - 28, 1944. The 1st Group was subsequently used to secure France's Alpine frontier with Italy until late October 1944, and then took part in the forcing of the Belfort Gap in November. During late September and early October 1944, the 2nd and 3rd Groups fought in the areas of Remiremont and Gérardmer. All three groups fought in the Vosges Mountains during November and December 1944, facing extremely cold weather and bitter German resistance. After hard fighting in the Vosges Mountains and the Colmar Pocket, the 3rd Group was repatriated to Morocco in April 1945. It was replaced in Europe by the 4th Group, which had returned to North Africa after French forces left Italy.[11] [8]



The 1st, 2nd, and 4th Groups of Moroccan Tabors fought in the final operations to overrun southwestern Germany in 1945.[12] The 1st Group fought through the Siegfried Line in the Bienwald from March 20 - 25, 1945. In April 1945, the 1st and 4th Groups took part in the combat to seize Pforzheim. In the last weeks of the war, the 2nd Group fought in the Black Forest and pushed southeast to Germany's Austrian border. During the same period, the 1st and 4th Groups advanced with other French forces on Stuttgart and Tübingen. By mid-1946, all three groups had been repatriated to Morocco.
The total of Goumier casualties in World War II from 1942 to 1945 was 8,018 of which 1,625 were killed in action.[9]


source wikipedia: Goumier - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vorsicht+Feind.JPG


#2 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 22 June 2008 - 07:57 AM

Posted Image
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#3 Skipper

Skipper

    Kommodore

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 21,595 posts

Posted 22 June 2008 - 08:52 AM

Here is a WWII one:


Posted Image

Vorsicht+Feind.JPG


#4 Ron Goldstein

Ron Goldstein

    WWII Veteran

  • WWII VeteranWWII Veteran
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 441 posts

Posted 22 June 2008 - 09:53 AM

Skipper

I came across these colourful characters as we moved into the Cassino area and remember giving them a mention here: BBC - WW2 People's War - Gunner Burnard and the Brigadier

To see them on the move as a unit really was something as they looked like something out of the novel Beau Geste.

Cheers

Ron
I am a British veteran who was called up into the Forces in October 1942. I served in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Egypt, Austria & Germany, firstly in the 49th Light Ack Ack and then in the 4th Queen's Own Hussars.
I am a long standing member on the ww2talk.com site.
http://www.blogger.c...947129038825503

#5 Skipper

Skipper

    Kommodore

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 21,595 posts

Posted 22 June 2008 - 10:03 AM

thanks Ron, it's good to hear that from you. I read they had a contaversial reputation because of the lust for murder and rape of soem of them (not the majority) , but they were excellent soldiers and the Germans feared them

Vorsicht+Feind.JPG


#6 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 22 June 2008 - 04:39 PM

Posted Image

Posted Image

Check out the Ties!!!!

Posted Image
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#7 Skipper

Skipper

    Kommodore

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 21,595 posts

Posted 22 June 2008 - 04:48 PM

Great pics, aren't they proud?
One detail upto 1944 , their weapons and food rations were mainly captured, so if they wanted to eat they had to attack the enemy with whatever weapon they had, Mauser, or WWI Lebel!

Vorsicht+Feind.JPG


#8 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 22 June 2008 - 06:16 PM

Great pics, aren't they proud?
One detail upto 1944 , their weapons and food rations were mainly captured, so if they wanted to eat they had to attack the enemy with whatever weapon they had, Mauser, or WWI Lebel!


Yes they do :). I wonder what the Muslim troops would do for rations. I know I have spoken about it in my Mess Kit thread.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#9 Skipper

Skipper

    Kommodore

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 21,595 posts

Posted 22 June 2008 - 09:32 PM

They'd eat a large variety, but no porc, so their would be plenty of other food left . Besides they were used to live from day to day. While in North Africa they had local food.

Vorsicht+Feind.JPG


#10 JCFalkenbergIII

JCFalkenbergIII

    Expert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,479 posts

Posted 22 June 2008 - 09:36 PM

They'd eat a large variety, but no porc, so their would be plenty of other food left . Besides they were used to live from day to day. While in North Africa they had local food.


Then some of the US ,German and Italian rations were out ;) LOL
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#11 Skipper

Skipper

    Kommodore

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 21,595 posts

Posted 22 June 2008 - 09:46 PM

Same thing for the sauerkraut and the beer :)

Vorsicht+Feind.JPG


#12 Onthefield

Onthefield

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 598 posts

Posted 24 June 2008 - 02:58 PM

It's interesting to hear about this from this perspective.
My parents are in Morrocco now and have had conversations with a Goum, mostly on my part. From his information, these guys loved what they did. Not only were they somewhat equipped, which they never were in the "real world" but they were able to go in and help their country, being part of the war like not many other units were. They used their already aquired knowledge to fight the enemy and were most of the time victorious.

He did talk about an instance where someone had leaked information in his squad and they were set up to be ambushed on their way to the Germans camp. Despite the Germans being ready for them they only lost 2 men and 3 wounded with the Germans having similar numbers. They spotted what was happening and addressed it accordingly. I don't recall what unit he was in nor where this happened so I apologize but did think it an interesting story on their successes.
Hence the saying: One may know how to conquer without being able to do it- Sun Tzu

#13 Skipper

Skipper

    Kommodore

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 21,595 posts

Posted 24 June 2008 - 03:03 PM

The Goums did a great job in Italy and their contribution to the liberation of Rome was considerable. It's a shame that few people know their story. These guys would achieve anything with nothing and history has not treated them fair.

Vorsicht+Feind.JPG


#14 36thID

36thID

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,052 posts

Posted 30 June 2008 - 11:56 PM

I am new to this great forum and a have been studying my brave uncle and his battles.

He was an original T-Patcher, 36th Div, 141st Reg ( the Alamo reg ), Cannon Co. He enlisted in 1940 and became federalized from the Texas National Guard in Nov of 1940. Although born and raised in what is now western St. Louis, County, he is listed as a Texan. He bravely was KIA on Dec 12,1944 while fighting his last battle in the Voges Mountains of France. I am in the process of writting his book and during my many years of research I found that he fought with the colorful Goumiers of Morrocco.

Make no mistake ..... these were deadly, fearless soldiers. Once upon a parade review in Italy, General Juin (French Commander) told Gen Walker (36th Commander), " Look at those bloodthirsty devils, they love to kill' ! One NEVER asked a Goumier to see his razor sharp dagger that was always at their side. Each time it was drawn blood had to be spilled ! A Texan almost started a riot outside of Cassino when he made such a mistake. The Goumier HAD to nick him and draw blood.

Regretfully, they also had a shameful history while in in the moutains north of Cassino. Rape of women, little girls, and boys took place constantly if the male offered resistience...instant death. It was reported some went AWOL and started their own communities in isolated villages. There is a slang term still used in Italy still today that relates to the regretful boy rapes. (sorry if too blunt)

Along with the 36th Division I love studying the Goumiers and their past. One of a kind these guys

Best Regards,

Steve

#15 Skipper

Skipper

    Kommodore

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 21,595 posts

Posted 01 July 2008 - 05:43 AM

Thank you for this interesting input Steve. This is a nice addition to this thread. I never thought about meeting a Goumier Vet, maybe I will now, it's about high time, but not too late and some of them have immigrated to France and attend the commemorations here.

Vorsicht+Feind.JPG


#16 John Dudek

John Dudek

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 395 posts

Posted 02 July 2008 - 12:56 AM

I recall reading that the Goums were the French Army's Ghurkas of British Army fame. Both were fiendish fighters and very good with the knife. They scared the hell out of the Germans and Italians.

#17 36thID

36thID

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,052 posts

Posted 02 July 2008 - 02:49 AM

And the Americas !!

#18 Skipper

Skipper

    Kommodore

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 21,595 posts

Posted 02 July 2008 - 06:42 AM

They fascinated all those who met them. You'd never know whether you would survive the meeting , sometimes even if you were supposed to be a friend. There is also a part of legend invloved that was exagerated by soldiers after a few drinks, but certainly based on real stories.

Vorsicht+Feind.JPG


#19 clems

clems

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 104 posts

Posted 05 July 2008 - 06:25 PM

First, historically, the goums were only auxiliary soldiers who volunteered to help french army of Africa but they then became an elite unity (especially for mountain warfare) fully incorporated in the french army.

They had great loyalty for their officers and for the french natives, it was an honor to serve with them (every African regiment had at least 35 % of europeans natives, including almost all the officers).
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

#20 Owen

Owen

    O

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,654 posts

Posted 10 July 2008 - 11:01 PM

Here are some of their graves in Venafro French Cemetery not too far from Cassino.
Went there back in May.
Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

#21 Skipper

Skipper

    Kommodore

  • ModeratorsOKF Moderator
  • 21,595 posts

Posted 13 July 2008 - 05:05 PM

Great pictures Wessex. I just saw them today, I was away in Bulgaria for a week, so I have to catch up. Glad I checked this thread first.

Hi Clems, good to "see" you again .

Vorsicht+Feind.JPG


#22 JackSEWing

JackSEWing

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 54 posts

Posted 24 July 2008 - 08:45 AM

but don't forget that several horrific crimes against the Italian peasants were committed by Gourmiers, such as rape, murder and torture, after and during the Battle of Monte Cassino. Such crimes became known in Italy whit the name of Marocchinate meaning to be "act committed by Moroccans".

#23 36thID

36thID

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,052 posts

Posted 24 July 2008 - 01:47 PM

Jack,

That's the slang term I was refering to. "Marocchinate".

Watch the movie "Two Women". It stars Sophia Loren and refers to WW 2 in Italy. The movie changes after the rape of the 2 women. I swear I read about Goumiers taking over villages north of Cassino and creating their own towns after going AWOL.

I still would like to read an interview from a Goumier. How they were able to obtain their own "Comfort Women" while under Generals Juin and Clark is a story within a story.

#24 Stefan

Stefan

    Cavalry Rupert

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,368 posts

Posted 25 July 2008 - 09:02 AM

Great thread guys, some really interesting stuff that I have enjoyed reading.

Make no mistake ..... these were deadly, fearless soldiers. Once upon a parade review in Italy, General Juin (French Commander) told Gen Walker (36th Commander), " Look at those bloodthirsty devils, they love to kill' ! One NEVER asked a Goumier to see his razor sharp dagger that was always at their side. Each time it was drawn blood had to be spilled ! A Texan almost started a riot outside of Cassino when he made such a mistake. The Goumier HAD to nick him and draw blood.


I'm sorry Steve but I think that this is a myth. It is something I haven't seen in connection with the Goumiers before or anywhere else in Islamic culture. I have however seen it touted in reference to the Gurkhas (regarding Khukris) and again, it is nonsense in this case too. As far as I understand both troops carried the usual working knife of their people, to which a sort of military pride and mythos soon became attached. However, they remained working knives. An expert on the Gurkhas once pointed out that if blood had to be drawn every time they drew the knife, your average Gurkha male would die in adolescence from blood loss. I think the same is probably true of the Goums.

So where does the myth come from? Well the only 'knife that must draw blood' that I have come across is the Sikh Kirpan:

Posted Image

Carried on a cloth belt these knives are symbols of the Sikh faith and are by definition weapons of defense, be it of yourself or others. If drawn for any purpose other than defense it must draw the blood of the owner (in my understanding) to ensure that it isn't draw without reason.

Sorry for the little aside, I'd be happy to be proven wrong but I suspect this is another myth.
There's no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war. Except its ending.
[sigpic][/sigpic]

#25 texson66

texson66

    Ace

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,094 posts

Posted 25 July 2008 - 12:28 PM

I would recommend Rick Atkinson's book "Day of Battle" on the Italian campaign with the use of these troops in central Italy. Great fighters but I completely understand why the Italians have the term, Marocchinate.
__________________________________________
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
“The first lesson is that you can't lose a war if you have command of the air, and you can't win a war if you haven't.” - General Jimmy Doolittle




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users