Image size: 1073 x 1600 pixel. 578 KB
Date: Between Saturday, 1 November 1941, to Thursday, 6 November 1941
Place: Smolensk, Soviet Union
Photographer: Unknown (Signal magazine photographer)
French soldiers (with MP40) of the Légion des Volontaires Français (soon to be 33.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS "Charlemagne"), when still part of the Wehrmacht. They are in anti-Partisan operation and wearing Heer uniform with french tricolore armelwappen "FRANCE". They were came from Infanterie-Regiment 638 (Französischer). This regiment was subordinated to the 286. Sicherungs-Division (Security Division) from February 1944. The original French unit in the German army was the Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism (Légion des Volontaires Français contre le Bolchévisme, or LVF). The LVF was also known by its official German designation, the 638th Infantry Regiment (Infanterie-Regiment 638). The LVF was mainly made up of right-wing Frenchmen and French prisoners of war who preferred fighting to forced labor in Germany. The LVF fought near Moscow in November 1941 as part of the 7th Infantry Division. In 1942 the men were assigned to anti-partisan duties in the Byelorussian SSR (Belarus). At the same time, another unit was formed in France, La Légion Tricolore (Tricolor Regiment) but this unit was absorbed into the LVF six months later. The LVF's French commander, Colonel Roger Labonne, was relieved in mid-1942, and the unit was attached to various German divisions until June 1943 when Colonel Edgar Puaud took command. The LVF fought well on the Ukraine front against the Soviets. In June 1944, hours before the LVF's planned departure to France, it was called into action when Army Group Centre's front crumpled under the Red Army's summer offensive. On 25 June, at the Bobr River, elements of the LVF under Major Bridoux fought for 48 hours against a Soviet assault. Attached to the 4. SS-Polizei Division and supported by Stukas and five Tiger tanks, they checked a number of attacks in what is generally regarded as the LVF's most successful operation. Forty or more Soviet tanks were destroyed in front of the French position. Testimony to the ability of the LVF came from a Soviet communique which spoke of their forces being stopped by the sacrifice of "two French divisions"!
"Signal" magazine Nr.3, 1 February 1942 edition