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Hello Gents!

As I catch up on my photography, my Czech Legion displays represent the broad cross section of volunteers that served in the various Czech Legions formed during the course of the Great War. The tunic at the heart of the display is both beautiful as well as large in size, which just happened to fit this particular mannequin perfectly! The Mle 1915 Adrian helmet with Czech Legion badge on the obverse of the crown was already a part of the collection when I acquired the 22[SUP]nd[/SUP] Regt. tunic.

A few features of note regarding the tunic. The photos taken of the collar and shoulder strap show two of the distinguishing features of the Czech Legion tunics that set them apart from standard French issue examples. The original gilt has worn off the 22nd Regt. numerals on the collar patch. The gold plated wire braided “CS” insignia on top of the shoulder strap remains in good condition. The small diagonal slash visible on both of the sleeve cuffs are rank insignia as introduced in April of 1916. A single slash in metallic wire braid represents the rank of senior NCO, in this case a sergeant.

On the upper left sleeve are a series of four chevrons, point up. The top chevron represents the first year of service in the Zone of the Armies, i.e. combat zone in our terms, while each additional chevron below the first is for an additional six months of service at the front. In the case of our sergeant here, this would indicate 2 ½ years of service in combat. Since the 22nd Regiment was formed in May of 1918, it’s obvious that our soldier transferred into the 22nd when it was formed and would have had to have served with the Czech soldiers in the Foreign Legion to have earned four chevrons by the end of the war.

I have also been able to incorporate several additional special items within this display. The grenade bag was an important item in the later years of the war when the grenade had replaced the rifle as the primary weapon of the Infantry.

On a negative note, I have one of my favorite trench knives incorporated in this display! Only problem is you can’t see it at all with the additional equipment added! I’ll eventually remove it for a separate photo session since it doesn’t show all that well with the current equipment load.

Along with the following photos, I have included for general reference purposes, a brief history of the Czech Legion serving in France during WWI.

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A brief History of the Czech Legion serving in France

The first Czech unit to serve in the French Army was a company soldiers who were referred to as the "Compagnie Nazdar". The company was formed on the 23rd of August 1914 and was composed of 300 Czech Volunteers living in France, the majority of which were from the regions of Sokol and Rovnost. The company was assigned to C battalion of the 2nd march regiment of the Foreign Legion. The company received it’s Regimental colors in the town of Bayone. The Czech lion was a conspicuous addition to the Company’s battle flag.

The company “Nazdar� was attached to the Morrocan Division with whom they first saw combat in the area of Chamagni. After several rotations in the frontline trenches, on the 9th May 1915, the company was given the task of assaulting the highest point of the German lines that dominated the area around Arras. During the attack, the company spear headed the effort that resulted in the captured 3 lines of German trenches, while suffering very heavy losses. Out of 250 soldiers in the company, only 100 men answered roll call the following day.

After the losses suffered during the second attack at Arras on 16th June 1915, the battalion was dissolved and “Company Nazdar� ceased to exist as an independent Czech unit. The remaining Czech soldiers were scattered throughout various units of the Foreign Legion as replacements.

By order of French government from 19th December 1917 enabled the organization of an autonomous Czech Army. In the small town of Cognac, the 21st Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment was established out of volunteers who had traveled from Russia, Romania, Italy, the United States, from existing ranks of the Foreign Legion. Additional recruits eventually came from the ranks of Czech soldiers serving in the Austro-Hungarian Army who had been captured as POWs while fighting the Serbs. After the regiment was properly trained, they entered French service as part of the 53rd French Infantry Division. They achieved notable success in the fighting near Terron .

On 20th May 1918, The 22nd Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment was established at Jarnak out of the detached units of The 21st Regiment. It joined the existing Czechoslovak Brigade in France and participated together with The 123rd French Infantry Division in fights in the area of Vouziers. This new display is based on an original tunic from the 22nd Czechoslovak Rifle Regt.

While the first brigade of the Czech Legion was being formed, other Czech recruits were proving their worth while fighting as a detachment within Moroccan division. They were involved in heavy fighting in the area of Champagni, Chemin des Dames, at Verdun and at St. Mihiel. In July 1918 they were transferred to The Czechoslovak brigade.

The Czechoslovak Brigade served under the command of French General Philippe. After the Armistice, the battalions of both regiments were awarded with the Czechoslovak War Cross, while the 22nd Regiment was also presented with French Croix des Guerre.

Battlefield monuments can be found today all across France, in honor of the Czech soldiers killed during the fighting at Arras, Vouziers, Champagne and Argon, as well as in other towns across France. The silent stone monuments commemorate the sacrifice paid for in blood by the valiant Czech volunteers fighting for the Allied cause on the Western Front. Out of a total 9,600 Czechoslovak legionnaires serving in France, 630 soldiers paid the ultimate price on behalf of France, the Allied cause and their hope of creating an independent homeland.






I hope you have enjoyed the latest presentation. As I get caught up with updating my photo files of all of the various displays, I’ll be posting additional threads.

More to follow………

Warmest regards,

JPS
 

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JPS - your collection and learned posts are among the absolute most stellar additions to Gunboards. I seldom and certainly not often enough say thanks.

pgaplayerless: I'm sure you put a lot of thought and time into your review as well. Your appreciation of JPS's efforts speaks well of your character.
 

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JPS - your collection and learned posts are among the absolute most stellar additions to Gunboards. I seldom and certainly not often enough say thanks.

pgaplayerless: I'm sure you put a lot of thought and time into your review as well. Your appreciation of JPS's efforts speaks well of your character.
No jo premyslel jsem o tom daleko vice nez ty machre. Kdyz tak neznas cestinu tak ti mozna prelozeni slovicek mozna pomuze......
 

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pgaplayerless translation is pretty easy but there is no need to hide behind another language. Once again you have a great post that speaks a lot about you.

sorry about the way the comments have started JPS. Please feel free to erase the whole mess (other than my thanks).
 

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pgaplayerless translation is pretty easy but there is no need to hide behind another language. Once again you have a great post that speaks a lot about you.

sorry about the way the comments have started JPS. Please feel free to erase the whole mess (other than my thanks).
The point was to point out the wittiness behind the name the Czechs decided to use for their unit. The humor...even in light of the grim nature of warfare....is very much a Czech thing culturally.

Nazdar is a very informal form of "hello". It's basically "hello" commonly use between pub buddies. Any Czech speaker would get a kick out of the name as soon as they heard the name of the unit. Thus why I mentioned it because it got a chuckle out of me.
 

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As always, out standing display. Now that I read "The Army without a country" your display has so much more meaning. Now I need to reread the book. There was so much to learn about the Czech army in that time, feel the need. Bravo, John.
 
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