Sunday, November 16, 2014

Next project- Free French in Italy

Yesterday I received a couple of packs of the Artizan Designs Goumier's which I was going to add to my Early War French army for some variety but instead the figures have inspired me to make a Bolt Action Free French force to add to my Italian Campaign theme.

The Goumiers were Moroccan troops from a number of tribes. In the fighting in Italy they excelled in mountain fighting. The Goumiers were part of the French expeditionary Corps (FEC), and like the rest of the FEC fought with distinction in the battles of Monte Cassino. The French troops first came into the line in December 1943, and played an important part on the campaign. However, the Goumiers reputation was tarnished by the numerous atrocities committed during the campaign in Italy, including the rape of women and children,

General Clark said of the Moroccan regulars and Goumiers:

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. CerasolaSan GiorgioMt. D’OroAusonia 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.
During their fighting in the Italian Campaign, the Goumiers suffered 3,000 casualties, of which 600 were killed in action.
The Goumiers wore the distinctive djellaba, loose fitting woollen robe that indicated their tribe and should make for a colourful unit on table. The Artizan Design Goumiers are beautiful figures so will become the core of the force.

As there is no official army list available I will simply use the US Army lists to represent the FEC troops.

I intend to field two squads of these Goumeirs (Illl run them as Vet infantry with tough fighter in Bolt Action terms)

 Supporting them will be two squads of regular (or veteran) infantry. The French were mainly equipped with US uniforms and equipment from 1943 onwards so I will use the Artizan US infantry in greatcoats for the regular French troops. I've been studying the photos of French troops at Cassino and most seemed to wear the Adrian helmet with their American uniforms but alas nobody makes these troops and I've yet to find 28mm French heads to do some headswaps with.

The rest of the force will be pretty typical for Bolt Action: an 81mm mortar, a bazooka team, a jeep and a Sherman (I've ordered one of the new Rubicon games ones as I'll be able to field it as either standard 75mm or a 105mm versions). Finally, I'm getting an M8 armoured car, which I've been meaning to add to my US forces for quite a while now.

As you can see from the  picture below not all djebella were colourful, some were quite plain.

French troops in Italy- US uniforms and Adrian helmets.

I've started the first squad of Goumiers, they are undercoated and ready to paint tonight. Now all I need is to get back my copy of Days of Glory, a French film about a group of Algerian troops and the discrimination that troops from Africa faced during the war, from the mate I loaned it to so I can rewatch it.



  1. Well, there's something you don't see every day! They should cut quite a dash on the table :-)


    French head sprues. Designed for WW1 but the Adrien was the same so will work. Plenty of other options too. No photo up yet on the new site but if you look at the French section pack it shows examples of all the heads available.

    Stay lucky,