Bolt Action French – Defenders of France Boxed Set
Although much has been written of the German armoured forces and the defeat of the British at Dunkirk in the dark days of 1940, much too little has been written about the gallant stands made by the French army.
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 outmanoeuvred 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.
Warlord Games’ tough infantry are equipped as a standard squad with command and support weapons attached…
Defenders of France 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 1 soldiers with rifle grenade launchers
81mm mortar and 3 crew
Bolt Action French – 75mm light artillery
The famous seventy five millimetre gun of the Great War served France and other countries well in the Second World War too. Used extensively throughout the war this model was reliable and could take on bombardments or anti tank duties.
Bolt Action French – French Army 81mm medium mortar team
This pack is a great support choice, the Brandt 81mm mortar. Just prior to the war, the French army could field 2000 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, totalling 8000 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….
Bolt Action French – French Army MMG team
The classic Hotchkiss medium machine gun had served France well in the Great war, and went on again, as did the Vickers in the British army to give solid reliable firepower to companies in defence and supporting fire on the advance. Rugged, slow firing but dependable , it was a good enough weapon for the Great war, but was showing its age, particularly against the German weaponry of 1940.
Designed in 1933 and produced from 1936, the Renault R35 was intended as a light infantry support tank, equipping autonomous tank battalions, that would be allocated to individual infantry divisions to assist them in executing offensive operations. It was relatively well-armoured but slow and lacking a good antitank-capacity, fitted with a short 37 mm gun.
At the outbreak of the war, the anti-tank role was more emphasized leading to the development and eventual production from April 1940 of a subtype with a more powerful longer gun, the Renault R40. It was planned to shift new production capacity to the manufacture of other, faster, types, but due to the defeat of France the R35/40 remained the most numerous French tank of the war, about 1685 vehicles having been produced in June 1940.
R35’s were also exported to Poland, Romania, Turkey and Yugoslavia. The Germans and their allies would also use captured vehicles.
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 17000 men and 500 officers , made up of three regiments , a regiment composing 3000 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 a/t guns and two 81mm mortars.
Riflemen were equipped broadly with the MAS 36 rifle, a sound and accurate design with a 5 round mag. Section support was given by the reliable if pedestrian FM24/29 light machine gun , the assistant gunner armed with pistol only. A few mAS38 sub machine guns were delivered late on as were a few Thompson guns , but all 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.
The section comprises an NCO with rifle, 1 with VB launcher, 2-man LMG team and 6 riflemen
Note: Models supplied unassembled and unpainted