Cavalry patrol of Moroccan Spahis in Belgium




From the very beginning of war, colonial troops were heavily used in the French army. France’s population was less than half the size of Germany with its nearly 80 million inhabitants. France’s army was consequently less numerous than the German one. This was the main reason why, in the pre-war years, some French generals, among them General Charles Mangin, promoted the organisation and use of colonial troops. This photograph, taken on 16 October 1914, shows a patrol of Moroccan Spahis (light cavalry regiment) moving into Belgium near the town of Furnes.


Cette photographie montre la progression de spahis marocains aux envions de la ville belge de Furnes le 16 octobre 1914. A l’instar de l’armée anglaise, l’armée française alignait en 1914 un nombre important d’unités militaires composées d’indigènes des colonies. Moitié moins peuplée que l’Allemagne au moment du déclenchement de la guerre, cette donnée démographique explique à la fois la recherche par la France de l’alliance russe et l’utilisation intensive de troupes venues des colonies. Le général Mangin fut un des principaux promoteurs de cette utilisation, notamment à travers son ouvrage La force noire publié en 1910.

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Cavalry patrol of Moroccan Spahis
October, 1914
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Bibliothèque Nationale de France
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