Friday, 30 May 2014
Military History Photo Friday: North African and Portuguese WWI Uniforms
When I was in Brussels last month I got to visit that city's fine military museum. Of course they have a huge WWI section! Above is a uniform of a French Spahi, a colonial soldier from northwest Africa from 1914. Below is the uniform of a Portuguese infantryman from the 35th Battalion, 1917-1918.
The Moroccan troops were a mix of Berbers and Arabs. My characters get very curious about these troops because they've only heard of these folks from books and illustrated newspapers! By all accounts they fought well, although they were poorly supported by the French high command. At the Battle of the Aisne in 1914 the Moroccan regiments weren't even assigned any medical personnel. British medics had to take care of their wounded.
The Portuguese didn't come into the war until 1916 and didn't arrive at the Western Front until the following year. Poorly trained and inexperienced, they fared badly and broke in the face of a large German offensive in April 1918.
For more pics of the museum's WWI collection, check out this article I wrote for Black Gate.