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Fielding the French in Late-war Flames of War

Fielding the French in Late-war Flames of War
with Wayne Turner
In both the D-Day: American and Bulge: American Command Card packs there are some command cards for fielding particular French units and formations. French forces continued to fight the Germans after 1940, with more joining after 1942 with the American landing in North Africa. They fought in Italy with great success as the French Expeditionary Corps, then later as the First French Army as part of Operation Dragoon, the liberation of south-eastern France, the reducing the Colmar Pocket, and fighting through southern Germany and into Austria. Meanwhile the French 2nd Armoured Division operated with the Americans in Normandy and France, leading the liberation of Paris.

The French forces consisted of colonial troops from France’s colonies in North Africa, West Africa, Asia and the Pacific, as well as Metropolitan French volunteers who had been overseas or escaped occupied and Vichy France to join the Free French forces in North Africa. Large numbers of Former Vichy French troops also defected to join the war against the Germans and Italians.

After initially fighting with British equipment and organisation, or with their Vichy French weapons and organisations, the Americans agreed to supply the growing Free French forces with equipment and training. During 1943 the first of these forces were organised along American lines.

The Command Cards: Day-Day: American

Division Leclerc: This command card lets you theme your Veteran Tank Company or Veteran Armoured Rifle Company as units from 2èm  e Division Blindée, or 2DB for short. To find out more about this division see “The French 2nd Armored Division”

The other French build cards in the D-Day pack are the two partisan units, the FFI Platoon to represent the British and American supported partisans and the FTP Platoon representing the communist partisans.

There is also the French Resistance Raid card to represent the activities of these troops behind the scenes, attacking German troops and supplies behind the lines.

The Command Cards: Bulge: American
2e Division Blindée Chars de Combat: This card lets you field the tanks of the 2DB after they began to get more replacement tanks like the 76mm armed M4 Shermans and M4 Easy Eights, and M4 Jumbo tanks.

2e Division Blindée Infanterie Portée: This card is for fielding the armoured infantry of the 2DB with the US Battle Weary Armoured Rifle Company.

However, the 2DB were not the only French division fighting in French in 1944 and into Germany in 1945. The First French Army fielded two other armoured divisions (1DB and 5DB) and eventually seven infantry divisions and a brigade sized unit of Goumiers (Moroccan Mountain infantry).

Fielding the French in Late-war Flames of War

Fielding the French in Late-war Flames of War

The Bulge: American command card pack also contains card for some of the above units.

1re Division Blindée Zouaves Portée: Allows you to field the very aggressive armoured infantry of the 1re Division Blindée (1DB).

9e Division d’Infanterie Coloniale Colonials: This card is themed for the colonial troops of the 9e Division d’Infanterie Coloniale (9DCI), however it can be used to represent any of the colonial troops in the French divisions like the 2nd Moroccan Infantry Division (2DIM), 3rd Algerian Infantry Division (3DIA) or 4th Moroccan Mountain Division (4DMM).

Fielding the French in Late-war Flames of War Fielding the French in Late-war Flames of War Fielding the French in Late-war Flames of War
Fielding the French in Late-war Flames of War

1re Division de Marche d’Infanterie Foreign Legion: You can also field the famed legion with this card. This card can be used to represent any of the troops of the veteran 1re Division de Marche d’Infanterie (which started life as the 1st Free French Division (1DFL), later becoming the 1st Motorized Infantry Division and finally the 1st March Infantry Division).

But what about the Goumiers? You can either just use the 9e Division d’Infanterie Coloniale Colonials card, or field them as a Ranger Company, as like the Rangers, they are aggressive, great in assaults and only lightly equipped.

Of course, you can field your favourite French formation by just fielding what you think is the most appropriate US Formation represent them. The tanks from the 1DB or 5DB might be best represented by the US Tank Company or US Veteran Tank Company, depending on what battle or campaign you want to represent.

Some quick notes on equipment
Initially the French Shermans were either M4A2 diesels, or M4A4 multibank engine (this is same Sherman as used by the British BBX60 Sherman Armoured Troop) models.

M4A4s were allocated to the 2ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique and 2ème Régiment de Cuirassiers (1ère Division Blindée) and to the 1er Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique and 1er Régiment de Cuirassiers (5ème Division Blindée).

M4A2s were allocated to the 5ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique (1ère Division Blindée), the 6ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique (5ère Division Blindée), and 12e Régiment de Chasseurs d’Afrique, 12e Régiment de Cuirassiers, 501e Régiment de Chars de Combat (2e Division Blindée).

Fielding the French in Late-war Flames of War

Later the 2DB ended up with almost all the same variety of Shermans as their American Allies. On the other hand, 1DB and 5DB got a more limited selection of replacements with either their original type of 75mm Sherman or M4A1 (76mm) Shermans (UBX69 M4 Sherman Tank Platoon). Some got M4A1 75mm Shermans (UBX69) rather than the M4A2 or M4A4 Shermans they started with. However, Regiments had all one type when formed, either M4A2 75mm or M4A4 75mm.

M4A2 Shermans are currently not available, but you may be able to pick them up at some friendly local gaming stores who still have stock. The codes to look out for are US045 or SU071.

Tank Destroyer regiments are armed with M10 Tank Destroyers.

Much of the other equipment and weapons are as used by American troops.

Much of the infantry were dressed in US supplied uniforms, though troops did tend to retain their unique Adrian helmets when they could. If you have any old Early-war French miniatures in your stash some head swaps to add a few French helmets to either the standard US infantry or the US Winter French infantry will give them a bit of French flavour.

If you want to know more about French tank forces in 1944 and 1945 check out these two excellent websites:

http://the.shadock.free.fr/sherman_minutia/french_shermans/french_shermans.html

https://www.chars-francais.net/2015/index.php

French First Army Order of Battle 1944-45

  • 1st Free French Division (1DFL, later became the 1st Motorized Infantry Division and finally the 1st March Infantry Division)
  • 2nd Armoured Division (2DB, former 2nd Light Division) only for a short time in late 1944
  • 2nd Moroccan Infantry Division (2DIM)
  • 3rd Algerian Infantry Division (3DIA)
  • 4th Moroccan Mountain Division (4DMM)
  • 9th Colonial Infantry Division (9DIC)
  • 1st Armoured Division (1DB)
  • 5th Armoured Division (5DB)
  • Moroccan Goums (Four groups of Tabors, equivalent to one brigade)
  • 10th Infantry Division (Colmar Pocket only)
  • 14th Infantry Division (Germany and Austria campaigns)
  • André Malraux's Alsace-Lorraine Independent Brigade (Formed from FFI units on 26 September 1944. Malraux's brigade was incorporated into the French Army as a regular unit renamed the 3rd Demi-Brigade of Chasseurs).

~Wayne


Last Updated On Thursday, December 16, 2021 by Luke at Battlefront