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- 09 -152014

Les Invalides during the Great War, seventeenth episode : passing through the Invalides

Carte postale Louis Vidal recto © Paris, musée de l’ArméeThis postcard is a montage which uses a touched up photograph: the background, where the main courtyard is recognisable with part of one of the planes displayed, was lightened to make the shell and the soldier stand out. At least seven different French postcards showing this shell in the courtyard were circulated during the First World War (see the panel entitled «Big Bertha»). The juxtaposition of the French soldier and the 420 mm shell emphasises the latter’s enormous size. The caption states: 17. Musée de l’Armée –1914-16 campaign, which proves that this model of card was produced before 1917.

Back of the card, written and sent by a certain Louis Vidal

«17 July 1916. Mr and Mrs Giraudier.
After having spent three days in Paris, here I am back again in the Somme. The festivities went very well but didn’t last long enough. We were reviewed by Joffre and Poincaré on the Champs-Elysées. There was a battalion from all branches of the French armed forces and as mine was mentioned in the order of the day, I was sent there as a preference. We paraded in all the main streets and were (…) cheered, we had all we needed, the Parisians are very generous. I visited a bit of everything. There was a battalion of Belgians and English, Italians and Serbs but those who got the best reception of all were the colonials from the Somme. You must have read in the newspaper that we did good work. Bit by bit we are rolling back the Jerries but with terrible losses. Sometimes these battles could lead to peace. They have
started to relieve Verdun. Think that my card will find everyone in good health. Best wishes to all not forgetting Abel and Marceau. Returning to the battlefield this evening. Louis Vidal»

Carte postale Louis Vidal verso © Paris, musée de l’Armée

The little story

Louis Vidal came from the French region of Ardèche. In the middle of the Battle of the Somme, his unit distinguished itself by its bravery and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. As a reward, he and his battalion comrades were sent to Paris for the parade on 14 July 1917. Making the most of a few hours of freedom, Louis visited Paris and particularly the Hôtel des Invalides where he bought this postcard on which is both the stamp of the Société des Amis du Musée de l’Armée (Association of Friends of the Army Museum) and that of the Société de Secours aux Blessés Militaires (Association for Assistance for the War Wounded). Louis sent this postcard to his former primary teacher, Élise Giraudier, living in Ardèche in the hamlet of Oubreyts. He mentioned Abel and Marceau, both prisoners in Germany. Marceau was Élise’s son. The note, «Card from Louis Vidal (brother of Léa) afterwards killed in the war», on the front of the card, was added much later by Élise’s nephew, René Giraudier, himself a primary teacher in Ardèche.

In 2003, this postcard was donated to the Musée de l’Armée by a descendant of the Giraudier family. It is displayed in the part of the museum dedicated to the First World War

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