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La guerre en montagne....

La guerre en montagne

Eduardo Garcia Benito (1891-1981)
La guerre en montagne….
War in the mountains. A meeting between skiers.
Woodcut with hand colouring through stencils. Publisher: Tolmer & Co. 1915.
Given by Sophie Gurney 1994

No. 46 from the 2nd series La Grande Guerre .

With this print the series focuses on a group of Chasseurs Alpins, or Alpine troops, as it had done previously with British Indian soldiers ( no. 18 ), French Zouaves ( no. 43 ) and the Belgians ( no. 42 ).

The elite mountain troops were trained to operate in mountainous terrain. They were given the nicknamed Les Diables bleus (‘blue devils’) because of their uniform, which at the time was more modest than the regular French army. They wore a large black beret, known as la tarte , a short jacket and puttees (like gaiters, but wrapped spirally up the leg from ankle to knee, also worn by the BEF or British Expeditionary Force). Here they are shown chasing Germans soldiers in the Vosges department, a section of which had been annexed to Germany after the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71).

As in the previous print, there is a striking use of colour, particularly in the bright blue shadows.

The French caption with English translation:

LA GUERRE EN MONTAGNE. Une Rencontre entre Skieurs
La Guerre offre par moments des aspects pittoresques et inattendus. Un de ces aspects curieux fut certainement la rencontre, en Haute Alsace, entre patrouilles de skieurs, que nous signale le Communiqué du 4 Février. Dans les Vosges, sur les belles pentes couvertes de neige, le spectacle était grandiose de ces soldats chaussés de leurs longs patins, évoluant rapidement et luttant avec acharnement les uns contre les autres. Nos skieurs ont montré leur supériorité sur les skieurs ennemis. Voici prouvé que le sport, qui rend aussi les hommes beaux et forts, n’est plus un luxe, mais une nécessité quand il est mis au service de la Patrie.

War in the mountains. A meeting between skiers.
At times war offers picturesque and unexpected aspects. One of these was certainly the encounter in the Upper Alsace between ski patrols, which was reported by the Press on 4th February. On the beautiful snow-covered slopes in the Vosges, the spectacle of these soldiers with long skies was great, moving rapidly and struggling fiercely against each other. Our skiers showed their superiority over the enemy skiers. Here is evidence that sport, which also makes men beautiful and strong, is no longer a luxury, but a necessity when it is put to the service of the nation.


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