This is a review by Randy L Harvey of Division Leclerc – The Leclerc Column and Free French 2nd Armored Division, 1940–1946
by authors M.P. Robinson & Thomas Seignon and illustrator Raffaele Ruggeri.
M.P. Robinson is a Canadian author who lives with his wife and 5 children near Toronto, Canada. He has a BA (Hons) History from York University, and has authored or co-authored 8 books and numerous articles on armoured vehicles and armoured warfare. His historical interest in politics and warfare spans from ancient times right up to the present day.
Colonel Thomas Seignon, an active army officer, served in Armor branch from platoon leader to battalion commander. Having a passion for armored vehicles history, he has authored numerous articles plus a couple of books on the subject and is an active member of the French tank museum board and scientific council. He is married and has 3 kids, which does not prevent him from using the train on a weekly basis between the Joint Staff in Paris and his home in Saumur, along the Loire valley.
Raffaele Ruggeri was born in Bologna where he works and lives with his wife. After studying at the Fine Arts Academy he worked in several areas of graphics and design before deciding to devote himself to illustration. He has long been interested in military history and has illustrated a number of books for Osprey.
** The most famous division in the Free French Forces during World War II was the 2ème Division Blindée (2 DB), commanded by the legendary General Phillippe de Hautcloque under his nom de guerre “Leclerc”. While his command was given that designation only in 1943, its original nucleus – the “Leclerc Column” – had already been fighting in Africa since Leclerc rallied a few hundred volunteers to General de Gaulle’s banner in August 1940.
In July 1944 these desert veterans led the enlarged and better equipped 2 DB to Normandy for the breakout battle fought by Patton’s Third Army. In late August the division liberated Paris, trading shells with German Panzers in the central boulevards; in September it won a remarkable tank battle in Lorraine; and in November it infiltrated through the Vosges hills to liberate Strasbourg on France’s eastern border. The last days of the war found the division’s forward elements at Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s mountain refuge. This book recounts the story all the way from Leclerc’s escape to London in 1940 to his signing of Japan’s surrender document on behalf of France in 1945. It is illustrated with rare photographs, and with the eight new plates of color artwork detailing AFV markings, uniforms and insignia.
** Quoted from the back cover of the book.
THE BOOKOsprey Publications
has released Division Leclerc – The Leclerc Column and Free French 2nd Armored Division, 1940–1946
as Number 226
in their Elite series
. It is a soft cover book with 64 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs, including frontline photographs, full color illustrations, tank markings, uniforms and insignia, detailed captions and more. It has a 2018 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-4728-3007-4.
- Nom de guerre: from Captain de Hautcloque to Major Leclerc
- 1940-43: La Colonne Leclerc
- February 1941: Koufra
- February-March 1942: the Fezzan
- December 1942-January 1943: Fort Lamy to Tripoli
- Factional rivalries following Operation “Torch”
- L Force: Tunisia, March-May 1943
- 1943: 2ème Division Blindée
- Building a new army and a new division
- Preparations in the UK
- Unit Composition
- Tank destroyer
- 1944: France
- August: Normandy
- Liberation of Paris: the approach – penetration and assault
- September: Lorraine – Dompaire
- October: Baccarat
- November: the Vosges – Strasbourg
- December: shock from the Ardennes
- 1945: The Last Battles
- January-March: the Colmar Pocket
- April: Royan
- April-May: into Bavaria
- Aftermath & Conclusion
- Select Bibliography
Authors M.P. Robinson & Thomas Seignon cover the Leclerc Division from its formation up through its actions during World war Ii and its actions immediately following the war. Great detail is given to how the unit was formed, the types of armor, vehicles weapons and uniforms used. Also discussed down to the most minute detail is the combat actions developed and favored by Leclerc when it came to attacking a specific target. Leclerc like to split his forces into separate fighting groups attacking from different routes and angles of attack to split up the enemy’s defenses as opposed to keeping all of his combat elements together in one large force and attacking the enemy head on in such a manner. As well as discussing the Leclerc Division the authors also detail which other units the Leclrec Division were attached to and supported and supported by such as the United States Third Army, XV Corps, 44th and 79th Infantry Divisions. The authors discuss the other officers under the command of Leclerc and how they were thought of by others in the division. Authors Robinson and Seignon go into great detail when describing the unit composition. There are pages set up in an informational chart type format that detail each group such as armor, reconnaissance, tank destroyers, infantry, artillery and engineers listing the number and types of armor, vehicles, aircraft, weapons, platoons, fire sections, fire batteries, combat companies, etc. A subject that is discussed that I had never thought of before, but read about in this book, were feelings between the Free French troops and Vichy French troops after the Vichy surrendered to the allies, joined their countrymen and then turned on their former axis partners. Also touched on is the animosity felt by some of the French troops towards certain officers due to the promotions they received. One of the features that I appreciated while reading the book was that several of the French terms that are used are accompanied by English translations for the non-French speaking reader. Authors M.P. Robinson & Thomas Seignon have done an excellent job in researching and writing the history of the Leclerc Division and have done an excellent job in providing a well written history of the division that will be of great interest and use to the reader. The text in the book is nicely written and well detailed. As I read through the text, I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on the French Leclerc Division and its actions during World War II and after to their personal library will be pleased with this very informative and interesting book.
A total of 54 black and white photographs included in this volume. The photographs range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs. The photographs are period photographs of key individuals, allied and axis armor, vehicles and weapons. Many of the photographs were taken while in the field and they show the armor and vehicles with all of the crewmembers gear and other items such as jerry cans and extra track pieces stored on the exterior of the vehicles and this should prove to be very useful to the armor and diorama modeler due to the amount of detail they provide. The same can be said for the photographs of the military personnel and their uniforms and gear. Other photographs that I feel will benefit the military modeler are those showing various types of armor, allied and axis, that have been destroyed in combat. I would say that the photographs that were chosen for this book were for the most part lesser known photographs as opposed to photographs that are featured in many other titles that deal with the same subject matter. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable, however a few have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and others appear too light. This is typical for the discussed period of history and the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the authors and do not take anything away from the book. Authors M.P. Robinson & Thomas Seignon stuck to the title of the book and chose subject specific photographs and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information to anyone interested in World War II allied and axis armor, vehicles, weapons, uniforms and divisional markings and insignia due to the details they contain.
Some of the vehicles, armor, aircraft and weapons shown are:
- French Somua tank
- British Bedford MWD truck
- US M4A2 Sherman tank
- US M3A3 Light tank
- US M10 tank destroyer
- US M4A1 halftrack 81mm mortar carrier
- US M7 “Priest” 105mm self-propelled howitzer
- US GMC CCKW 6x6 truck with a mounted 40mm Bofors AA gun
- German PzKpfw IV Ausf. J
- US M5 halftrack
- German PzKpfw V Ausf. A
- US M8 armored car
- German Panther Ausf. G
- US M20 armored car
- US Piper L4 Cub airplane
- US 57mm M1 gun
- US Dodge WC 54 ambulance
- US Brockway B666 6x6 Pontoon Bridge truck
There are 8 color illustrations by illustrator Raffaele Ruggeri. Accompanying each of the illustrations are extremely detailed captions that provide a wealth of information for each of the separately numbered items shown in each illustration. The captions are shown on the opposite page facing the illustration so that the reader can look at the illustration while reading the caption making it easy to see what is being described. The illustrations are very well done, nicely detailed and are of:
(1) Lieutenant, Troupes Coloniales; Koufra Oasis, May 1941.
(2) Tirailleur (African soldier in the French colonial army), Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais du Tchad; Fort Lamy, winter 1940-41.
(3) Marmon-Herrigton Mk II armored car, Régiment de Marche de Spahis Marocains; North Africa, October 1942.
(3a) Tactical number as painted on the side of the vehicle hood.
(3b) Shaifian star of Morocco and Cross of Lorraine unit sign.
M4A2 Sherman Corse, 3ème Peloton, 2ème Escadron/ 12ème Régiment De Chasseurs D'Afrique; NW Europe, 1944-45
(1) Sherman tank showing Leclerc hull markings, tactical sign, squadron markings, tank name and bridge tonnage disc.
(2) Frontal markings of the same Sherman tank shown in illustration 1.
(3) Close up the Sherman’s tank number with tri-color French flag marking.
(4) Close up of the Sherman’s divisional sign showing a Corsica map positioned relative to the map of France painted in blue and white.
(5) Sous-lieutenant, 12ème RCA, parade dress uniform.
M3 halftrack Amiral Buiza, 9ème Compagnie, III Bataillon/ Régiment De Marche Du Tchad; Central Paris, Evening 24 August 1944.
(1) M3 halftrack showing typical storage, including jerry cans, slung packs, yellow-painted M1 antitank mines in the side racks and a large US Army camouflage net. Also shown are the regiment’s yellow-on-blue tactical sign.
(2) Frontal markings of the same M3 halftrack shown in illustration 1.
(3) Close up the M3 halftrack’s name above the radiator armor.
(4) Close up of the M3 halftrack’s rear right hull showing the stenciled vehicle number and the tricolor French flag marking.
(5) Rifleman, II/RMT – French soldier from the Sub-Group Minjonnet of GT Langlade.
(6) Sergeant, 9ème Cie, III/RMT.
(7) Modified helmet badge, II/RMT.
Colonne Dronne; Central Paris, August 24-25, 1944. M4A2 Sherman Romilly, 1ère Section, 2ème Compagnie/ 501ème Régiment de Chars de Combat.
(1) Adjutant Henri Caron. Showing the character in uniform.
(2) Soldat de 2ème classe Roland Hoert. The tanks loader/operator shown in uniform.
(3) Capitaine Raymond Dronne, 9ème Cie, III/RMT. The company commander shown in uniform.
(4) Enseigne de vaisseau 2ème classe, 2ème Esc/ Régiment Blindé de Fusiliers-Marins, Morning, August 25. Junior officer shown in uniform.
Plate E (see attached scan)
Lorraine, September-October 1944
(1) M10 tank destroyer Siroco, 3ème Peloton, 4ème Escadron/ Régiment Blindé de Fusiliers-Marins; October 11, 1944.
(1a) Tank destroyer loader shown in uniform wearing a bachi cap instead of a US tanker’s helmet.
(1b) A close up of the Siroco tactical sign.
(2) M4A3 Sherman Champagne, 3ème Peloton, 3ème Escadron/ 12ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique; September 12, 1944.
(2a) Commander shown in uniform wearing the M1935 French Army mechanized troops’ helmet.
(2b) Close up of the tactical sign of Champagne.
Plate F (see attached scan)
(1) Piper L4 Cub, 32ème Section d'Aviation, 1/ 3ème Régiment d'Artillerie Coloniale; Lorraine, September 1944. Port side profile of a Piper Cub spotter aircraft shown with French markings.
(1a) Sous-lieutenant, Armée de l'Air. Piper Cub pilot shown in uniform.
(2) M7 105mm howitzer, 32ème batterie, Xl/64 RADB; England, July 1944. Port side profile of a M7 105mm howitzer shown with French markings.
(2a) Canonier, Xl/ 64 RADB. M7 105mm howitzer gunner shown in uniform.
Paris & Lorraine, 1944
(1) Dodge WC54 ambulance Le Vesinet, 1ère Compagnie/ 13ème Bataillon Médical; Lorraine, September 1944. Dodge WC54 ambulance shown with French markings
(1a) Ambulancière, 1ère Compagnie. French female ambulance driver shown in uniform.
(2) M3A3 Stuart Lauraguais, Section de Protection, Groupement Tactique Langlade; Paris, August 26, 1944. M3A3 Stuart tank shown with French markings.
(2a) Close up of the Protection Platoon’s TQM marking.
Unit Badges & Tactical Signs. Uniform insignia and vehicle tactical signs.
(1) 2ème Division Blindée (2 DB)
(2) (1er) Régiment de Marche de Spahis Marocains – armored reconnaissance (RMSM)
(3) Régiment de Marche du Tchad (I, II & III Bns) – mechanized infantry (RMT)
(4) 501ème Régiment de Chars de Combat5 – tanks (501 RCC)
(5) 12ème Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique – tanks (12 RCA)
(6) 12ème Régiment de Cuirassiers – tanks (12 RC)
(7) I Groupe/ 3ème Régiment d'Artillerie Coloniale (1/3 RAC)
(8) XI Groupe/ 64ème Régiment d'Artillerie de Division Blindée (XI/64 RADB)
(9) I Groupe/40ème Régiment d'Artillerie Nord-Africain (I/40 RANA)
(10) Régiment Blindé de Fusiliers-Marins – tank destroyers (RBFM)
(11) 22ème Groupe Colonial, Force Terrestre Antiaériennne – AA (22 GC-FTA)
(12) 13ème Bataillon du Génie – engineers (13BG)
(13) 13ème Bataillon Mèdical (13 BM)
Please refer to the scan that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.
The captions are well written and detail and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown and taking place. The captions go into very specific detail as to the names and ranks of specific individuals shown, types of clothing worn, armor, vehicles, the names given to the armor and vehicles, weapons, equipment, dates and locations and other such pertinent information. I was quite impressed by authors M.P. Robinson and Thomas Seignon’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions that I have seen that are very brief and lacking in detail. My personal thoughts are that their captions are miniature history lessons within themselves.
There are 3 notes included in this volume and they are:
- Author’s Acknowledgements
- Editor’s Note
- List of abbreviations used in the text
- French ranks
- Artist’s Note
There is 1 informational chart included in this volume and it is of:
- Composition of Groupement Tactique Langlade at Dompaire, September 12-13, 1944
As with the other Osprey Publishing
titles I was impressed with this book. This is a very nice reference book that contains a well written informative text, many subject specific photographs and illustrations, well detailed captions and more, all detailing the French Leclerc division from its founding through its actions during World War II and after. As with the other Osprey Publishing
titles, I would have no hesitation to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal reference library.
also offers Division Leclerc – The Leclerc Column and Free French 2nd Armored Division, 1940–1946
Division Leclerc – The Leclerc Column and Free French 2nd Armored Division, 1940–1946 is also available as a Kindle version through Amazon.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the World’s Tanks and Fighting Vehicles
A technical directory of major combat vehicles from World War I to the present day
Christopher F Foss
A Salamander book
Published by Chartwell Books Inc.
Standard Catalog of U.S. Military Vehicles 1940-1965
Tank And AFV Crew Uniforms Since 1916
Color Illustrations by Gerry Embleton
World War 2 Combat Uniforms and Insignia
Squadron/Signal Publications, #6013
Published in 1977
Martin Windrow with color illustrations by Gerry Embleton
This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing
. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here when you make your purchase.
UK £11.99 / US $19.00 / CAN $25.00