Moroccan Goumier Apr 24, 2012 10:50:13 GMT -5
Post by mahfoud06 on Apr 24, 2012 10:50:13 GMT -5
Moroccan Goumiers were soldiers who served in auxiliary units attached to the French Army of Africa, between 1908 and 1956. The term Goumier was also occasionally used to designate native soldiers in the French army of the French Sudan and Upper Volta during the colonial era.
Four Moroccan groups (regimental-sized units, about 12 000 men in total) 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.
North Africa 1940-42
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. To evade strict German limits on how many troops France could maintain in North Africa, the Goumiers were described as having Gendarmerie-type functions, such as maintenance of public order and the surveillance of frontiers, while maintaining military armament, organization, and discipline.
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.
The 15th Army Group commander, British General Harold Alexander considered the French Moroccan Goumiers as "great fighters" and gave them to the allies to help them to take Bizerte and Tunis.
After the Tunisia Campaign, the French organized two additional groups and retitled the groups as Groupement 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.
An anonymous junior officer from the U.S. 26th Infantry Regiment, a unit that 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.
Separate from the groups, the 14th Tabor did not participate in the fighting in Europe and remained in Morocco to keep public order for the remainder of the war.
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. 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.
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.
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."
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.
During their fighting in the Italian Campaign, the Goumiers suffered 3,000 casualties, of which 600 were killed in action.
In September 1943 the 2nd Group of Moroccan Tabors participated in the liberation of Corsica, and fought the Germans in the mountains near Bastia, by Cape Corse.
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.
Mainland France, 1944
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. 
The 1st, 2nd, and 4th Groups of Moroccan Tabors fought in the final operations to overrun southwestern Germany in 1945. 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