The History Place - World War I

A volley of French rifle fire from a shallow hillside trench. The French took on their traditional enemy, the Germans, buoyed by elan vital, a patriotic spirit from bygone days valuing heroic battlefield attacks above all. Early in the war, French troops wore their traditional bright red trousers with blue coats, looking like soldiers from the 1800's. Officers leading charges in the accustomed manner waved glimmering swords which made them easy targets for German machine-gunners and artillery spotters. Below: A detachment of French infantry with two machine-guns. The initial French strategy was to travel light, with minimal artillery support, relying on quick moving machine-gunners and heroic charges. This proved disastrous during the French offensive in Alsace-Lorraine as the Germans methodically ripped apart line after line of advancing French infantry.

Below: French troops grab a drink of water during their march to the Front.

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