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Bataille près de Bixschoote ...

Bataille près de Bixschoote ... Unknown printmaker
Bataille près de Bixschoote …
Battle close to Bikschote. A brilliant bayonet charge… by the Zouaves
Lithograph with hand colouring through stencils. Publisher: Tolmer & Co. November 1914
Given by Sophie Gurney 1994

No. 27 from the series La Grande Guerre .

The name ‘Zouaves’, in the subtitle of this print, was given to white soldiers from French colonies in Africa. Regiments of Zouaves had fought for France in the 19th century in the Crimean War (1853-56) and in the war against Austria (1859). Darker-skinned soldiers of Algerian origin are inaccurately referred to in the captions as Turcs or Turcos (see nos. 6 & 39). The caption alludes to soldiers’ bravery, referring to their nickname les chacals (‘the Jackals’) and their battle cry: Pan, pan, l’arbi, les chacals sont par ici! (‘Bang, bang, Araby, the jackals are we!’). As is clearly visible here, the Zouaves had their own distinctive uniform, of red skull caps and saroual (wide-legged breeches). The bright French colours stand out against the more camouflaged hue of the German uniform.

Bikschote is a village north of Ypres. This is the battle at Poesele on the Yser, known in English as the ‘Battle of the Ferryman’s House’, a reference to peaceful everyday life now overrun by soldiers.

There are no artists’ names on any of the prints from the first series, but there must have been several people working on them. This has more in common with some of the earlier prints in the series.

The French caption with English translation:

On sait avec quelle vaillance nos magnifiques troupes d’Afrique se sont comportées pendant la campagne 1914. Les mots plus ronflants et les épithètes les plus belles ne peuvent constituer que de piètres louanges devant tant de bravoure et tant d’héroîsme. C’est près de Bixschootte, en Belgique, que le zouaves se sont distinguées une fois de plus : ils ont brillamment enlevé à la baïonnette un bois disputé pendant trois jours entre l’ennemi et eux. Au commandement : “ A la baïonnette “, l’avalanche commença et ce fut une folle ruée, et malgré le crépitement des mitrailleuses les zouaves n’en continuèrent pas moins aux accents de fameux “ Pan, Pan, l’Arbi “.

Battle close to Bixschoote. A brilliant bayonet charge executed by the Zouaves
We know how valiantly our beautiful African troops behaved during the 1914 campaign. The most grandiose words and most beautiful epithets can only constitute poor praise in the face of such bravery and heroism. It was near Bixschoote in Belgium that the Zouaves distinguished themselves once again. Armed with bayonets they brilliantly took a wood that had been disputed for three days between the enemy and them. At the command ‘at the bayonet’ the avalanche began and it was a mad rush, and despite the machine gun fire the Zouaves held on, to the famous phrase ‘Pan, Pan, l’Arbi’.


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