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"Still Thinking About those Goumiers..." Topic

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World War Two on the Land

591 hits since 11 Apr 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Achtung Minen12 Apr 2018 7:07 a.m. PST

Years after doing some research on the matter, I am still puzzled by the Goumier platoon organization. Everything I could find in books about the subject suggested the Goumier Section de Combat (platoon) was approximately 60 men divided into three squads (one assault squad with SMGs and two rifle squads, each serving an LMG). I have never found the exact composition of these squads in terms of men.

Moreover, every wargame I am aware of puts the Goumiers at 10 to 12 men per squad and 30 to 36 men per platoon… Bolt Action, I Aint Been Shot Mum, Flames of War… I haven't found a single wargame that uses 20 men per squad or 60 per platoon. Perhaps this makes sense from a gaming perspective… it WOULD be a lot of models on the table, but I feel that this alone wouldn't explain it. After all, all the above mentioned wargames are usually quite conscientous about getting their TO&Es right. And the fact that they all end up so close to each other says to me that they are looking at some primary or secondary source that I haven't seen!

So which is right? Has anyone come up with any new data or sources on the matter? I haven't been able to find any first hand sources, but some of the books on Goumiers say that their organization was described in a letter from Gen. Juin to Gen. Patton during the Italy campaign. A problem with that source in my mind, however, is that Juin was describing the Goumier organization so that the American quartermasters could make recommendations on reorganizing the Goums to better fit an US Army organization (for ease of provisioning the Goums with American weapons). It is not explained in the books, but I wonder if the Goums were maybe a 20-man squad up to Italy and were changed to a 12-man squad in France for that very reason? We know they received new training and equipment immediately after Tunisia… maybe they did so again right before France as well?

andysyk13 Apr 2018 9:59 a.m. PST

I have seen a lot of incorrect and inaccurate FOW/BA material and I suspect many wargames rules writers just assume the Goumiers TOE to be similar to other French units. I don't think they have seen anything else that you havnt.
As for an exact TOE?
Just because there is a PM squad doesn't mean that it couldn't contain an FM. The number of PM could be anything it could just mean there were some PM in that squad and not in the others.
Also as to Company Weapons in some armies/units these do not have always have dedicated crews in the TOE, they are handed out as needed and then crewed by those they are issued to.
The French asked for a lot of material from the US far more than what was needed and exceeding the initial agreement. They wanted to build more units so asked for more material. These discussions went on at high command, arms were delivered en masse to the French and they then decided which units got what. So that's not always an accurate way of working things out.
The French did not totally adopt US TOE their own TOE were drawn up, although similar there were differences.
If you don't know the exact TOE then it is only ever going to be guesswork.
I think/suspect looking at the 1943 Table of Organisation they changed to 12 man squads when this came into force.

Reading this it seems they retained their original organisation even when re equipment started in the field started until they were withdrawn and reorganised and fully re equipped in June 1943.

lou passejaire15 Apr 2018 9:16 a.m. PST

sorry in French but :
En 1943, un goum d'infanterie comprend :
- 1 Commandant de Goum, 1 officier adjoint.- 3 Sections de combat avec chacune 2 sous-officiers français, 2 groupes F.M., 1 groupe d'assaut.
Effectif total :
2 officiers – 12 sous-officiers français, 209 Marocains.
Équipement :
9 fusils mitrailleurs – 1 mortier de 60 – 4 rocketgun – 2 mitrailleuses légères – 21 pistolets mitrailleurs – 9 lance-grenades – 14 chevaux – 28 mulets – 1 jeep – 1 camion 2,5 t – 1 poste radio S.C.R. 284 – 4 postes radio S.C.R. 536.

Achtung Minen15 Apr 2018 5:44 p.m. PST

Thanks, Lou. A few questions: Should we interpret "rocketgun" to mean the American M1 Bazooka? Would the mitrailleuses légères include the water-cooled M1917 Browning machine-gun, or was it just the air-cooled M1919 machine-gun? Were the lance-grenades just the HEAT anti-tank rifle grenades issued for M1903 Springfields?

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