The Defenders of France have been valiantly holding the hated Boche at bay. Now they have more weapons to add to their arsenal in the form of the 81mm Mortar Team and the French Infantry Squad. Muster the troops, mon ami!
For all the glamour and so called ferocity of the German armoured troops, it was troops like these,the brave French infantryman who faced up to them and inflicted upwards of 140,000 casualties on the invading German columns in 1940.Their uniforms were dated , though practical, and indeed in 1939 it was deemed the strongest army in the world.The infantry division had 17,000 men and 500 officers , made up of three regiments , a regiment composing 3,000 men and 80 officers.
Each battalion was made up of 3 companies of four officers and 190 men,the company divided into a HQ section with a 60mm mortar and four platoons each of three sections, and a heavy weapons company of 4 officers and 190 men with 16 machine guns , two 25mm anti-tank guns and two 81mm mortars.
Riflemen were equipped broadly with the Berthier rifle. Section support was given by the reliable Hotchkiss Mle 1914 light machine gun , the assistant gunner generally armed with pistol only. A few mAS38 sub machine guns were delivered late on as were a few Thompson guns, but both were uncommon.
These men dug in and fought hard against the German forces and stopped the Italians in their tracks, thousands of them evading capture and making it to England to carry on the battle for France. Many, it has to be said, also fought against the British, Americans and Free French as the Vichy forces defended the French Empire fiercely from Allied designs.
This pack is a great support choice, the Brandt 81mm mortar. Just prior to the war, the French army could field 2,000 British 3”mortars, but it was of a metric calibre of 81mm. By the outbreak of war, French regiments could put out 9 x 60mm mortars and 8 x 81mm mortars, totaling 8,000 in total. Mortars can put down short savage barrages that were justly feared by infantry on all sides. Gamers tip: one mortar is never enough.
Declaring war on Germany in 1939 the French armed forces were superior to the Germans in tanks and ships but not so in tactical and strategic prowess. Fighting alongside their British allies, the French army performed a brave rearguard action culminating in the remarkable withdrawal from Europe at Dunkirk. With the British heading back to England, the French forces battled on stubbornly as the Germans closed on Paris.
The French started World War II as the most powerful army in the world. Well equipped, with good tanks and artillery, the infantry divisions were numerous and confident of fighting off the hated Boche as they had been twenty two years before. This was not the same war and the French infantryman found himself all too often fighting off German armoured units which had outmanoeuvered them with ease.
Their weapons were adequate, but only just, and it was for the honour of France and their regiment that so many Frenchmen dug in and fought it out against a more scientific and deadly foe. By the time of the cease fire they had killed 27,000 Germans but had suffered appalling losses of nearly 100,000 dead and 250,000 wounded. It was a big price to pay and Frenchmen went on to fight against the Allies with Vichy France, ensuring admiration and loathing in equal measure.
The Defenders of France boxed set contains:
• Command: 1 Officer with pistol, 1 Sergeant with rifle, 1 Corporal with rifle grenade launcher and 2 soldiers with carbines
• 12 man section: Sergeant with rifle, Corporal with rifle, 2-man Hotchkiss LMG team, 7 riflemen and 12 soldier with rifle grenade launcher
• 81mm mortar and 3 crew
To find out more and order your new forces, visit the French section of the Bolt Action Miniatures area of the Warlord webstore.