French IndoChina

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French IndoChina

Post  wfrad on Tue 24 Nov 2009, 11:01 am

Taken from an Osprey title on the French Foreign Legion here are examples of a legionnaire and corporal, Indochina during the 1930s.
The Helmet worn was generally without peak but the ‘British’ still with peak could be seen also in some theatres.
During this period it seems that there was a variety of uniform shades in use, this also could be also have something to do with the climate.
The ammunition pouches tended to be more oblong, that’s down to yours truly.
It gives the general idea, greater details and scale I will leave to the pro’s.
Cap Badge, again it seems that here is a change from the more traditional badge, this one resembling the British grenade used by the fusiliers.
http://i214.photobucket.com/albums/cc309/wfrad/FrenchForeignLegion1930sIndochina.jpg

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Re: French IndoChina

Post  buistR on Tue 24 Nov 2009, 1:31 pm

Hi WF - quality work as always!

The Foreign Legion made several limited efforts to develop white uniforms for off-duty wear during the 1930s - apparently at the initiative of regional commanders in Indo-China or North Africa. Unlike the other branches of the Armee d' Afrique they never reverted to their colourful pre-1914 dress uniforms - in the case of the Legion blue tunics and red trousers for grande tenue plus the red-fringed green epaulettes that you show. The Legion would probably argue that a force on more or less continual active service had no time for false glamour, although an equally convincing reason might be that wars, revolutions and economic depression between 1919 and 1939 ensured that there were always sufficiently numbers to meet their recruiting needs.

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5e REI

Post  wfrad on Wed 25 Nov 2009, 5:10 am

Hi
Indo China didn’t seem to rate high on the agenda before WWII.
Just after WWI they were withdrawn from Indochina only to be returned in 1920.
First the IV/1er in 1920 followed in 1921 by the IV2er redesignated IX/1er.
After another couple of reorganisations finally becoming the 5e REI.

Pre WWII Indochina was apparently regarded as the soft option with only a few major incidents such as the Communist led uprising in Yen Bay during 1930. Japan soon put the boot in there, along with the allies encouraging communists against the Japanese, the rest as they say is history.
Most French troops were killed or massacred by the Japanese after surrendering in 1945.
The 5e REI of the legion along with a few survivors made around a 700 mile fighting retreat to the Chinese border under the command of General Alessandri.

I remember a survivor of the Japanese camps, After been told of some visiting Japanese to his coal face he informed the overman in very few words what would happen to them, he wasn’t joking either, the visit was rearranged for another coal face!
Many of those who suffered felt let down by the government of the time who seemingly made an half hearted attempt at justice for them.
I know a remaining survivor who even today would have no hesitation in wiping out the Japanese people to a man.
Forced to watch your friends being beheaded for refusing to bow leaves an ever lasting impression on you of the whole race, wrong yes, though maybe understandable.

Regards
WF

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Re: French IndoChina

Post  ChrisF202 on Wed 25 Nov 2009, 6:59 am

I know a remaining survivor who even today would have no hesitation in wiping out the Japanese people to a man.
My grandfather was like that. He was a US Navy Seabee (Construction Battalion) rating in WWII and served at places like New Guinea and the Philiphines often landing in the first wave and fighting as infantry alongside the US Marines or US Army troops. He despised the Japanese and hated anything and everything remotely related to Japan until the day he died. He wouldent buy Japanese made vehicles, watch Japanese made TVs or use Japanese made VCRs/DVD players, etc. The stories he told of what they found when we recaptured the Philiphines in 1945 in terms of war crimes against the US and Filipino POWs (ex. the Bataan Death March) and atrocities against the Filipino civilian population are just appalling.

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Re: French IndoChina

Post  buistR on Wed 25 Nov 2009, 8:47 am

Yes it is strange that a people whose modern image is that of a reasonable and civilised society (unless you are a whale!) should have been capable of such barbaric behavour in living memory. Mind you, my father served against the Japanese with the New Zealand forces on Guadacanal and he always admired them as a people. Probably he just didn't come across evidence of the atrocities.

Getting back to French Indochina, the famous fighting retreat of the 5th REI to China also included locally recruited tirailleurs tonkinois and French artillery units. As WF notes Indochina had been a soft posting for Legionaires with a good record between the wars (no beautiful Annamite maidens or locally engaged servants to cook and polish in Morocco). After four years of uneasy collaboration with the occupying Japanese none of the French garrison were ready for the sudden pre-emptive coup of 10 March 1945.

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French Indo China uniforms

Post  wfrad on Tue 13 Sep 2016, 6:22 am

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Would like identification for various uniforms on this image, please

Post  USVET on Sun 18 Dec 2016, 12:26 pm

I have this postcard from French Indochina showing a visit to a village in northern Viet Nam by what is obviously a military medical team giving inoculations to Vietnamese villagers. I'm pretty sure that the image comes from around 1900 and from what I can see on a couple of the caps this is at least partly a French Navy team. I'm interested in what ranks and services are represented, basically who these
men might be. Thanks for any leads or suggestions. Looking at the image posted of a local Tirailleur I do have several images of indigenous Vietnamese troops that I can post if requested.


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Re: French IndoChina

Post  wfrad on Sun 18 Dec 2016, 10:04 pm

For starters, if you haven't already come across this link below may be of interest to you.
There's a few postcards/photo's and links to uniforms.
As for the image the marines, maybe they could just be an escort for one of the civilian organisations thats providing medical care.
I wouldn't have thought that naval medics would have been out of uniform, but it is possible.


Translation is under fix so it's not working perfectly - La Tradition TDM
http://troupesdemarine.org/index2.htm

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Re: French IndoChina

Post  wfrad on Mon 19 Dec 2016, 10:18 am

There’s a basic rank chart under French Uniforms up to 1914 [French ranks hadn't changed much since 1860's] in the Western Europe section.
This is a basic chart, a general rule was/is that the offices lace was the same as their buttons,
cavalry silver and infantry gold.  
There were exceptions to this rule, for example the chasseurs à pied officers had silver lace, like their mounted counterparts the chasseurs à cheval.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]  French Marine Tonkin 1883 Tonkin 

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]  French marines against the Vietnamese at Nam Dinh

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]  Officer Berthe de Villers victor at the Battle of Gia Cuc March of 1883  

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]  Pacification of Tonkin (1886–96)Ferdinand_Jamont

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Re: French IndoChina

Post  buistR on Wed 18 Jan 2017, 5:47 am

Hi USVET. Interesting photo - a relaxed and realistic scene rather than the often staged groupings of the period.

The two khaki-drill uniformed figures wearing anchor badges on their kepis are NCOs of the French colonial army (who provided cadres for the Indochinese tirailleurs). Their diagonal double cuff stripes show that they are corporals. Made in red cloth, the stripes are detachable - to make the frequent laundering required in tropical service easier. The infanterie de marine were renamed infanterie colonial on 1 January 1901 but retained their navy style insignia. They went back to being marines in the post-colonial period after 1958.

The grinning soldier in a dark blue tunic, holding the dog, has a sergeant's double stripes in gold braid. While his branch insignia is not visible he is also probably colonial infantry (the French medical corps of the period consisted of commissioned ranks only). The single band of narrow braid shows that he is a sous officer rengage (re-enlisted NCO - i.e. a career soldier).

Both the sergeant and the European figure on the right (in the non-regulation waist coat) wear the double breasted tunic retained only by the colonial army after 1899. The French metropolitan and North African regiments adopted single breasted tunics from that date.

There are two locally recruited tirailleurs (probably Tonkinese - that is recruited from northern and central Vietnam) visible in their flat topped salacco headdresses. These were replaced by the higher conical hats in 1912, giving some time-frame to this picture.

Hope this of interest.

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Re: French IndoChina

Post  wfrad on Sun 22 Jan 2017, 10:20 pm

What’s bugging me is the European on the right, he appears to have the upper stripe of what appears to be that of a Fourrier.
Although the title Fourrier usually included lower arm rank such as corporal or sergeant.
The arm rank seems to be the wrong colour to be that of the seaman's rank, neither is it a legion grade, so what is he?
Because of that arm stripe I assumed at first that he was navy/marine but there’s no kepi badge either.
 
Also there’s the problem of individuals/units not conforming to what they were supposed to be wearing for some time after regulations were passed.
   
Prior to 1900 both Coloniales and Marine used the anchor badge, although both uniforms and badges were not exactly the same, I surpose [for me anyway] they could be mistaken for each other in old photographs.
In 1900 the Troupes de Marine were transferred from the Ministère de la Marine to the Ministry of War, added to the French Army as Troupes Coloniales. The regimental titles changed from Marine to Colonial.
The Fusiliers-Marins remained on the establishment of the French Navy.

Colonial Infantry, certainly for most of them but that guy on the right seems to be part army, part navy with a hint of civilian [waist coat, walking stick and pipe].
I haven't found a reference for a single yellow or gold upper sleeve stripe, have you?
Still stumped..

WF

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Re: French IndoChina

Post  buistR on Thu 26 Jan 2017, 4:59 pm

Hi Wfrad - long time.

You are of course right about the braid stripe on the upper arm usually denoting the status of farrier - and as this was a responsible role it was usually restricted to corporals or sergeants with branch colour or gold stripes respectively on their lower sleeves. However a single upper-sleeve diagonal stripe in wool and branch colour, could also be a seniority stripe (five year service) (soutache d'anciennete) representing long service and not rank. So our marine or colonial infantry marsouin 2nd class could simply have had a long but undistinguished career without gaining promotion. Or he could have been broken from NCO rank for some offense (it often happened and was a restraint on abuse of position). As you note his upper-sleeve stripe does look the shade of gold (farrier) rather than red (marine/colonial veteran) and that is puzzling. However he is visiting a native village, playing some undefined role, and probably not wearing his best or even regulation clothing.

Martin Windrow quotes the Livre d'Or as stating the upper-sleeve stripes were not worn to denote re-enlistment after 1904 but concludes that their continued use after this date "was fraught with contradiction".

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Re: French IndoChina

Post  wfrad on Fri 27 Jan 2017, 8:43 am

Welcome back.

Yes, I thought about the ‘good conduct’ stripe, the seniority chevron, and the long service/good conduct chevrons of the army, all of which didn’t seem to sit quite right for a stripe of senior NCO quality.  
Nothing quite fits, also in most cases if you lost your rank then you lost the good conduct that went with it.
As you say, it’s more than likely down to his other insignia coming adrift in the wash.  Maybe he hasn’t quite getting around to nailing a junior to do the stitching.

I thought the twisted cuff cord representing an NCO that had re-enlistment was discontinued during the first world war.  
I have reference of the enlistment stripe on the 1914 uniforms but it disapears once Blue and Khaki comes into general use during WWI, wrong again.

The whole lot's "fraught with contradiction", especially when historians state it as a fact whin it's mostly conjecture.

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