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1914-18 War • French Soldier

• Photographs of Allied troops have found their way into family albums through wartime friendship.

Recognising French soldiers:- look for the number of his regiment on the collar.

" I never saw two French soldiers dressed the same "

5e Regiment InfantrieInfantry brass buttonFrench Adrienne helmet badge InfantryInfantry alloy button
British soldiers wore a uniform tunic in action and would don a greatcoat on top in cold weather.
Traditionally the French wore a greatcoat (Capote) with the front skirts buttoned back from the legs in action. In cold weather they added a tunic (Veste) underneath.
InfantryLight InfantryEngineers
147e Regiment Infantrie

Supply and other problems changed the specification for both the greatcoats and tunics both of which are seen in photographs. The cloth changed, the collars changed the pockets changed. Greatcoats changed from double breasted to single breasted and back again. Different versions of the uniform were worn at the same time. Mixtures of clothing were worn with each other. There are no rules. Even in group photographs you will rarely see two Poilu pronounced: pwa-loo ( means 'hairy one') wearing the same items of uniform.

The colour of the backing cloth behind the number on a man's collar tells us his arm of service. We cannot see colours in a monochrome photograph so once again we resort to the buttons.

Adrienne helmet plate artillery

On the front of the French Adrienne helmet was a pressed metal badge indicating the branch of service; a flaming grenade for infantry, crossed cannon for artillery; this device was repeated on the buttons. Buttons were originally brass but due to wartime economies they became alloy painted horizon blue.
42e Artillerie6e ArtillerieArmy Scout82e Regiment Infantrie