The book begins with a comprehensive explanation of the background to the French Army, leading up to the events of August 1914, with mention of the troops from French colonies, and a year by year account of the French Army’s WW1 involvement. Although I had heard of the Zouave Regiments, I had not heard of the Spahis.
The main body of the book is given over to the most amazing photographs from official archives, beginning, on page 25 with photographs of reservists – every Frenchman was required to do military service, after which he was transferred to the Territorial Army, or Reservists.
Each photograph is accompanied by a detailed explanation and there is much to learn. The final photograph in the book, on page 221, is very poignant, captioned simply “the wooden cross”.
Although I had seen several of the photographs in this book, most of them were new to me and I found them fascinating – for instance on page 190 “Fort de la Macedoine” – an Allied fortress in the Balkans.
Another fascinating book from Pen & Sword publishers, Barnsley – I urge you to read it.
“The French Army in the Great War – Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives” by David Bilton, (Pen & Sword, Barnsley, 2019). For further information, please see the Pen & Sword website https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/
Lucy London, June 2019