Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Thursday, July 14, 2016

100 Years Ago: Bastille Day in Paris

One hundred years ago, despite having its army deeply involved in a double death-struggle – both at Verdun and on the Somme – the celebration of the Republic's great national holiday went on. At least one commentator noted that the celebration had a peculiar international feel. Certainly the images of the day's events reflect this. (The poster above from the day involves a fundraising relief effort at the Paris city hall.)

One or two Poilus surrounded by members of the Allies' forces.

This was the only photo I could find identifying a French unit in the parade. (I'm a bit suspicious that it might be an Italian unit, though.)

Scotsmen on parade.

The Parisians seem enchanted with the Sikhs of the Indian Army.

The fabled Russian Expeditionary Force put in an appearance.  There was no snow on their boots, however.


  1. The poster was illustrated by Francesque Poulbot, a Parisian artist living in Montmartre. He created a whole set of comic characters based on the street children inhabiting his quartier. They were all world-wise beyond their years, charmingly endearing and utterly patriotic Frenchmen. They featured in countless magazines and inspired many an imitator and as depicted above, often dressed in bit and pieces of French uniforms and knew the basics of military saluting and presenting arms.

  2. This year, with France again under attack on Bastille Day, this is a timely reminder of the resilience of the French national spirit!