The French Army in the Great War...


...from Pen and Sword



Title: The French Army in the Great War

Author: David Bilton

Publisher: Pen and Sword

ISBN: 978-1-47388-724-4

As the title suggests, an Images of War book focusing on the French Army in WW1. The text element of the book is confined to the opening pages, with some Background on the French Army leading up to WW1, and which includes some notes on the changes/developments of French Army uniforms over the course of the war. That is followed by a brief summary of the conduct and actions of the army throughout WW1, split year by year from 1914 through to 1918.

From page 25, for the rest of this 222 page book, we have a marvellous selection of archive images, all well captioned, which provide a first class look at the course of the war for France. There are pictures from the front line as well as life behind the lines. Some show the trenches where water and mud were the order of the day, but that is not the case everywhere along their front. The French army worked with British and American troops, while their own units were also multi-cultural as they used colonial troops alongside Russian, the Foreign Legion and Moroccan to pick out a few. For the modeller, reenactor and military historian in general there is a lot to like among them. As well as the conditions in the trenches themselves we see examples where officers are sitting together, wine and flowers on the table-top outside their dugout while they eat a meal and field kitchens on the go in a wood behind the lines.  There is plenty of artillery and supply dumps with shells and wire plus the tanks such as the Schneider, St Chamond and smaller Renault FT17. Lots of trucks, and I particularly liked the picture of a truck based Pigeon Loft, very similar to the London Bus conversion used by the British army.

Speaking as a modeller, lots of useful references and some great ideas for potential diorama scenarios.  It is nice to see a book concentrating on the French army in WW1.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.