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- 03 -272015

“One hundred years of photography in the French Armed Forces”. Sixth episode. Jacques Belin: an army photographer in the Army of Africa.

Jacques Belin, a photographer for the newspaper Le Jour since 1933, enlisted with the armed forces film service (SCA) in 1939 and was sent to North Africa. Demobilised in July 1940, he returned to the SCA in September 1943 and took part in the Italy, France and Germany campaigns until 6 April 1945, the date of his last report.

Les nouvelles recrues FFI incorporées dans la 1re armée française s'entraînent à accompagner les chars.  L'infanterie portée saute du char en marche et va franchir le ruisseau, protégée par un écran fumigène, Alsace, 1er-12 mars 1945 © ECPAD / Jacques Belin

Campagne d'Italie : après les combats de la Costa San Pietro, un goumier marocain blessé est accompagné au poste de secours. Italie, 12-21 janvier 1944 © ECPAD / Jacques BelinHe was with the 1st army, in Alsace, when he shot this scene of an assault by the tanks of the 2nd African hunters’ regiment (RCA). The image, striking for its dynamism and the impression of being immersed in the battle, was actually shot during a training exercise. It was part of a report commissioned by the magazine Army Talks for American soldiers. These details from the original caption now require a crifical re-reading of the image, whose initial effect of a battle is far from the reality, to avoid any inappropriate use.

A few months earlier, Belin photographed the troops of theTirailleurs du 6e RTM lors d'une halte dans un village abandonné, pendant la montée vers les lignes de Monte Cassino, Italie, 24 février 1944 © ECPAD / Jacques Belin French expeditionary corps during the Italian campaign. He shot a spontaneous image of soldiers from a Moroccan tabor group (GTM) after the fighting at Costa San Pietro and, a month later, men of the 6th Moroccan infantry regiment (RTM) heading for Monte Cassino. He also demonstrated his perfect mastery of the art of composing a scene when, in liberated Strasbourg, he orchestrated a pose by young Alsatian women with a map, around an SCA jeep.

Jeunes Alsaciennes en costume traditionnel autour d'une jeep du service Presse Cinéma du SCA. D'après la légende d'origine, elles sont en train de lire une carte les noms des villes libérées, Alsace, 18 mars 1945 © ECPAD / Jacques Belin

Photos credits : © ECPAD / Jacques Belin

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