Commencing on 15 August 1944, a number of American Infantry Divisions from VI Corps supported by the French First Army B, launched amphibious assaults against the Southern French Coastline codenamed Operation Dragoon. This operation was a significant role for the Free French forces in the liberation of mainland France, although their achievements seem to be constantly overshadowed by their US and Commonwealth allies.
French Army B, later designated the French First Army, fought tooth and nail and liberated strategically important towns such as Marseilles, Toulon and Lyon, and formed the right flank the of Allied Southern Group of Armies. The French First Army fought its way to the Rhine and into Germany and at its peak contained more than 320,000 men.
As a player who has invested significant time and effort into an early war French force I wanted to continue the theme and create a late war army based on the survivors of that early war army. Now there are no rules for late war French and the early war rules are just not in my opinion suitable. I decided to base them as an American force and basically run them as Americans with the subtle difference that they are themed as French First Army.
The French First Army was primarily equipped by the US and as such uniforms, vehicles and weapons were mostly identical to those seen in use by American forces. A timely 50% off sale with BTD got me 60 GI’s and I had a US Jeep and M8 Scott hanging around unpainted which would provide some interim fire support till I got other vehicles. What would change them from Americans to French? Well a simple Tricolour on the shoulder and helmet and boom, so not Americans!
I can use the Veterans to represent those that have been fighting since the fall of France and Regulars those that have joined the push and seen service in a campaign or two but unlike my Early War French there is no room for inexperienced. I may even use the Ranger rules to represent French Commandos or even Veteran Tough Fighters for my Senegalese squads, I know they are Regular but if they have survived from 1939 to 1944 they deserve veteran status somewhat.
I am a couple of squads into this army with both the M8 and Jeep also done and so far I am happy with the results. I will keep you guys updated on the progress with the intention of keeping this army within parameters I have set for myself, being 5 x 8 man squads, a command team, Bazooka team, Mortar team and Sniper team, let’s see how that goes.