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Can anyone tell me what branch of the French military this WWI uniform belongs to?


LeCauroy
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Yes, as Michel explained, that double breasted horizon bleu tunic seems to be what your forebear is wearing in the photo you first posted. It was my original thought too, but I accepted Christine’s superior advice that it was the light brown (pale khaki version).  It seems that Michel was able to contextualise matters on the basis of a photo in basic training.

NB.  By the way, what I thought were officers rank bars on the shoulders are actually loops through which epaulettes were inserted for full dress parades.

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Thanks man.

You guys have been really helpful. I have lots of other things I want to share as well as lots of questions 

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The matricule militaire transcription has him with the 42e RIC from 10 August, but only for a few weeks. He was to remain with them until 12 September 1919. The 42e RIC had been within the 11e Division d'Infanterie Coloniale up to and including November 1918. (Source: AFGG 10,2 - Order of battle for divisions, tome 10,2 within the official history.)

The matricule militaire then has him with the 3e RIC from 22 September 1918. after demobilisation for notional purposes, in the event of the outbreak of a new war. The 3e RIC had been within the 17e Division d'Infanterie Coloniale up to and including November 1918. (Source: AFGG 10,2 - Order of battle for divisions, tome 10,2 within the official history.)

When looking at soldiers in the British Army, quite often these men are being demobilised in the first quarter of 1919, so it is interesting that he is transferred in September 1919 to be demobilised. I've not looked at demobilisation dates for poilus - my interrogation of the records have been in relation to their whereabouts during the conflict itself -so do not know if this was a late demobilisation or not.

Regimental histories

Historique du 42e régiment d'infanterie coloniale pendant la guerre 1914-1918

Historique du 3e régiment d'infanterie coloniale pendant la guerre 1914-1919

Edited by Keith_history_buff
Dates were hastily written down, but do not tie back to the fiche matricule in the OP
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Keith, 

        You seem less like a history buff and more like a history professor. I can’t thank you enough for that research. Very kind of you! 

         I am still trying to understand a lot of the info you guys already gave me, so it is going to take me a little while to comprehend that complex piece of military analysis you just gave me. In way over my head. : )

         I am so used to forums where people are obnoxious and mean spirited. It is going to take a while to acclimatize myself to one where people are civil, friendly and go out of their way to help you! 

         By the way, the attached photo is of his two brothers (also French citizens who lived in New York). The one on the left served in some capacity for the French government. Correct me if I am wrong but I think the the one on the right is regular army.

Thanks again Keith

 

DBD53794-F014-44AD-9372-4499FE47E8D2.jpeg

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Bonjour,

the French army operated with conscripts or recalled from the contingent until the 90s.
in 1914 the mandatory period for all men aged 20.
during the war, conscripts the 3-year period no longer applies.
it is mentioned "at the duration of the conflict".

the French army sent young conscripts to the Ruhr until 1925.
just like after the 2nd World War.

while the Commonwealth repatriated its troops shortly after the end of the conflict (early 1919).

concerning the uniform of our porpoise, its blue horizon color shows it well to its membership in the metropolitan army despite the fact that it is a colonial infantry regiment.
as for the colors "brown", it is specific to the units garrisoned in the colonies.

precisely, this new color posed a small problem with England because at first it was the same color as Tommy's.

contact should be made with the French Embassy in Buenos Aires.
they may have information about him.

Kind regards

michel

Edited by battle of loos
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11 hours ago, LeCauroy said:

Keith, 

        Vous ressemblez moins à un passionné d'histoire qu'à un professeur d'histoire. Je ne peux pas vous remercier assez pour cette recherche. Très gentil de ta part! 

         J'essaie toujours de comprendre une grande partie des informations que vous m'avez déjà données, il va donc me falloir un peu de temps pour comprendre cette analyse militaire complexe que vous venez de me donner. Au-dessus de ma tête. : )

         Je suis tellement habitué aux forums où les gens sont odieux et méchants. Il va me falloir du temps pour m'acclimater à un endroit où les gens sont civils, amicaux et font tout leur possible pour vous aider ! 

         Soit dit en passant, la photo ci-jointe est celle de ses deux frères (également citoyens français qui vivaient à New York). Celui de gauche a servi dans une certaine mesure pour le gouvernement français. Corrigez-moi si je me trompe mais je pense que celui de droite est l'armée régulière.

Merci encore Keith

 

DBD53794-F014-44AD-9372-4499FE47E8D2.jpeg

good morning,

concerning this soldier, he can be assigned to 2 types of units:
artillery and cavalry.
What for?
just by observing his uniform buttons.
here they are of the type "bell" typical of troops mounted (on horseback)
if with 2 crossed guns = artillery

627495636_artillerie(1).JPG.0ba0569f6f695240f26e8a1a32009def.JPG1046970616_artillerie(2).JPG.f6eaee7b6a5fb893c090d63da0a5f461.JPG

or smooth = dragon

1390324371_boutondragon-1888.JPG.d8baee7370fce21834d9afc0f7fda730.JPG

 

regards

michel

 

 

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19 hours ago, LeCauroy said:

Keith, 

        You seem less like a history buff and more like a history professor. I can’t thank you enough for that research. Very kind of you! 

         I am still trying to understand a lot of the info you guys already gave me, so it is going to take me a little while to comprehend that complex piece of military analysis you just gave me. In way over my head. : )

         I am so used to forums where people are obnoxious and mean spirited. It is going to take a while to acclimatize myself to one where people are civil, friendly and go out of their way to help you! 

         By the way, the attached photo is of his two brothers (also French citizens who lived in New York). The one on the left served in some capacity for the French government. Correct me if I am wrong but I think the the one on the right is regular army.

Thanks again Keith

 

 

Thanks for your reply. It's good to see that you have been able to benefit from this thread. As with any information proffered on a forum, it's always good to cross-reference with source materials. I'm a member of a genealogy forum where someone regularly posts "He could have been in SOE in WW2" to most new threads, without any source-based evidence to back this up. 

As for the photo, I have nothing much to add.  Being nit-picky with terminology, I would not use the term "regular army" for the French Army prior to 1996. As to whether he was in the Metropolitan Army or the Troupes Coloniales, I cannot distinguish. Usually, there is an emblem on the collar or head-dress, but not in this instance. I cannot discern what is on the buttons, and ought to go to specsavers. I would hazard a guess that he is wearing a uniform in horizon blue. It is winter dress, so this would rule out light tan tropical rig, and I don't think it's dark enough for the <<moutarde>> colour worn by Troupes Coloniales and various units of the 19th Military District.

The fact that both regimental histories are freely available via the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, and surviving war diaries are available freely online does mean that if you get the framework of the career history of a soldier from his matricule militaire, you can look at what battles they are likely to have fought in. (The fact that the official history (AFGG) is online too is a great virtue too.) The only "disadvantage" is if French is not your maternal language - more so for hand-written material.

If he has a surviving matricule militaire that has been digitised, this will record the pertinent details.

All the best
Keith

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On 18/07/2021 at 16:13, LeCauroy said:

Hi Folks,

            I am doing a lot of research on French family who served during World War I. Attached are two photos of a grand-uncle who served in the French military. I am trying to figure out what specific branch of the French military he served in, his rank, the color of the uniform, and any other details you can provide me with. The anchor on his hat seems to indicate an association with the French Navy. I tried to research this on the internet but failed to find answers to these questions. Given my ignorance of the subject, I thought I would turn to this forum, hoping that some of you with a deeper knowledge of the subject can help me out. 

           I also attached a military census form that I got from the website of the archives of the Gironde in Bordeaux. I have never studied French, the handwriting is difficult to read and I am unfamiliar with the terminology. So as they say, "It is all greek to me." I hoping that from this document, you could tell me which unit and campaigns he served in. 

          Can anyone help me with this?

          Thanks,

          Daniel

 

 

edited b and w Eugene (Phil) de Got French Army copy   EUGENE DE GOT SOLDIER.png

b and w edited overcoat  Eugene (Phil) de Got in French army copy (1)   EUGENE DE GOT SOLDIER.JPG

cropped edited b and w Eugene (Phil) de Got French Army copy   EUGENE DE GOT SOLDIER copy.png

Eugene Philbin de Got Bordeaux Archives Military FRAD033_1R1612_0326.jpg

Just to clarify on this post the jacket he is wearing was introduced in 1873 and is known as the "Paletot modèle 1873" and before the war it was originally dark blue but the decision of the 9th December 1914 which turned all the French armies uniforms into horizon blue affected this item too, also on the 16th April 1915 it was stated that their collar tabs were to be of basic cloth and furthermore on the 7th November 1917 unit numbers were added on the collar tabs. But finally on the 25th May 1918 a decision was made to supply Khaki uniforms to all the Colonial troops due to the availability of the colour Khaki so therefore l'infanterie Coloniale started to received the Paletot in the new colour. 

Here's a very good website on French uniforms of nearly all the branches of the french military until 1914 there's a lot of photos including those of the Colonial troops

http://military-photos.com/index-photo.htm

905975.jpeg

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Hey guys,

             Thanks to Guepe, Michel and Keith for the new info. Here is the Military Census record for the 2nd Brother. He was also a French citizen who was living in New York when they were called up. I think this brother was AWOL for a time, but he eventually made it over. Any help you can give me with this document is much appreciated. 

FRAD033_1R1656_0426 copy.jpg

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27 minutes ago, LeCauroy said:

Hey guys,

             Thanks to Guepe, Michel and Keith for the new info. Here is the Military Census record for the 2nd Brother. He was also a French citizen who was living in New York when they were called up. I think this brother was AWOL for a time, but he eventually made it over. Any help you can give me with this document is much appreciated. 

FRAD033_1R1656_0426 copy.jpg

good morning,

this soldier did not participate in the 1st war.
he was incorporated on 05 April 1921 assigned to the 501st Light Tank Regiment (certainly FT 17 tanks).
he participated in the occupation of Upper Silesia (decoration received for this).

he was appointed corporal on December 24, 1921.


The Commemorative Medal of Upper Silesia was created in 1921 by the Inter-Allied Commission of Government and Plebiscite of Upper Silesia).

It is awarded:

source internet : https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Médaille_commémorative_de_Haute-Silésie

&

https://www.google.com/search?q=médaille+commémorative+de+haute-silésie&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiQk5Cj5vbxAhVx5-AKHROuA28Q_AUoAXoECAEQAw&biw=1680&bih=907

soldiers who have served at least two months in the occupying troops of Upper Silesia;
civil servants who have served at least two months in the Inter-Allied Commission of Upper Silesia;
personnel who have served in Upper Silesia for less than two months but have been injured or killed in the course of their service.
His diploma was established at the headquarters of the inter-allied commission based in Opole, at the time Oppeln.

on September 4, 1939, he was recalled to the 18th section of military nurse.
he went to the reform committee for "mental debility and fugue".
pathology confirmed in March 1940.

regards

michel

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Wow. Michel that was fast. Thanks so much. 

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On 19/07/2021 at 16:13, battle of loos said:

Good evening

to return to the uniform of our "Marsouin", his uniform is "bleu horizon".


this photo was taken during his military training.


rereading the history of the 42nd and 7th RIC, he did not serve in external operations.
he remained in metropolitan France.

Kind regards
 

michel

Michel,

         I was wondering how you knew the photo was taken during military training. Just curious

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good evening,

he wears the kepi while in 1918, the troupe no longer wears this one which has been replaced by the calot.
there is also the foliage of the tree which looks very green which would stick with its period of instruction.

regards

michel

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Michel, Thanks

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689299350_ForLeCauroy-UniformsColourised-1.jpg.30fcb7311cb91b9312d5ec4384f2128e.jpgDear all,

I decided to have a go at colourising the first photo. My apologies if the colours are wrong? 

Regards,

Kev Loughnane.

 

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On 22/07/2021 at 21:34, LeCauroy said:

Michel, Thanks

I can confirm that he is wearing the "bleu horizon" version of the tunic i hope my post has made it clear about the colour variations of the Paletot. 

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Incredible. Thanks Kloughnane!

1 minute ago, kloughnane said:

689299350_ForLeCauroy-UniformsColourised-1.jpg.30fcb7311cb91b9312d5ec4384f2128e.jpgDear all,

I decided to have a go at colourising the first photo. My apologies if the colours are wrong? 

Regards,

Kev Loughnane.

 

 

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9 minutes ago, kloughnane said:

689299350_ForLeCauroy-UniformsColourised-1.jpg.30fcb7311cb91b9312d5ec4384f2128e.jpgDear all,

I decided to have a go at colourising the first photo. My apologies if the colours are wrong? 

Regards,

Kev Loughnane.

 

Very good job at colourising though the insignia (anchors) would be scarlet and on the piping of the shoulder like the following one on this dark blue version. 

_20210724_004810.JPG

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Guepe,

Thank you very much for that. This is the first photo of a French soldier that I have coulourised so I was unsure of the correct colour scheme. I tried to 'google' the correct colours, but those details were missed! I shall revisit the photo tomorrow and attempt to rectify it. Again - thank you.

Regards,

Kev Loughnane

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13 hours ago, kloughnane said:

Guepe,

Thank you very much for that. This is the first photo of a French soldier that I have coulourised so I was unsure of the correct colour scheme. I tried to 'google' the correct colours, but those details were missed! I shall revisit the photo tomorrow and attempt to rectify it. Again - thank you.

Regards,

Kev Loughnane

This was a very amateur, sloppy and inaccurate attempt I did a while back for the photo where is wearing the overcoat. It looks like a got the colors wrong, didn't do the buttons etc.  Yours is really good. Thanks again. 

 my amateur attempt eugene overcoat soldie Colorized (1).png

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LeCauroy,

Nothing sloppy nor amateur about it - it's a decent colourisation. There tends to be a fair bit of guesswork involved - sometimes you get it right and sometimes you don't. I think that you may have achieved a better shade/tone of blue than I did. Following on from Guepe's advice I have revisited the first photo and added the scarlett:

 

1736241858_ForLeCauroy-UniformsSecondAttempt.jpg.9d50a794c30aec6404999482e2543917.jpg

Regards,

Kev Loughnane

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On 19/07/2021 at 23:04, LeCauroy said:

Below is a picture I got from a book on French Army uniforms in WWI which shows what appears to be the same uniform in Horizon Blue. Let me know what you guys think. Many thanks again.

Philbin de Got uniform compared with drawing.png

 

 

Caption: 
Marsouin in the 4e RIC wearing the new horizon blue double breasted <<paletot>> (specific to Troupes Coloniales) in about 1916. This garment is cut exactly in the same manner as the dark blue one.
[There is a photo of a Marsouin at Gallipoli, a prisoner of war in the custody of the Turkish Army, wearing a dark blue paletot.

 

  

On 21/07/2021 at 20:48, Guepe said:

Just to clarify on this post the jacket he is wearing was introduced in 1873 and is known as the "Paletot modèle 1873" and before the war it was originally dark blue but the decision of the 9th December 1914 which turned all the French armies uniforms into horizon blue affected this item too, also on the 16th April 1915 it was stated that their collar tabs were to be of basic cloth and furthermore on the 7th November 1917 unit numbers were added on the collar tabs. But finally on the 25th May 1918 a decision was made to supply Khaki uniforms to all the Colonial troops due to the availability of the colour Khaki so therefore l'infanterie Coloniale started to received the Paletot in the new colour. 

Here's a very good website on French uniforms of nearly all the branches of the french military until 1914 there's a lot of photos including those of the Colonial troops

http://military-photos.com/index-photo.htm

905975.jpeg

 I have a basic knowledge of uniforms. I have seen the word <<paletot>> numerous times before, and simply considered it a synonym for an overgarment. It is great that a native speaker's work on the French Army's uniforms has been translated into english. I am familiar with his output but assumed it was all in French, so thanks to Daniel for putting me on to this.

As well as introducing the subject, it is great when a forum member, whose maternal language is that of the nation to whom the question relates. is able to see a niche topic, and to add value by elucidating in english, so merci Guêpe. How interesting that he gets issued with a horizon blue uniform just before the decision to issue uniforms in the new colour was made. 

I was told 3 months ago by my contact Yannick that the Marsouins and Tirailleurs Sénégalais would have worn horizon blue until 1917. I would presume any subsequent issues of clothing would be in 1918 and thus in the new colour. There are photos of the Infanterie Coloniale in Northern Russia alongside the US contingent in 1918-19 in the US archives, and they are clearly wearing horizon blue as opposed to moutarde. I have recently read that the troops in Salonika would horizon blue as winter dress, so do not doubt that applied to the soldiers in the three Colonial Divisions.

There are some fantastic autochrome colour photographs taken by Paul Castelnau from WW1. There is an image of Marsouins taken in a trench on 16 June 1917 on the Western Front. (It is my theory that there is an Afro-Caribbean conscript in the picture.) You can see the anchor on the helmet plates, and it is clearer on the képi.
The aforementioned picture can be seen here
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Army_in_World_War_I

Further autochromes can be seen here
http://archives.ecpad.fr/la-collection-des-autochromes/

To temporarily go off-piste, in the same way that the <<paletot>> was particular to the Marsouins as a branch of service of the French Army, the nearest I can think of would be the doublet, being exclusive to Highland regiments. There may be better examples, but I'm no expert on uniforms.

It is a given there is some great content on this forum in relation to the armed forces of english-speaking countries. I think it's really good when more international topics get the exposure on here, too, and language barriers are overcome.

Thanks
Keith

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1 hour ago, kloughnane said:

LeCauroy,

Nothing sloppy nor amateur about it - it's a decent colourisation. There tends to be a fair bit of guesswork involved - sometimes you get it right and sometimes you don't. I think that you may have achieved a better shade/tone of blue than I did. Following on from Guepe's advice I have revisited the first photo and added the scarlett:

 

1736241858_ForLeCauroy-UniformsSecondAttempt.jpg.9d50a794c30aec6404999482e2543917.jpg

Regards,

Kev Loughnane

That is an excellent colouration Kev that really brings the old photograph alive.  Thank you for your artistry and for posting it.

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On 21/07/2021 at 09:57, battle of loos said:

good morning,

concerning this soldier, he can be assigned to 2 types of units:
artillery and cavalry.
What for?
just by observing his uniform buttons.
here they are of the type "bell" typical of troops mounted (on horseback)
if with 2 crossed guns = artillery,
or smooth = dragon

regards

michel

The fiche matricule shows that his brother Roger performed his national service in peacetime, and was in a tank regiment.

Would the dress regulations be that of the artillery, given their heritage as <<artillerie spéciale>>?

Thanks 

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