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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Rousselot Bugler

Found this wonderful painting on a Facebook site. Its title is "Trompette du Regiment Chabrillant Cavalerie, France 1745" and it is the work of Lucien Rousselot. I have a squadron of Tradition Scandinavia HE Swedish dragoons to paint, I am going to use this as my colour template.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Remember Verdun

The Battle of Verdun started on 22nd February 1916 and lasted until late November. This was the German offensive that was to knock the French Army out of the war, to bleed France dry.

As the railway line had been cut by the Germans, soldiers had march to the front. There are stories of them bleating as they marched, like lambs to slaughter. General Petain established a system of rotation for service in the battlefield, the "Mill on the Meuse". Most regiments of the French Army did a tour in Verdun, many doing two or three.

Huge convoys of motor trucks were organised to supply the French Army.

At the end of November the French and German lines were back where they started. Both sides suffered around 300,000 casualties.

Verdun is now a national shrine.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Hedy Lamarr

I came across this picture of Hedy Lamarr on a Facebook site. The most beautiful woman in films ever.

She was born in Vienna, Austria on 9th November 1913. Her name was Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler. Her first film role was in 1930. She moved to Hollywood in the mid-30's.

Her major titles are usually listed as: "Ekstase", 1933, the film that got her noticed in Hollywood. "Algiers", 1938, her first film in USA. "White Cargo" 1942. "The Conspirators" 1944. Her biggest role was in "Samson and Delilah" 1949, when she starred as Delilah opposite Victor Mature. She declined the lead in "Casablanca".

IMDb lists her in 36 film titles.

Hedy Lamarr was also a scientist. In 1940 and 1941 she worked with George Antheil to develop frequency hopping for the radio control of torpedoes, still used today.

She died in Hollywood on 19th January 2000.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Thier's Wall, Paris

I found this picture of a fisherman near Porte de Meudon. I did not know the site so I decided to investigate. It is a photograph taken on the glacis of the walls of Paris, also known as Thier's Wall.

There have been several enceinte walls around Paris but the city outgrew them. Louis XIV demolished the wall on the Right Bank, replacing it with a Grand Promenade. Two of the gates, Saint Denis and Saint Martin, were converted to arcs de triomphe. Some historians believe he took the walls down to make it easier  for royalist troops to enter Paris at times of unrest.

Porte de Saint Denis
In 1830 King Louis-Philippe came to the throne. He was concerned to prevent Paris easily falling into the hands of France's enemies as happened at the Battle of Paris in 1814. He demanded that fortifications be built. In 1833 the first plans were put to the Chamber of Deputies by Marshal Soult, the Council President and War Minister. Work began in 1840 under the Premiership of Louis Adolphe Thiers and was completed in 1845.

The wall was 33 kilometres in length, had 94 bastions, 17 main gates (Portes) and 23small gates. The defences were supported by 16 detached forts. The current Boulevard Périphérique follows the glacis. There was a military road round the inside and a railway, the Chemin de Fer de Petite Ceinture (railway of the small belt).

In 1859 the wall became the official limit of the City of Paris.

Tram stop at the Porte de Versailles

Gardens at the Porte d'Issy, 13 Aug. 1919

Technology overtook the fortifications. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, French fortifications were found wanting, the new German artillery range and power made the French fortified places such as Paris unable to withstand sieges. After the Great War, the walls were demolished between 1919 and 1929.

Demolition, near Porte de Meudon, 9  Aug 1919

Very little remains. Bastion 1 at Porte de Bercy. Bastion 45 at Porte de Clichy. A small length of wall near Porte de la Villette. a little more here and there.