Wednesday 28 November 2012

Musee des Troupes de Marine

Our hobby is as varied as we want to make it, fantasy or historical. For me I love the history and characters who add colour to it. My favourite nation - the French, there are loads of reasons behind this, I think the main one is the fact it is little written about in English and rarely if ever in those few texts on the subject given half the credit it deserve.
Musee des Troupes de Marine in located near the coastal town of frejus in southern France.
Situated just off junction 39 (Frejus) of the E8 motorway which runs along the Côte d'Azur, well sign-posted and easy to get to by car.

Troupes de Marine for those who don’t know, is the title given by the French to their colonial army; either foreign troops (tirailleur, spahis, etc) or French nationals serving over seas on a more of less permanent basis. The Troupes de Marine does not include the Foreign Legion within its ranks, though the units will often be seen serving with one-another.  

The museum is housed in a large modern airy building set within the grounds of Camp Colonel Lecocq home of 21st Regiment Infantry d`Marine. The building is set in a area of rough grass/hedges among which are dotted several large pieces of C19th ordinance; an AMX13 light tank, a EBR 8 wheel armoured car and a howitzer which I couldn’t identify at the time, which was captured in Chad (since I’ve been home the guys over on The Guild forum have identified the gun as a Yugoslavian M56).

Entrance was free and the inside of the building is well lit and airy, almost all the exhibits are held in glass cabinets. The museum is split between the ground level and an open mezzanine which runs around the first floor; all information is in French only.

The ground floor starts with a information on the humanitarian side to the Troupes de Marine, and their medical work in Africa and the Far East from their earliest period up to today; they were also responsible for mapping, exploring much of the then unknown reaches of the world, which is all covered in this area. There are displays of medical, scientific and exploration equipment, plus mannequins with uniforms of various types from 1870 – 1930; the walls in all areas are covered with photos, paintings and posters further illustrating the period/topics.

At the end of the hall there is a lower section (like a crypt) with subdued lighting. Here you will find battle honours and flags from the various regiments, the French colonial army has served all over the world for four hundred years, many battle laurels will be familiar to members – Sebastopol, the Marne, the Somme, Sedan, Tobruk, Bir Hakeim, Cassino, etc. Here too were large notice-boards each bearing a number of photographs and citations for soldiers from Troupes de Marine killed in action since 1964 (Chad) through to 2008 in Afghanistan.

As you ascend from the memorial you are faced with two interesting pieces of ordnance – a 80mm mountain gun “de Bange” and an excellent example of a Hotchkiss 1pdr gatling gun; both in superb condition. The last section on the ground floor is dedicated to one of my personnel favourite units – Le Saharienne, the camel mounted auxiliaries. There was a diorama in 20mm with a full Saharienne unit on parade, uniforms and artifacts plus a number of photographs which I’d not seen before. The section followed the unit from its formation (see my article way back in J57) through WWII and up to motorized columns in Chad during the 1960s/70s.

Upstairs we find two glass rooms and a mezzanine floor which runs around the entire building. The glass rooms contain medals and ribbons donated to the museum by ex-servicemen or their families, one also has a fine display of 1/35 scale dioramas of WWII vehicles and crews from the various formations and theatres.

The mezzanine should be walked around clockwise starting at the top of the stairs; it follows the history of the Troupes de Marine (sometimes re-named La Colonial and today often referred to as simply – l’Outre Mer) during it 400 years of service. Obviously large areas are outside the remit of the society, but one section on Marshall Gallieni is of special note as his ideas on colonization and on winning the “Hearts and Minds” of the natives are the foundations upon which all occupation armies since have build their strategies.

My favoured colonial period 1900-35 is of course covered, but only in passing, but there were some nice uniform and weapon/kit displays, plus the posters, photographs and other illustrations around the walls.

The largest sections are of course WWI and WWII.
The Great War section is a good display of uniforms and kit with some interesting items, including – a Chauchat, and a Spanish Ruby pistol (issued to French officers).
WW2 covers all periods from 1940 through to Liberation (though the Vichy period and the fighting in Syria/Lebanon and the resistance to the Operation Torch in North Africa are passed over). This is a large display area with lots of cases covering the different campaigns and theatres; the ones on General Leclerc and Bir Hakeim were particularly good.

There are then sections on Indo-China, Korea and Algeria each with some great photos and uniformed mannequins. The last section taking us back to the stairs is modern peacekeeping/police actions from 1960 to date – the Congo, Chad, Zaire, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Beirut, the First Gulf War and Afghanistan. Not all covered in any depth, but all illustrated with photos or prints.

I found the visit worthwhile and even with my schoolboy French, the information was easy to read and follow.
Musee des Troupes de Marine, Route de Bagnols-en-Foret, 83600, Frejus. Tel. 04 94 40 81 75 

EBC75 in the museum grounds (and our Alex who was 11 when I visited last)

The Yugoslavian M56 as mentioned in the text

C19th cannon

De Bange 80mm mountain gun

Hotchkiss 37mm "gatling" gun


The town itself is very interesting too, it has been the base for the French Colonial Army for years. There are also Roman ruins (a terrific ampitheatre), it was also the port from where Octavian set sail to Egypt to do battle with Mark Anthony at the naval Battle of Actium. The town is also command centre for the Marine airwing and has the national memorial to the Indo-China War (very moving).

Indo-China memorial

Missiri Mosque, built in 1930 by Sengalese soldier stationed in Frejus. A miniature replica of the Great Mosque of Djenne (Mali, Africa). A bit run-down and sad today, but interesting.  

War memorial on the seafront dedicated to those soldiers from North Africa who died for France during the both wars. 

Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard jet on display on the seafront

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Liebster Award

Liebster Award

Here are the Liebster rules as I got them from

Copy and paste the award on your blog linking it to the blogger who has given it to you.
Pass the award to your top 5 favourite blogs with less than 200 followers by leaving a comment on one of their posts to notify them that they have won the award and listing them on your own blog.
Sit back and bask in that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with knowing that you have just made someone's day!

A Big thankyou for the Nomination

Whilst I had no idea people were actually reading this, I was both suprised and pleased when Andy sent me an email to say he`d nominated this Blog for this award.

Saturday 24 November 2012

Italians for Tunisia 5

This is the last batch of the various infantry/gunners figures I bought for this project. Now these are done, I have a usable and effective unit for our games.
LMG teams (Reiver and Kellys Heroes)
Various Reiver infantry including an officer, some NCOs and a moving LMG team

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Italians for Tunisia 4

And theres more :)
20mm Breda (Kellys Heroes)
80mm mortar (Reiver)
Various infantry (all Kellys)

One more batch of figures and then its onto the trucks and armour :D

Monday 12 November 2012

Italians for Tunisia 3

One of the things about a new project, allows me to try different manufacturers. also I can look through my boxes and dig out odd figures to use. :cool:

Dixons, nice figures except theres something very odd about their standing poses, the kneeling and prone guys are quite nice, but the standing ones are far too small (short), they look very odd next to Reiver and SHQ. :/ 

Dixons LMG team and prone rifleman, the guy firing was a Jap from EWM (he now has a Reiver Italian head)
Dixons standing and kneeling poses
Two plastic officers (from Bannockburn Boy) one hasa Raventhorpe head
More EWM Japs with Reiver heads (waste not want not :lol:)
Sniper (a plastic Turk with a Reiver head)

Saturday 10 November 2012

Operation Eilbotel scenario 2

Note: this action is happening at about the same time as scenario 1 (El Hamra & the Kebir reservoir)

Oum-el Abouab II, Colonel Weber`s attack - 18/19th January 1943.
Weber’s counter attack was spread all along the French XIX Corps frontage. The general plan called for an attack across the mountains using elements of the German 334th Infantry and Italian Superga Divisions. Whilst these units pinned and tried to overwhelm the Anglo-French, elements of 10th Panzer supported by Tigers of the 501st Heavy Tank Battalion would push down the road from Pont-du-Fahs. All attacks would be supported by available artillery and Luftwaffe.
In the southern central sector (Sous-secteur d`Oum-el Abouab) of the XIX Corps line south of Pont-du-Fahs was held by Sous-groupement Carpentier (7e RTM).
Oum-el-Abouab sits on a good road across the mountains between El Hamra (North) and Hir Moussa (South); the road eventually leads south to the district capital – Ousseltia.

Historically, Col. Carpentier`s command was deployed as follows (positions in respect to the village of Oum-el-Abouab) – see sketch map
I/7 - north and west in an ark covering the heights above Oum and the road north-west towards El Hamara

HQ & II/7 (less 5ere coy) central (in and around the village)

III/7 (less 9 & 12ere Coys) [groupe reserve] south of the village dug-in facing the heights

In direct support Carpentier had:

1 x battery 75mm mle1897 (III/67e RAA) [Oum]
1 x battery 47mm AC (64e RAA) [1 section with I/7, the other in Oum]
1 x section 13.2mm DCA [Oum]

Unfortunately for Col. Carpentier his command sat across the axis of Col. Weber`s planned attack.

The GameThis is the second game in our mini-campaign but actually takes place at the same time as game 1 (El-Hamra & the Kebir Reservoir). For this scenario I decided to tinker with the orbats to suit what figures we had available and concentrate on the area around Oum. Also I wanted to take into account what had happened in our previous game played over this terrain based on the French attempt to take the heights back in December. See - ... wards.html.)

Defending the Kasbah and heights above Oum (all elements may be dug-in) –
9ere III/4e RTT
Reinforced by - 1 platoon 52ere /3e Tabor du Goums (acting as a recce platoon)
Composite battery III/67 RAA with -
1 x 47mm AC + tow; 1 x 65mm mountain gun (mules)

Sous-secteur HQ 7e RTM
6ere II/7e RTM
75mm battery (III/67e RAA)
1 x 47mm AC (I/64e RAA)
1 x Twin 13.2mm AA (411e DCA)

Arrive on table from the direction of El-Hamra
Retreating units (survivors and wounded from units further north)*
Wounded in ambulance, wagons and on mules
2 x infantry platoons (small arms only, shaken morale)

* This column moves at 3” per turn south, upon arriving at Oum the French commander can attempt to rally them -
He has a 30% (01-30) chance to do so, in which case the two rifle platoons join the defenders.
However there is a 15% (85-00) chance other French troops may become spooked by the sight of these wounded and the stories they tell of the unstoppable Boche tanks and planes. This will cause 1-2 platoons of the defenders to throw away their rifles and join the retreat!!!

Reinforcements (from the south-east arriving on turn 12 + D6):
8ere du 4e RTA (motorised)
3ere Squadron 4RCA

German forces (from the hills above Oum) –
III battalion 756th Mountain Infantry Regiment
Supported by – 1 battery of 105mm artillery (off table)
2 x Stuka sortees (2 planes each)

From the North from Pont du Fahs (turn 10) –
1st Kompanie, 7th Panzer Regiment (panzer III)
2nd Kompanie, 86th Panzer Grenadier battalion
Elements –
2 platoons - Panzer IV (3rd Kompanie, 7th Panzer Regiment)
2 x Sdkfz222 (90th panzer recce battalion)
Pioneer platoon in SDKFZ251/7 (49th Panzer pioneer battalion)
1 x platoon 10th motorcycle battalion
Supported by – 105mm Wesp battery (off table)

The French must hold Oum and its vital road to protect units south of its position. III/756th Jager Battalion are tasked with clearing resistance to allow armoured units of 10th Panzer to push through and continue their advance.

If by turn 20 the Germans have been unable to overcome French resistance, this is a tactical French win.
Any other result is a German victory.

Table layout
Looking from the heights down toward Oum
The Kasbah and centre of the Tunisian line
Again looking down on Oum this time on the German right with the dry wadi just visible in the foreground
`75 battery in Oum
Sous-secteur HQ, note the 13.2mm DCA mounted on the roof
37mm infantry gun manned by Moroccans in a good ambush position

The game started with a steady advance by III/756th Jagers, on turn 2 one platoon was ambushed by the Goumiers!
Good support play by the boys enveloped the ambush wiping out the Goumiers with little overall loss to the attackers.

Through turns 3-5 the Germans were hit by `75 fire directed from the town and direct 65mm fire from the Kasbah. They replied with directed 105mm fire of their own, this eventually eliminated the Kasbah defenders by turn 7.
Kasbah getting a pasting!
On turn 6 the withdrawing column of wounded and stragglers began its long retreat across the table.
During turns 8-9 the German infantry fought a protracted battle with the Tunisians, well supported by their battalion 81mm mortars and platoon LMGs.
Turn 10 and elements of 10th Panzer begin to arrive from Pont-du-Fahs led by recce units
The Luftwaffe also make their first appearance and attack a target of opportunity – the straggler column!
The results were predictable and devastating
A road full of smashed wagons, dead mules, burning ambulances and much pain and suffering! This caused serious morale tests among the defenders of Oum, which left them shaky……
Survivors stagger south past the HQ
The Germans now pressed home their advantage, their mortars and artillery clearing a path through the Tunisians.
The AT gun from 67RAA bites the dust!
Turn 12 and I dice for my reinforcements – 6, F**K they couldn`t arrive until turn 18…….. And the pesky Luftwaffe returned and bombed out my `75 battery!!!!!!!!

Turn 14, 10th Panzer advance down the road and are ambushed by the Moroccans, the 37mm infantry gun knocks out the lead Sdkfz222 (hooray the first bit luck for the French)
Also a 47mm shell bounces off the lead PzIII; unfortunately the panzer spotted the AT gun and fires back…………Ouch!

Turns 15-18, the Germans pound the town with artillery, mortars and 50mm tank shells and then close for the kill, with most houses on fire, many defenders eliminated, the game was effectively over and I felt sacrificing the motorised Algerian company would have been pointless and silly, so we ended it there.
Image A brave but futile fight mon ami.........

The boys were very aggressive today; they used a lot of close-assaults whilst clearing the Tunisian positions. Their use of artillery and mortars was good including moving their FOOs into new positions to keep up with the attack. The Stuka sortees were terrible to witness, very effective, damaged the Moroccan morale at a critical time and also took out the French artillery battery (again). Their dice rolling today was unbelievable, just so lucky, at one point a 20mm cannon on a Sdkfz222 scored six 6s and ripped up an entire Moroccan squad!!!!!!!!

After thoughtBasically this is the same game as scenario 1, but over different terrain with different French defenders. But this time the French do receive reinforcements (but no armour unfortunately). As with the first action, historically German surprise was total, their attack smashed through 7RTM scattering its units. Once Oum was captured and a link-up was made with Kampfgruppe Lueder moving south from El Hamra the Germans pushed south toward Hir Moussa and effectively bottled-up and cut off all French units defending the Karachoum Pass.