Composition of the Free French Forces

Composition and situation of Free French Forces in combat in December 1940

  • Great Britain
    (7 000 men in early August 1940), various small units.
  • French Equatorial Africa
    (17 500 men including 15 000 native troops in September 1940)
    Light infantry battalion n° 1 (Gabon)
    Light infantry battalion n° 2 (Oubangui-Chari)
    Light infantry battalion n° 3 (Chad)
    Light infantry battalion n° 4 (Cameroon)
    Light infantry battalion n° 5 (Cameroon)
  • Egypt
    1er Fusiliers Navy battalion (195 sailors)
  • Sudan
    13e half a brigade of the Foreign Legion (1 000 men)
    Squadron of Moroccan Spahis (100 men)
  • Pacific
    Expeditionary force (battalion strength in April 1941).

Composition and situation of Free French Forces in combat at end 1941

At end 1941, the total number of Free French Forces was some 50 000 men among the three services.

  • Great Britain : 1 150
  • Levant : 26 640
  • Libya  : 5 200
  • FEA : 18 000
  • New Caledonia : 1 250
  • Tahiti : 410
  • India : 200

Army forces were distributed as follows:

Levant : two divisions of light infantry, only one fully equipped

French Equatorial Africa :

  • Chad : one regiment of sharpshooters
  • Oubangui-Chari : one battalion
  • Cameroon : one regiment
  • Gabon : one battalion
  • Another in Mid-Congo (Brazzaville) and one at Pointe-Noire.

Depots at Brazzaville, Bangui and Libreville as well as support services.

  • Tahiti : an independent company of colonial infantry was formed.
  • East Africa : a receiving detachment was created in British Somalia for troops escaping from Djibouti and an infantry battalion (4) arrived from Syria on 31 July 1941 at the request of the Free France representative in Ethiopia.
  • Great Britain : Free French Forces headquarters, training units at the Old Dean camp in Camberley and the Free France Cadet School established in the premises of a public school at Malvern (Worcestershire). The French women's volunteer corps (formerly the Corps Féminin) consisted of around 150 women

Composition and situation of Free French Forces in combat in December 1942

  • Fighting France
    70 000 men (July 1942) including 15 000 in Libya.
     
  • Free French Forces
    Great Britain : various small units (marines, etc.)
    Levant : 2 brigades
    Africa : 2 brigades (Cameroon, Chad)
    Libya : Force "L"

Composition and situation of Free French Forces in combat in December 1943

French expeditionary force in Italy

  • 4 Infantry divisions
  • 2e Moroccan infantry division (created 1 May 1943, committed in Italy at end November 1943)
  • 3è Algerian infantry division (created 1 May 1943 by transformation of the Constantine infantry division, committed in Italy in December 1943)
  • 4è Moroccan mountain division (created 1 June 1943 from the 3è Moroccan motorised division, committed in Italy in February 1944)
  • 1ère Motorised infantry division (created 1 February 1943, on 24 August 1943 the 1ère free French division was renamed the 1ère Motorised infantry division and was committed in Italy in April 1944)
  • 3 groups of Moroccan Tabors

Corsica

  • 1 Infantry division
  • 9è Colonial infantry division (the Motorised colonial division was set up in March 1943, transformed on 16 April into the 1ère Colonial infantry division, and finally took the name of 9è Colonial infantry division on 16 July 1943)

North Africa

  • 3 Infantry and 4 Armoured divisions:
  • 7è Algerian infantry division (the Algerian infantry division was transformed into the 1ère Algerian infantry division on 9 June 1943, then took the title of 7è Algerian infantry division on 16 July 1943)
  • 8è Algerian infantry division (created on 15 July 1943, dissolved on 16 February1944)
  • 10è Colonial infantry division (created on 1 June 1943, on 6 September 1943 the 2è Colonial infantry division took the title of 10è Colonial infantry division and was dissolved on 29 February 1944)
  • 1ère Armoured division (created on 1 May 1943 from the 1ère Light mechanic brigade )
  • 2è Armoured division (Force "L" became the 2è Free French division on 16 May 1943 then in August 1943 took the title of 2è Armoured division)
  • 3è Armoured division (created on 1 September 1943, dissolved on 1 September 1944)
  • 5è Armoured division (created on 1 May 1943, the 2è Armoured division took the title of 5è Armoured division on 16 July 1943)

Africa

  • Mixed Free French Africa brigade (a merging of the Cameroon and Chad brigades).

Composition and situation of Free French Forces in combat in December 1944

  • 560 000 men (1 September 1944)
  • 1 million men (end 1944)

Alsace

  • 6 Infantry and 3 Armoured divisions.
  • 1è Motorised infantry division, 2è Moroccan infantry division, 3è Algerian infantry division, 4è Moroccan mountain division, 9è Colonial infantry division
  • 10è Infantry division (created on 1 October 1944)
  • 1ère Armoured division, 2è Armoured division et 5è Armoured division

Alps

  • 1 Infantry division
  • 27è Alpine division (created end September 1944, the 1ère French Alpine infantry division was transformed on 16 November 1944 into the 27è Alpine division).

Atlantic

  • 1 Infantry division
  • 19è Infantry division (set up in the Morbihan)

In Algeria, from 1942 to 1944, five promotions of officer cadets passed out of the Cherchell Military Academy. Two were to receive their promotion titles subsequently : Veille au drapeau for the promotion of 1943; Rome & Strasbourg for that of 1944.

Of the 4 500 officers who passed out of the school, 461 gave their life for France. The Academy was awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm leaf.

Composition and situation of Free French Forces in combat in May 1945

  • 1 250 000 men (5 million US, British and Canadian soldiers in Europe)
  • 8 divisions formed
  • 5 Infantry divisions (1ère Motorised infantry division 2è Moroccan infantry division, 3è Algerian infantry division, 4è Moroccan mountain division and 9è Colonial infantry division) and 3 Armoured divisions (1ère, 2è et 5è Armoured divisions)
  • 5 divisions reaching full strength
  • 5 Infantry divisions (1ère, 10è, 14è and 36è Infantry divisions, 27è Alpine division).
  • 6 divisions under formation
  • 3 infantry divisions (19è, 23è and 25è infantry division)
  • 1 Armoured division (3è Armoured division) and 2 Far East colonial divisions (1ère et 2è Far East colonial divisions)

Germany

  • 7 Infantry and 3 Armoured divisions
  • 1ère Infantry division (created on 1 February 1945), 2è Moroccan infantry division, 3è Algerian infantry division, 4è Moroccan mountain division, 9è Colonial infantry division, 10è and 14è Infantry divisions (created on 16 February 1945), 1ère Armoured division, 2è Armoured division and 5è Armoured division.

Alps

  • 3 Infantry divisions
  • 1ère Motorised infantry division and 27è Alpine division.

Atlantic

  • 3 Infantry divisions
  • 19è and 23è (created on 13 March 1945, the Gironde division took the title of the 23è Infantry division on 15 May) and 25è Infantry division (created on 13 March 1945, the Oléron brigade was incorporated into the 25è Infantry division formed in May 1945).