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French Infantry – War of 1914


French infantry in 1914
“Infantry behind barricades on the road of /censored/ (Nord department)”


This postcard is one of the most fascinating I have of World War One.

It’s fascinating on many levels. First, it may seem surprising to see such an image on a postcard, but what I’ve learned with this collection of postcards, it is that a century ago, they sometimes served a very different purpose than nowadays. In this case, they served to illustrate the news. Remember that in 1914 there is no TV, no radio, newspapers have no pictures, so postcards did serve that purpose (you can see another example here, more will come).

Another thing that is very interesting, pretty obvious, but that we tend to forget, is that while nowadays World War One is sometimes known as the 1914-1918 War, back then, people obviously had no idea when it was going to end, so it’s actually a good way to date the postcards I have from that time. In this case, it just says “War of 1914”.

Finally, note the little censoring on the text under the picture. I wish I had the original with me to double-check it and to try to guess what’s written – it’s pretty difficult here – but I think this postcard was written by my grandpa’s cousin who went to war and wrote many postcards to his wife (how did they came into possession of my grandpa, I do not know) and of course, as every mail sent by soldiers, it was censored by the army.

Finally, one question remain about this photograph. Was it staged or was it taken on the battlefield, just before the battle? Honestly, I have no idea.

In any case, I hope you find it as interesting as I do (if you do, do not hesitate to comment, share, etc.)



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