Searching for French Expeditionary Corps "Goumiers" in Italy

Discussion in 'Allied Units - Others' started by Sandra Doran, Oct 17, 2020.

  1. Sandra Doran

    Sandra Doran Well-Known Member

    Hello, hope you are all enjoying your weekend.
    I'm researching for material on the French Expeditionary Corps "Goumiers" in Italy. The search hasn't provided much or given me any positive leads so far. Can anyone help? Thank you.
    Chris C likes this.
  2. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    I can remember reading that a complaint was lodged in Geneva (presumably with the Red Cross) accusing the Goumiers of war crimes in Italy (ie deviations from the Hague Convention). What tickled me was that the complaint was put in by the SS. There might be something in the RC archives.
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  3. Sandra Doran

    Sandra Doran Well-Known Member

    Hello Robert, thank you for your reply. I have been sent (part) copies of court papers and victims compensation record. Sadly, not much in it. I will try the Red Cross
  4. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    They get a substantial mention in Eric Linklater's 1949 novel of the misadventures of an remarkably unbrave but basically honourable Italian in post 1943 armistice Italy 'Private Angelo' (in some ways a WW2 The Good Soldier Schweik) although not in the film of the same name, but given what they perpetrate on Angelo and his girl this is not surprising. Whilst it is fiction Linklater served as a captain in the Black Watch in Italy and it does give a flavour of the reputation of at least some of them.
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  5. Sandra Doran

    Sandra Doran Well-Known Member

    Thank you. The book sounds interesting
  6. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Try this French film: Days of Glory (2006 film) - Wikipedia It includes their time in Italy, with my emphasis:
    Try searching with Moroccans and you might get more hits. This might help: Moroccan Goumier - Wikipedia and LIBRE Magazine - 07 - Goumiers

    This 2014 article is behind a pay wall; 'The goumiers in the Second World War: history and colonial representation' the Abstract may give clues:

    Even this footnoted student essay: The Moroccan Goumiers: Origin and History

    Sandra Doran likes this.
  7. Sandra Doran

    Sandra Doran Well-Known Member

    Got something back from the Red Cross search, so thank you for that. Also found a couple of books (in Italian and French) and a contact address in Italy. Cheers.
  8. Sandra Doran

    Sandra Doran Well-Known Member

    I've checked out the links. Going to watch the film later. Cheers
  9. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Most of your sources will be in French. Try googling "Tabors Marocains" or "Goumiers."

    The Goumiers were a special sort of soldier. (Goum = Company, 3 or 4 Goums = 1 Tabor.) They were essentially irregulars, recruited from the most backward tribes of the Moroccan mountains. They wore their own native dress, turbans and djellabas. Sometimes they took their own women with them to war. Moroccan troops had a high reputation in the French army, and the Goumiers were renowned as the toughest of all. They were undoubtedly the best mountain fighters in the Italian theater; they made the German gebirgsjager look like amateurs. They excelled at patrolling, recce, nightwork, and infiltration, and they could tackle terrain other troops thought impassable. According to an NZ officer quoted in the TV series A World at War, Allied troops in Italy came to use "Goum" as a verb---"To Goum" meant to go clean off the map. They killed silently and loved to use the knife and the bayonet. They were among the few Allied troops whom the Germans were afraid of, and they played a major role in the French breakthrough in Operation DIADEM. Unfortunately, there was another side. They had their own ideas about discipline, and sometimes their French officers could do nothing to restrain them. Many of them at least regarded rape as their due reward after battle, and they weren't particular about their victims: female or male, young or old, it made no difference. There were many complaints against them on this score, not only in Italy but later on in Germany and post-45 in Indochina.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
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  10. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    It was not a good time to be an Italian goat either.
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  11. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

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  12. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Never was - there was apparently a Roman Legion marching song in the last days of the Republic that started with a verse that began with Hide your daughters Caesar's coming and continued through hide your sons, sheep, goats etc etc Julius had a reputation.
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  13. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Try this (French) book, written by Maréchal Alphonse Juin, GOC of the French Expeditionary Corps (C.E.F.), which also deals with the Tabors:

    Juin Italie.jpg

    Ted Roosevelt & Juin.jpg
    Brig.General Ted Roosevelt (a nephew of President Roosevelt) and Maréchal Juin in Italy; Ted Roosevelt acted as US liaison officer to the French Expeditionary Force.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2020
  14. Sandra Doran

    Sandra Doran Well-Known Member

    I watched 'Days of Glory' so thank you for the suggestion. Still checking the rest.
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  15. Sandra Doran

    Sandra Doran Well-Known Member

    They certainly were a formidable force. Heard terrible stories of the rape and looting. Not surprised they were feared by many. Thank you, made fascinating reading.
    TTH likes this.
  16. Sandra Doran

    Sandra Doran Well-Known Member

  17. Sandra Doran

    Sandra Doran Well-Known Member

    Hear of some strange going-on. Read a paper stated by some of the witnesses. Overwhelming and heartbreaking to read of children being raped. Not heard about the goats though. Thank you
  18. Sandra Doran

    Sandra Doran Well-Known Member

  19. Richelieu

    Richelieu Well-Known Member

    Generally speaking Sandra, the more specific you can be about your interest, the better the quality of the responses. IIRC, General Juin advocated a flanking attack to bypass Cassino, which played to his Corps’ strengths, and might have saved the monastery but was refused authority. A later similar attack proved quite successful I believe.

    I have found a ‘Directive on the Organisation and Use of the Moroccan Goums’ produced for senior Allied commanders by Juin in June 1943 at TNA: WO 229/33/7.

    This copy was digitised from a SHAEF microfilm and is unfortunately unreadable in places, but it may still be of some use - it is better than first impressions might suggest if you enlarge. SHAEF’s file reference was ‘091.711-12 (French)’ which an American member might be able to access from their archives.

    The original went to 15th Army Group; U.S. 5th and 7th Armies; and the 8th Army, so a cleaner hardcopy may also have survived in the records of these headquarters, as well as Juin’s.

    You may also find something of interest in Rearming the French.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
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  20. Sandra Doran

    Sandra Doran Well-Known Member


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