L’infanterie de Marine

This is one last group from the new Strelets French Foreign Legion figures I’ve been tackling, but I’ve decided to paint them as something a little different.

The “French Foreign Legion XXth Century” box includes figures engaged in action rather than the marching and mounted figures seen in my recent posts. Some of these figures wear the sun or pith helmet rather than the classic kepi and it is the figures wearing the pith helmets which I’ve been concentrating on.

Oh, darn it… forgotten to paint those bayonets!

In trawling the internet, I managed to find a single illustration of the French colonial marines wearing the double-breasted coat (known as the capote) together with the pith helmet. I have since struggled to re-find it again and so have no idea where it originated but given the anchor badge on the helmet it clearly was intended to be a marine. I suppose it is entirely possible that the French marines wore the famous capote, but marines in this uniform do not appear frequently on the internet.

So, looking so similar to my French Foreign Legion figures, I set about recreating that uniform with the blue trousers and anchor cap badge. I’ve added a little straggly grass to give a marshy, far-east impression, perfect for veterans of the Tonkin Campaign in the 1880s.

The capture of Sơn Tây, 16 December 1883
by an unknown illustrator. L’Illustration, Public Domain.

Interestingly, the marines, wearing light trousers, are clearly wearing the capote.
The Bắc Lệ ambush, 23 June 1884 which led to the Sino-French War. Troops from the French Marine battallion return fire.
By Jean-François-Alphonse Lecomte (1850-1919), Public Domain.

I was first inspired to create some French colonial marines after seeing 28mm khaki-wearing later versions of these troops on Atomic Floozy’s splended blog.

I thought the kneeling figures were quite effective:

Standing and firing figures:

And when the fighting becomes hand-to-hand, the other end of the rifle becomes useful…:

En guard! Yes, I know, I’ve forgotten to paint those bayonets…

All in all, I am quite pleased with my small force of French marines and I’ll be sticking with the infantry of France for my next paint too…

12 thoughts on “L’infanterie de Marine

  1. Nicely done there, Marvin! I didn’t see that one coming, but I should have, particularly since I have troops for the Sino-French War. Interestingly enough, after the uniforms of the first Legion contingents wore out in Tonkin, they were clothed in colonial troops uniform items. I’d never seen a picture of colonial troops in the capote, but that does appear to be what that
    picture shows (I haven’t got my books handy, but I think Troupes de Marine are in fact colonial troops as opposed to marines – the recent Osprey Men-At-Arms title covers these units)!
    Anyhow, these guys have come out really well! I’ll make a mental note in case I want to add more troops to my French forces! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, John. That’s interesting – and I’m sure you know far more than I do about it! 🙂 It was really a case for me of seeing that illustration and trying to reproduce it. More an artistic endeavour than anything. The anchor on the helmet suggests it’s a marine to me but is the picture factual? That picture of the Capture of Son Tay shows the capote on what are likely to be the marine battalion involved but we certainly can’t always trust these old newspaper images!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, the style of the colour image looks like it may come from one of the Funcken books and the figure is wearing the cloth chest pouch, which was widely worn by troops in Tonkin. Legionnaires started out in the Tonkin campaign wearing the capote, so all the elements are there and that would be good enough for me! As you allude to, the newspaper images were not frequently factual. I really like how these guys have come out! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Great figures mate and a really interesting subject ,I’ll look into it .Ha Ha forgot the bayonets eh ! don’t you just love it when you realize you have missed painting something .

    Liked by 2 people

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