French Infantryman, 115th Inf, Regt., Chemin des Dames, 1917
- Scale / Maßstab: 54mm
- Material: Resin, Model Plaster / Modell-Gips (synethetische, kunststoffveredelte Gießmasse)
- Parts / Teile: 12
- Infosheet / Infoblatt: English
- Code: 17FI
Contents / Inhalt:
- Figure (2 Parts) / Figur (2 Teile)
- Alternative Head / Alternativ-Kopf
- 3 x Ammunition Pouches M1916 / 3 Stck. Patronentaschen M1916
- Gas Mask M2 / Gasmaske M2
- Haversack M1892 / Brotbeutel M1892
- Canteen M1877 and Cup / Feldflasche M1877 und Tasse
- Lebel Rifle M1886/93 (Fusil d’ Infantrie, modele 1886 tranforme 1893) / Lebel Gewehr M1886/93
- Figure Base / Figur-Sockel
The Figure: French Infantryman
The figure depicts a greatcoated French Infantryman as part of a Chauchat MG team on one of the wooded slopes leading up to a ridge called Chemin des Dames, a region constantly fought over during 1917-18. The Chemin des Dames is roughly 30 Km north of Rheims, in an area approximately between the Somme and the Champagne. He shows the typical appearance of the Poilu at this stage of the war. Most of his equipment is still being hung around the neck as opposed to being attached to the leather belt and brace equipment.
Service Tunic M1914/15: On the figure behind the collar and between the greatcoat flaps can just be seen parts of the service tunic M1914/15. Normally, the greatcoat was the regular combat uniform of the French Army and the tunic would only be worn in the warm months of summer. However, in cold conditions, a combination of both greatcoat and tunic were worn together giving a bulky appearance. Colour: horizon-blue (could well have been a lighter shade).
Greatcoat M1915: The figure wears the M1915 horizon blue greatcoat, which apart from a few changes, took on the appearance of the original M1877 coat in style. It had a turned down collar with grey-blue painted metal buttons at the front and smaller ones on the cuffs and pockets. The figure wears only one of the detachable shoulder straps, rolled up at the end in the French style to avoid the rifle sling from slipping off when on the march. On each side of the greatcoat were 2 large reinforced (from the inside) pockets for the carrying of extra ammunition. These had pocket flaps held down with 2 buttons. The distinctive turned up coat flaps were buttoned back at each side – here the material was reinforced at the corners. On his upper left arm are the 4 dark-blue chevron stripes indicating the time served at the front – the first stripe for 1 year, with every successive stripe for ½ year service. Lower down on the same arm is a red stripe indicating a 1st class private. These red stripes (often issued in blue-grey, or grey cloth) were a legacy of the old dark-blue M1877 greatcoat, which sported large red chevrons for junior NCOs (gold for senior NCOs and officers) on both lower arms and still worn in 1914. The colour of these greatcoats varied considerably and depended on the dye used, origin, wear and tear and age of the garment.
Note: with a bit of care and a thin, sharp blade it is possible to hollow out the gap between the body and the left arm on this figure. Here the resin has been cast extra thin. Also, underneath the collar is a resin rib to ensure a problem free casting of this part. This can also be cut away.
The dark-blue 115 sewn-on regimental patches on the collar have been modelled slightly raised to enable an easier paint finish.
On the greatcoat itself, the structure and fold of the creases follows the standard form copied from various photos of French troops in the field. It is always better when gathering reference material to use original photos of troops who have been actually wearing their uniforms over long periods of time, as most garments (as indeed all types of clothing, depending on the material used) will crease and fold in roughly the same way. Some reference books, especially for collectors of uniforms are helpful for colour-reference and information etc., but will not always portray an accurate picture of how the uniforms appeared after many days of being worn.
Medal: Croix de Guere. The soldier has been awarded the Croix de Guere, or War Cross. This was first introduced in April 1915 and was comparable to the British mentioned in despatches. From 1916 onwards it was possible for whole units to be awarded this medal on a collective basis for recognition in battle. In some instances it was possible for other Allied soldiers serving under French command to receive the cross. The bronze star on the ribbon means that this particular soldier has been awarded this medal twice. Colour: a yellow-green ribbon with 7 red vertical stripes (1 stripe on each side and 5 in the middle with equal spacing). Star and cross – bronze.
Service Dress Trousers M1914: Made out of a blue-grey material, with a thin yellow stripe running down each side. Here again different items varied considerably in colour, but on many original photos appear to be of a lighter shade than the greatcoat.
Puttees M1902: An Indian word meaning bandages. In the French Army the puttee was originally the sign of the Chasseurs Alpins, who had worn them since 1889. Designed to cover the gap between boot and trousers, keeping the lower leg warm and dry. The French puttee was ca. 2,60m long 12cm wide and was sometimes worn in a criss-cross pattern in order to avoid the gaps, which invariably happened after constant use. The figure as in the original photo sports tidy, even puttees, which was of cause not always the case. Colour: grey-blue.
Boot M1912: The M1912 boot, or field shoe, was made out of brown leather, with the rough side outwards. Later, the M1916 modifide boot (only issued in large numbers from the end of 1917) had a higher shaft.
Adrian Helmet M1915: The Adrian helmet, similar to the fireman, or dragoon helmet of the period, first appeared in sufficient numbers for the Champagne offensive in September 1915. By December 1915 a total of 3 million had been produced. Weighing only 765 gram and formed from relatively mild steel it did not give as much protection as it’s German and British counterparts. On the front is the grenade of the infantry (this would differ according to the arm of the service). Colour: the first helmets to be introduced had a shiny blue-grey finish, which by December 1915 were being covered with a khaki cloth cover. From the summer 1916 the helmets were issued in a blue-grey matt colour and being worn without the cloth covers again (to avoid the cloth, which was never clean being dragged into the head wounds). The chinstrap was brown leather, with a steel buckle on the left side.
Leather Belt and Brace Equipment M1892/1914: The only difference from early pre-war equipment was that since December 1914 all belts, braces and straps etc. were issued in brown, instead of black. The old type belt buckle was a square brass plate.
Ammunition Pouches M1916: The brown leather M1916 pouch was designed to hold 5 packets of 8 rounds of 8mm Lebel cartridges and was attached with the aid of a tin-plated iron suspension ring and hook (early versions had brass hooks) to the brace (yoke) equipment. A brass stud at the front held the pouch flap down.
Gas Mask M2: The M2 gas mask was stowed in a metal tin, which in accordance to French Army regulation was attached to the left ammunition pouch by means of a string cord. This mask entered service in April 1916 and consisted of a multi-layered cloth bag with eye-pieces. Colour: the tins varied in colour from grey-blue to khaki. Often the edges were chipped and worn from constant use so that the bare metal could be seen.
Canteen M1877: The supply of drinking water to troops spending ever-increasing periods in front line areas was not always easy. From 1915 the 2-litre water bottle, originally designed for African service was issued to the troops. Covered using the blue cloth-material from the no longer issued greatcoat M1877 and laced together with a leather or string cord at the side. The canteen had 2 distinctive spouts; the larger of the 2 was sealed with a cork stopper (plug), the top part fixed with a metal cap and loop. The other spout used a small wooden peg stopper. Both stoppers (sometimes the cup as well) were attached to the leather strap fasteners by a length of cord. Underneath the canteen, in the middle was a white sewn-on name-label – 30 x 62 mm (in 1/32 scale 1 x 2mm). The name-label was important, as canteens could not always be individually replenished, but collection together by detailed personnel. The French Army regulation for the carrying of the water bottle was on the right side, behind the arm, with the smaller of the 2 spouts pointing forward.
Cup: The French Army issue tin-plated steel cup. Part of the French mess equipment and very often seen attached to the outside of the French Model 1877 canteen. The correct place for the cup would have been actually the haversack. The resin area within the cup handle can be carefully drilled (0.5mm) and cut out. Colour: dull silver.
Haversack M1892: Made out cotton with a herringbone weave sling, which went around the outside of the bag for added strength. Two unpainted steel buttons fastened the flap. Apart from his daily rations, other items to be found were: spoon; fork; issued pocketknife; tin opener; washing and shaving kit: sewing kit, spare ammunition and anything else they good cram in there. These haversacks were dyed in a red-brown colour officially known as cachou, but sometimes varied considerably from grey-green to light and brown khaki.
Bayonet M1888/1914: The correct position for the bayonet was on the left side and was often hidden from view by the folds of the greatcoat. On the figure only a part of the brown leather bayonet frog, behind the left coat sleeve can be seen.
Lebel Rifle M1886/93: Fusil d’ Infantrie, modele 1886 tranforme 1893. This was the standard rifle of the French Army in 1914. The Lebel held 8 x 8mm rounds in a tubular magazine under the barrel and first entered service in 1886. The old Kropatschek system, individual loading of each round and the fact that after every shot fired the centre of gravity would change meant that this rifle was outdated within a few years. Some of the design failings were put right in the 1893 modification (mainly changes to the sights, furniture and added strength to different parts of the receiver). Although accurate at long ranges, the length of the Lebel, especially when fixed with the 55cm cruciform ‘needle’ bayonet was far too long in the confined spaces of the trenches. A further disadvantage was that the bolt handle stuck out at a 90°angles to the rifle, coursing it to sometimes snag on uniform and equipment. The rifle was used up until 1940, some examples being taken on by the Wehrmacht and designated as Gew. 301(f). On the right hand side, at the end of the stock, are the 2 metal locking splints used to dissemble the rifle. Colour: furniture (wood) – brown. Metal – dark metal.
Note: with the different casting techniques involved it maybe be necessary to remove part of the greatcoat at the bottom were the rifle butt sits for a correct position. For further detail one could add a small piece of wire to indicate the metal hook at the end of the stock used to stand the rifles up together. A small incision is cast on the rifle to give the correct position.
The Emblem: The emblem can be used to decorate the base, or wooden plinth after the figure has been finished. It depicts the grenade of the infantry from the front of the Adrian helmet. The letters RF stand for Republique France.
The Base: The base supplied with the figure depicts a piece of ground on one of the slopes leading up to the Chemin des Dames. The torn trunks are all that is left from the shattered young trees. The severed branches, bracken and brambles have all long disappeared through the constant shelling; leaving exposed the subsoil and tree roots. The colour of the soil in this area is light brown/ beige with small stones. The trees were of a mixed variety.
Note: some of the roots in and around the water edge can be hollowed out from underneath, using a drill and modelling file.