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The Moroccan Goumiers in the Free French Army

Discussion in 'North Africa and the Mediterranean' started by Skipper, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Great pictures Wessex. I just saw them today, I was away in Bulgaria for a week, so I have to catch up. Glad I checked this thread first.

    Hi Clems, good to "see" you again .
     
  2. JackSEWing

    JackSEWing Member

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    but don't forget that several horrific crimes against the Italian peasants were committed by Gourmiers, such as rape, murder and torture, after and during the Battle of Monte Cassino. Such crimes became known in Italy whit the name of Marocchinate meaning to be "act committed by Moroccans".
     
  3. 36thID

    36thID Member

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    Jack,

    That's the slang term I was refering to. "Marocchinate".

    Watch the movie "Two Women". It stars Sophia Loren and refers to WW 2 in Italy. The movie changes after the rape of the 2 women. I swear I read about Goumiers taking over villages north of Cassino and creating their own towns after going AWOL.

    I still would like to read an interview from a Goumier. How they were able to obtain their own "Comfort Women" while under Generals Juin and Clark is a story within a story.
     
  4. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    Great thread guys, some really interesting stuff that I have enjoyed reading.

    I'm sorry Steve but I think that this is a myth. It is something I haven't seen in connection with the Goumiers before or anywhere else in Islamic culture. I have however seen it touted in reference to the Gurkhas (regarding Khukris) and again, it is nonsense in this case too. As far as I understand both troops carried the usual working knife of their people, to which a sort of military pride and mythos soon became attached. However, they remained working knives. An expert on the Gurkhas once pointed out that if blood had to be drawn every time they drew the knife, your average Gurkha male would die in adolescence from blood loss. I think the same is probably true of the Goums.

    So where does the myth come from? Well the only 'knife that must draw blood' that I have come across is the Sikh Kirpan:

    [​IMG]

    Carried on a cloth belt these knives are symbols of the Sikh faith and are by definition weapons of defense, be it of yourself or others. If drawn for any purpose other than defense it must draw the blood of the owner (in my understanding) to ensure that it isn't draw without reason.

    Sorry for the little aside, I'd be happy to be proven wrong but I suspect this is another myth.
     
  5. texson66

    texson66 Ace

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    I would recommend Rick Atkinson's book "Day of Battle" on the Italian campaign with the use of these troops in central Italy. Great fighters but I completely understand why the Italians have the term, Marocchinate.
     
  6. 36thID

    36thID Member

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    I have read so many books throughout the years, but I think I recall the near riot being quoted in General Walker's book of the 36th ID, "From Texas To Rome". I know the qoute from Juin came from this book regarding the "blood thirsty devils". Give me some time and I'll see if I can find if the nicking when drawing is fact or fiction. That's why it would be great to see or get an interview from an original Goumier.

    I do know that the Nazi Troops hated being in the same area as Goumiers. The Goums had a liking to sneak out in the dead of night and kill the enemy with their knife and then bring his ear back as a trophy. They especially wanted Officers and could tell by the shape of his helmet or hat want his rank was. Sometimes they would only kill one German in a foxhole..... Leave him for his foxhole mates to discover !

    This was also true for the Black Devils of the 1stSSF. Nazis hated and feared them both.

    To think General Clark had Goumiers, 1stSSF, Rangers, and Commandos in Italy at his disposal, but it took the dogface foot soldier to beat the Gustav Line. He wasted so much and always wanted the glory for himself.

    Best Regards,

    Steve
     
  7. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    1SSF were the Devils Brigade, never seen them called the Black Devils before, which is odd. Interesting stuff though.
     
  8. 36thID

    36thID Member

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    While in Anzio the Germans gave them the moniker as " die schwartzen Teuflen ", The Black Devils. This coming from the personal diary of a dead German Officer.

    My favorite WW 2 book was co written by Gen Robert Fredrick, " The Devils Brigade". He was an AMAZING leader. The way the 1stSSF was disbanded was heart breaking and a travesty. The Canadians and the American went through hell on earth and deserved much better than simple step down in Dec 1944. In 2006 a team of researchers climbed Monte La Diefensa and placed a memorial marker in their honor. How they captured that mountain in Dec 1943 is once in a lifetime.
     
  9. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    That's pretty cool Steve, didn't realise that.
     
  10. crosbygirl

    crosbygirl Member

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    Does anyone know how I may contact something similar to a Veterans Agency for the Goumiers? I am currently writing a book of Memoirs from those who fought in Italy during the Italy Campaign 1943-45 and would like input Veterans from every branch of the military services. Many thanks
     
  11. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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  12. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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  13. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    we have a similar thread on this forum.
     
  14. Moroccan

    Moroccan recruit

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    Hi all
    Great forum from which I have learnt many things! This my first contribution here! So let me first introduce mysel. I am a young Moroccan researcher. CUrrently, I am recording and translating oral accounts of Moroccan soldiers who fought under the french tricolor in the second world war including the goums of course. For now I just want share with u some remarks concerning the conduct and reputation of the goums in Europe especially in Itally. Their role was crucial in many batlles especially in the mountainous areas such as monte Cassino. As many veterans have told me and according to many studies such as edward bimberg' book Moroccan goums: Tribal warriors in a Modern war, they were the first to penetrate the german-italian defence lines using primitive equipments such mules, first world war rifles and sandals. Here I just want to add some remarks about the stories pf rape and pillage narrated about them. Most soldiers I have interviewed denied that and instead they referred to some of their "romantic adventures" with European women especially in France and Germany. One has told me that the French officers "forced" him to leave his German wife and his one year old daughter when they decided to take them to fight in Vietnam in 1948. Up to now, he told me, he had never heard about his daughter or German wife. Anyway if the stories of rape in Monte Cassino really took place, I would like to refer to an important point that the French officers in a way or another encouraged them. I read somewhere that the french officers used to tell Moroccan units if they penetrated the the German and Italian defence lines in a specific area then they would have a night without military rules: that is, they were free to do whatever they like without punishment. One last remark: the film "Two Women" which some guys here referred to is not a sure refrence to decide whether those stories took place or not. The film is based on a fictitious novel written by Alberto Moravia entitled La Ciociara.
     
  15. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    La Ciociara is fiction (BTW it's the movie's original title), but what happened in ciociaria (the area where the fighting took place) is fact though I never fund any serious research about it so the size of what happened is hard to come by. If you talk to the locals you hear some pretty bad stories, I would like to know where the 7000 quoted earlier as "from Italian sources" came from, that figure is not "isolated incidents" when you consider the size of the French forces, don't have exact figures but a single corps is unlikely to be more than 40.000 men.
     
  16. efestos

    efestos Member

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    I have not seen all the thread reference to the first Allied troops entered Paris and were Spanish (Republicans, of course) of the 2nd French Armored Division. La nueve. Well, they were whites. (almost).

    August 25th, 1944: M3 half-track "Guadalajara" in front of the
    Hôtel de Ville.

    [​IMG]




    About the goumiers I foud that: General George F. Patton, Jr., * War as I Knew It *, wrote (p. 71):

    In previous conflicts, the SCW, North-African troops, their behavior was also deplorable. The difference perhaps was the number of casualties from "friendly fire" them suffered. The American soldiers wanted to shoot these guys, in Spain it was made. (Direct witness, second-hand testimony, the uncle of a friend, Legion).
     
  17. massimo.alvisi

    massimo.alvisi recruit

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    Hi All,
    I live in an area very close to Cassino and the "name" of Goumies is remembered today as like very cruel troops. You can recall their "fame" in novels and movies, as like The Ciociara, written by Moravia, who was refugee in Fondi in that period and he known the stories that he wrote. Also the movie director, Vittorio De Sica, who born in that area, known the stories by his parents...also recently a young writer, Melania Mazzucco, wrote her novel "Vita" based on the account of her relatives...also during the Allied operations on the Cassino Area (Minturno, Castelforte, Ventosa, Lenola...)
    But these are the official references about the "marocchinate":
    from 24 May to 16 Oct. 1944 there were 16 official reports to the Allied Commission written by the Local Authorities (Campodimele, Lenola, Fondi, Itri, Spigno Saturnia, Monte San Biagio...)There was also an action by the Vatican...
    The local historicians wrote about a Juin Written Order in which he declare that the Goumiers should be free to do everithing for 50 hours...after the battle as like medieval soldiers...SHOULD BE VERY IMPORTANT TO FIND THIS DOCUMENT!!!
     
  18. boogyspeed

    boogyspeed recruit

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    Not all Goumiers were muderers or rapist !! many gave there lives to free europe!! the russians raped thousands of germen women after the fall of Berlin french army did some atrocitys in algeria during the 60's...etc...etc..........war is bad !!!
     
  19. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Of course they weren't all rapists and we respect them as great fighters. Saying they were all rapists would be like saying all rusisans were rapists.
     
  20. InHonorofDad

    InHonorofDad recruit

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    My Father worked at the Omaha Post office with a man named Sweeny. Somewhere after the invasion of Sicily he became separated from his US company and move up the boot with Brit troops ( he said he stayed for the rum ) Mr. Sweeny told my dad about the Morrocans and how they were famous for going behind lines and slitting the throat a German who was asleep with other German troop or troops. They were a scary bunch and I'd have to think we were glad to have them with us.
     

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