Force Publique Gendarmerie 1960

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Force Publique Gendarmerie 1960

Post  Les-Art on Sun 26 Sep 2010, 3:31 am

Hi guys,
This unit was new to me, I know about the Force Publique in the Belgian Congo, but didn't know they also had a Gendarmerie unit.
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http://i28.servimg.com/u/f28/13/98/25/75/f_p_ge10.jpg
These Gendarmes are part of a Road Patrol, the man in the middle is a Caporal and the other two are Gendarmes 1st Class. The Helmets are the liners from the US Army WW2 helmets (or a variant made in France or Belgium), they have a handpainted Red band around them with a White 'Tombstone' shape front piece and a Grenade device composed of a circular bomb and pointed flame (these are sometimes painted as two seperate components, with a space between them).
Insignia wise the Caporal seems to have two parallel bars and the others have one bar on their chests ,similar to the French Army. The shoulder straps appear to have slides in Black or Dark Grey with a Grenade in white or silver.
Anyone have illustrations of the rank insignias ?

Their waist belts carry a leather holder for a baton, looks to be similar in design to those used by police in Belgium, but difficult to tell for sure.

Best Regards,
Les

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Re: Force Publique Gendarmerie 1960

Post  buistR on Sun 26 Sep 2010, 6:00 am

Thanks for posting a very interesting colour photo Les.

The Force Publique had had what would now be called an internal security role, ever since the brutal days of King Leopold's Congo Free State. Typically they would be used to pacify a region then broken up into small garrisons with a primarily police role. When external war came along (i.e. 1914 and 1940) then battalion sized units would be formed to be trained and equipped for a military field role.

However in 1959 (i.e. months before Congo independence) the Force Publique was formally divided into regular military units and gendarmerie. The latter were distinguished, as you note, by the classic flaming grenade badge of the Belgian and French gendarmerie. There were also some civilian or local police in the Belgian Congo who wore older style colonial uniforms including fezs and shorts up to, and for at least a few months after independence.


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Re: Force Publique Gendarmerie 1960

Post  Les-Art on Sun 26 Sep 2010, 6:05 am

Hi BuistR,
Thanks for the info.

Forgot to mention the photo is colourised by me from information I gained through searching the internet.
Does it look O.K. ? It's my first go at doing the entire picture and not just the men.

I found a colour photo of one of their helmets in a collection so I know the colour of them is accurate and I know their Dress uniform is darker, but speculated that the working uniform was a lighter weight and colour in keeping with army uniforms.

Regards,
Les

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Re: Force Publique Gendarmerie 1960

Post  Sean on Sun 26 Sep 2010, 7:21 am

Looks really good. If you hadn't told me you had coloured it I wouldn't have known. Good effort

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Re: Force Publique Gendarmerie 1960

Post  Les-Art on Mon 27 Sep 2010, 3:34 am

Sean,
Thanks for the comment, I'm doing some practice with my photo program at colourising older photos as I am finding good info but not good coloured photos or illustrations so thought ,what the heck! do it yourself.

Pleased to hear that this one is good enough to pass as an actual colour photo, I'll post a few more, in the appropriate categories when I finish them.

Regards,
Les

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