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Post Info TOPIC: French uniform question
Pat


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French uniform question
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Were there any French ground units at any time in WW1 wearing the tunic (vareuse) rather than the usual coat (capote) together with puttees in combat?

So far I think this became common towards the end of the war. In 1914-1917, it seems the Chasseurs Alpines and later tank crews wore this dress, while cavalry had tunics but boots. Is that correct?

I have loads of figures dressed so and would like to add to my French collection. I would like to model e. g. the Chasseurs of Driant (56, 59 BCP) in the Bois de Caures, Verdun 1916.

Naturally most information available is in French but my French is not good enough to understand what was common and what was an exception. This is where I have found most information:

Ian Sumner: French Poilu 1914-1918

http://grandeguerre1418.unblog.fr/category/planches-duniformes-dandre-jouineau/page/3/

http://pierreswesternfront.punt.nl/content/2012/02/reichackerkopf

http://pierreswesternfront.punt.nl/content/2009/03/chasseurs-alpins-franse-alpenjagers

Thanks in advance, Pat



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Legend

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Acc to Haythornthwaite, Mirouze, and other sources, the capote was "official" wear and mandatory when "on campaign", i.e. at the Front. (That was definitely the case in the Belgian Army) In very cold weather the vareuse might be worn underneath the coat, but the vareuse without the greatcoat was, apparently extremely rare and usually occurred only in very hot weather. I wonder if permission had to be given by a C.O., as in the case of "Shirt Sleeve Order" in the British Army.

I have to say that I've seen lots of photos of poilus in vareuses out of the line, but can't recall any in the front line, even in the later stages of the War. I'll have a look through Yves Buffetaut's Echec a Ludendorff when I get a chance.

IIRC we discussed the overrepresentation of vareuse-wearing figures when Caesar Miniatures revealed the masters of their French WWI Infantry. Of course, sadly, the figures themselves have not yet appeared.



-- Edited by James H on Thursday 13th of December 2012 09:37:18 PM

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Major

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I'd concur: my only reference to this is Mirouze's "WW1 Inantry in Colour Photographs", which James H has outlined above.
Mirouze also reckons the Chassuers Alpins had a hooded cloak (instead of a greatcoat or as well as?).
My Blandford WW1 Infantry book has a later war cavalry subject in a great coat.
It awlays strikes me as odd that the French & British armies had apparently opposing regulations to this end. And to wear a big greatcoat in the summer must have been dreadful.

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Legend

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Excelsior1 wrote:

 to wear a big greatcoat in the summer must have been dreadful.


 Spare a thought for the Belgians. At least the French were allowed to wear just the greatcoat, without the tunic. In the Belgian Army the tunic could be worn without greatcoat in Walking Out Order (tenue de ville), but on active service (tenue de route or tenue de campagne) it was compulsory to wear the tunic and greatcoat. Officers complained to the top brass that it exhausted the men, but the regulation remained in place. In August and September 1914 it was dreadful for the rank and file. Some men had been issued with the new 1911 (IIRC) single-breasted vareuse, but many still had the old, double-breasted pattern with stand collar.

 



-- Edited by James H on Sunday 16th of December 2012 06:04:10 PM

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Pat


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Thanks to both for the confirmation, much appreciated. Will go for some Chasseurs. Best regards, Pat

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Major

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Hello,

In July 1918 (and also in August and September), the french troops of 10th Army under the command of general Mangin, had no usual coat (capote) for assault.
The general Mangin's orders for assault of 18th july (the first great allied counter-attack of 1918) were: no usual coat, no bag but the "capote" was rolled in tent cloth in cross-wise.So, the following night of 18th july attack of french and american troops of the french 10th Army, the "poilus" had their "capote" as cover and the american soldiers had no covers and were in the night coolness without much rest after one day of great effort of the attacking troops.
Yours sincerely,
Guy François.

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Major

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Just been looking through my references. Cavalry wore leather gaiters; no puttees. Their greatcoats apparently had capes (at least pre-horizon blue) and were single-breasted.
Chassuers a pied did wear a greatcoat (early war, it was dark blue).



-- Edited by Excelsior1 on Sunday 16th of December 2012 09:54:00 PM

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Pat


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Many thanks for the additional input / confirmation. I see that (temporarily) dismounted cavalry is ruled out. Regards, Pat

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