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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Warfare Through the Ages

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Warfare Through the Ages Roman, Greek, Japanese, etc. Topics cover all manner of pre-modern warfare and empire-building and crushing.

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  #1  
Old 18 Sep 11, 16:02
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Best colonial troops of the 19th and 20th centuries

Tirailleurs Algériens (Algerian Tirailleurs)

France couldn't have ever asked for better soldiers.

First raised in 1841 as battalions of tirailleurs indigenes, the locally recruited Algerian infantry were organised into three regiments of Algerian Tirailleurs by a decree dated 10 October 1855 (during the Second French Empire).

The Algerian tirailleurs served with great distinction in the Crimean War, the Franco-Austrian War (Italian campaign of 1859), the French Intervention in Mexico and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), as well as in various French colonial campaigns in Tunisia, Indochina, Morocco, Madagascar and Algeria itself.

Recruitment was generally voluntary, although a selective form of conscription was introduced in Algeria in 1913 and continued until the end of French rule in North Africa.

During the Crimean War, the Algerian tirailleurs acquired the nickname of "Turcos" (Turks) by which they were widely known over the next hundred years. The name reportedly arose from comparisons between the Algerian troops and the Turkish allies serving alongside the French and British forces at the siege of Sebastopol.

2,800 Algerian Tirailleurs fought in the Crimean War... More than 1,000 of them never returned to Algeria.

The Algerians confirmed their fighting reputation during the war against Austria in 1859, especially at the bloody battles of Magenta and Solferino. It was formed a provisional regiment composed of 1,100 Algerian tirailleurs for the duration of the war... This regiment lost 44 officers and 587 men in two months.

Then came the Franco-Prussian War...

The Algerian Tirailleurs fought with incredible courage and tenacity against the German invaders. They paid a high price for fighting with such courage, a high price indeed.
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  #2  
Old 18 Sep 11, 16:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zouave View Post
Then came the Franco-Prussian War...

The Algerian Tirailleurs fought with incredible courage and tenacity against the German invaders. They paid a high price for fighting with such courage, a high price indeed.
In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, the Algerian Tirailleurs (aka Turcos) fought with an almost fanatical courage.

At the Battle of Wörth/Froeschwiller (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_...rth_%281870%29), the 2nd Tirailleurs Algeriens suffered 93% casualties! The Bavarians were expressing frustration in their own brutal way at the stiff resistance of Colonel Pierre Suzzoni's 2nd Algerian Tirailleur regiment. Holding the wooden salient below Froeschwiller against the best efforts of two German Corps, the Algerians simply would not yield. "We will all die here, if need be", Colonel Suzzoni had told his men in the morning, and most of them did. With 2,900 troops in the morning, the Algerians were reduced to a rump of 250 by the afternoon, enclosed, as one tirailleur put it, "in a circle of iron and fire." Suzzoni himself was killed by a shell splinter at 2:30 in the afternoon as were most of his officers. (The Franco-Prussian War - The German conquest of France in 1870-1871 by Geoffrey Wawro, page 131)

The 1st Tirailleurs lost 18 officers and 800 men at Wörth.

Captain Viénot (see below) was the highest ranking officer of the 2nd Tirailleurs left standing at the end of the battle. He organized the retreat of the regiment with only 250 officers and men.




Colonel Gandil (see below), the commanding officer of the 3rd Algerian Tirailleurs, lost 33 officers and 872 men at the Battle of Wörth.




Algerian tirailleurs captured in 1870




Algerian Tirailleur uniform in 1870




Sargeant of the Algerian Tirailleurs in 1870




Monument dedicated to the 2nd Algerian Tirailleurs (located near the site of the Battle of Wöerth)

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  #3  
Old 18 Sep 11, 17:09
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I forgot to post this great link...

Click on the images to enlarge them.

Algerian Tirailleurs in Crimea (during the Crimean War): http://www.culture.gouv.fr/Wave/imag...8p129v01_2.jpg


These fierce North African soldiers fought in many colonial campaigns between 1871 and 1913, always distinguishing themselves.

Here they are in Paris in 1913...

























To be continued...
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Old 18 Sep 11, 17:57
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Btw... I'm waiting your entries.

More Algerian Tirailleurs...






The Algerian Tirailleurs wore the same uniform at the start of WW1 (below)...




The 1914 uniform was almost identical to the 1870 uniform.

Five new regiments were created in 1914: 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Regiments of Algerian Tirailleurs. Other regiments were created during WW1.

All regiments fought like lions during the Great War (WW1).

Regiments of North African Tirailleurs are, together with regiments of Zouaves, among the most decorated regiments in the French Army during the war, just after the Colonial Infantry Regiment of Morocco and the Foreign Legion March Regiment.

Tirailleurs of the 7th Algerian Tirailleurs in 1917




2nd Algerian Tirailleurs in 1919 during the victory parade in Paris



The Algerian Tirailleurs suffered heavy, very heavy casualties in WW1.


Two more pics...

Algerian Tirailleurs (late 19th century)




Uniform of Commandant Lamy of the 1st Algerian Tirailleurs (c. 1893)




More to come.
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Old 19 Sep 11, 14:59
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Excellent Documents my Friend like usual
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Old 19 Sep 11, 21:08
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In 1901 U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt authorized the formation of the Philippine Scouts within the US Army. They were made up of Filipino enlisted men with officers from the US regular Army and starting in 1910 select Filipino soldiers were sent to the US Military Academy and were commission in the Scouts. From 1919 to 1920 the Scouts were grouped in to three infantry regiments, two field and two coast artillery regiments, a cavalry regiment, an engineer regiment and medical, quartermaster and military police units.

The Scouts had a reputation for discipline, military bearing, devotion to duty and great courage. They were the backbone of the defense of Bataan making the IJA pay a high price in blood for every foot of ground. The first three Medals of Honor awarded in the US Army went to Philippine Scouts. After the fall of Bataan the Scouts were a part of the Bataan Death March and suffered horribly under Japanese barbarism in the POW camps with a 50% death rate.

Philippine Scouts who escaped from Bataan and the POW camps headed for the hills and became the nucleolus of the Philippine resistance though out the Islands. From September to December 1942 the Japanese paroled the surviving Scouts and other Filipino soldiers in order to encourage collaboration. Almost to the man the “parolees” joined the guerrillas and helped make the Philippine resistance the most effective one against Japan.

During the liberation of the Philippines the US Army reformed the Scouts, reconstituting the Philippine Division. They fought in northern Luzon and in many mopping up operations. They served as occupation forces on Okinawa and if Japan had been invaded the Scouts would have been in the invasion forces and did duty in the occupation.
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Old 19 Sep 11, 22:39
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I would like to nominate several different groups. The Gurkhas, The Sikhs, The Morrocans (Goums and Tiralleurs).
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Old 20 Sep 11, 01:07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
I would like to nominate several different groups. The Gurkhas, The Sikhs, The Morrocans (Goums and Tiralleurs).
Excellent nominations.

Morrocans, together with Algerians and Tunisians, formed the French Armée d'Afrique (French Army of Africa). The army also included French settlers doing their military service (Zouaves and Chasseurs d'Afrique); and non-French volunteers (French Foreign Legion).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Army_of...a_%28France%29


The Armée d'Afrique in action:

World War 1

At the outbreak of war in August 1914, the Army of Africa in Algeria and Tunisia comprised nine regiments of Algerian Tirailleurs, four of Zouaves, six of Chasseurs d'Afrique, four of Spahis and two of the Foreign Legion.

In Morocco, nineteen battalions of Tirailleurs and nine of Zouaves were on active service, along with elements of the Foreign Legion and the African Light Infantry. Large numbers of these troops were sent immediately to serve in France, mainly drawn from the peacetime garrisons of Algeria and Tunisia.

In 1914, 33,000 Muslim Algerians were already serving with the Spahis, Tirailleurs and other units of the Army of Africa. In the course of the war a further 137,000 enlisted either as volunteers (57,000) or as wartime conscripts (80,000). Of the total of 170,000, 36,000 were killed.


World War 2

As had been the case in 1914, substantial numbers of the Army of Africa were moved to mainland France on the outbreak of World War II. In May 1940, 14 regiments of zouaves, 42 regiments of Algerian, Tunisian and Moroccan tirailleurs, 12 regiments and demi-brigades of the Foreign Legion and 13 battalions of African Light Infantry were serving on all fronts.

Following the fall of France, the Army of Africa was reduced to a level of 120,000 under Axis direction. General Weygand was however able to maintain and train a further 60,000 men in French North Africa disguised as auxiliary police, "provisional conscripts" and "unarmed workers".

From the end of 1942, the Army of Africa was headed by French general Henri Giraud and fought in the Tunisia Campaign before its merger with General Charles de Gaulle's Free French Forces.

North African units subsequently played a major role in the liberation of Corsica (September - October 1943) and the Italian Campaign (1943–44) in the French Expeditionary Corps. During the French and German campaigns of 1944-45 the Army of Africa was expanded to 260,000 men (including 50% Maghrebis), including the 1st Motorised Infantry Division (Zouaves and Foreign Legion), the 1st Armoured Division (Chasseurs d' Afrique and Foreign Legion), the 2nd and 4th Moroccan Infantry Divisions (Moroccan Tirailleurs), and the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division (Algerian and Tunisian Tirailleurs). In addition three groupements de tabors of Goumiers served as independent units while artillery, engineer, commando, reconnaissance (mechanised Spahis) and tank destroyer units were drawn from the French and indigenous populations of French North Africa.


French Expeditionary Corps (FEC) in Italy (1943-1944): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_...2%80%931944%29

"In his autobiography, General Mark Clark describes how the FEC broke through the Gustav Line in May 1944:

Meantime, the French forces had crossed the Garigliano (River) and moved forward into the mountainous terrain lying south of the Liri River. It was not easy. As always, the German veterans reacted strongly and there was bitter fighting. The French surprised the enemy and quickly seized key terrain including Mounts Faito Cerasola and high ground near Castelforte. The 1st Motorized Division helped the 2nd Moroccan division take key Mount Girofano and then advanced rapidly north to S. Apollinare and S. Ambrogio. In spite of the stiffening enemy resistance, the 2nd Moroccan Division penetrated the Gustav 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 Giogrio, Mt. D’Oro, Ausonia and Esperia were seized in one of the most brilliant and daring advances of the war in Italy, and by May 16 the French Expeditionary Corps had thrust forward some ten miles on their left flank to Mount Revole, with the remainder of their front slanting back somewhat to keep contact with the British 8th Army. 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... The 8th Army’s delay made Juin’s task more difficult, because he was moving forward so rapidly that his right flank---adjacent to the British---constantly was exposed to counter-attacks."

Casualties suffered by the FEC in Italy: The casualties for the campaign were approximatively 6,500 killed in action, 2,000 missing and 23,000 wounded (out of a total of 112,000 soldiers).


Tirailleur: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirailleurs

Goumiers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goumier

Chasseurs d'Afrique: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chasseurs_d%27Afrique
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Old 20 Sep 11, 01:20
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It has been a while, but I remember the Morrocans being categorized as Lions, then the Algerians were next best and the Tunisians were last. The Goums were more like a "constabulatory". The Philippine Scouts in the PI were composed of regulars part of the American Army and the rest were a colonial constabulatory. The Goums were started as a constabulatory as well.

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Old 20 Sep 11, 01:41
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The Algerians always fought like lions. They fought very well in WW2, but the Algerian Tirailleurs really built their reputation as great fighters between 1855 and 1918.

Uniform of Algerian Tirailleur in 1939




Uniform of Algerian Tirailleur in 1944

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Old 24 Sep 11, 18:33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zouave View Post
In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, the Algerian Tirailleurs (aka Turcos) fought with an almost fanatical courage.

At the Battle of Wörth/Froeschwiller (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_...rth_%281870%29), the 2nd Tirailleurs Algeriens suffered 93% casualties! The Bavarians were expressing frustration in their own brutal way at the stiff resistance of Colonel Pierre Suzzoni's 2nd Algerian Tirailleur regiment. Holding the wooden salient below Froeschwiller against the best efforts of two German Corps, the Algerians simply would not yield. "We will all die here, if need be", Colonel Suzzoni had told his men in the morning, and most of them did. With 2,900 troops in the morning, the Algerians were reduced to a rump of 250 by the afternoon, enclosed, as one tirailleur put it, "in a circle of iron and fire." Suzzoni himself was killed by a shell splinter at 2:30 in the afternoon as were most of his officers. (The Franco-Prussian War - The German conquest of France in 1870-1871 by Geoffrey Wawro, page 131)

The 1st Tirailleurs lost 18 officers and 800 men at Wörth.

Captain Viénot (see below) was the highest ranking officer of the 2nd Tirailleurs left standing at the end of the battle. He organized the retreat of the regiment with only 250 officers and men.




Colonel Gandil (see below), the commanding officer of the 3rd Algerian Tirailleurs, lost 33 officers and 872 men at the Battle of Wörth.

1st Algerian Tirailleurs

Even before the Battle of Wöerth, the Algerian Tirailleurs had already proved their valor in French soil at the Battle of Wissembourg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_...urg_%281870%29).

At Wissembourg, the 1st Algerian Tirailleurs fought with fanatical courage to defend a railway station (losing at least 500 men).

The 1st Tirailleurs lost 18 officers and 800 men at Wörth and hundreds more at Sedan. After less than a month of combat, barely 300 men were able to gather around the flag and eagle of the 1st Algerian Tirailleurs.

Clairon de Turcos blessé by Jules Monge



This painting depicts one of the counter-attacks made by the 1st Algerian Tirailleurs at Wöerth/Froeschwiller. The title is "Wounded bugler of Turcos".


2nd Algerian Tirailleurs

This regiment was virtually destroyed at Wöerth. Few soldiers in history ever fought with such courage and tenacity. All regiments of Zouaves and Algerian Tirailleurs fought with great courage at Wöerth, but the 2nd Algerian Tirailleurs was almost possessed!

The regiments of Algerian Tirailleurs and Zouaves didn't give up an inch of ground, even under the murderous artillery fire of the Krupp guns. They repulsed all infantry attacks made by the enemy and counter-attacked many times with the bayonet. The 2nd Tirailleurs counter-attacked at least three times (if memory serves me right).

The regiment lost 2,650 officers and men out of 2,900! The 250 survivors, together with 5 officers and 195 men from the depot whom they found at Châlons, was all that was left of the 2nd Algerian Tirailleurs during the capitulation at Sedan.

About 20 Algerian tirailleurs were able to escape from Sedan with their flag/eagle. They brought their damaged flag to Strasbourg (see below).Other tirailleurs escaped too.




To be continued...
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Last edited by Zouave; 24 Sep 11 at 18:57..
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Old 24 Sep 11, 19:43
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3rd Algerian Tirailleurs

The 3rd also fought very hard at Wörth and lost 33 officers and 872 men.

Captain Deschamps was killed during the battle... When he was hit by a German bullet, a Sergeant was begging him to dismount from his horse, but Deschamps answered in Arabic: "The children of the desert do not obey a leader who dismounts before the enemy."

A number of tirailleurs from this regiment, about 100 men, escaped from being encircled at Sedan. These tirailleurs were lead by two officers.
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Old 24 Sep 11, 19:44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
I would like to nominate several different groups. The Gurkhas.
Agreed about the Gurkhas! Enuff' said!.
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Old 24 Sep 11, 21:07
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Gurkhas are true warriors. I have great admiration for them.
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Old 24 Sep 11, 21:18
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How about the Puerto Ricans? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/65th_In...ited_States%29

The poster did ask for the best of the 19th and 20th century. The Borinqueneers certainly made a name for themselves.
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