Battlefield History Tours

Battlefield History Tours
Incorporating History and Heritage tours

On Tour - Delville Wood Centenary 12 July 2016


Delville Wood Tour cap with the springbok badge as shown on the cover of John Buchan's History of the South African Brigade

This morning we headed off in two taxis to the 'Hotel des Invalides - Musee de l'Armee'.

On the way into Paris, there were obvious signs of the preparation for the Parade and celebrations on 14 July. There was a red forty foot container full of communications and broadcast equipment concealed under camouflage netting.

There is heightened security obvious all over Paris. In the back of the hotel next to our hotel, there is a car park full of police vehicles. There are 4 large trucks, up to 12 paddy wagons, a few unmarked sedans and a bus with the blue light on the top. One of the large trucks always has a driver in the driver's seat and usually has an offsider to the driver in the seat next to the driver, sometimes with the door open. Ambulance drivers and firemen do not sit in their vehicles awaiting a '000' phone call.

Invalides Square looking towards the entrance

At the 'Invalides', you now have to go through a bag check before entering. There are armed soldiers at the entrance and around the site. They are wearing webbings and berets, but, have combat helmets ready secured to their webbing.

Additional bag checks are performed on entering some galleries.

The entry tickets are now bar coded and are scanned on entering most of the galleries. This will show what exhibits are drawing the largest crowds.

The exhibitions have been almost completely revamped and moved around. The world wars galleries start with the 1870 war and loss to Germany. The First World War then flows on. There are a lot of small film clips being continuously played. Unfortunately, there are a number of errors in the Battle of the Somme section.

With the big parade coming, there were a number of parties of visiting officers from other countries being shown around the museum.

There is a new section on the exile of Napoleon to St Helena. With all the beautiful pictures, it tries to make a martyr of Napoleon, a prisoner of war, and is a travel advertisement for St Helena.

On a previous visit, Napoleon's horse which had been stuffed by French was in a special glass display case. Today it was seen through a glass door locked in a room with a vacuum cleaner.

In the section on French cavalry, there was listed that in the period up to 1815, the French Army had two Light Cavalry Lancer regiments on its establishment.

In the cathedral within Invalides, some of the seats for the congregation look very flash. They are much better than the benches in most churches.

Tomorrow, we head up to the Somme.


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