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    Pre-WW1: Saumur - Officiers Etrangers


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    As a companion to the threads showing photos of military attachés attending the Grandes Manoeuvres, I thought it might be interesting to see some images of foreign officers attending Saumur. I am, therefore, posting two postcards from my collection, neither of which is dated, unfortunately.

    It is not clear to me what the officers were doing at Saumur. Where they on a course or was inspecting the school a usual part of the duties of the military attachés based in Paris? I wonder if anyone knows the answer?




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    Trooper : to me they are foreign Armies officers studying in Saumur . they are subaltern officers In the second photo are two British officers one a lancer the other of the RHA, one Dutch , a hussar ,A Serbian of cavalry , All the officers are of mounted branchs . 

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    Looks like foreign officers were on a one year course, more information and photos can be found HERE.

    "Officiers en stage

    Les liens sont plus forts, et en tout cas pas vraiment hostiles, avec les pays qui envoient un jeune officier d'état-major suivre le cours des lieutenants d'instruction, pendant une année en principe. L'Ecole aide ainsi à la constitution des nouvelles armées des pays balkaniques ; elle tisse aussi des liens avec de jeunes cadres, souvent promis à un brillant avenir dans leur pays. Les officiers étrangers, dont le nombre s'élève à douze en 1909 et en 1911, sont l'objet d'une vive curiosité à cause de leurs uniformes. Ils participent au carrousel. Ils sont souvent photographiés.

    En dépit de leur isolationnisme officiel, les Etats-Unis sont constamment présents. Le général Philip Kearny ( 1814-1862 ), objet de plusieurs biographies dans son pays, est envoyé comme jeune officier étudier les méthodes françaises à l'Ecole de Saumur en 1839-1840. Dans une lettre, il se dit surpris par l'état misérable des chevaux et des écuries, mais juge la théorie brillante. Il accompagne longtemps l'armée française parmi les chasseurs d'Afrique, en Algérie, puis à Solferino. Dans les combats livrés par les U.S.A. contre le Mexique, il perd un bras, avant d'être tué dans la Guerre de Sécession... Egalement, George S. Patton vient suivre un stage d'escrime à Saumur en 1913, auprès du maître Cléry.

    Malgré des rapports tendus, le Reich allemand est parfois présent. Un lieutenant du 1er régiment de Dragons badois, détaché à Saumur, Hermann, baron Bodman, fait parler de lui par ses succès mondains : en 1865, il épouse Caliste Jeanne Louise Marie Bernard de La Frégeolière ; en 1881, il se remarie avec Valentine O'Neill de Tyrone, la fille de l'ancien sous-préfet ( voir rue de Bodman ).

    A partir de photos et de descriptions, j'ai pu relever les nationalités des officiers étrangers sur sept années s'étalant sur la période 1903-1912. En tête viennent les Etats-Unis, représentés chaque année, dont une fois par deux stagiaires, soit un total de 8, de même que la Suède, 8 ; la Bulgarie, puissance montante dans les Balkans, 7 ; la Russie, grande alliée, 6, et la Norvège, 6. Il ne faut dans doute pas attacher trop de signification à la suite de la liste : Angleterre, 4 ; Serbie, 4 ; Espagne, 3 ; Empire ottoman, 3 ; son adversaire, la Grèce, 3 ; Danemark, 2 ; Pays-Bas, 2. Un unique représentant pour la Roumanie, la Chine et le Pérou. Le plus intéressant est de noter que 15 pays sont représentés, répartis à travers le monde entier."
    Google Translate:

    Training Officers

    The links are stronger, and in any case not really hostile, with the countries that send a young staff officer to follow the course of the lieutenants of instruction, for a year in principle. The School thus assists in the constitution of the new armies of the Balkan countries; it also forges links with young cadres, often promised a bright future in their country. The foreign officers, who numbered twelve in 1909 and 1911, were the object of a lively curiosity because of their uniforms. They participate in the carousel. They are often photographed.

    Despite their official isolationism, the United States is constantly present. General Philip Kearny (1814-1862), the subject of several biographies in his country, was sent as a young officer to study French methods at the Ecole de Saumur in 1839-1840. In a letter he was surprised by the miserable condition of horses and stables, but judged the theory brilliant. He accompanies the French army for a long time among the hunters of Africa, in Algeria, and then at Solferino. In the struggles of the USA against Mexico, he lost an arm before being killed in the Civil War. Also, George S. Patton comes to follow a fencing course in Saumur in 1913, with the master Clery.

    Despite tense relations, the German Reich is sometimes present. A lieutenant of the 1st Regiment of Baden Dragoons, detached to Saumur, Hermann, Baron Bodman, made talk about him by his worldly successes: in 1865, he married Caliste Jeanne Louise Marie Bernard of La Frégeolière; in 1881 he married Valentine O'Neill of Tyrone, the daughter of the former sub-prefect (see Bodman Street).

    From photographs and descriptions, I was able to identify the nationalities of foreign officers over seven years spanning the period 1903-1912. The United States, represented each year, includes two trainees, a total of 8, as well as Sweden, 8; Bulgaria, rising power in the Balkans, 7; Russia, a great ally, 6 and Norway, 6. There is no doubt that too much significance is attached to the list: England, 4; Serbia, 4; Spain, 3; Ottoman Empire, 3; his opponent, Greece, 3; Denmark, 2; The Netherlands, 2. A single representative for Romania, China and Peru. The most interesting is that 15 countries are represented, spread all over the world.

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    • 2 weeks later...
    On 04/09/2017 at 15:12, peter monahan said:

    It is my undersatanding that British and the occasional American officer attended Samur as students.  How they were chosen I have no idea.


    Your understanding as it concerns US officers is confirmed by an impeccable source: Black Jack Pershing. In his memoire, he describes a visit to Saumur in the early Spring of 1909,


    Source: John J. Pershing, My Life before the World War, 1860-1917, p. 267. Google books

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    Pershing's description of his visit to Saumur gives a major clue as to the identity of the US officer shown in the first image in this thread. Later in his memoire (p. 522) he gives a potted biography of William Guignard, the military attache at Paris who arranged his trip,

    Source: John J. Pershing, My Life before the World War, 1860-1917, p. 522. Google books

    Here we see that Guignard, an artillery officer, was at Saumur from 1903 to 1904. The officer in the photograph has, of course, crossed cannons on his sleeve and is thus an artilleryman. The identity is confirmed as being Guignard by the photo in his diplomatic passport, which was sold in September 2013 at auction by the Rock Island Auction Company, where the resemblance - in the jaw line, particularly - is undeniable (in my eyes),

    Source: http://www.icollector.com/Tower-Pattern-1856-Percussion-Cavalry-Carbine-with-History_i17061659

    This evidence, of course, also dates the photo to the period 1903-4.

    Edited by Trooper_D
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    I think that Pershing provides us with another ID, that of the US officer in the postcard Paja uploaded in post #9. Apart from Guignard, Pershing named two other US officers who attended Saumur: Guy Vernor Henry, Jr (see Wikipedia page, here) and 'W. C.' Short. The photo in the Wikipedia page discounts Henry. However, Pershing's W. C. Short is, I believe, this W. C. Short, who was to go on to lead the US equestion team at the Antwerp Olympics in 1920 (the moustache being the giveaway!),


    Source: http://eventingnation.com/weird-but-true-olympic-eventing-history-antwerp-1920/

    If that is the case, it dates the image to the time of Pershing's visit, 1909.

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    Great scan! Thank you very much for posting it!
    I've been going through the Official Military Gazette and came across some information regarding this matter. Kingdom of SCS/Yugoslavia continued sending officers to French military schools during the twenties and the thirties.


    Open competition from 1921:
    -Two artillery officers will be sent to the School of applied artillery in Fontainebleau 
    -Two cavalry officers will be sent to the School of applied cavalry in Saumur
    -Two artillery officers will be sent to the School for anti-aircraft defense
    -Two officers will be sent to the Center for assault cars training in Versailles

    One of the conditions - rank of captain or major.

    Edited by paja
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    Looks like 1909 to me as well. Based on the uniform of the Serbian officer and Petar I Coronation Medal, the photo had to be taken between 1904 and 1911.
    You are right, same country different name, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes until 1929, Kingdom of Yugoslavia later.
    I dug up a few more information from the interwar era, I know this topic is dedicated to pre-WW1 period but if someone's interested I can post it.

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    It's mostly about open competitions but here's an article about German visit.

    German officers visit the French Cavalry school in Saumur

    Paris, July 18th (1934.)

    Another delegation of German officers led by the commander of the German Cavalry school in Hanover, general Dalwigk, visited French Cavalry School in Saumur on Monday and Tuesday.

    German flag was erected during the visit.

    French officers organized luncheon for German officers who afterwards laid a wreath at the monument of the fallen French cavalrymen. 


    More information about general Dalwigk (1876-1947) can be read HERE.
    He was the school commander from October 1931 until March 1937.

    Very interesting topic with his medal bar and photos, here on GMIC, LINK.

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