1st Zouaves, 1920s?

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1st Zouaves, 1920s?

Post  Sean on Wed 07 Sep 2011, 4:06 pm

The shoulder cords suggest post-WWI but the light colour on the vest has me confused?


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Re: 1st Zouaves, 1920s?

Post  buistR on Thu 08 Sep 2011, 6:44 pm

Hi Sean - yes this is an unusual photo. Thanks for publishing it.

As you note the wearing of a fourragere dates the photo as post-1916, when this distinction began to be awarded to French regiments that had had been cited in Army Orders as having distinguished themselves in battle. The privilege of wearing these elaborate aiguillettes lasted as long as the regiment existed - so a soldier who had not been present or even born when his unit was "decorated" could still parade or walk out in the colours of the medal ribbon pinned on its flag.

The spectacular blue and red "oriental dress" of the zouaves was only worn by limited categories of personnel between the wars (essentially regular long-serving NCOs plus colour guards etc for special ceremonies). Our zouave does not appear to have any chevrons on his cuffs other than the red single braiding of a lowly private second class. The braiding on his veste jacket is more elaborate than the issue variety and is apparently white or yellow rather than the regulation red. Finally, he wears a similarly light coloured tassel on his chechia fez, although these were no-longer part of even the full dress worn after about 1915.

Perhaps the most likely explanation for these anomalies was that French commercial photographers during this period often kept a stock of flashy extra uniform items acquired over the years, that their off-duty military clients could pose in to impress the folks back home. The practice was a common one and editors in the modern French uniform magazines Uniformes and Militaria delight in pointing them out in captions to period photographs. So our zouave recruit c1925 discards his mundane khaki walking out dress, pays a bit extra to the photographer to don an old tenue orientale that someone has dressed up with extra embroidery in non-regulation colours and is lent a similarly obsolescent light blue tassel from a turco's fez (they were detachable). He is of course careful to transfer the authorised shoulder cords, fez and red sash from his proper uniform.



Cheers

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Re: 1st Zouaves, 1920s?

Post  BlueTrain on Wed 28 Aug 2013, 3:07 am

I think it is a fascinating sort of uniform, even more so because of the fad in American volunteer units for Zouave uniforms before the Civil War. The uniform also illustrates the propensity of soldiers to ignore the finer points of uniform dress regulations when it suited them, a habit that is still being followed. Sometimes even the regulations have to be adjusted to allow for the way soldiers really wore their uniforms. It's hard to believe these uniforms were worn in the field at one time.

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