Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Colonial French Photos 2: Artillery

Another instalment of original postcard views as part of the nascent 10mm FFL project, this time around a look at some contemporary artillery in action. I've yet to really get to grips with painting the excellent Pendraken 10mm figures beyond a bit of undercoating here and there, so I'm hiding my blushes with some eye candy - that might at least inspire me when time allows!

Above we have a cracking photo from a 1912 postcard by J. Boussuge of Casablanca, which incidentally bears the postal cachet of the 3rd Regiment de Spahis, and as the title suggests shows a pair of 65mm mountain guns and an interesting group of onlookers circa 1911.
I would suggest from the insouciance of the group, there is probably little combat occurring - more likely training, but an interesting photo, nonetheless.

The gun in question is likely a Schneider-Ducrest model 1906, more on which can be seen here:

That page is from a rather awkward to navigate, but nevertheless rather excellent website which has more French artillery photos than you can shake a stick at, conveniently not just in France, but at locations in various countries and former theatres of conflict - well worth a browse if you are interested in early 20th Century artillery of all nations.

Next up, we have a view of the classic model 1897 75mm cannon, the 'soixante quinze' of legend - here looking somewhat bedraggled - have those blokes hung their washing out on it?

I suppose this photo, by Landraud of Casablanca, does say they are 'au bivouac', so we shall forgive them their mess - then again, interesting to see a group actually on campaign, rather than posed in parade ground finery....

Moving on, we have a more conventional image, by J. Guilliane - a click to enlarge will reveal the solar helmeted head of an officer just in front of the horses at left, and interesting to see Greys pulling the limber there, too - quite flashy for a Colonial Artillery battery....talking of grey, this picture, I think, pretty much settles the argument as to to the colour of French artillery tubes and carriages in the Colonies circa 1900 to 1914 - at least it does for my limited scope, anyway! Some sources talk of green during this period, but I'm going to plump for the classic grey all over, as so nicely illustrated here.

Next up, a rather stirring image by P. Grebert, part of a series showing crossings of the rivers at Bou Deraa, and the progress of the 'Colonne de Fez' circa 1910. This image is interesting in that it enforces the fact that although we strongly associate the Foreign Legion and Colonial Infantry with the campaigns in Morocco, most artillery was provided by metropolitan artillery formations of the main army - hence the crossed cannon badges so obvious on the solar topees of the gunners here:

Finally, just for fun, we see the artillery of the enemy, in all its splendour and magnificence - quite the heavyweight competition, eh?

Well, actually, in this postcard view by J. Boussuge again, we have some likely heritage or hubris artillery - namely obsolescent guns gifted by various Europeans when courting the Sultan, who installed them in a shore battery at Casablanca, more to show off than to offer any realistic resistance to the pre-Dreadnought navies of the Colonialist Powers, I think....

These particular guns obviously came a cropper during the spot of bother in 1907, when the rather inconvenient massacre of nine Europeans meant a spot of interventionism by the Cruiser Galilee - I say inconvenient, but I'll let you judge for whom - given that it allowed the further encroachment of European influence on the already tottering Sultanate....

In some posts to come, once Real Life allows, I'll be looking at how I'll be representing these guns and others using the available ranges from Pendraken, as well as hopefully doing some painting at long last...

A bientot!


  1. Great post!I'm somewhat biased of course being a retired artilleryman...)

  2. Thanks Don, glad you liked it - sorry for it being so out of synch - I'd planned to publish it some time ago and just hadn't got round to it...