France / Monument
This is the site of the national monument to the African Army, an obelisk with a flame of remembrance that is regularly rekindled. This important military corps was created in the 1830s and disbanded when Algeria became independent.
The African Army consisted of troops from French North Africa (AFN) in regiments of Zouaves, Tirailleurs, Spahis, Goumiers, Meharists and the Foreign Legion. This corps was responsible in particular for the security and control of the Algerian departments, then the protectorates of Tunisia and Morocco.
The African Army took part in the distant expeditions recalled around the monument: the Crimean War (1853-56), the Italian War (1859) and the Mexican War (1863-67). The African Army also took part in the fighting during campaigns in mainland France (wars of 1870-71, 1914-1918, 1939-40) and in Italy (1943-44).
In July 1944, the African Army was incorporated into General de Lattre de Tassigny's B army. It was particularly represented by General de Monsabert's 3rd Algerian Infantry Division (3rd DIA).
On the eve of the Provence landings, the B army also included :
- the 1st Free French Division (1ère DFL), the first unit to land on 16 August 1944. This included units from all over the colonial empire, most of which immediately rallied to General de Gaulle and whose numbers were increased by Resistance fighters who had escaped from France.
- Colonial troops, drawn from the marine infantry, who formed the bulk of the 9th Colonial Infantry Division (9th DIC).
Soon to be known as the 1st French Army, De Lattre's army comprised around 240,000 men, half "Europeans" and half "Muslims" and "colonials" (to use the terminology of the time). They fought until Germany's surrender on 8 May 1945, after fighting the difficult battles of Toulon and Marseille.
The African Army was also involved in Indochina.
A major remembrance ceremony is organised every year at the beginning of June by the town of Saint-Raphaël and the Souvenir Français. The ceremony is attended by numerous authorities and flag bearers, as well as the regiment that came from Canjuers as the heir to the African Army (1st RCA).
The Chant des Africains (Song of the Africans) is the official marching song of the African Army. Along with the Marseillaise, it is the only military song that is sung and played whilst standing to attention during the taking up of arms.
Parking Beaurivage, 83700 Saint-Raphaël