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French Paratroops in France '40 Gold?
12-29-2018, 12:53 PM,
#1
French Paratroops in France '40 Gold?
This is mainly for Mike Prucha. 

Are the 2 existing companies of French Paratroopers included in the France '40 Gold OOB? I haven't located them yet, but could be overlooking something.

They were the 601e and 602e  Airborne Infantry Groups. Both were formed in April 1937, and contained 207 men each. One was stationed in France, and one in North Africa initially. By October 1939 both were in France. The only other information I have is that a detachment under a Captain Sauvagnac was active, doing some aggressive patrolling in the Niederbronn-les-Bains area in February 1940. Following that both companies were concentrated at an airfield "south of Paris". The only other mention of them is that during late May-June 1940 elements of both were evacuated to North Africa through Marseilles to Algers, where they were disbanded. My primary source is Robert Forczk's book "Case Red".

A very small thing really, but I'm just wondering if they are included?
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12-30-2018, 02:10 AM,
#2
RE: French Paratroops in France '40 Gold?
Were they Mainland French Paras or were they Foreign Legion?
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12-30-2018, 03:13 AM, (This post was last modified: 12-30-2018, 03:31 AM by Mike Prucha.)
#3
RE: French Paratroops in France '40 Gold?
The French had established two groupes d'infanterie de l'air in 1937 -  the 601e GIA and the 602e GIA. Each groupe consisted of an air transport squadron and a company of airborne infantry. They were part of the French Air Force and recruited from metropolitan personnel.

In September of 1939 both groupes were training in North Africa. They returned to France shortly after the outbreak of the war. In March the two companies contributed personnel to a compagnie de marche which was assigned to 27e DI in Alsace (just off the eastern edge of the France 40 map). The compagnie de marche conducted successful raids against German outposts throughout March and April before being withdrawn from the front. In May 1940 the French paratroopers were at Lyon except for a detachment from the 601e GIA which provided security for Vuillemin's headquarters outside Paris. Neither group saw combat during Fall Gelb or Fall Rot. They were sent to Algeria in June to avoid capture. 

They are not represented in the OOB as they didn't see any fighting and were deployed well off the map area.
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12-30-2018, 03:20 AM,
#4
RE: French Paratroops in France '40 Gold?
(12-30-2018, 03:13 AM)Mike Prucha Wrote: The French had established two groupes d'infanterie de l'air in 1937 -  the 601e GIA and the 602e GIA. Each groupe consisted of an air transport squadron and a company of airborne infantry. They were part of the French Air Force and recruited from metropolitan personnel.

In September of 1939 both groupes were training in North Africa. They returned to France shortly after the outbreak of the war. In March the two companies contributed personnel to a compagnie de marche which was assigned to 27e DI in Alsace (just off the eastern edge of the France 40 map). The compagnie de marche conducted successful raids against German outposts throughout March and April before being withdrawn from the front. In May 1940 the French paratroopers were at Lyon except for a detachment from the 601e GIA which provided security for Vuillemin's headquarters outside Paris. Neither group saw combat during Fall Gelb or Fall Rot. They were sent to Algeria in June to avoid capture.

They are not represented in the OOB as they didn't see any fighting and were deployed well off the map area.

Thanks for the fast answer Mike. It helps clear up a little mystery for me...now I know what happened to them in May-June 1940. I always wondered what they were doing when the German attack came. Short answer seems to be nothing very useful. A waste of some high morale and well trained troops even if their numbers were small.
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12-30-2018, 03:34 AM,
#5
RE: French Paratroops in France '40 Gold?
I did think about including the 601e GIA in the OOB as it was in our map area, but I was afraid it might be abused.
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12-30-2018, 04:33 AM,
#6
RE: French Paratroops in France '40 Gold?
(12-30-2018, 03:34 AM)Mike Prucha Wrote: I did think about including the 601e GIA in the OOB as it was in our map area, but I was afraid it might be abused.
A good decision. Someone playing the French might have been tempted to use them in a sort of suicide raid on a German HQ or something like that. Definitely not in keeping with French doctrine at the time.
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12-31-2018, 01:45 AM,
#7
RE: French Paratroops in France '40 Gold?
There is no abuse if used in a "what if" scenario. You would have to have something like a strike first like the Israelis did in the Six Day War. :)
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01-01-2019, 11:48 PM,
#8
RE: French Paratroops in France '40 Gold?
Airborne units of the Foreign Legion were created during the Indochina War, and only then. At the turn of 1950 when it was clear that the static defence used until then was doomed and the need for something more dynamic became obvious, aimed at destroying the enemy where it was. The available regular troops, like the 1er Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes, were too few and turning airborne some Infanterie de Marine units was not enough.

There were some doubts at the beginning because légionnaires were considered very good at building and manning outposts along the main roads, and defending them unto death in case of need, but not nimble enough to be good paratroop material (“l’esprit chasseur” - light infantry).
Doubts were lifted quickly, which is not surprising, taking into account the fact that quite a lot of the légionnaires had fought during WW2, some of them in airborne units... of which some were wearing Feldgrau.

After the defeat, as mentioned, the parachute companies were disbanded in Northern Africa. Some members went to London, joined the Free French and were included in various units of the British Army. The Vichy government made some covert attempts at maintaining the nucleus of parachute troops, but the terms of the armistice and the German monitoring ensured it all was on paper more than anything else.
After the invasion of Algeria by US and UK troops, when the Gaullist Movement started the creation of a new army to fight along the Western Allies, the French efforts towards the building of airborne units finally came to something, and the 1er Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes was set up (I think it was a Bataillon only, at the beginning). Some of the original members of the pre-war units joined in, coming back from the British Army, but the French parachute regiment was indeed organised, equiped and trained along the lines of the US Army, with the 82nd Airborne Division as the parent outfit. Still, some details of the regiment’s traditions pay tribute to the British paratroopers and commandos.

They then fought in Italy and in France after the Provence landing.
After the liberation of Paris the 1er Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes was made larger to prepare for the final fighting and the invasion of Germany, in a general move by the French government to increase the French participation. When they were brought back in line at the end of 1944 or the beginning of 1945, one third of the staff was composed of the original 1943 soldiers (modulo casualties replacement), one third of young Frenchman volunteering (students, resistance members, etc.) and one third of experienced soldiers transferring from other units... most of them coming from the Foreign Legion (but having to quit being a ”légionnaire” to become a “parachutiste”).
As a side note, having two thirds of experienced soldiers for one third of greenhorns ensured the latter suffered a relatively lower casualty rate compared to similar units of the newly-created French fighting forces.
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01-03-2019, 10:15 AM,
#9
RE: French Paratroops in France '40 Gold?
Thanks for the additional info SG1!
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