This is coolbert:
“the best preparation for being a soldier is poverty” - - Napoleon.
“he goes by the name of Turk, and he is very good with a knife!” - - Tom Hagen - - “The Godfather I”.
Reading over the George Duncan web sites on atrocities of World War Two, this particular entry caught my attention. [from part III. Germany and Italy
"RAMPAGE ON MONTE CASSINO
"Monte Cassino fell to the Allies on May 18, 1944 . . . The next night thousands of French Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian and Senegalese troops
, attached to the French Expeditionary Corps, swarmed over the slopes of the hills surrounding Monte Cassino and in the villages of Ciociaria and Esperia, which is in the region of Lazio, raped every woman and girl that came within their sight. Over 2,000 women, ranging in age from 11 years to 86 years suffered at the hands of these gang-raping soldiers as village after village was entered. Menfolk who tried to protect their wives and daughters were murdered without mercy, around 800 of them died . . . Most of the dwellings in the villages were destroyed and everything of value was stolen. Later in the war, these same troops raped around 500 women in the Black Forrest town of Freudenstadt, on April 17, 1945, after its capture. In Stuttgart, colonial French troops, mostly African, but under the command of General Eisenhower, rounded up around 2,000 women and herded them into the underground subways to be raped. In one week more women were raped in Stuttgart than in the whole of France during the four year German occupation."
Several comments here.
It may very well these instances of mass rape by “African troops” are what Pope Pius XII had in mind when he requested of General Mark Clark that American black troops NOT
be allowed to enter Rome in June of 1944. Cassino had been captured just that spring, and it was not
until June 6 that Rome was liberated by Operation Diadem, spearheaded by the U.S. 85th and 88th Divisions, fighting side by side. Word of what had occurred in the aftermath of the capture of Cassino probably by that time had gotten back to Pius.
As to the actual mayhem itself, I would make a guess this was probably mostly the work of the goum
French Morrocan troops from the High Atlas mountains of north Africa. Berbers? Units of goum
in French], officered by Frenchmen, sent specifically to fight in the rough mountainous terrain of Italy.
French officer, side-by-side with his goum
Very skilled, tough, able fighters. Renowned for their ability to move quietly in mountainous terrain, and doing so at night!! Also renowned for their ability with a knife. Troops receiving a pay bonus for the number of enemy soldiers killed. Bringing back EARS
of dead German soldiers as evidence of their prowess on the battlefield.
"Two companies of Goums...were stationed next to our CP, and these had sent out two raiding parties the same night... Mostly mountain men from Morocco, these silent, quick-moving raiders were excellent at night raids, and in surprise attacks . . . Part of the Goums' success lay in their silence as they moved forward, and in their highly perfected art of camouflage. One anecdote ran that one warrior had so successfully camouflaged himself all day in full sight of the Germans that a German officer had wandered over to what he thought was a bush, and had urinated on the motionless head of the Moroccan soldier who bore the trial well, but who marked that particular officer down for special attention that night. Goums did not take
any prisoners, and it was well-known to the Germans and Italians what befell anyone who ran afoul of those Moroccans."
Strangely attired and odd looking troops, uniform consisting of a long wool robe and a British style helmet. Poorly equipped, armed with a melange’
of weapons, quite often captured from the German!Goum
wearing the British style helmet. Goum
, French units, did not
wear the “Adrian” helmet.
"they adopted the distinctive brown and grey striped jellaba (a hooded Moroccan cloak) that was to remain their trademark throughout their history with the French Army."Goum
dressed in the typical jellaba
, giving the distinctive appearance.
"The companies lacked most of the clothing, equipment and weapons necessary for warfare. Several raids had remedied that. Inspection of their clothing revealed a good many German articles of clothing under their conventional brown and white vertical striped robes. Their rifles were mixed German and Italian, with a few old French rifles firing clips of four. Mess equipment, and a good deal of the food was also of enemy origin, as were the knives, pistols, blankets and toilet articles."
But able fighters who gave a good account of themselves in the mountains of Italy. Simple mountain village folks to whom poverty and hardship were a normal way of life. [all outsiders to the remote mountain villages of the High Atlas are called arrumi’
by the locals. A corruption of the word Rome or Roman!!! An indication of the remote and primitive existence persons in the High Atlas lead!]
"during Operation Diadem . . . 'Here the Goums more than proved their value as light, highly mobile, mountain troops who could penetrate the most vertical terrain in fighting order and with a minimum of logistical requirements.'"
To the goum
, rape and pillage would have been seen as a normal extension of the war effort! Concepts such as “war crimes” and “atrocities” being foreign to them!
Indeed, it is suggested that the goum
raped and pillaged their way through the entire Italian campaign! Taking advantage of a situation as they saw fit!
of Moroccans were executed—many without trial—for allegedly murdering, raping, and pillaging their way across the Italian countryside. The French authorities sought to defuse the problem by importing numbers of Berber women
to serve as 'camp followers' in rear areas set aside exclusively for the Goumiers. According to Italian sources, more than 7,000 people were raped by Goumiers. The victims, later known in Italy as Marocchinate
, included women, children and men, including some priests
. The mayor of Esperia (a comune in the Province of Frosinone), reported that in his town, 700 women out of 2,500 inhabitants were raped and that some had died as a result. In northern Latium and southern Tuscany, it is alleged that the Goumiers raped and occasionally killed women and young men after the Germans retreated, including members of partisan formations [friendlies]."
[crimes of this nature and magnitude are NOT
the result of sexual lust go amok. Importing Berber women to serve the goum
sexually would have not done
any good. These crimes were the result of an abuse of all-consuming and absolute power gone crazy. "We can do what we want and we will", was the attitude!!]Go here to see more photos
[please note that many of the goum
sport beards. Within their culture, a male lacking a beard is unmanly. American SF troops in Afghanistan also allowed their beards to grow, so as to fit-in better with the Islamic culture!!]
Go here to see a French web site on "Les GoumsMoracains
".HE GOES BY THE NAME OF GOUM, AND HE IS VERY GOOD WITH A KNIFE!!
Yes, that, and much more.