Thursday 24 April 2014

La Phalange Africane

I've just started reading Rick Atkinson's An Army at Dawn, the first of his trilogy of books looking at the evolution of the U.S.Army in WWII. This volume concentrates on North Africa and whilst I am only a hundred pages in I am finding it fascinating and well written.

A bit of aimless Googling regarding the Vichy French forces using (you do get different results) led to some articles about a unit I had not heard of before - La Phalange Africane (the African Phalanx). Whilst only a small unit of a couple of hundred troops, it was raised by Nazi sympathisers in the Vichy government to continue the fight against the Allies in Tunisia after the French Army in Africa switched sides after Operation Torch. The Phalanx fought under German command against Indian and New Zealand units in April 1943.

They appear to be an interesting looking unit, wearing French uniforms with German helmets and boots and German weapons and despite their limited service they have picqued my interest enough that I may raise a section when I get around to my Operation Torch project later this year.

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