Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ready for battle



These four young men captured my imagination. They are all very different to each other despite their uniform.

The first one on the left is younger than the others, I get the impression that he is shy, he’d rather not have his photograph taken and certainly doesn’t quite feel like one of the band yet. Next is the one you can rely on; If you met him in the street he’d be happy to talk for a while and if you needed a hand with anything, he’d be your man. He writes postcards to his wife and family regularly and looks forwards to news from home. Third in line comes the thoughtful one, he writes long letters home describing all sorts of things, from the birds he saw building a nest to the silly pranks of those around him. He won’t write about the horrors of war that he sees until the war is safely over. The man on the right is very sure of himself, he probably teases the youngster, but means him no ill; he likes to make his comrades laugh. He has managed to conquer the heart of a woman in every town that they’ve passed through. He means to write back to his wife and mother but doesn’t seem to get the chance somehow. He will always be able to tell you where you can get hold of a packet of cigarettes.

The coats that they are wearing are pretty special too; known at the Capote model Poiret. They were designed by the French couturier Paul Poiret, they used less blue-grey material than earlier designs and were single breasted with 6 buttons. The collar was also a different shape to previous collars. Not only did these coats save money and fabric they were easier and quicker to make. The first coats were issued from September 1914 onwards. Here is a link to the website page where I found out about the coats. Unfortunately it’s in French, but very well illustrated.

4 comments:

Peter (Worldman): said...

Well, when I was in the army, our coats looked different.

I like your explanation of the 4 men. And I will check the website about the coats because I am interested in army memorabilia. You know, when I was young and had finished my military obligations I thought of joining the Foreign Legion. Which would have put me in trouble (and to jail) with Switzerland. But it would not have mattered much because I would have become a French citizen. Well, I didn't go.

Thanks for the comment on the "lion" post. No, I am not home. But in 10 days I will be. For 3 weeks.

Anji said...

Peter: The Foreign Legion were recruting in La Rochelle last year. I was very happy when Olivier came home!

The website is excellent, lots of detail.

alan said...

I've read of changes in other uniforms because of the materials available. You reminded me of Melies losing many of his films because they confiscated them to make boot heels from the celluloid and cashed in the silver to fund the war. I'm glad they didn't go after the book covers for leather...

alan

Anji said...

Alan: I had heard about the celluloid. Isn't it amazing, they went to the best couturier to come up with a good design, not the first time I've heard of that.

I knew about the silver because I've written several articles for Monex over the years.