Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Viva le Jihad - Sicily 1943

From recent work on surfaces this moment in history - garnered straight from the 26th Infantry log files. It is worth mentioning only as a counterpoint to current relationship status between americans and arabs at a political level. Clearly times have changed

27 July 1943

This was the 17th day of the campaign.

At 0020 hours the radio operator for headquarters listened to the message tapped out, grinned and then handed it to a runner. The runner looked at the message, also smiled, and then took it to the Staff, still up and about in the small black operations tent. Captain Dreier looked at the message, nodded his thanks to the runner and dismissed him. Next to get the news was the Colonel, who announced the news to all the officers.

The 4th Tabor would be attached to the 1st Infantry Division, and would operate on the left flank of the Division, wearing French helmets and American fatigues.

Translated, that meant a regiment of Moroccans called Goums, composed of 4 companies, would augment the division effort. These Moroccan warriors with their pigtails and brown burnous’ were not entirely new to us, either in this war or World War I. In the great summer offensives launched by the Allies in 1918, the 1st Division had operated with the First Moroccan Division on its flank. And in this war, during the Ousseltia Valley campaign, these deadly raiders had spread death and terror among the German and Italian units on the djebela guarding the road to Kairouan. The Axis troops knew that these Goumiers had a reputation for not taking any prisoners, and for delighting in fighting at very close quarters – preferable with knives. Now they were to work with us, and the chances were that the Italians and Germans would know it double-quick time the Goumiers were around. No wonder the officers grinned. They knew the short fierce raids that the Goumiers liked to launch. And they knew the incessant guard duty it entailed to ward off such sudden blows; it was bound to affect morale.

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