France 1944

Report on negotiations with the 5th American Corps

Source: Albert Ouzoulias, Les Bataillons de la Jeunesse. Editions Sociales, Paris, 1972;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2005.

Colonel Fabien to Colonel André

At 1000 on the seventh I meet the officers of the Army’s 5th Corps at their headquarters. After several hours of discussions I ended up convincing the officers of the necessity of my demands, to wit:

  1. Given the topography of the region in which the American troops are moving, the appearance of trained guerrilla groups, like those of our FTP, is of the greatest interest from a military point of view.
  2. Our units are composed of men who have fought the Germans for years, and they very much want to continue this fight until the final phase. I finally managed to convince these officers, who are willing to intervene with an American colonel named Hill. I managed to see this colonel who seemed to be won over by my proposals and immediately intervened with General Giraud, commanding the 5th Corps of the American Army. After discussions the latter accepts the proposals of Colonel Hill, that is the taking in subsistence of my regiment by two infantry units of the 5th Army Corps (4th and 28th divisions).

The general put at my disposal a liaison officer who took me to the command post of the 28th division. After much discussion I ended up meeting the general commanding the division, whose first question was the number of men at my disposal and their military value. I announced to him that I have a thousand men at hand. He seemed to be convinced and immediately gave me several missions, i.e., the cleaning out of the whole right bank of the Meuse between Mouzon and Steynet, the forest to the northeast of Montmédy, and several pockets of resistance on the left bank of the Meuse, the whole of these operations comprising the right flank of the 5th Corps.

As concerns subsistence in fuel and provisions, I have not yet been able to obtain anything precise for the main reason that the Americans themselves haven’t been able to have their re-provisioning follow them and their advance has currently been slowed down due to the lack of fuel.

The American General has convoked me for tomorrow at noon and asked that I give him a report on the actions undertaken.

As concerns the directives given concerning making contact with the enemy, I make the following remarks: I am in complete agreement with such a necessity and I was the first to remark on this in the reports I sent you. Combat is the goal of our actions, for me and for the men who compose our unit. But the difficulties are many:

In order to neutralize these mobile elements it is necessary to have on hand effectives sufficient to spread a quite dense intercepting curtain across the sector.

I insist on the fact that we find ourselves in regions pillaged by the enemy, where there doesn’t remain any stock of provisions, fuel, or vehicles; this is the principal cause of the slowdown in our advance.

In addition, not having received the promised officers we are, Chagneau and I, assailed by a whole series of details, and we often don’t know which way to turn first.

We are all determined to apply the directives received concerning action; we are going to concentrate all our efforts on this objective, which remains for us objective number one.

Commander Chagneau will send a report with the next post.

Colonel Fabien