Osprey's World Tour - France

In Military History, Featured

Osprey's World Tour sees us delving into our extensive backlist of books as we explore the globe through military history.

In today's instalment of Osprey's World  Tour we are heading to France, with a beautiful piece of artwork showing a resistance fighter ready to ambush a German column. The image comes from Warrior 117: French Resistance Fighter.

Plan Tortue

Extract from Warrior 117: French Resistance Fighter by Terry Crowdy

Plan Tortue was originally envisaged as a pre-D-Day means of making French roads impassable to German traffic, but due to a lack of specialist equipment for destroying the roads it became a series of guerrilla attacks. By denying the country routes and lanes to German forces, the Resistance forced the Germans onto main highways where they were more prone to Allied air attacks. Like all Resistance operations, to be successful their attacks had to be hit-and-run by nature. Although the action against Das Reich is perhaps the best-known example, there were numerous attacks against German troop movements all over France. In the south, the celebrated Spanish maquis chief, Cristino García, pulled off many such operations, notably on 13 July 1944 when he and 19 Spanish guerrillas ambushed and shot up a German troop convoy of 60 trucks. At the ‘battle of La Madeleine’ on 25 August 1944 García attacked a column of 1,200–1,500 German troops and armoured vehicles with just 31 Spaniards and four Frenchmen. After Garcia’s men blew a bridge in front of the Germans and mined the road behind the column, the Germans were boxed in by forest on either side of the road. García’s small force moved along the column spraying it with fire, making the Germans think they faced a much larger force. Trapped on the road, the Germans began negotiating, but refused to surrender to ‘terrorists’. A truce was declared and the Germans taken to the local Gendarmerie, whose authority they recognized. Meanwhile, fighting broke out on the column again but was suspended when García received a reinforcement of 70 FTP fighters. After a brief fight the Germans gave up. A total of 1,100 soldiers surrendered, while their commander shot himself in disgrace.


Further Reading

Eager for more reading on French military history? Here is a small selection of what Osprey has to offer:

Men-at-Arms 315: The French Army 1939–45 (1)
Elite 6: French Foreign Legion Paratroops
New Vanguard 173: French Tanks of World War I
Duel 52: British Frigate vs French Frigate
Essential Histories 3: The Napoleonic Wars (1)

If you are fascinated by French military history let us know in the comments section below!

Post Comments

kuvaszsleepybear posted on 5 Dec 2015 19:05:27
I second the motion.
KenA posted on 5 Dec 2015 12:30:20
Well yes, now that you mention it. I have an interest in WWII French military history mainly because not only were the French caught up in the middle while fighting went on all around them but also because substantial numbers of their populace fought on either side. Now that I find fascinating and the reasons for it (presumably human nature and French culture, which after the war led to the subsequent rather interesting Vichy Syndrome that developed among the French).

So, I look at Osprey’s books to see what coverage they have of conflicts involving French Vichy forces (and there were quite a number of such conflicts, and some significant ones too) and what do I find? Nothing! Oh, there is a book “French Aces of World War 2” (ACE 28) but that is it and it doesn’t cover any one of the Vichy conflicts in full.

So, what’s the reason? I know some folk have long memories and I know England and France have fought each other on and off for centuries. But haven’t times changed just a little over the last couple of hundred years? Hasn’t there been a bit of bridge (well, tunnel) building? Don’t England and France play each other at sports these days and their respective citizens talk to each other? Please can’t we lighten up and move on and fill in some huge gaps in Osprey’s book coverage on French WWII military history?

Submit a Comment

You must be logged in as a Bronze, Silver or Gold Osprey member to comment on this post.

Click here to log in.