The French armed forces were superior to the Germans in tanks and ships but suffered from outdated tactical and strategic doctrine at the highest level. Fighting alongside their British allies, the French army performed a brave rearguard action culminating in the remarkable withdrawal from Europe at Dunkirk. The Laffly was a key component that allowed French motorised dragoon (dragons portes) regiments, which were part of the French cavalry’s light mechanised divisions (DLM), to react to the high speed German advance. The vehicle is also know as the voiture de dragons portes. It could carry ten men and was provided with machine gun mounts to be used by transported infantry.
The French army started World War II as the most powerful army in the world. Well-equipped, with excellent tanks and artillery, the infantry divisions were numerous and confident of fighting off the hated Boche as they had twenty two years before. It was for the honour of France and their regiments that so many Frenchmen dug in and fought it out against a more technologically and tactically advanced foe.
West African troops from France’s colonies provided fierce and loyal troops to the French army in two World Wars. Though raised across France’s territories in west, central and east Africa, they took the title Senegalese in honour of the first black Tirailleur regiments formed in Senegal.
By 1940 nearly ten percent of the French army was formed of Colonial units. They soon earned a reputation for tenacity and ferocity in combat and gave a very good account of themselves in dozens of actions as the Blitzkrieg overwhelmed France. Fierce in attack, and stubborn in defence, the Senegalese were feared and often despised by German troops who objected to the West African traditional close combat weapon, the Coupe-Coupe, a massive heavy-bladed knife that the troops wielded to great physical and psychological effect!
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