A very good and rare example of pre World War One Jacket and Breeches worn by a white French Lieutenant in the elite “Spahis” North African Light Cavalry.
Constructed in a Khaki ribbed cotton, the Jacket is in the correct World War One field use configuration with a 9 button front closure, the buttons plain as worn by the Spahis, 2 slash breast pockets no lower pockets and an opening for a Sabre hanger. The collar is of the stand variety, closed by three hooks and eyes and with the studs for the collar liner still in place.
Rank insignia is worn just above the sleeve cuff on the red backing of the Spahis, the length of the stripes dating it to late 1914 – early 1915 when the stripes were shortened.
The Breeches have a 6 button closure fly and buttons for braces. At the back is a waist adjustment strap with claw buckle. Each leg terminates with a cotton band allowing them to be tucked into boots, the leg closed by 8 buttons.
Overall condition of both Jacket and Breeches is very good with no damage and with all buttons in place.
The French term “Spahi” is derived from an Ottoman Turkish word of Persian origin: “sipahi,” meaning “horseman.” Spahis were light-cavalry regiments of the French army recruited from Arab and Amazigh populations living within French North African colonies, including Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. They were known for their expert horsemanship and distinctive uniforms.
These regiments began supporting the French military during the mid-19th century when France expanded its colonization of North Africa. The French army increased the number of Spahi units in WWI, at first to serve on the Western front as scouts, shock troops and escorts. However, the Spahis’ agile offensive tactics were rendered ineffective with the grim reality of trench warfare. Consequently, the French army moved Spahi regiments to fronts in the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans.
All seven units of Spahis fought in the war. The French army awarded several regiments – including the 1st Moroccan Spahi Regiment – citations for exemplary service.
A rare uniform set to an elite WW1 Cavalry force which saw extensive service during the war.
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