|Troupes de la marine|
Troupes de Marine logo
|Active||1622 – present|
|Motto(s)||Et au Nom de Dieu, vive la coloniale! ("And in the name of God, long live the Colonial")|
|Colors||Red and blue|
|Anniversaries||Battle of Bazeilles|
|Beret badge of the Troupes de Marine|
The Troupe de marine (TDM) are a corps of the French Army which regroups several specialties: infantry, artillery, armoured and airborne. Despite their designation, they are an integral part of the Army. The troupe de marine have been professionalized progressively since 1970.
The Troupe de marine were formerly known as the Troupes Coloniales, with origin dating back to the Troupes de la marine ( in reference to Troupes of La Marine). The French colonies were under the control of the Ministère de la Marine (the equivalent of the British Admiralty), accordingly, marines defended the colonies.
Renamed « Troupes d'Outre-Mer » then « Troupes de Marine » at the dismantling of the French Union (1958), origin is found however in the Compagnies Ordinaires de la Mer (French: Compagnies Ordinaires de la Mer) (Ordinary Sea Companies), created in 1622 by Cardinal Richelieu. These companies were destined to embark on royal naval ships to service the naval artillery and participate to the boarding of naval ships engaged in combats at sea. Simultaneously, these companies were also in charge in guarding the various sea ports. Despite the fact that the artillery of the marines was limited in numbers handling compared to those of infantry marines (fusiliers and grenadiers), the ship's marine artillerymen were the determining factor for the Troupes de la marine, being in charge of displacing and mounting the naval guns under the orders of the respective marine artillery officer in charge. In the 18th century, they constituted the Compagnies Franches de la Marine who mainly swarmed essentially in Nouvelle France ( particularity: these marines were recruited in Europe, with marine officers recruited then on the spot, out of an excellent milieu local).
Decimated along with the remaining of the Marines during the Seven Years' War, these troops were transferred to the French Army under the Choiseul ministries, and after their emancipation at the end of 1760, they conserved a large number of officers issued from the Ministère de la Guerre, which would reproduce and compensate for the endured losses during the Independence War of the United States (U.S.). An evolution was followed and which deemed more and more pronouncing vis-à-vis the ship boarding marines and their officers. A tentative close-up merger was attempted by two naval ship corps including their troops in 1786 with the companies of artillery sailors, however the experience came to little conclusions.
The separate companies of the Régiment Royal–La Marine and the Régiment de l'Amiral de France founded by Colbert were based in Dunkerque, Le Havre, Brest, Rochefort and Toulon. They wore a off-white/grey uniform with blue facings .
The 1670s saw significant changes in the organisation of the new corps, administered by Ministers Colbert and François-Michel le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois, respectively Naval State Secretary and the Secretary of State of War. The four regiments of the la marine were transferred from the secretariat of La Marine to that of the secretariat of La Guerre. The regiments were no longer directly part of the French Navy although the designation Troupes de marin was retained. During the Revolution, the La Marine, Royal-Marine, Royal-Vaisseux, and the Régiment de l'Amiral ( re-baptized Régiment de Vermandois) regiments were integrated definitively into the French Army, becoming respectively, the 11e, 60e, 43e and 61e regiments of de Ligne in 1791.
The Marine Royale was a substantial force in 1671, consisting of 196 naval vessels. Colbert decided to create 100 companies of "guardian-soldiers" intended to form part of the crews of the larger naval vessels (French: Vaisseau). However, these men were redirected towards the French Army by Louvois in 1673. Starting from this date, senior naval and marine officers were obliged to separately recruit crews and marines for each ship. Utilising a system of «levées» (selective conscription) in the various sea ports, similar to the « marine press », the naval and marine officers were able to man their ships. However, the system reached its limitations quickly. The recruits often lacks discipline and experience, and were discharged or deserted following their first voyage, wasting months of training. Until 1682 there was a serious shortage of experienced sailors and soldiers in the French Navy.
The Marine units were recreated at the end of the 17th century by re-organization of the infantry units dedicated to guarding military harbors (the Warden-Soldiers Companies or compagnies de soldats-gardiens, created in 1671) and the artillery units dedicated to coastal battery service (Bomb Companies or compagnies de bombardiers, created in 1689), naval artillery training (Apprentice Gunner Companies or compagnies d'apprentis-cannoniers, created in 1689) and naval artillery administration (Artillery Commissaries or Commissaires d'artillerie, created in 1631).
The Infantry and Artillery Marine units were re-organized into a single marine corps by a short-lived merger in 1769. Some colonial units were created at the same time, organized along the same lines of artillery and infantry units.
After 1786, the Marine units were often reduced to artillery units, except for some short-lived infantry regiments (1792-1794).
The colonial expansion of the 19th century saw the extensive use of French sailors and marines serving together in South-East Asia, in the Pacific and West Africa.
The revolutionary period saw a definite division in 1792 between the reconstituted troupes de marine and the ships of the navy. Under Napoleon the troupes de marine were utilized primarily as line infantry. Following the disbandment of the Imperial Guard, under the Restoration, separate marine artillery (Artillerie de Marine) and marine infantry (Infanterie de Marine) units were created as part of a reorganization between 1818 and 1822. These two corps were popularly known as « bigors » and « marsouins » respectively. Starting in 1831, these two arms ceased to serve on board naval ships and were exclusively armed with regular army equipment and weapons. Their role was now to serve on land in the new French colonial territories, as well as defending the large naval ports and bases in France itself.
The diverse colonial or exterior operations administered by the July Monarchy, essentially conducted by the Marine and their troupes, led to the rehabilitation and the increase of the latter in 1846. The revolution of 1848 led to a major draconian reduction in size. The Crimean War, witnessed them, next to the equipments of naval vessels of the fleet, illustrating capability during the Siege of Sevastopol while serving the heavy artillery pieces ( to constitute a siege artillery ) opportunistically disembarked from the naval vessels under the orders of Admiral Charles Rigault de Genouilly.
Honored since 1855, with effectifs full in 1846, the marines illustrated capability during all the expeditions of the Second French Empire.
In 1870, marine artillery and infantry were for the first time regrouped in a grand unit: Blue Division of general Élie de Vassoigne, named accordingly as such in reason for the blue uniform of the soldiers, an element which differentiated them from the line troops. Following the Franco-Prussian War, the marines participated to the construction of the second colonial empire of France.
The February 21, 1816, royal ordinance of Louis XVIII re-establishing L'infanterie de marine authorized two regiments. This was increased to three regiments in 1838 and four in 1854. The 1st Regiment was located in Cherbourg, the 2nd in Brest, the 3rd in Rochefort and the 4th in Toulon. In 1890, L'infanterie de marine was increased to eight regiments. L'artillerie de marine, created in 1793, was formed into a single regiment in 1814. A second was added on July 8, 1893. Battles fought in this era included Bomarsund (1847) in the Baltic, Ki Hoa in China (1860), and the Battle of Puebla in Mexico (1863). Their most famous battle was Bazeilles (1870) in the Franco-Prussian War.
The Troupes de marine fought in the Sino-French War (August 1884 to April 1885) and during the period of undeclared hostilities in Tonkin (northern Vietnam) that preceded it. Between June 1883 and April 1886 the Tonkin Expeditionary Corps included several marine infantry battalions and marine artillery batteries. These units saw service in the Sơn Tây Campaign (December 1883), the Bắc Ninh Campaign (March 1884), the Capture of Hưng Hóa (April 1884), the Bắc Lệ ambush (June 1884), the Keelung Campaign (October 1884 to June 1885), the Battle of Yu Oc (November 1884), the Battle of Núi Bop (January 1885), the Lạng Sơn Campaign (February 1885) and the Pescadores Campaign (March 1885). In March 1885 the two marine infantry battalions in Lieutenant-Colonel Ange-Laurent Giovanninelli's 1st Brigade suffered heavy casualties storming the Chinese trenches at the Battle of Hòa Mộc. The French victory at Hòa Mộc relieved the Siege of Tuyên Quang, and was commemorated thereafter in an annual ceremony at Tuyên Quang in which a soldier of the French Foreign Legion (representing the besieged garrison) and a marine infantrymen (representing the relief column) solemnly presented arms on the anniversary of the relief of the beleaguered French post.
The French Navy itself, due to the trouble it was having in obtaining marine infantry detachments from the Ministry of Marine, formed the Fusiliers Marins in 1856. The Fusiliers-Marins were initially composed of sailors and naval officers who undertook special infantry training in order to form the "marine" detachments aboard ships and conduct small scale landings.
In 1890 the Ministry of Colonies was separated from that of the Ministère de la Marine. This raised the question of to which authority the troupes de Marine, who only now served in the colonies, should be responsible. By a decree dated July 7, 1900 the troops were placed under the Département de la Guerre and were renamed as Troupes coloniales.
The Troupes colonials were composed of two distinct corps. One was the colonial forces in metropolitan France, composed of European volunteers enlisted for renewable periods of five years. These regulars were assigned in small contingents to undertake tours of duty in the various French colonies outside North Africa. There they were served either in «blanches» (all white) units (the number of such units being progressively reduced), or were utilized for the recruitment and training of locally recruited indigenous troops (tirailleurs, cipayes etc.).
A problem arriving from this system was the differences between the training and equipment required for colonial and European warfare. Service conditions in turn would differ between the various colonial territories in Africa and South East Asia. The two types of colonial troupes were however successfully employed in World War I and World War II, as well as the Indochina War and the Algerian War.
The construction service of the Marine artillery, which conceived and fabricated the naval war cannons, to which the personnel were an integral part of colonial artillery during the separation of 1900, was left to be operationally used by the French Navy. Facing the split which was more and more being remarked between the utilization of artillery de campagne and the industrial conception of marine artillery pieces in the metropolitan arsenals, the colonial artillery officers were more attracted by the industry fabrication, which gave creation in 1909 to the engineers of Naval artillery, a corps of the French Navy which merged with the Naval Engineer Corps (construction of naval ships) during the second world war.
During the two world conflicts, the Troupes de marine participated to all the campaigns with a heroism that became legendary. The most decorated regiment color of the French Armed Forces is that of the Colonial Infantry Regiment of Morocco (RICM) as well as the regimental colors of the 2nd Marine Infantry Regiment 2e RIMa which house the greatest number of battle honors in the French Armed Forces. Combats linked to the decolonization to which the political arenas didn't see coming, witnessed the engagement of the colonial troupes in Indochina, Algeria, and Madagascar. Following 1962, exterior operations in Africa were conducted by the troupe de Marine and the French Foreign Legion which were the only ones, apt in disposing of engaged soldiers. This will be the case also in Tchad and in Lebanon then in ex-Yugoslavia before metropolitan troops started also to recruit engages soldiers. The suspension of obligatory military service, progressive from 1997 to 2001, allowed to the ensemble of the troops of the French Army to participate to these actions.
On 7 July 1900 the Troupes de Marine were removed from the responsibility of the Ministère de la Marine, transferred to the Ministry of War and added to the French Army as Troupes Coloniales. The regimental titles changed from "Marine" to "Colonial". The Fusiliers-Marins remained with the French Navy. The Troupes Coloniale were still used in occasional amphibious landings but this was because of the ready availability of units normally based near naval embarkation ports or in colonial garrisons. In the World War I Dardanelles campaign, the Corps Expeditionaire d'Orient was more than two-thirds Troupes Coloniale including the 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th Colonial Infantry Regiments and Colonial Artillery. The Troupes Coloniales were however far more likely to see action in African or Asian land campaigns or, during both World Wars, in France itself.
In World War II, a Colonial unit did have "Marine" in its title – The Bataillon d'Infanterie de Marine du Pacifique (BIMP). Two divisions of the Troupes Coloniale were trained in amphibious tactics by the Americans and performed amphibious landings at Corsica (6th Moroccan Mountain Division) and Elba (9th Colonial Infantry Division – 9e DIC). Both these divisions also landed in southern France in the follow-on echelons of Operation Dragoon. The French wanted the US to transport these two divisions to the Pacific to fight against the Japanese and later retake French Indochina, but transport was a problem.
With France divesting itself of its colonies, on 1 December 1958 the title of Troupes d' Outre-Mer (Overseas Troops) replaced that of Troupes Coloniales. Finally, on 4 May 1961, the historic designation of "Troupes de marine" was readopted, this time for all the Troupes Coloniales. They became a major component in France's Forces d'Intervention. In July 1963 the 9th Marine Infantry Brigade (9e Brigade d'Infanterie de Marine) (9e BIMa) of the Troupes de marine was formed a French Force d'Intervention. It was named after and carried the insignia of the 9th Colonial Infantry Division (9e DIC) that had performed a successful amphibious assault on Elba in World War II. The Troupes de marine remaining overseas became part of the Forces d'outre mer. In 1964 the Force d'Intervention was expanded by adding two airborne brigades and one motorized brigade and formed into the 11th Division d'Intervention, which became the 11th Parachute Division in 1971. The Troupes de marine were removed from this division in 1976 to form a separate intervention force, and the 9e Brigade d'Infanterie de Marine was expanded on 1 January 1976 to form the 9e Division d'Infanterie de Marine (9e DIMa). This division was the amphibious component of the Force d'Intervention, which was renamed the Force d'Action Rapide (FAR) in 1983.
Because of their overseas heritage and their use in the Force d'Intervention, the Troupes de marine were mostly volunteer regulars, as in France, draftees are legally exempt from overseas duty. The conversion of the French Army into a smaller professional force led to the French Army's decision to make the brigade its largest formation and the 9e Division d'Infanterie de Marine was reduced in size on 1 July 1999 and became the 9th Light Armoured Marine Brigade (France) (9e Brigade Légère Blindée de Marine).
The Troupes de marine are one of the "armes" (corps) of the French Army, which includes specialties associated with other corps (artillery, cavalry, signals, armour, paratroopers) but with overseas deployment as a specialisation.
Marsouin in full metropolitan dress, as worn until 1914.
Marine infantrymen in Tonkin, 1888.
French Marines in Madagascar (1894–1895).
French colonial soldier in Congo (1905)
Troupes de marine soldiers are known in French as marsouins ("Harbour porpoise"), allegedly because, like porpoises, they accompany ships without really being part of the crew.
Marine Gunners are known as bigors, a nickname whose origin is disputed. It could come from bigue dehors which was the order given for loading the guns on a ship. It could also come from bigorneau (winkle in English), either due to their toughness and unwillingness to desert their positions in combat or because their duties usually had them stuck on coastal rocks.
The Troupes de Marine include:
The modern Troupes de marine uniform is the same as for other units of the French Army (light beige, plain green or woodland or desert camouflage according to circumstances). Distinctive features are a gold metal fouled anchor badge on a dark blue beret (Marine paratroopers wear red berets and their badge is a composite of the gold metal anchor and the silver wing of airborne units). This is worn either on the beret or embroidered on the front of the kepi.
The modern full dress includes a dark blue kepi, yellow fringed epaulettes (official colour name is daffodil) and a navy blue cravat (scarf worn around the neck). A red waist sash is also sometimes worn by certain units with a history of colonial service in Africa and Indo-China.
Historically the uniform consisted of a blue kepi with red piping, double breasted navy blue tunic, lighter blue trousers, and yellow epaulettes. Worn by all ranks until 1914, the blue uniform was reissued for regular personnel in 1930 and is still worn by bandsmen. This traditional uniform gave the nickname of "the Blue Division" to the Troupes de marine units involved in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War. The pith helmet was worn overseas during the colonial period, with blue, khaki or white uniforms according to circumstances. Until the early 1960s a dark blue calot (forage cap) with red piping and anchor badge was the usual distinction of the Troupes de marine.
The modern kepi is presented to new recruits in a solemn ceremony. It is worn by officers and non-commissioned officers when another headdress is not prescribed. The kepi is entirely dark blue - a very dark blue, often mistaken for black - with a red (privates and corporals) or gold (non-commissioned officers and officers) trimming. All kepis display the anchor insignia of the Marines. When not being worn the kepi is expected to be positioned so that the anchor is always visible.
The "traditional" epaulettes used by the TdM are gold for officers and NCOs and wool of "daffodil" yellow for other ranks. This colour and pattern is derived from the historic epaulettes of the Metropolitan light infantry.
The officers of marine "mounted" units (that is to say those formerly using horses, or currently armored vehicles) have the privilege of wearing gold spurs for certain occasions. This differs from the usual French cavalry practice of wearing silver spurs. Tradition has it that Queen Victoria of England requested this distinction for the marine troops from Emperor Napoleon III to honor the branch after the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimea (1854) where marine infantry saved British troops from destruction.
The officers and senior non commissioned-officer can wear, in special circumstances, a sword as a part of their dress uniform. This sword has a straight-edge blade, in contrast to other Army Corps' curved sabers. Since the second world war, the sword is very rarely used.
The armored, artillery and infantry regiments of the Marines wear dark blue berets with golden anchor insignia. The parachute regiments of the Marines (1e RPIMa, 2e RPIMa, 3e RPIMa, 8e RPIMa) wear a red beret with anchor and wing insignia.
The amaranth beret was distributed to the Free French Paratrooper of the SAS in August 1944, at the 2e RCP during a parade on November 11, 1944, this regiment for a first time dressed this beret with the insignia of the SAS. However, these paratroopers then belonged to the Air Force. In Indochina, the Infantry Metropolitan SAS Dem-Brigade conserved this dress code, which was readopted by the 1st SAS Parachute Demi-Brigade in 1948, the amaranth beret which was imposed on all Paratroopers in Indochina in 1952 by Général Jean de Lattre de Tassigny (except for the Legion), became the norm for all airborne contingents of the French Army in 1957, with legionnaires paratroopers retaining their traditional green beret.
The nickname used by Marsouins and Bigors for the other branches of the French Army is biffins (slang for ragmen). The name originated in the nineteenth century when sailors of the Fleet and Marine Infantry and Artillerymen, proud of their own smart appearance, accused the soldiers of the Army of being slovenly by comparison. The Legion is excused this nickname, probably reflecting a special relation between Marsouins and legionnaires.
The Feast of the Marines: in the name of God, long live the colonials! This expression is believed to have originated with the famous missionary Charles de Foucauld who, when rescued by colonial troops, exclaimed "In the name of God, the great colonials!". Annual ceremonies celebrating the marine troops take place on August 31 and September 1 – the anniversary of the Blue Division. On August 31 detachments of all marine units parade at Fréjus where the Museum of Marine Troops is located. On 1 September veterans hold a ceremony at Bazeilles in Ardennes.
As a naval symbol since ancient times, the anchor appeared on the uniforms of French sailors from the late eighteenth century. The Marine Infantry and Artillery troops adopted this insignia at the same time and it remains the modern symbol of the Troupes de marine.
The particular role of this branch of the French Army is to consolidate various specialties: infantry, artillery, cavalry (armored), parachuting and transmission. These specialties, which are consolidated in the Troupes de marine branch, form separate arms in the rest of the Army.
21st Regiment of marine infantry, Bastille Day 2008 military parade on the Champs-Élysées, Paris.
Clarion marine troops in Kuwait after the Operation Desert Storm.
This song is sung at a brisk pace to marching music
Formed initially to be deployed for service on France's overseas territories to maintain French interests, the marine troops have acquired a culture of openness. In addition, foreign missions have required the weapon it covers areas of varied specialties (combat infantry and armor, fire support, communications ...) the exercise of which, today, reinforces a long history of professionalization.
Transcending the concept of mastering military equipment and technologies, the marine troops to unite around a single symbol, the traditional golden anchor, that for those who serve marks a unique style whose main features are:
These high values of identity give meaning to the commitment of the Marsouin and Bigord and always based natural vocation of the marine troops serving both in the French overseas territories and abroad.
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