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4th Tunisian Tirailleurs Regiment

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Active  1884 - 1956
Branch  French Army
Country  France
Type  Tirailleurs Regiment
4th Tunisian Tirailleurs Regiment
Motto(s)  « Sous la garde d'Allah » (Fr) « Sous la protection d'Allah » (Fr)
Engagements  World War I World War II Indochina War

The 4th Tunisian Tirailleurs Regiment (French: 4e Régiment de Tirailleurs Tunisiens, 4e RTT ) was an infantry regiment belonging to the Army of Africa (French: Armée d'Afrique) which formed part of the French Army.


Active between 1884 and 1956, the regiment was one of the most decorated of the French Army. The regiment had a distinguished record during World War I, being cited six times. It was decorated with the Légion d'honneur during World War II, as part of the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division 3e DIA. During the Italian campaign, serving with the French Expeditionary Corps under General Juin; cited newly four times at the orders of the armed forces.


From their establishment, the Algerian Tirailleurs (French: Tirailleurs Algériens) and Tunisian Tirailleurs regiments were given sequential numbering (1st Tirailleurs, 2nd etc.). This possibly reflected the fact that the areas of recruitment had formerly been part of territories under Ottoman guardianship administered by the Dey of Algeria (French: Dey d'Alger) and the Bey of Tunisia (French: Bey de Tunis). Frequently the original recruits of these regiments were drawn from serving soldiers already employed by the Ottoman Empire. The popular nickname « Turcos » bestowed on these units may owe its origin to this. According to other sources, the « Tirailleurs » gained that designation during the Crimean War when Algerian infantry forming part of the French expeditionary force were sometimes mistaken for their Turkish allies.

Created on December 14, 1884, under the designation of 4th Tirailleurs, the unit was constituted essentially of Tunisian soldiers and French cadres, the latter representing between 20 and 30% of the effectifs. The unit counted in 1899 six battalions of 600 men each.

In October 1900, the first battalion was sent to Tonkin, when in 1907 and 1908, the 2nd and 4th battalions where engaged in the campaign of Morocco (French: campagne du Maroc) with the 3rd battalion having rejoined Chaouia-Ourdigha by the 4th battalion. From October 1911 to September 1912, six of these twelve battalions which counted then the 4e RTT were engaged in combat in the French protectorate. In a message addressed to the Bey of Tunisia, on April 22, 1911, the French Ambassador to Morocco underlined then « valor, discipline and commitment […] above all » the attributions which represented the Tunisian Tirailleurs.

In 1921, the differentiation operated between the Algerian and Tunisian Tirailleurs: there was no 4th Algerian Tirailleurs Regiment, nor 8th Tunisian Tirailleurs Regiment (French: 8e Régiment de Tirailleurs Tunisiens), nor 12th Tunisian Tirailleurs Regiment (French: 12e Régiment de Tirailleurs Tunisiens), nor 16th Tunisian Tirailleurs Regiment (French: 16e Régiment de Tirailleurs Tunisiens), the numbering multiplied by four being consequently attributed to the Tunisian Tirailleurs, the other numbering accordingly being designated to the Algerian Tirailleurs.

The 1st Tirailleurs Regiment (French: 1er Régiment de Tirailleurs, 1e RT) was recreated on May 21, 1994; the 4th company kept the memory of the 4th Tunisian Tirailleurs Regiment conserving the respective traditions.

World War I

At the beginning of World War I, France mobilized in Tunisia 62461 Muslims, along the 9000 French in Tunisia, as well as 24442 colonial workers « travailleurs coloniaux », numbering in to a total of 86903 men. Engaged for the first time on August 23, 1914 at Hanzinelle (Belgium), the soldiers were not late to discover war in the trenches.


On August 2, 1914, the 4th Marching Regiment (4e RMT) was formed in Tunisia. The marching regiment was initially composed of the 6th and 1st battalions of the 4e RTT. On October 29, 1914, the 4e RMT received the 5th battalion of the 4e RTT incoming from the marching tirailleuers regiment of the Moroccan Division. Initially attached to the 38th Infantry Division (French: 38e DI), the 4e passed to the Moroccan Division on November 24, 1914, alongside the RMLE, the 7e RTA as well the 8e RZ. On August 4, 1918, the regiment integrated the 2nd Moroccan Division (French: 2e Division Marocaine).


  • September 25 - October 6  : Second Battle of Champagne
  • 1917

    The arms accomplishments of the Tunisian Tirailluers of the Chemin des Dames at Verdun 1917, earned the regiment the Croix de guerre and the Légion d'honneur, six citations at the orders of the armed forces for the regiment and seven for the battalions as well as a participation to the parade of July 14, 1919. 16509 Tunisian fell to the fields of honor (French: tombés au champ d'honneur) out of a total loss of Maghrebis reported between 28 and 36000; another source indicated 10500 out of 63000 Tunisians combatants.


    Following the armistice of 1918, the Tunisian battalions were redeployed on other theatres of operations: Morocco, South Tunisia, Dardanelles, and the Levant campaigns between 1925 -1926.

    Battle of France (1939-1940)

    On June 16, 1940, while the 4e RTT of the 84th African Infantry Division (French: 84e Division d'Infanterie d'Afrique), 63 soldiers were killed in Ablis : commemorative plaque of the 4e Tunisian Tirailleurs Regiment. Amongst the deceased is soldier Mohamed Amar Hedhili Ben Salem Ben Hadj whose corps was transferred in November 1945 to Mont Valérien.

    Tunisian campaign (1943)

    During the Tunisia Campaign, equipped with materials of fortune, the regiment mounted combats alongside of other French regiments, U.S. American, British.

    Italian campaign (1943-1944)

    In 1944, during the Italian campaign, the 4e RTT was commanded by colonel Jacques Roux then by colonel Guillebaud. The regiment constituted with the 3e RTA and 7e RTA, the infantry of the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division 3e DIA commanded by général de Monsabert at the corps of the French Expeditionary Corps. The regiment combat engaged in the region of abbay du Mont-Cassin, succeeded in reaching the Gustave line and apprehended Belvédère. During these combats which lasted from January 25 to February 4, 1944, losses werey heavy : half of the effectifs of the regiment and three-quarter of the cadres, out of which colonel Jacques Roux, were killed or wounded (207 killed, 75 disappeared, 1090 wounded). According to général Charles de Gaulle, during combats of Belvédère, « the 4th Tunisian Tirailleurs Regiment accomplished one of the most brilliant successes of arms endeavours at the cost of enormous heavy losses ».

    Campaign of France (1944-1945)

    Following the Belvédère, while decimated, the regiment reconstituted and participated to the disembarking in Provence, in August 1944, the other decisive combats, in the Doubs, the Vogues (notably during the combats of Hohneck), in Alsace then Germany. Accordingly, Adjudant-chef Ahmed El Abed was the first military of the French Army to penetrate Germany in 1945: he reached the iced waters of the river of Lauter with a couple of dozens combatants and apprehended, March 14, of the village of Scheibenhardt.


    From January 10, 1944 to April 24, 1945, the 4e RTT endured the loss of 1009 men (575 in Italy, 342 in France, and 92 in Germany), 879 disappeared and 4053 wounded. From the 26000 Tunisians which partook in combat, 1700 were lost at the end of war with 450 declared disappeared.

    Indochina War

    As the war was over, France recalled the regiments to campaigns in Indochina. The 4e RTT was reconstituted since February 1, 1949 and the expeditions of the 2nd and 3rd battalions to Cambodia then South of Viet-Nam lasted until 1955.


    Following the return of the tirailleurs to their respective countries, this one was on the verge of independence which was proclaimed on March 20, 1956. Experienced, part of the latter integrated in the National Army alongside other local contingent forces. The regiment subsisted until September 1958 and rejoined France. The regiment reconstituted in the 4th Tirailleurs Regiment which rejoined Algeria (Southern territory) on September 18, 1958. Implantation of the regiment in the region of Gafsa 1956-1957, colonel de sal, chief medic of the regiment, captain Bernard.


    The Regimental Colors of the 4e RTT is deocorated with:

  • Croix de la Légion d'honneur (1919)
  • Croix de guerre 1914-1918 with :
  • 6 palms and a bronz star
  • Croix de guerre 1939-1945 with :
  • 4 palms
  • Croix de guerre des théâtres d'opérations extérieures with:
  • 1 palm
  • Ordre du Mérite Chérifien
  • Ordre du Nichan Iftikhar
  • Fourragere:

  • The Regimental Colors of the 4e RTT is decorated with the fourragere with colors of the Légion d'honneur with two olives: cut olive with colors of the légion d'honneur and the croix de guerre 1914-1918 and cut olive with colors of the Médaille militaire and croix de guerre 1939-1945.
  • Similarly to the 7th Algerian Tirailleurs Regiment, the regiment bears wearing the red fourragere.

    Battle honours

  • Casablanca 1908
  • Guise 1914
  • Artois 1915
  • Champagne 1915
  • Verdun 1917
  • L'Aisne 1918
  • Picardie 1918
  • Somme-Py 1918
  • Le Belvédère 1944
  • Garigliano 1944
  • Vosges 1944
  • Stuttgart 1945
  • Indochine 1947-1954
  • Regimental Commanders

  • Lieutenant-colonel Daugan, regimental commander at temporary title on September 29, 1914, then at definite title on December 25, 1914 and until January 19, 1916.
  • January 20 - February 24, 1916 : Lieutenant-colonel Maurice
  • February 25 - July 28, 1916 : Lieutenant-colonel Dardenne
  • 1943 - January 27, 1944 : Colonel Roux . Killed in action in January during combats at Belvédère.
  • 1944 - 1945 : Colonel Guillebaud
  • Notable Officers & Tirailleurs

  • Aspirant Robert Séguin (1921-1944) , September 7, 1944
  • Lieutenant then Captain Bernard Pécout, chief medic of the 1st battalion then chief medic of the regiment. 1956-1957.
  • References

    4th Tunisian Tirailleurs Regiment Wikipedia

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