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Confused by French Colonial troops


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#1 Landsturm

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Posted 15 April 2005 - 01:52 AM

What régiment mixte Zouaves et Tiralleurs contains, besides zouaves?
Tirailleurs Algèriens? Tirailleurs Sénégalais? Tirailleurs Marocains?
So, how does Régiment (de Marche as they operated) de Tirailleurs differ from the others? And what nationalities it contains? I`m really confused blink.gif

#2 Doc2

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Posted 15 April 2005 - 06:12 AM

QUOTE (Landsturm @ Apr 15 2005, 01:52 AM)
What régiment mixte Zouaves et Tiralleurs contains, besides zouaves?
Tirailleurs Algèriens? Tirailleurs Sénégalais? Tirailleurs Marocains?
So, how does Régiment (de Marche as they operated) de Tirailleurs differ from the others? And what nationalities it contains? I`m really confused blink.gif


Zouaves were in their origins troops recruited from North Africa, though I believe many native Frenchmen eventually joined the units-- They were distinguished mostly by their flashy North African-like Uniforms. In the French pre-war active Army there were 4 Zouave regiments, each with a varying number of 4-company battalions. These were recruited in France, interestingly. There were also 9 native Tirailleur regiments, with a varying number of battalions. Tirailleur is simply an Algerian term of "sharpshooter" or "skirmisher", but these units, other than their origin in north Africa were simply normal infantry units. The territorial infantry pre-war seems to have had about 12 Zouave Battalions.

The mobilised Zouave Regiments (1,2,3) had 6 battalions, and the 4th had 7. On full mobilisation, these were supplemented by other reserve battalions (not all of them Zouaves), and then formed Regiments de Marche (Provisional Regiments). These were incorporated into the 37th, 38th, and 45th Divisions. There was also a Division de Marche (provisional Division) in North Africa, staffed by Morroccans.

The Tirailleur regiments were all actually soldiers from the North African colonies, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. Most of the Tirailleur regiments were Algerian, thought the 4th and 8th were from Tunisia. These regiments had varying numbers of battalions, ranging from 3-6. During the war, through many reorganisations, these Regiments were grouped into Regiments de Marche, Regiments de Marche (Tirailleurs), or Regiments de Marche de Zouaves.

By the end of the war, there were 17 Zouave/Tirailleur regiments, of varying composition.

I hope that helps. Doc2

#3 CROONAERT

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Posted 15 April 2005 - 11:54 AM

QUOTE (Doc2 @ Apr 15 2005, 06:12 AM)
Zouaves were in their origins troops recruited from North Africa, though I believe many native Frenchmen eventually joined the units--



Doc.

Weren't Zouaves, theInfanterie Legere d'Afrique and Chasseurs d'Afrique almost exclusively made up of Frenchmen, whereas tirailleurs and Spahis recruited from the indigenous populations of Northern Africa ?

Dave.

#4 Landsturm

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Posted 15 April 2005 - 12:59 PM

QUOTE
Tirailleur is simply an Algerian term of "sharpshooter" or "skirmisher", but these units, other than their origin in north Africa were simply normal infantry units.

This is what I needed. So Senegalese, Algerian, Moroccoan etc. were their own tiralleur-units?

#5 Doc2

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 12:02 PM

QUOTE (Landsturm @ Apr 15 2005, 12:59 PM)
This is what I needed. So Senegalese, Algerian, Moroccoan etc. were their own tiralleur-units?


Don't know, though I assume this is the case. You are outside my area of expertise, and I don't have a handy reference which would answer the question. Good luck. Doc2

#6 vb136

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Posted 29 April 2005 - 06:13 AM

At least the Senegalse were in their own Batalllions.
The soldiers came from all parts of the French colonies in West Africa, not only from Senegal.

#7 Borden Battery

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Posted 29 April 2005 - 12:44 PM

Here is a quotation from my late Grandfather regarding "the French Black soldiers".

To place my Grandfather's remark on the regular French soldiers into context, the experience behind his quote most likely would have come during the Battle of Amiens in August 1918 [most likely between 11:00 am and 6 pm on 8 August] when some of the French units on their right did not keep up with the Canadian advance and the 1CMMGB was despatched twice to their sector to overcome some German resistance. The 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade provided liason work between the Canadian Corps [within the British Fourth Army (General Rawlinson)] and the The French First Army's 31st Corps

Private Richard W. Mercer (911016) “You know, I never really cared for the regular French soldiers – you see you just could not rely of them in a fight. The Australians were alright. You know, those Black French soldiers from the colonies – now they could sure fight - yes, they were good soldiers.
Source: Dwight Mercer, Regina, SK, Canada

#8 squirrel

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Posted 29 April 2005 - 03:07 PM

I thought Tirailleur was French for skirmisher,sharpshooter etc.
Napoleon had line and Guarde regiments of Tirailleurs at Waterloo.
They were Light Infantry troops more or less and didn't the French regular army have Tirailleur regiments in WW1?

#9 Landsturm

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 09:24 PM

If your heads are not yet mixed-up. Here comes another puzzle. In Unfortunate Region-site there are couple of photos from Musée de l'Emperi, France. First one (more colorful, certainly early war uniform) has a caption saying "French NCO, 4th Reg. de Tirailleurs Algeriens" and the second (white) "French Corporal, Reg. Algeriens"... now what is the difference between these two units?
In Ypres, April 22nd 1915 the frontline positions were held by three battalions of 90th Brigade (The 45th (Algerian) Division);
1st & 2nd battalions of the 1st Tirailleurs de marche and 1st Battalion d'Afrique... what was this unit?

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#10 Joe Sweeney

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 11:11 PM

Landsturm,

You must get "Zouaves & Tirailleurs: les regiments de Marche et les regiments mixtes (1914-1918)" 3 Vol.
I don't know if Vol 3 ever got published--Vol 1 has the most info your asking about.
By Jean-luois LARCADE.

It is in French but answers all your questions.

It covers- From pre-War garrisons through end of war and special units formed for occupation:
Zouaves
Tirailleurs Algeriens
Tiraileurs Indigenes (Tunisien)
Goums and Tabors Marocaine
Les regiments de Chasseurs indigenes a pied et tirailleurs marocains (these are the famous RMTM men)
All the above were consdered as Metropolitan Troops (19th Corps or Armee d' Afrique) and not part of the Coloniale Army.

Book does not cover the Infantry Legere d' Afrique nor Coloniale Troops.
Coloniale Troops were made up of Frenchmen from overseas possessions.
The Senegalese were closely affiliated with these troops and formations and the Senegalese Battalions were routinely rotated into the French Coloniale Marche Regiments.

I would also get copies of Militaria Magazine (French) which have done in depth articles on the Regiment Marche Tir. Marocaines (RMTM), Senegalese (very indepth), Tir. Malgaches (Madagascar) and some info on Tir. Tonkin and Annamites.

IMHO there are absolutely no good English Language sources on these units.

Mixte units organization could be fluid, but in general has one Battalion of Zouaves and the rest of the battalions (usually 2 more but sometime 3) of Tirailleurs Algerien (sometimes the Zouave Battalion would be absent but I haven't seen any org where thee was more than a single Zouave Battalion.

I belive the 1st Bn D Afrique was the 1st Battalion Infantrie Legere d' Afrique which was made up of Frenchmen withe disciplinary problems.

Joe Sweeney

#11 Landsturm

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 11:26 PM

QUOTE
I belive the 1st Bn D Afrique was the 1st Battalion Infantrie Legere d' Afrique which was made up of Frenchmen withe disciplinary problems.

Well, they did get gassed...

I found something on them;

"African Light Infantry:
Although frequently described as such, the Infanterie Lègére d'Afrique was not a penal regiment - but its rank and file were either men released from military prisons awaiting the end of their engagement, or petty criminals convicted in France. This grim mixture was held under a discipline at least as tough as that of the Legion. The five regular battalions formed three bataillons de marche, which served in France."

#12 Hoplophile

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 12:24 PM

Given the lack of English-language sources, I've taken the liberty of attaching a short description of the North African units that served in the French Army during World War I.

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#13 ChrisC

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 12:46 PM

Very useful document. It sets the salient facts very concisely.
Thanks
Chris C