Paul Moeyes


Georges Scott, Prisoners of War


Krijgsgevangenen (1914)

German PoWs are escorted by their French guards. In the front row the middle soldier is wounded on the wrist, the blood has stained his uniform. The soldier on the left and three of his comrades wear the ‘Krätzchen’, the soft cap with the red-white-black imperial cockade and below on the red band the state-cockade which cannot be identified in this drawing. These coloured bands were later covered by camouflage bands.

The tall, lean soldier in the middle of the picture is a Ulan from one of the cavalry regiments. The great variety in uniform, size and posture is juxtaposed with the uniformity of their French guards. That contrast is made even more distinctive by the fact that the guards are fully equipped, with the bayonet fixed on their 8 mm Lebel guns pointing threateningly up in the air. It shows the French army as a well-oiled fighting machine whereas the Germans are no more than a motley crew. In reality things were different. The German armies invading France and Belgium were well trained and well equipped, the field grey uniform met the requirements of modern warfare, unlike the colourful French uniform, which had remained largely unchanged since the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-’71. The blue coat and red trousers made French soldiers very conspicuous in the summer of 1914 and an easy target for the German machine gunners; the new horizon blue uniform had been selected in July 1914 as a more effective campaign uniform, but it was not introduced until late 1914, early 1915.

Copyright from now until eternity Paul Moeyes