Reginald Rankin.

In Morocco with General d'Amade online

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they lead them. The Moors have a proverb to the
effect that the Moor is a warrior, the Algerian a
man, and the Tunisian a woman ; but when led by
French officers the Algerian man and the Tunisian
woman rout the vainglorious Moorish warriors
with consummate ease.

Their chief defect is an excitability which in
action prevents their shooting with all the accuracy
that might be desired.

Their confidence in their officers, and their
officers' confidence in them, is unbounded ; and
nothing could be better than the terms on which
they work together. This is well illustrated by a
little incident at the battle of Fekkak. A company
of Tirailleurs, topping a ridge, came suddenly under
a very heavy fire, which brought half-a-dozen men
down almost simultaneously. A minute or two
later, when the enemy's fire had been practically
got under, an unwounded Tirailleur refused to


obey the order to advance, and lay still on his
stomach. His captain's rage and surprise knew no
bounds, for he believed the man to be funking ;
such a thing was unknown in the history of the
battalion. He shortened his sword and ran two
inches of it into the prostrate Tirailleur. The man
got up, vomited blood, and fell down again. The
officer apologised and sent for an ambulance.

The Tirailleur is a strange medley ; it is difficult
for any European to understand the Arab mind.
Ordinarily he appears the best-tempered fellow in
the world — chatting and laughing at the top of his
voice, throwing half his week's pay to a beggar by
the roadside, or begging you respectfully not to
ride through the standing crops, because, though
they may be the enemy's, they are the staff of
life, and deserving of honour. Then suddenly a
hare gets up under the feet of the column halted in
a wood ; two men fancy they have claims to the
body ; their friends range themselves on either side ;
were it not for the intervention of their officers
there would be a bloody fight.

A French officer told me that not so very long
ago, when serving in Algeria, ho had two excellent
Tirailleur servants, who were great friends. One
day some trifling dispute arose about the proper
way to clean a button, or something equally ridi-
culous ; tlie two men went out, got their rifles,
and by a simultaneous discharge shot one another


Emphatically the methods of the French in the
Chaouiya erred, if they erred at all, on the side
of humanity.

The order given by General d'Amade at M'Karto,
when he had his enemy absolutely in his grip —
" Sound the ' Cease fire ! ' enough have been killed "
— is typical of the methods of every man in the force
towards the natives. The peaceful peasants who
refused to be drawn away by the jehdd - prGaGhmg
demagogues, and stayed quietly upon their lands,
came to regard the French as their best friends,
for they brought law and order into districts dis-
tracted for centuries by anarchy and violence.

A common expression amongst these people, as
they came with bowls of sour milk and flat brown
loaves to welcome the troops, was — " The Naza-
renes are the true believers ; the true believers are
Nazarenes." Or they would ask, with childlike
simplicity, how it was that men who had the
power to take anything they chose respected their
women and paid for everything? Sultan Abd-ul-
Aziz put another aspect of the same idea when
he told a journalist that the French would never
do any good in the Chaouiya until they plundered,
plundered, plundered.

! But in Morocco, as in Tunisia, where you will
i often hear French colonists speak of their own
Government as 17^0]) doux in their attitude to
the Arabs, the French have deliberately adopted
the policy of treating the natives as though they

:u gp:np:ral damade in morocco

were civilised beings, with a white man's code of
morahty, justice, and mercy. At first the Moor
sees with astonishment a man speaking the same
tongue, professing the same rehgion, and inherit-
ing the same traditional hatred of Europeans as
himself, serving under infidel officers against his
co-religionists ; but when he learns the methods
of the infidels it gradually dawns upon him that
the pleasures of inter-tribal fighting may be bought
too dear, and that perhaps after all the Algerian
and Tunisian have gained more from a settled
government than they have lost. There is abso-
lutely no room for doubt that the industrious
element of the Chaouiya would welcome a per-
manent French occupation of their country ; and
to this the scrupulous conduct of the French rank
and file has chiefly contributed.

Speaking generally, it may be said that the
striking characteristics of French troops on active
service are their independence of transport, their
marching power, and their unfailing cheeriness ; and
the two latter are undoubtedly in large measure
the result of the first. The French soldier carries
a complete house, with well- furnished kitchen,
larder, cellar, and woodshed, all upon his back.
When he has done his day's work, he can at
once pitch his tent, light his fire, and cook his j
dinner, for he has with him all the necessaries
for tlie repose of body and mind. The French '
soldiL'i' suffers none of those long waits for food, I


tents, and blankets which try troops even more
from the mental annoyance they inflict than from
the damage they do to constitutions. Still, ex-
haustion is a cumulative process, and half-an-hour's
difference in getting warm food into a man in
a warm tent might often spell the difference be-
tween his remaining efficient and his going into
hospital. The health and vigour engendered by
this capacity under all circumstances to eat in
plenty and sleep in comfort enable the French
troops to march enormous distances, notwithstand-
ing the heavy packs they carry ; and this inde-
pendence of transport and mobility, though both
due to the same cause, are distinct advantages of
incalculable military value. It is a pity that the
French system cannot be introduced into our own
army ; for though Tommy Atkins might curse the
pack in peace-time, in the field he would become
a modern Balaam.^

Two points strike the Englishman about the
French officer : that he appears to be, especially
in the higher ranks, very much older than his
parallel in the British army ; and that discipline
is maintained off parade in a way that we should
consider unnecessary.

The age of colonels commanding in the cavalry,
for example, would seem to militate against the
dash and vigour which ought to characterise that

' The Roman soldier carried no less than 85 lbs., half his own
average weight. Cf. Dodge's " Hannibal," p. 80.


arm beyond the others. In regard to the other
matter, French officers hold that subordination
cannot properly be maintained unless it is always
maintained ; they out-Bagnet Bagnet even at mess.
When one of two subalterns who passed out of
St. Cyr together, and have been sworn allies ever
since, gets his captaincy, the other adds " mon
capitaine " when he asks him for the bread. It is
said, indeed, that a newly-promoted captain put
his best friend under arrest for tutoying him.

Army Service Corjis. — This department is
under tlie control of a Sous Intendant, an Adjoint
d'Intendance, and sixteen officers, who undertake
severally : —

(a) Bread.

(6) Meat.

(c) Forage.
Rations. — Each man receives per diem as
Government allowance 750 grammes of bread, 400
grammes of meat (beef and mutton), 21 grammes
of coffee, 16 grannnes of sugar, and (French troops
only) half a litre of red wine, usually Algerian,
but which when French costs the Government
17 centimes per litre.

Besides this he receives 5 centimes (a trifle
under a halfpenny) a day pocket money, and 26
centimes (2. id.) is paid for him as a subsistence
allowance ("prime d'alimentation ") to his captain,
who buys with it wine, salt, pepper, vegetables,
sardines, cheese, and jam.


The rations are drawn per company, and cooked
by the cook of each squad. The Government
allowance is issued by the Administration to the

Most of the provisions are brought from France,
but barley, cattle, and the articles bought with the
subsistence allowance are procured locally.

Foreigners are admitted to tender for most
of the supplies procured locally, and practically
every merchant in Casablanca, and, in many
cases, those at Tangier, are making money over

Bread. — The bread is made of flour brought
from Marseilles, ground from soft white wheat.
All the " gruaux noires " are sifted out, as in this
damp climate they were found to turn the bread
stale quickly, and the bread, though yellowish, is
far whiter than " pain bis." It is excellent, and
remains fresh six or seven days.

Baking. — The field ovens are octagonal in shape,
with very low crowns, and are composed of a chim-
ney and five separate pieces, which can be easily
carried on mules, set up in two hours, and at work
in four hours.

Every oven working day and night can turn
out 1000 loaves weighing 1 kilo 500 grammes
each or two rations (making 2000 rations) in
twenty-four hours, the ration per diem being 750

Ten field ovens are in use in all ; five at Casa-



blaiica, two at Mediouna, one at Bou Znika, and two
at Ber Rechid.

When time allows the ovens are banked up
with earth to retain the heat. They have been tried
with success in China and Madagascar. The dough is
kneaded in iron kneading-trough s made in two parts,
united vertically by hinges. They fold up into small
compass, and are carried by a mule. The baskets for
shaping the loaves are wicker covered with canvas.

All the machines in use can be repaired and
made on the premises by military workmen, and no
civilians are employed in the service.

The bakers are divided into four shifts of four
men each, two shifts being on duty for twelve
hours by day, and two for twelve hours at night.
The shifts are relieved every two hours.

The bread was formerly sent out by convoy
to Mediouna, Bou Znika, and Ber Rechid ; but
military bakeries have now been installed in all
these places, though the bakery at Casablanca is
now able to turn out 10,000 rations per diem.

Provisions for 10,000 men for three months
are always to hand in the town, stored in
warehouses hired for the purpose.

Fuel. — The great difficulty of the Intendance des
Subsistances has been to procure a regular supply of
fuel, of which the expeditionary force uses 140
({uintaux (14 tonnes) or 30,898 lbs. per diem.
Four hundred grammes of charcoal and 400
grammes of wood are sent up daily for each man


in the field. None can be procured locally, and
so wood, which steamers will not carry, has to be
brought by two sailing ships from Spain and
Gibraltar, and these, on account of the surf,
cannot always land their cargoes.

Old railway sleepers are preferred, as it is
easy to break them up, pack them in sacks, and
send them out by mule to Ber Rechid. One quintal
( = 1 cwt. 3 qrs. 24 lbs. = 100 kilogrammes) of wood
costs 11 francs delivered at Ber Rechid.

Cattle. — At the outposts cattle are bought by
the Administration des Subsistances, which finds no
difficulty in procuring them from the natives.

At Casablanca the Administration deals with
a contractor who is bound under penalty always
to have a week's supply in hand. He brings
them in every day to be slaughtered by the
Administration in their own abattoir, which consists
of two open sheds near the manutention (bakery).

Beef costs the Administration at the slauo-hter-


house (sur pied) 1 franc per kilo.

Mutton is the same price.

The contractor is bound to supply one sheep to
every five oxen.

All the tinned supplies and the biscuit are
brought from France or Europe (macaroni from
Trieste, for instance). The tinned corned beef,
or " bully " of Tommy Atkins, is dubbed " singe "
(" monkey ") by the French troops, and is not
so good as the British article.


The emergency ration is sugared chocolate.
Preserved soup, rice, haricot beans, coffee, sugar,
salt, and biscuit are also carried. The troops
generally set out for an expedition carrying rations
for three days.

French red wine, carried in large casks, which
costs about 17 cts. a litre, is issued to the troops
when the General orders. It is brought from
France and Algeria in the transports.

Tentes Baraques. — At the various posts stores
are kept in tentes baraques, which serve as
sleeping places for the bakers, the field ovens
being set up alongside of them. These tentes
baraques are about 50 feet long, and are formed
of three large sheets of canvas placed side by
side on a light framework, consisting of five
posts joined by gabled cross-pieces and united
by a jDole running along each side of the tent.
They are made by M. E. Guilloux of Montreuil
sur Seine, and are also used to shelter forage.
They are arranged to form loads of 120 kilos
per mule.

Loads. — The following scale of loads is rigo-
rously adhered to.

Arabas — 400 kilos. The Tunisian native cart, a
flooring without sides, and uprights at each

Camels — 250 kilos.

Mules— 120 kilos.

Asses — Small, 60 kilos ; large, 100.


The arabas were originally brought from Tunis,
where they were found in use v/hen the French
occupied the country in 1883. Each araha is
here drawn by two mules (for one mule per
araha, as in Tunisia, is found insufficient), who,
in Tunis, are harnessed by putting the shafts high
on their necks. At Casablanca they were harnessed
too low, with the result that the loads frequently
fell off in front.

Loading. — The work of loading the convoys
is performed by squads of Tirailleurs, who are
told off for the work, but who do not form the
escort. The animals are driven by natives who,
when they arrive at their destination, help the
troops in the work of unloading.

The Superintendent of Transport warns the In-
tendant on the previous evening how many animals
and what supplies are required. Next morning
the convoy is sent round to the manutention at
6.30 A.M. and leaves by 9 o'clock punctually, so
as to avoid night marching.

The men and escort average 40 kilometres a
day. Animals which only go as far as Mediouna,
18 kilometres off, return the same day.

Commissariat. — The Intendance is recruited
from amongst officers of the regular army who
have reached the rank of captain, by open com-
petition. Those who pass have to study technical
subjects for two years at Paris, and are then
appointed to districts. They receive the same


pay as their comrades of the line, but promotion
is far more rapid.

Water. — A large distilling apparatus worked
with coal has been erected at Sidi Belliot, on the
beach just north of the town, to distil water for
the troops. It can provide 50,000 litres a day.
This water is exclusively reserved for the troops.

Forage. — The forage is stored in a large yard
surrounded by substantial stone arcades just out-
side the Porte de Marrakesh, and connected by a
good cart-road running beneath the town walls
with the manutention, half a mile off.

Rations. — The mules, horses, and asses are
rationed by the French, who also give forage to
their Goumiers (native Algerian volunteers), but
the camels are fed by the natives.

Scale of Rations. — 5 kilos oats per diem are
given to the French horses.

5 kilos barley to the Algerian horses, and
to the mules 10 to 15 kilos of hay.

The barley grown in Morocco suits the
Algerian horses better than oats.

Purchase of Forage. — Forage is bought by the
Intendance and distributed to the units.

1500 quintaux of forage are always kept in
store at Casablanca.

Hay. — The hay used may be classed as coarse
meadow hay. Some comes from France, but the
bulk is Algerian.

It is packed with iron hoops in bales of 50


kilos each, and it is found absolutely necessary to
issue it to the horses from France.

Straw is kept in store in large quantities and
issued for the men's paillasses, but it is not sent to
the outposts.

Storage. — The oats and barley, packed in sacks,
are stored in large tents made by M. E. Guilloux of
Montreuil sur Seine, and greatly resembling those
used for the field bakeries.

The hay is stored under the tents and under
rick cloths, as is the straw for the men's paillasses.

A fire-extinguishing apparatus is kept in the
forage camp and the men are drilled daily in its use.

Contracts. — Foreigners are admitted to tender
for many of the contracts. The largest issued
locally is that for meat, which amounts to 120,000
frs. a month. All the foreign firms are represented
by their local agents, and, as has been said, practi-
cally all the merchants established in Casablanca
are making money out of the army.

Paymasters Departme7it. — A Paymaster Com-
mandant, who ranks as a major, superintends the
Paymasters of the Corps de Debarquement.

The troops are paid ten days in advance in
French money.

For payments to natives, the Paymaster pro-
cures Hassani money by changing French money
at current rates at the Banque d'Etat du Maroc
and at the Compagnie Algerienne.

Army Post Office. — The Army Post Office is


managed by an Army Postmaster with the rank of
captain. He receives and despatches the mails, &c.,
and conducts the ordinary Post Office business for
the army. Telegrams, unless Government ones,
are sent by letter to Tangier, and despatched from
there. Government despatches go by the wireless
telegraph to the Tour Eiffel. In March the wire-
less telegraph was thrown open to the public at 70
centimes a word.

Letters sent to the columns in the field, which
are sent from Casablanca through the French Post
Office, need not be stamped, and no special issue
of stamps has been made in connection with this

Costs of the Expedition. — Approximately the
expedition is costing three million francs a month,
including the naval expenses.

The supplementary expenses occasioned by the
expedition since the month of August 1907, over
and above the usual expenditure, are twenty
million francs, not including the naval expenses.

Point d'Appiii Camp. — The Point dAppui
camp, which is held by the first Algerian Zouaves,
lies near the Spanish camp, to the south of the
road to Marrakesh, and is connected with the
Water Port by a Decauville railway of eighteen-
inch gauge, formed of short sections of rail united
by iron sleepers three feet apart, and easily trans-
portable. On it trucks are pushed along by men.

Huts. — The huts were built by the Legionaries,


who are not trained workmen, under the supervision
of the sappers.

They are built, on tarred piles, of planks placed
horizontally to the uprights, and have high wide
windows closed by wooden shutters, and a wooden
barrel roof inside one of galvanised iron placed
about a foot above it. In front is a wide balcony
sheltered by the eaves, and running all the way
down the entrance side of the buildings.

The men sleep on paillasses filled with straw
and have two blankets. Those who choose may
make wooden bedsteads for themselves. The huts
are about 45 metres long and contain sixty men.

Garden. — In a garden planted by the soldiers
themselves within the camp were growing the
following vegetables, fruit trees, and flowers, the
fruit trees having been brought by the officers from
Algiers. All looked most flourishing.











Peach trees (in flower)



Pear trees



Plum trees


Soldiers Pay. — Exclusive of the " prime d'ali-
mentation " French privates and non-commissioned
officers are paid on the following scale : —

Soldats non-rengag6s . . 5 centimes a day.

Soldats rengagts . . .25 centimes a day.

Caporaux non-rengages . . 20 centimes a day,

Caporaux rengages . . .80 centimes a day.


Sous-officiers rengagds 100 francs per month
("nourriture non comprise") — as they have to pay
for their food themselves. Prices are so high at
present at the outposts that 4 francs was paid
for a litre (a quart) of wine at Bou Znika.

In the Zouaves only non-commissioned ofi&cers
who have served five years get 100 francs a month,
the others only 25 centimes a day.

Officers on service are allowed to draw a field
allowance which exactly doubles their pay. Thus
those who receive 400 francs a month elsewhere,
draw 800 francs here.

Soldiers Equipment. — When on the march the
soldier carries an equipment which weighs in all, in-
cluding sac, hidon, musette^ rifle, cartridges, and
2 litres of water, about 30 kilos (60 lbs.)

" Grand cquipement " comprises knapsack, three
cartridge pouches, suspension straps, belt, and

Sac. — Wooden frame (boards 1 centimetre thick,
height 27 centimetres, width 34 centimetres, depth
12 centimetres), a box completed by the leather
cover, holding : —

1 shirt.

1 pair drawers (calefon).

1 handkerchief (blue cotton squares).

1 towel.

1 first aid package.

1 tarbush.

1 pair spats (white).


1 pair nailed shoes (five rows large square-headed
nails, like those used by mountaineers),

1 pair canvas camp shoes.

1 box holding on one side (a) grease for rifle ;
on the other (b) grease for shoes.

1 brush for clothes.

1 brush for rifle,

1 box compressed soup, 1 emergency ration of

A housewife (trousse) containing scissors, thimble,
comb, thread, needles, awl.

24 square biscuits, yellowish white inside, 2 by
3 inches ; dated and marked " Alger."

2 double canvas sacks, each 8 inches by 3 inches,
one containing sugar and coflfee ; the other salt,
haricots, and rice.

Top of box contains " livret " with name, that
of father and mother (in case of death the news is
wired at once to the Maire of the Commune, but
the names of those wounded are not telegraphed),
pay, &c.

Each man has a gamelle or tin eating-dish,
on the top of his pack, and outside it one man
carries a flat tinned saucepan, 18 inches in dia-
meter, called a marmite, for every eight men,
while another carries the hidon, a large cooking-
tin holding 10 litres of water (say two and a half
gallons) for every four men. A coflfee-mill serves
thirty men, a hatchet twelve men, two sacks twelve
men, and two canvas buckets twelve men.


Tools. — Por company : —
8 shovels.

4 double-headed pickaxes. I In leather
4 single-headed picks. cases.

3 axes, 1 folding saw.
1 wire nippers.

Wood for the bivouac fire is carried stuck into
the straps of the knapsack.

Each man has a cloth-covered water-bottle,
holding 2 litres (say 2 quarts).

Each man has one square of tent, 1 metre
GO centimetres square, the tent being made of six
pieces and holding six men. Rolled up in the tent
square is a small blanket {couvre-pied).

Also jacket, waistcoat, trousers, cloak, vest.

120 cartridges in fifteen packets.

1 haversack {musette), which holds bread, vege-
tables, and meat for next day.

1 bamboo divided into two parts, at one end
salt, at the other pepper.

Rifle, bayonet, three pouches holding 120 car-
tridges in all ; five packets holding 8 cartridges
hi each pouch.

Order of Putting on Kit. — The Zouave takes
oif his jacket. He puts his water-bottle over his
left shoulder, his musette over his right shoulder,
three cartridge pouches, two in front and one
behind, on a belt held up by braces. The bayonet
also hangs on this belt. Then comes his jacket,


tiien his knapsack, held by straps under the arm-
pits, and his rifle over his right shoulder completes
his outfit.

Boots. — Good shoeing being a matter of such
vital importance to an army, and the French troops
at Casablanca having proved themselves such ad-
mirable marchers, it may be of interest to describe
their foot-gear.

No socks are issued ; some few men wear ordi-
nary socks, but the great majority prefer a strip of
linen, known as a " Russian sock," which is wound
round the foot.

French troops — cavalry and artillery as well as
infantry — use the hrodequin, a laced boot reaching

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Online LibraryReginald RankinIn Morocco with General d'Amade → online text (page 3 of 18)