Real Photo Postcard
Unknown Photographer
France
c. 1900s

This Real Photo Postcard appears to depict a member of the Légion Étrangère - the French Foreign Legion - from sometime
in the early part of the 20th Century. Several clues in the photograph lend themselves to this identification although they
could be viewed as merely circumstantial evidence at the same time.

I have seen other photographs of members of the Légion outfitted in almost identical kit when they landed at the Dardanelles
in 1915 the main difference being the wearing of white tropical helmets with khaki covers by those troops. He wears a dark
blue greatcoat and white or light khaki cotton drill trousers. His black belt and brace equipment support two M1888 cartridge
pouches and a frogged bayonet for his M1888/93 Lebel Rifle. He wears a M1884 kepi and although there appears to be a
cloth badge on it's front no details are visible and it could be the regimental number of the regular French infantry or the
bursting grenade of the Légion.

The light khaki trousers are one of the main reasons I believe this man to be a legionnaire the other is his well maintained
beard. If my research is correct by time this photograph was taken the only members of the French army who were allowed to
wear more that a mustache were members of the Légion - particularly
sapeurs or sappers.  Under close examination it is
obvious that this soldier's well maintained growth of facial hair was not an example of recent field expedience but a long term
proposition instead. Two key elements that would have confirmed his being a member of the Légion would have been the
collar tabs on his great coat and the distinctive
chèche or scarf traditionally worn by legionnaires but both these details are
obscured by this beard.

The reverse of the card (below) is fully inscribed and addressed it is assumed by the soldier in the photo but I have not have
had the text translated yet. It mat or may not hold a clue or answer to the above questions.