Posted 4 years ago
These are two cabinet cards depicting a Chasseur Alpins (literally “Alpine Hunter”) or Alpine Ranger, élite mountain infantry of the French Army. I believe both are pre-WWI, although my references on French uniforms are somewhat lacking. The first fellow is from the 30th Battalion, whereas the man in the family photo is from the 70th. I believe it’s the same man a few years later. He looks the same except the moustache has become shaggier.
The Chasseurs Alpins were created in the 19th Century to counter any attack across the Alps, and had special training in fighting and survival in mountainous terrain. I’ll be showing some photos of their training in later posts.
They are also credited as the originators of the military beret. Supposedly the British adopted their version of the beret in the 1920s after seeing it worn on members of the 70th Battalion. Of course from there the practice spread to Canada, and we Americans copied our Beret from the Canadian Light Infantry for our own Special Forces (which trace their linage to the Canadian-American 1st Special Service Force). Of course the French Alpine version is larger and very distinctive (even more distinctive in my later posts.