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Besides, the cafes and bordellos of Casablanca, Algiers and Tunis were far more interesting than the barren wastes of the African bled, and that’s what the conquerors preferred to inspect. The armistice commissioners reported to their superiors in Berlin and Rome that the French army in Africa was indeed thoroughly 22 THE MOROCCAN GOUMS beaten and presented no threat to Axis ambitions. They were particularly unimpressed by the Goumiers. These dark-skinned little men in their bathrobe-like djellabas, turbans and sandals, armed only with rifles and knives, were perhaps useful as back country policemen, but nothing more.

Barre´ and Derrien conferred, and decided to do nothing. They would observe a strict neutrality and wait to see what happened. However, by this time the German occupation forces in France had moved into the previously unoccupied zone in the south. According to General Juin, currently the commanding general of all French forces in North Africa (and an Allied sympathizer), this nullified the 1940 armistice. He told Barre´ and Derrien they could do whatever their consciences demanded. After some quick soulsearching, Barre´ started to move his troops out of the Tunis area and into the mountains to the west.

The 1st GTM ended its sortie through the mountains a few miles east of Karamchoum, with the enemy pushed off the Dorsale and back into the coastal plain. S. 9th Division for the assault on Bizerte with its huge naval base. 8 Taking part in the recapture of Bizerte was an important assignment for the Goums, for the naval base in that northeastern corner of Tunisia had been the pride of the French Mediterranean fleet. The surrender of its coastal defenses, shipyards and port facilities to the Germans without a fight that past November was a disgrace that weighed on the French military almost as heavily as the defeat of 1940.

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Allied-Axis


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