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Thread: Rifles of the French First Army

  1. #1
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    Default Rifles of the French First Army

    I recently came across a photo of some French soldiers of their First Army, giving out candy to some American GI's. I noticed the one French soldier is wearing an American 30-06 cartridge belt with a GI canteen. Anyone know what kind of rifles they were equipped with? Did they have the M1 Garand or the 1903 Springfield? Or did they have their own French manufactured weapons. This picture was taken during the collapse of the Colmar Pocket in the Alsace - Lorraine region of France in Feb. , 1945. The First French ( with assistance of the U.S. XXl corps ) drove the Germans from the area ending the last Nazi offensive on the Western Front ( Operation Nordwind ).

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Rifles of the French First Army

    These look like perhaps French Forces of the Interior troops (FFI). If I had to guess, I think they may have been equipped with .03-06 Enfield rifles (leftovers from WWI, due to the slow rate of Springfield rifle production)...

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Rifles of the French First Army

    http://www.virdea.net/french/mas-auto.html is helpful if not exactly on-topic, but gives a number of 50,000 M1 Garand rifles and 75,000 M1 Carbines in the hands of French troops in 1945 - the 13 Divisions of the Foreign Legion plus Free French.

    At a guess from the photo, the guy on the left is FFI since he's wearing an Adrian helmet (from memory the Free French forces largely had US helmets by Normandy) and generally looks like he'd give his RSM a heart attack. So just because he has US model web equipment doesn't really tell you much about what he might have been armed with, unfortunately - the FFI were pretty disorganised and generally took what they could get their hands on. Since cartridges of the time were of fairly similar sizes, and the belts were a bit oversized to make it easy to pull clips out then he could have used pretty much any full-bore ammunition with it.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Rifles of the French First Army

    Hi,
    The French received around 215,000 rifles from the US Army. This included:
    167,000 M1917 .30 Rifles,
    47,000 M1903 .30 Rifles,
    740 M1 .30 Semi Auto Rifles,
    13,400 M1 Carbines,
    Of these 4,000 Rifles & Carbines went to the French Air Force, all the M1 Semi Auto Rifles to the 1st RCP, with the balance to the French Army.
    Hope this helps.

    Regards

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Rifles of the French First Army

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Morris View Post
    Hi,
    The French received around 215,000 rifles from the US Army. This included:
    167,000 M1917 .30 Rifles,
    47,000 M1903 .30 Rifles,
    740 M1 .30 Semi Auto Rifles,
    13,400 M1 Carbines,
    Of these 4,000 Rifles & Carbines went to the French Air Force, all the M1 Semi Auto Rifles to the 1st RCP, with the balance to the French Army.
    Hope this helps.

    Regards
    Thanks for the info, it's very helpful.

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