The Moroccan Goums: Tribal Warriors in a Modern War

The Moroccan Goums: Tribal Warriors in a Modern War

The Moroccan Goums: Tribal Warriors in a Modern War

The Moroccan Goums: Tribal Warriors in a Modern War

Synopsis

Bimberg provides a military history of the Moroccan Goums, the knife-wielding irregular troops who distinguished themselves, fighting under French command in Tunisia, Italy, France, and Germany during World War II. Recruited from the hill tribes of Morocco's Atlas Mountains, the Goums were garbed throughout the war in the traditional "djellaba" of their homeland and were armed with long sharp knives, in addition to rifles, machine-guns and mortars. They terrified the enemy not only by their ferocity, but by their odd appearance. Their particular skill in mountain warfare prompted General Patton to request their participation in his Sicilian campaign, and they fought brilliantly in this and many other key campaigns. This account follows these forces from their native North African mountains across the battlefields of World War II to their final triumph in the Austrian Alps.

Excerpt

Shortly after arriving in Corsica in early January 1944, our antiaircraft artillery battalion found itself encamped on a hillside overlooking the city of Bastia. On the second morning of our bivouac, not long after reveille, we heard a strange chanting sound, growing ever louder. In the distance we saw what looked to us like a circus parade.

Coming up the mountain road was a bizarre caravan led by a mounted French officer. The fact that in this overwhelmingly mechanized war he was riding a horse was peculiar enough, but there was more. While his sky-blue kepi was typically French and quite familiar, the rest of his costume was not. For over his uniform he wore a djellaba, the rough, homespun cloak of the Moroccan mountaineer, striped in black, brown and white. It contrasted strangely with the business-like pistol, map case and field glasses strapped across these exotic robes, and the military boots not quite concealed beneath them.

Riding directly behind him was his guidon bearer, a bearded, hawk- nosed Moroccan in turban and djellaba. Only it wasn't an ordinary guidon he carried, for the staff was topped not by the conventional spearhead device but by a shiny brass crescent of Islam, and flowing from it was a long white horsetail swinging in the breeze. Marching in sandaled feet behind the guidon were about a hundred chanting Moroccan tribesmen, all bearded and steely eyed and wearing striped . . .

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