Original WWII French 159th RIA Alpine Infantry Regiment Insignia Pin

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Excellent condition enamel World War Two French Chasseurs Alpins 159th RIA = régiment d'infanterie alpine (alpine infantry regiment) pin. Complete with original pin back and manufacturer markings and PARIS.

About the chasseurs alpins in WW2:  there were 14 DBCA: 4 active and 10 mobilized in August/September 1939. Each half-brigade consisted in 3 battalions (BCA) and is organized like that:
• half-brigade HQ staff and command company (état major et compagnie de commandement)
• a weapons company (compagnie d'engins)
• 3 mountain infantry battalions (BCA) each comprising :
--o a battalion staff, command platoon and ski scout platoon - SES (état-major, section de commandement et section d'éclaireurs skieurs - SES)
--o an HQ company (compagnie hors-rang)
--o 3 rifle companies
--o a support company (compagnie d'accompagnement)

An alpine half-brigade included 88 officers, 373 NCOs and 3,129 corporals and men = 3,590 soldiers. There were also 526 horses/mules, 8 wagons, 8 liaison vehicles, 78 trucks, 4 heavy trucks, 6 Renault UE, 76 motorcycles and 34 bicycles.

SES: the "Section d'Eclaireurs Skieurs" (ski-scouts platoons) are elite deep reconnaissance troops. They play the same role than the corps francs but they are specialized in mountain warfare and winter conditions.

The other kind of less known mountain "chasseurs" are the chasseurs pyrénéens.
The Pyrenean Chasseur half-brigade (Demi-Brigade de Chasseurs Pyrénéens – DBCPyr) was a relatively new unit in the French army. In fact they did not exist as a peacetime unit but were to be mobilized in south western France from a local regular cadre and reservists of the first reserve (30-35 years old) of the region. They were an idea of general Gamelin in response to concerns of the security of the frontier with Spain after Franco's victory, especially the possibility of foreign troops remaining on Spanish soil. They formation was authorized in February 1939 with 5 two-battalion half-brigades to be mobilized under the command of the Détachement d'Armées de Pyrénées and were to be deployed along the frontier blocking the likely avenues of attack across the Pyrenees. However, the initial good relation between Spain and France and the departure of Italian and German troops meant these deployments were never realized. The half-brigades were progressively withdrawn from the Pyrenees, being sent to the Alp sector, replacing units that had been transferred to the North Eastern front. On November 20, 1939, the 3rd half-brigade was dissolved and its 5th anf 6th battalions were assigned to the 4th and 1st half-brigades respectively. The bataillon de chasseurs pyrénéens (BCPyr) was identical in composition to the bataillon de chasseurs alpins (BCA) except they lacked the ski scout platoon. This difference ended for the battalions of the 4th half-brigade when it was assigned to the Army of the Alps and a platoon was formed in each battalion from the SES left behind by the alpine infantry regiment that had moved north.
The initial composition of the Pyrenean Chasseur half-brigade was:
• a half-brigade HQ staff and command platoon
• 2 mountain infantry battalions each with :
--o battalion staff and command platoon
--o a headquarters company
--o 3 rifle companies
--o a support company
The choice of a command platoon for the half-brigade instead of a company like for the alpine troops was a mistake, especially for the half-brigades which had later 3 infantry battalions. The lack of signals, logistics and medical elements produced numerous problems. The lack of a weapons company produced complaints for the commanders of these units. A pyrenean half-brigade with 2 battalions included 76 officers, 328 NCOs and 3100 corporals and men = 3414 soldier. There were also 492 horses/mules, 6 liaison vehicles, 69 trucks, 35 motorcycles and 31 bicycles.

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