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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
At a small local fair yesterday I found a small lot of french books, I bought them at a very cheap price. Now, I'm an analphabet when it comes to the French language, so I will have to ask the master to enlighten us on the precise meaning of the titles etc.

I like items that tell a story better than mint condition items, and here is a lot that does that. The books have obviously been together a long time. They must have been carried in a pocket together as they are all bulged and shaped to each other. They have obviously been out in wet weather in that pocket as they have various degrees of water damage, the outer one having most signs of having been wet, whereas the other ones counting from outermost to innermost are progressively less marked by water. My guess is that they have come out of a poilus pocket in this order.

How they came to Norway I have no idea, but they may possibly have come with a French WWI veteran who fought in Narvik at the start of WWII? Or, just as possible, have been a WWI souvenir brought here by a German WWI veteran during WWII? There are of course several other possible explanations to this, so enough speculation about that.

Anyway, to me this tells a story of a poilu.

Here are his books:

An almanac for the trooper for 1916. This contains witty drawings, jokes and several longer stories. According to the cover (if I understand it correctly) both funny and serious.








Theoretical instruction for the soldier. This is richly illustrated. I will post a number of those illustrations later.






A small religious booklet that contains lithurgy, psalms, prayers....







A book by a french army veteran which I believe is a book of advice about what makes a good soldier








All comments are welcome. :)
 

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I have #'s 2 and 4 which I carry in my backpack. Thanks for posting them, now I will have to find the other two.
Patrick
 

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You asked BC ... we deliver.

First:
Funny and serious
“The soldier’s almanac for 1916”
+ the address of the Parisian editor.

Second:
Moral education and professional instruction
“Theoretical instruction of the soldier - by himself”
By Commander F. Chapuis - 18th edition
Soldier, this book was written for you.
+ Adress of the editor in Paris and Lyon.
This F. Chapuis seems to have written more of the sort in those times … the chicken with the golden eggs for him??? Those that are interested (1886lebel?) Could find something more by googling “Commandant/Colonel F. Chapuis”

Third:
“The small parochial booklet of the soldier - with noted religious songs”
+ address of the Parisian editor.

Fourth:
“Be a good soldier!”
I wrote this for you,
Little* Soldier of France,

also for you the conscript (draftee),
without forgetting you, young man
who awaits his turn.

(Written) by a veteran of the French army

* “Little” is used here in the friendly sense of “beloved / respected / honored”.
 

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I think this is a great start, I have nothing French other than a Squad leader's hand book, I have a few books carried by German, Austrain, American, British and Canadian soldiers. Should we expand this thread to cover all books one wound find in the pockets of soldiers, or should we limit this thread to French?


Here is a page of content.
Gus
 

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I'm a (little) bit ashamed to admit that I gave away such "instruction booklets" to the ones interested in them some 30 or 40 years ago.
In fact they were given to some military that appreciated them at that time. To me they were only papers that didn't learn me something more than I already knew. Time goes by and I can only hope that some prints are now in the hands of those that are aware of the "historical" value and ... not only of the monetary value. I can only repeat ... those collectors are a strange bread indeed.
To Gus I can say that the "art" of throwing handgrenades was still the same as in his instruction booklet in my time, nothing new under the sun.
You men are conserving things hat, one day, will be of some value (I don't mean this in a pecuniar way!).
 

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The Manuel du Chef de Section d'Infanterie were done in the years 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918 ( I got all 4 of them) ... You can see the changes especially in trench stuff progress throughout the years, these are excellent books.
There is also a Le Livre du Grade D'Infanterie à L'usage des Élèves Caporaux, Caporaux et Sous-Officier de L'Infanterie et du Génie; written in 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918 ( I got the 1917 edition) ... This book is the BIBLE for French stuff, it covers eveything from trench set-up, weapons, gas warfare, military protocals, etc..
Colonel F. Chapuis did all sorts of manuals, he wrote alot of them over the years.
Patrick
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Should we expand this thread to cover all books one wound find in the pockets of soldiers, or should we limit this thread to French?
I think we should limit this thread to french. There will be more than enough French material here, so that the thread might become too chaotic if we add all nationalities. However, let's start similar threads for the other nationalities.
 

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The cartoon were the French soldier shows the contents of his mail:
- Nice … My wife sends me ten balles = Francs ! (”balle” can signify “Franc/Dollar...” but also “bullet”).
- Bah ! … The Boche is more generous.

Page 90 and 91 have also to do with how German speaking persons pronounce the “C” in French language. Most of the explained words are written with a “c” in French. Kamerade = camerade, Kultur = culture etc. A French speaking person hears the (subtle) difference immediately.
“Kiel” (the city/port) is a nice one: Strong box with a secret, were the Boche keeps his fleet.
 

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Correct BC. "That's how they call a target in Boche country".
These are rather sarcastic texts ... which IMHO is normal, considering the events in that era.
I sincerely hope that our German members can see the humor of these texts. Their grandfathers had certainly the same printed matters about "the enemy".
I say this because these boards have a tendency to loose the German friends that chime in. I don't see no reason for this because we try to be neutral/polite as much as is possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You touch on an important point here, Big Commander. These texts are published to show the mood of the times, not as an attack on Germans. As you say, Big Commander, all the countries had their own versions of this kind of material. I have, for instance, a German booklet containing the "truth" about england... According to that the English are a dismal bunch of degenerate people.... Which I often remind my friend Nigel of.... ;)
 

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Well ... honesty obliges me to say that my dad had no mercy for his British allies in WWI. It may be blunt but I can only repeat his own words: "The first Brit that chimes my door bell gets my boot on his behind!".
I think I said it here before but let me tell his view of what happened almost daily in the trenches. The Brits had more as enough jam but lacked bread. The Belgians had, normaly, enough bread but there were moments they hadn't any to spare. "Wat did we do?" my dad said ... "We accepted their jam and ... lifted our rifles ... they went away."
I know this will not be believed (or admitted) by a lot of people on these boards but that was the reality I got from first hand. I like Nigel, he is a friend, I'm sure he believes (and is able to believe) dad's view and story. He would have been a very interesting story teller on this WWI board. Unfortunatly this isn't possible anymore and I'm the only one left (except my brother, who isn't interested as I am) that remembers some sayings that "escaped" him when I was to young to reply and ask for some "explanation". I learned to live wih it.
 
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