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M1A1s with French Forces

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Lupus Dei View Drop Down
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    Posted: Apr 27 2016 at 5:14pm

May 2016-F

M1A1 CARBINES WITH THE FRENCH FORCES AT DIEN BIEN PHU, 1954

The United States supplied aircraft, pilots, weapons, maintenance crews and other materiel support to the French military during their colonial war in French Indochina.

The photos below are from the final battle of Dien Bien Phu, which occurred from March-May 1954, and ended in defeat for the French.

 

Airborne troops can be seen with M1A1s. Note the rubber magazine “dust covers” attached to the bottoms of the 15-round magazines and the lack of bayonet lugs on the carbines.

 

Photos submitted by Ted Syme.

 

 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote OttoShoppe06 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 01 2016 at 10:39am
The OSS, during WWII, provided M1A1 Carbines to the French resistence.  The French likely kept the carbines and other arms provided by the OSS and issued them to the forces in South East Asia.  

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sleeplessnashadow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 20 2016 at 5:45am
France was provided with 96,983 U.S. Carbines by the Lend-Lease Program during WWII and another 155,356 U.S. Carbines by the Military Assistance Program in the 1950's. Along with spare parts.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain O Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 20 2016 at 11:28am
Just looking at those photos, elicited mixed feelings. I wanted to "tear up" as well as become angry. At Dien Bien Phu, the United States lost three members of the CIA as well as three Army officers. Is it any wonder that President Eisenhower was angry about the pending genocide being planned by the NVA, Viet Minh and Viet Cong?

Most American people are ignorant about the fact that the fall of Dien Bien Phu was the true beginning of America's involvement in Southeast Asia. The M1 Carbine saw continuous service in the Vietnam Conflict from 1946 - 1973. The "Light Rifle" was used by both friend and foe alike for 27 years in the struggle against the Communists. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote manteo97 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 22 2016 at 12:44am
The photos are actually from the initial para drop on the first day, Nov 20, 1953. These paratroopers, with nice clean uniforms and shaves had just cleared the area of the local Viet Minh, are probably members of the 6th Colonial Parachute Battalion or II/1 Parachute Light Infantry Regiment. French Union forces were equipped with both M1 Carbines and M1A1's.

Bernard Fall had authored a few books on the French in Indo-China before he was killed on patrol with US Marines in 1967 near Da Nang. Notably "Hell in a Very Small Place", about the siege at Dien Bien Phu, and "Street Without Joy" are his best.

I noted that he wrote that French troops during the siege received air dropped carbines with night vision scopes. So looks like a few M3's made it there too.

I have a research interest in M1 carbine use by French forces in Indo-China and Algeria and know we have some members on this website in Europe. If there are some members out there that can contribute information it would be much appreciated.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PLN-TAP-7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 06 2020 at 8:51am

US M1 Carbine as well as M2 saw an heavy use in post WW2 conflicts in the hands of the French forces.

All services used them. The Carbine use went reducing in Algeria and it seems to disapear from the Army manual in the late 60ies (it is still presented in the “TTA 168, Manuel de préparation au certificat interarmes Tome 1” approved by the Army headquarter in April 1960).


As I stated in an other post the Carbine was in used till the 1980ies, the M1A1 staying in Parachutists units for their Commando groups. I saw one in the hand of a squad leader of the 3e Regiment Parachutiste d'Infanterie de Marine (3eRPIMa) in 1973. Also the senior under officers in my first para unit would have remember them as they used the Carbine themselves.


All units in the French Army have had the Carbines but I think that the Parachutists had the most in both type, M1 and M1A1. On many pictures taken during the Indochina war the Carbine can be seen and when pictures among Parachutists units one can notice folding stock and standard one use at the same time concurently. M2 have also been deployed but must have been seen as fragile (one Engineer weapons manual dated 1955 state that the quality of the M2 is similar to M1 but the full auto mechanism is quite complex and can easily deteriorate. The night vision one have also seen used (I posted about those in the proper section).


I can remember two testimony from prime users of the Carbine:

The first is from my Dad who was send in Algeria as a conscript (1956-58 in I remember well). Over there he ended up with a FM24/29 but would have sometime used other weapons (MAT 49, Schmeisser MP40, MAS 49/56). Once he reported to as, just to have fun, they would shoot dead cows: they would have tried to put a round of their Lieutenant's Carbine in the face but the caw would not fell; then, a round of the 7,5 MAS would killed it for sure first thing!


The second story was told to me by a veteran I was advice to visit as I am a collector of Parachutist stuff from Indochina and Algeria war. The guy went through a career with the Parachutist and had been part of Indochina and Algeria wars. He ended up being one of the first free fall jumper and was in the 11 Choc, a Para unit associated with special forces attached to espionage. He told me that once on a patrol along a rice field in Indochina, they were ambushed. They reacted first by taking shelter behind the bank of the field (we called that "diguette" in French) and return fire. He was carrying a Carbine. As they broken down the Viets assault, they went on shooting on the withdrawing guys. He told ma that he used to be a good shooter but this time as he was aiming at a Viet back he had to shoot all the cartridges in his magazine but to avail: the Viet was going on running away! His mate who had a 7,5 MAS shot down the guy and went making jokes at him for missing his target. Nevertheless, when they went to check on the results, the Viet had in his back all the Carbine rounds. I guess the surge of adrenaline could explain the fact.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote PLN-TAP-7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 06 2020 at 9:33am
Originally posted by Lupus Dei Lupus Dei wrote:

May 2016-F

M1A1 CARBINES WITH THE FRENCH FORCES AT DIEN BIEN PHU, 1954

The United States supplied aircraft, pilots, weapons, maintenance crews and other materiel support to the French military during their colonial war in French Indochina.

The photos below are from the final battle of Dien Bien Phu, which occurred from March-May 1954, and ended in defeat for the French.

 

Airborne troops can be seen with M1A1s. Note the rubber magazine “dust covers” attached to the bottoms of the 15-round magazines and the lack of bayonet lugs on the carbines.

 

Photos submitted by Ted Syme.

 

 


Actually, that picture is part of a report by French combat camera (ECPA) of 6eBPC (Bataillon Parachutiste Coloniaux) paroling around the Pak-Hou and Muong-Saï post near the confluent of the Mékong and the Nam-Hou river in May 1953. The 6eBPC was staying in Pak-Suong, 15 kms away.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote PLN-TAP-7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 07 2020 at 10:08am
Here is a famous picture from a French Para in Algeria. He belongs to the 3eRPC (Régiment de Parachutiste Coloniaux). The picture was taken by Marc Flamment, I think in 1957.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote PLN-TAP-7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 07 2020 at 10:24am
This Para belongs to the 1er BPVN (1er Bataillon de Parachutiste Vietnamiens). The picture was taken in 1952 by the combat team camera (ECPA) during  Ops «Chaumière» in Tay Ninh.
BPVN were Paras units with a majority of Vietnamese but the cadre were French, usually drawn from the Paras Battalion. That idea was set up by General De Lattre de Tassigny in 1951 and called le jaunissement: the idea was that the Vietnamese had to participate in the fight against the Commy.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote New2brass Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 07 2020 at 10:41am
Originally posted by PLN-TAP-7 PLN-TAP-7 wrote:

Here is a famous picture from a French Para in Algeria. He belongs to the 3eRPC (Régiment de Parachutiste Coloniaux). The picture was taken by Marc Flamment, I think in 1957.

looks like a M3 fighting knife, but the carbine has a bayonet lug.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PLN-TAP-7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 07 2020 at 10:46am
It is definitely a M3 trench knife in its USM8 scabbard (first type). Those knife has been in French Paras units till the 1990ies. Other units (non Paras) had them in Indochina.
I think the USM4 Bayonet was also in use but seldom seen in pictures.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote New2brass Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 07 2020 at 11:42am
Those M3s and M8 scabbards (Vs M8a1) go for good money in the United States
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote PLN-TAP-7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 10 2020 at 8:23am
Here is another picture of an M1A1 in French hands, but this time during WW2.
Here is a Para belonging to the French SAS Squadron, certainly during summer 1944 somewhere in France:




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote PLN-TAP-7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 04 2020 at 7:18pm
Quite some time I did post here!
So here is a picture taken by ECPA reporter in the vicinity of Banh-Hine-Siu and Na Pho, LAOS in 1954.
One can see the mix use of both M1 and M1A1 carbine by the BAWAN (nickname given to the BPVN, Bataillon Parachutiste Vietnamien).


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote PLN-TAP-7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 06 2020 at 9:53am
For a change, a picture in Algeria: Two carbine seeing service with the 14 RCP (Régiment de Chasseur Parachutiste) (TBC) during an interrogation of a Fell (abreviation of Fellagha = rebel) taken prisoner.
Of interest is again the mix use of M1 and M1A1 (the butt plate of the folding stock can be seen on the man on the left). Also, note the 30 round magazine which is sometime observed.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tenOCEE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 06 2020 at 11:39am
The man on the right, you mean.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PLN-TAP-7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 06 2020 at 1:17pm
Originally posted by tenOCEE tenOCEE wrote:

The man on the right, you mean.


Yes, for sure! I guess it was a blond moment!
Thank you for correcting me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote PLN-TAP-7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2020 at 8:27am
Today Algeria around 1958-1959: here is a picture of a Lieutenant of the 6e RPIMa Régiment Parachutiste d'Infanterie de Marine which is a change of name of the 6e RPC Régiment de Parachutiste coloniaux. (all the RPC had to switch from the appelation Coloniaux to Infanterie de Marine in 1958 as well as changing their beret badge).
The weapons are all US origin with hand Grenade MKII, Trench knife US M3 and the M1A1 Carbine.
One can bet it is a French army rework with the Bayonet lug. Again, a 30 round magazine and I think the absence of the oiler .


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote PLN-TAP-7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2020 at 5:32pm
Lets go back to Indochina, Tonkin, on December 1953 during Ops Pollux: The GAP 2 (Groupement Aéroporté) has been task to recce the north surrounding of Dien Bien Phu and catch up with evacuees from posts. The GAP troops consists of 3 Para units: 8e BPC (Bataillon de Parachutistes de Choc), 5e BPVN (Bataillon de Parachutistes Viêtnamiens) and 1er BEP ( Bataillon Étranger de Parachutistes).
Here one can see a pause for possibly the foreign legion parachutist: Again the Carbine are present in folding and standard stock.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote PLN-TAP-7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 25 2020 at 6:54am
Today, I found this picture from ECPA:
This is a captain from the 1er RCP (Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutiste) during training just at the end of the worl war two (1945).
With his strange accouterments he sports an M1A1. Also of note is the interesting helmet M1, maybe C with its specific to 1er RCP paintings: French colors, ranks and the para badge model 1937.


The 1er RCP is direct descendant of the CIA (Companie d'Infanterie de l'Air) formed in 1937 and it still is on active duty.

Here is an example of the Brevet Parachutist Mle 37 (about 1945 canetille issue)


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