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- 09 -192014

Les Invalides during the Great War, eighteenth episode : Night target located !

Projecteur allemand dans la cour des Invalides, sur une carte postale éditée par le musée de l’Armée © Paris, musée de l’ArméeThis trophy displayed in the main courtyard in October 1915 is less well-known than the cannon, the machine guns or the aircraft. This is a German searchlight used to light up the sky during the night to locate enemy flying machines. The word «Boche» is visible on the projector drum: this is the most frequent of the unfavourable french nicknames used for the Germans.

The projector captures the attention of several soldiers, as well as that of a young boy on the left of the picture. The latter is wearing a scout’s uniform. In fact, during the war, a large number of groups undergoing military preparation visited the Musée de l’Armée.

Carte postale montrant une mise en scène où des chasseurs alpins orientent leurs projecteurs en direction du ciel © Paris, musée de l’Armée

Night attacks

In 1915, the magazine La Science et la vie, Issue n°19, published an article on the projectors of which the following is a revealing extract:
«The development of techniques is a motivation for finding solutions to protect ourselves against night attacks. The approaches to a trench must be lit to prevent enemy pioneers from cutting the wires with wire cutters or from throwing grenades. At sea, torpedo boats must be detected. The old techniques: grenades, flaming torches, fires, rockets or flares are no longer enough. Electric light and projectors are therefore used. The principle is to use a very intense electric unit which projects a cone of white light onto a concave mirror of silvered glass […] To increase their range even more; we use bulbs with a substantial light intensity ranging from 3,000 candles for small projectors up to 50,000 candles for the large ones».

Carte postale éditée pendant la première guerre mondiale. Les puissants faisceaux des projecteurs permettent à l’artillerie d’ajuster leurs tirs sur les engins volants © Paris, musée de l’Armée

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