The French alternative to red trousers

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The French alternative to red trousers

Post  Sean on Thu 25 Feb 2010, 3:14 pm

I find the French alternatives to their pre-WWI coloured uniforms very interesting.
For instance this 1901s version was 'reseda'.
I'll post more pictures when I find them on this blasted machine.

http://i62.servimg.com/u/f62/12/22/09/10/953_0010.jpg

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Re: The French alternative to red trousers

Post  buistR on Fri 26 Feb 2010, 4:59 am



A contemporary (1913) French colour photo of trial reseda uniforms for cavalry and infantry plus the blue and red line infantry uniform that it was intended to replace. Unfortunately for many thousands of French soldiers it was the latter that was still being worn in August 1914. The reseda was rejected for having too close a resemblence to the grey-green field dress of the Italian Army as adopted in 1909. Still from the narrow perspective of a peace-time army there is no doubt as to which of the two options would be preferable wear with which to impress les femmes.

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Re: The French alternative to red trousers

Post  buistR on Sat 12 Apr 2014, 3:29 pm



With the centenary of the outbreak of World War I nearly on us, a minor mystery is why the French Army mobilized in the brightly coloured uniforms of peacetime. This was in spite of considerable experience in colonial warfare immediately prior to 1914 and the lessons of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. There is a tendency to blame it all on boneheaded generals who were so set in their ways as not to realize that red trousers and kepis showed up against just about any sort of background likely to be encountered in western Europe.

An article in Le Petit Parisien of 6 November 1910 suggests that popular opinion may have been a large part of the reason. The army had produced several drab coloured trial (essai) uniforms and tested them on the parade ground and on maneuvers - to the general disapproval of the French population at large. In 1903 it was the turn of the blue-grey "Boer" uniform, so called because it included a wide brimmed hat with the brim turned back, similar to that worn by the Australian and other colonial contingents in the South African War. According to Le Petit Parisien the hapless French infantrymen selected to wear the new uniform were treated most unkindly during the autumn maneuvers of that year. Some townspeople jeered that they must be military convicts. Some farmers threatened them with pitchforks, possibly thinking they were Germans. The cartoon above shows them being greeted with amusement ("zut alors") by fellow soldiers. The Le Petit Parisien concludes in favor of the traditional blue and red which "is cheerful and dapper, drawing attention from afar". Which of course was the whole point of introducing drab clothing…

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