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Showing posts from March, 2013

1000 page views - thanks!

We have now reached 1,000 page views on this site since it opened on February 9th - so many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to check it out, I hope you've found something useful or interesting.
We celebrate with pictures of the boxer Georges Carpentier in his air force uniform (Boxer. Hits. It's a sort of pun, you see. Please don't get in touch to say a boxer doesn't 'hit', but 'punches' - I'm not letting the facts get in the way of a good, or even a bad, pun).
Carpentier became first French welterweight champion in 1911 at the age of only 17, following this up later in the same year by securing the European title. He then moved up weights twice, becoming European middleweight champion in 1912, then European light-heavyweight champion in 1913. On June 1 1913, he beat Bombardier Billy Wells to become European heavyweight champion. Just over a year later he was crowned as 'white heavyweight champion of the world' after beating the A…

Butte des Zouaves 1914 and 2013

2013 sees the 182nd anniversary of the creation of the regiments of zouaves in the French Army.
An annual ceremony takes place around Nampcel and Quennevières (Oise), on the nearest weekend to the anniversary; in 2013, it took place on Sunday 24th March. Wreaths are laid at the monuments to the 2nd Zouaves at Quennevières, and to the 9th Zouaves at nearby Carlepont, as well as a ceremony of commemoration at the Butte de Zouaves.
In September this year, a monument and memorial garden will be inaugurated at the Butte de Zouaves to commemorate all zouaves killed in action in all of France's wars. The Butte itself formed part of the German front line in late 1914. On December 21st, a French offensive towards Puisaleine Farm, although heavily supported by artillery, managed to achieve only a toe-hold in the German positions. Enemy reinforcements soon cut off the attacking troops, and most were killed or captured. An explosion on the Butte buried a large number of the French attackers…

Mathurin Méheut: an artist at war

The opening of a new exhibition is as good a reason as any to mention a favourite artist, Mathurin Méheut.
Méheut was born in Lamballe (Côtes d'Armor) in 1882. His early career was spent as an illustrator, first for the magazine Art et Décoration, and then for the marine research establishment at Roscoff, illustrating marine flora and fauna. In 1913, he won a travelling scholarship from the Albert Kahn Foundation, to paint in Japan. The trip was interrupted by the outbreak of war.
He was recalled into the 136th Infantry, and served with them as a sergeant and sous-lieutenant in Artois and the Argonne. Between 1916 and 1917, promoted to lieutenant, he served with the Army's Topographical Section, responsible for the Army's mapping, firstly at Sainte-Ménéhould with 10th Corps, and then with 1st Army at Bergues, in Flanders. He continued to draw and paint whilst in the trenches. But his work would not consist of heroic battle scenes, like those made famous by the likes of Ed…

A laughing cow and other animals

Partly from esprit de corps and partly for the more prosaic reason of traffic management, many French transport units of the Great War adopted their own badge, which was displayed prominently on the vehicles. I wrote about them in my first Osprey title here.
Some badges are shown in the contemporary magazine illustration on the left - top row left to right TM431, SS141, SS625; second row TM55, TM516; third row SS64, SS8, TM716; fourth row SS92, SR709, TM48; fifth row TM557 and TM273. SS units were ambulances (sections sanitaires), SR units carried metalling for road maintenance (section routière), and TM units transported equipment (transport de matériel). Some units used a background colour for the badge that varied according to the sub-unit - white, blue, red or yellow. For more on transport units during the war, look at Les camions de la victoire by Paul Heuzé here, or the more modern book with the same title, by Jean-Michel Boniface and Jean-Gabriel Jeudy. Sadly, there is no work,…

Centenary? What Centenary?

In a post on the Theatrum Belli blog, at , the noted French military historian of the Great War, Rémy Porte, looks at what is planned officially in France to commemorate the centenary of the Great War, and doesn't like what he sees.
While many communities, departments and regions have announced plans and projects for local commemorations, Porte has failed to find anything concrete coming from central government, apart from one website. Lots of meetings, but no product.
What is worse, he says, is that the people who attend these meetings represent every little clique, every school of thought, niche and theme about the War - the cultural, social, economic, political, diplomatic, scientific and technical, financial and budgetary factors of the conflict; medical services, coal mining, the press, the Christmas truce - all have their enthusiastic supporters. Every as…

The new East Riding flag: voting continues

The voting has already started to choose a new flag for the East Riding of Yorkshire. Hurry along to to cast your vote. The finalists are:

Edit: the voting has now closed. The winner will be announced on 15 April
Further edit: the winner is D, designed by Trevor and Thomas Appleton. The flag is now registered with the Flag Institute.

The new North Riding flag: voting begins

The voting has opened for a new flag for the North Riding of Yorkshire. Get along to to cast your vote. The flags on the shortlist are

Edit: voting has now closed, and the winning design of the new flag will be announced on May 1st, and will be unfurled for the first time at the Strathmore Arms, Holwick on May 4th.

Edit the second: And the winner is .... [roll of drums] ... D! Congratulations to the designer, Jason Saber, from Kent. See Andy Stangeway's site.

Blue for remembrance

The picture at the top of this blog is a badge representing a cornflower. The cornflower, le bleuet, is the symbol of remembrance in France, just as the poppy is in British Commonwealth countries. Just like the poppy, the cornflower continued to grow and flower on shell-torn battlefields. Bleuet was also a nickname given to the young men of the Class of 1915, called up in December 1914. In French, un bleu is a generic nickname given to young recruits, originating in the previous century (apparently because so many turned up at the barrack gates wearing a blue workingman's smock); and when they were issued with the new horizon blue uniform, the name seemed doubly appropriate.  In 1916, two women, Suzanne Lenhardt and Charlotte Malterre, thought up a scheme for badly-wounded men, who had been discharged from the Army, to manufacture and sell small paper cornflowers as a way of earning a small income, and help get them back into work. Lenhardt was the chief nurse at the Invali…