Monday, July 21, 2014

A historical parade in Paris in July 2014

 In this post I had intended to explain where I had seen the French flag shown in my last post.  However, on July 14th I was able to watch the parade down the Champs-Elysees in Paris, live, from my computer.  This was a historical parade and I took many pictures.  I will show these on this post.  Every year the parade has a different theme.  This year it was to commemorate and remember the soldiers and workers from all lands, who took part in the First World War, which started a hundred years ago this month.  I watched this program on the large screen of my desktop computer.

 For the first time there were many foreign soldiers holding their country's flag and taking part in the French national holiday.  About all the countries, 80 of them, which took part in WW1 were invited by France, and I believe 79 came (China sent their regrets.)

To refresh memories - on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1863-1914,) heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot dead while riding in a motorcade in Sarajevo.  This assassination led Europe then the world to the First World War.  Below are newspaper articles and postcards on this terrible event.  (Click on collage twice to enlarge.)

Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on 28 July 1914.  Germany declared war on Russia on August 1, invaded Luxembourg on August 2 and declared war on France on August 3, 1914.  On August 4, 1914 the United Kingdom declared war on Germany and so on.  The war ended on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 am.  The total number of casualties is still being debated; so far it comes to 37,466,904 - which include killed, wounded, prisoners and missing.  The USA suffered 116,516 killed (323,018 casualties.)  France suffered almost 1,400,000 killed (total casualties 6,180,800) and some are still found nowadays.  I read in a French newspaper that on June 1, 2014, two young men found the remains of five WW1 French soldiers in a forest near Luneville, Lorraine, France.  There were still pieces of their military uniforms, a watch, and two wallets at the scene.  Below are vintage postcards of World War 1 (WW1) - in France they call it the 14-18 war (la guerre 14-18.)

This 14 July 2014 parade started at 9:00 am from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris with the president of France driving down the boulevard des Champs-Elysees to the Place de la Concorde while all the participating regiments were standing in attention.  (My photos are blurry because it is difficult to take pictures from a moving video.)  You can see some of the foreign troops in the collage below.

Once the French President reached the podium near the Place de la Concorde, greeted his guests and sad down that was the sign for the program to start.  A movie of vintage World War 1 pictures appeared then on large screens.

The parade started with a platoon of French soldiers dressed in the uniforms of the "poilus," the WW1 soldiers.  The word poilu means hairy but it was used, even before WW1, as in the meaning for "macho" for super masculine men and soldiers.  Below are old postcards and photographs of "Poilus" from WW1.

These two rows of Poilus, below, from the Great War were wearing period uniforms.  These uniforms were kept in a military museum and worn exceptionally for this parade.  They are wearing the original 1916 uniforms with blue trousers because, in 1914, the trousers were red and easily seen by the enemy so they were changed to the color blue.  These soldiers did not carry the standard equipment the Poilus had in 1914, which weighed up to 35 kilos (70 pounds.)

The group of Poilus was followed by the parade of nations who were invited to recall the sacrifice of soldiers from their countries.  Each group from these 79 countries consisted of three troops with one carrying their country's emblem or flag.  They came down in alphabetical order (French spelling, so the USA "Etats-Unis" came after Estonia) to avoid protocol difficulties.  It was not easy for me to remember the flag of each country apart from those well known.  Here is the list of the 80 countries who took part in World War 1, on either side and were invited:  South Africa Albania Algeria Armenia Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bangladesh Belarus Belgium Benin Bosnia and Herzegovina Bulgaria Burkina Faso Cambodia Canada China Cyprus Comoros Cote d'Ivoire Croatia Congo Denmark Djibouti Estonia USA Finland Gabon Georgia Germany Greece Guinea Hungary India Ireland Italy Japan Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Kosovo Laos Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Madagascar Mali Malta Mauritania Morocco Moldova Monaco Montenegro New Zealand Niger Norway Pakistan Uzbekistan Netherlands Poland Portugal Czech Republic Romania United Kingdom Russia Senegal Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Tajikistan Chad Thailand Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Ukraine Vanuatu Vietnam.

Each group from the invited countries stood on the Place de la Concorde while a French Army choir sang two WW1 popular songs, La Madelon and Le Chant du Depart (Song of Departure) then the national anthem, La Marseillaise.

The 14 July parade in Paris is usually the formal review of the military forces by the French President.  This year the parade included 3,700 men and women walking, 241 horses, 285 vehicles, 53 aircraft, 36 helicopters and 76 detection dogs.

There were so many regiments, military schools, squadrons, military fire brigades, guards on horses - it was difficult to figure out which ones they were as I was not watching a commercial video but a French government video without comments.  But this way, it felt like I was there rather than watching it from afar.

Some of the regiments wore uniforms that were created centuries ago.  For example the 3rd Infantry regiment's uniform was created in 1803.  The military fire brigade of Paris was created in 1811 by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte after the Austrian Embassy, his father-in-law's country, burned down in Paris because the regular firemen could not cope.  It is now the largest military fire brigade in Europe with 1800 firemen and women.  My favorite regiment is the Foreign Legion (Legion Etrangere) created in 1831 and including at least 12 regiments.  They lost 6,000 men during WW1.  They are the last ones to come down the parade because they march at a very slow pace to the rhythm of their official march "Le Boudin" which I know well.

My grandfather had taken part in the war effort and knew all the military marches and their lyrics.  When I was a wee child and living with my grandparents in Provence my grand-dad would often sing those marches - sometimes to get me to sleep, so I remember them.  The march he liked the most was The Regiment of Sambre and Meuse (I mentioned it already in my post of July 13, 2010 - click here.) It is the march that Ohio State University adopted for their football team "Ohio Script."  I found a video of an old recording of this march with vintage postcards of the war of 14-18.




This 14th of July was also the 50th anniversary of the independence of 13 African francophone countries.  During the wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45 they were French colonies.  No heads of states of the 80 countries were invited as this was a "soldiers" commemoration.  The parade included a 1917 American ambulance and taxis from the Marne, which were requisitioned in September 1914 by General Gallieni to bring rapid reinforcements to the Marne battle theater.  Finally an artillery troop wearing original 1916 uniforms came in a cart pulling a famous 75 mm field gun, 1897 model.  This field gun was extremely accurate, quick firing and for its time was a technological success. It was used for 50 years between 1897 and 1945 and is regarded as the first modern artillery piece.

The program ended with 250 young people, 18 to 25 years old, from the 80 countries invited.  They danced with a dove in their hands to represent peace.  At the end of the dance they let the birds go as a symbol of peace.

Later on I watched, live, the  fireworks from the Eiffel Tower, but this will be in my next post.  More to come ...

33 comments:

David said...

Vagabonde, Very interesting but I'm still waiting to learn where in the USA that French flag was flying... WWI was a really ugly war...but then again so is any war. The constant, bloody and tedious trench warfare the use of gas made WWI just a bit different than some of the others...
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Al said...

That would have been an amazing parade to see. Nice photos!

Murr Brewster said...

Happy Bastille Day! I will always be envious of the national anthem. We Americans have such a wretched one in every respect and unfortunately we do well enough in sporting events that we have to hear it all the time. I still get chills whenever that woman busts into the Marseillaise in Casa Blanca. I hope I'm not demeaning it by mentioning that.

(On the other hand, I'd rather hear our anthem than God Bless America. Jeez.)

Marja said...

Very interesting Quite a spectacle and cool that they wear original uniforms. I was shocked as to see how many people had died That is an enormous number. Great post

DJan said...

I always learn something when I read your posts, but this one, more than ever. I am amazed that the pictures are from your TV, because they are so clear! It truly was a world war, when I look at the list of countries who fought in it. Thank you for all your efforts to make this particular American better educated! :-)

Frances said...

I loved seeing all these pictures and your descriptions of all the celebrations.

Merci! xo

DeniseinVA said...

A marvelous post, one I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Your photos were wonderful, the old and the new. I learned a lot more today about WWI. Thank you! I would also like to thank you for visiting my post about my Father-in-law's experiences from WWII, and for your very kind comments. So nice to meet you and I look forward to many return visits here.

Christine said...

Interesting history, thanks for stopping by!

Jono said...

Thanks for the pics and reminder of history! Owners of a store where my wife worked long ago told her it was Bastille Day. Until they told her differently she thought they had said, "Best deal day" and expected to have some kind of sale.

Mae Travels said...

That was a fascinating post. I have a friend who is assembling her father's World War I post cards and stamps for an expo in Paris... this will be a great year for history buffs of that era!

Arti said...

Thanks for a wonderful, in-depth post with historical significance. It hasn't been mentioned here in our city that this year is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI. You're alway so historically accurate; I'm afraid we here in N. America don't have as strong a tie to history as Europeans... and that's a pity. As for China not participating, I'm not surprised. For it's not this present China, communists, who had fought in WWI or WWII. The present communist leadership want to see themselves as the 'New China', alas, forsaking history yet again.

Jenny Woolf said...

What an interesting post! And I liked the old recording! there's something so evocative about these old patriotic songs.

claude said...

Je repasse tantôt. Pas le temps ce matin.
Bises

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

This was a terrible war. Such a mess of humanity.

claude said...

Super de parler de notre Fête Nationale et du défilé sur les Champs-Elysées. Nous aussi, nous l'avons regardé du début jusqu'à la fin. L'hommage aux Poilus de 14-18 était le bien venu. J'ai écris quelque chose sur mon autre blog que le mettrai sans doute sur mon premier le 2 août jour de la mobilisation générale en France.
Notre hymne national est toujours critiqué sans doute par certains pacifistes à cause de ses paroles guerrières et révolutionnaires. Un de nos Président a voulu en changer le rythme, c'était très nul.
Tes posts sont toujours d'un grand intérêt et très instructifs.
J'aime bien aussi l'hymne américain car une petit bout de moi est toujours en Amérique.
Bises

EG CameraGirl said...

Ah, you cleverly found a way to avoid the crowds yet still see much of the celebrations! I so wish we would learn from our wars, but it seems we continue to want to kill each other, evidenced by several places in the world at the moment. We ought to have learned from the "war to end all wars" (WWI) that fighting only increases tensions. How sad that we don't celebrate peace in the same way we celebrate wars. Hmmm

Carol Crump Bryner said...

The sheer numbers of people who were killed, injured, etc. is astounding, and this parade, with so many marchers in it helps to make that figure seem real.
When we were young, my grandparents let us play with a steroscope. Most of the photographs were from World War 1. They were graphic images, and unforgettable for a young child. Thanks for this post. It's good to remember those soldiers, and mark their lives.

Miss_Yves said...

Merci pour ces captures d'écran , très réussies , et pour les collages qui résument les étapes de la cérémonie.
Les cartes postales d'époque nous plongent dans l'ambiance
Bille très instructif, comme l'écrit Claude, ne serait-ce que pour le sens du mot "poilu" qui est souvent mal compris par les Français eux-mêmes

Magic Love Crow said...

Again, you have shared with us such a great post, filled with so much history! What a parade! Wow!
Thank you for the kind comment on my painting ;o) If you are ever interested, let me know. I will give you a discount, because i know you will cherish it and that makes my heart smile ;o)

Denise Covey said...

Hello Vagabonde. It is wonderful to find you again. I think you used to follow my travel blog, which I don't have time to update very often these busy days.

Thanks for sharing both modern and historical photos. My husband and I were in Paris for July 14 in 2012. It felt special.

I will be back to read some more of your posts. I'm putting you on my blog roll so I don't lose touch again.

Hello to your husband...

Denise

Mary said...

That certainly was an amazing parade this year - I would love to have been there in person but many thanks for bringing your pics and all the history to us here. You are always the best storyteller!
Hugs - Mary

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Vagabonde, I appreciated reading your comment on my blog explaining why you blog and how your posts help your husband remember. Contrary to your statement about yours not being a blog I'd be interested in, I am very interested and have added myself as a follower. I look forward to learning and seeing more about France.

Karen

Pat said...

What a great history lesson Vagabonde. It must have been very moving to watch and I loved the singing on the video.
According to Google the Allies lost over 6 million men.
I have just seen a stasge production of "Oh what a lovely war" which illustrates the tragic futility of war.

⊰✿⊱France ⊰✿⊱ said...

BOnjour et merci pour tes photos et d'en parler ce jour est un jour qui reste dans nos esprits
LA Fête Nationale et du défilé sur les Champs-Elysées que je regarde à la télé mais je n'ai jamais le voir à Paris hélas
Mais un jour j'espère y passer
Passe une belle journée
bisous bien chaud

Carola Bartz said...

This is such an interesting post, especially in this year when we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the "Great War". I like that France this year celebrated her national holiday with all the countries that participated in that horrible war - what a wonderful symbol. Someone here before said that it would be nice if we celebrated our peace the way we do with the wars. What an interesting and deep thought. Yes, I also wish we would.
Thank you for this post, Vagabonde.

Glenda Beall said...

Thank you for this excellent history lesson regarding WWI. I had no idea that so many people were killed. Yes, why can't we learn from the past wars and why can't we celebrate peace as well as we celebrate war? Stunning photos! I am so impressed.

Nadezda said...

I like all your photos, Vagabonde!
I've partly seen this parade from Paris, but not in live of course. Thank you for sharing!

Jeanie said...

What a wonderfully written and well-researched post! I have always been fascinated by the horror that was WWI. Your words so captured that. This parade must have been impressive indeed -- and especially meaningful for those ancestors of the soldiers killed in battle.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Vagabonde .. what a great selection of photos - with some ghastly facts, but true numbers etc ..

WW1 must have been so difficult for everyone ...

So pleased you were able to give us these photos and data - reminds us of the true horror of War - yet if we hadn't all come together, where would we be now .. cheers Hilary

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

Paris streets are so meant for parades!!!

Perpetua said...

Another fascinating and very informative post, Vagabonde. We don't have TV in France but sometimes I wish we did as I would have found this parade most interesting.

Visiting the war memorial in our tiny commune always brings home to me just how terrible France's losses were in WW1. So many names...

Vicki Lane said...

As always, I learn so much from your blog. Thank you for your time and trouble in putting together such beautiful and informative pieces.

Thérèse said...

Un billet tres reussi comme les precedents... c'est bien de mettre sur papier, enfin sur blog, tous ces faits que l'on a tendance a laisser de cote et puis remettre dans le contexte eloigne les critiques faite sur cet hymne.

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