Attached are two pictures showing Swiss line infantry (fusiliers) during the early stages of World War I. While spared the horrors of the Western Front, the neutral Swiss mobilised their militia army to hold the frontiers and a favourite theme of contemporary coloured pictures like these is of cold but determined conscripts standing guard in magnificent mountain surroundings.
In the first of these a patrol has encountered an equally bemused bear. The uniforms shown (shakos and double breasted dark-blue tunics with red facings) may appear outdated, but it was only in October 1914 that the Swiss Army made the decision to change over to grey-green uniforms (still with shakos). It took until 1916 for the bulk of Swiss front line troops to receive the new uniforms. The individual fusilierbatalliones were distinguished by detachable numbers on their shoulder straps and the companies within each battalion by the colour of the ball ornament on the shako. In the second, more homely picture, a sergeant in peaked forage cap appears to be counting his sleeping charges (to make sure none have been eaten by bears?).
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