THE WORLD OF MILITARY UNIFORMS
THE FRENCH ARMY OF AFRICA
The Algerian Tirailleurs (Tirailleurs Algerien)
The difficulties of French troops and native Algerian troops serving side by side caused numerous problems in the Zouaves. So in 1840 the Algerian Tirailleurs were formed of Native troops with mostly French officers. The original uniforms had green tunics and red trousers. This uniform was replaced with the more familiar sky-blue uniform in about 1846 or 1847. They served in the Crimea and again in the Franco-Prussian War and again in World War I where they were greatly feared by the Germans.
The Spahis were like the Algerian Tirailleurs formed almost completely of native troops with both French and native officers. They were formally organized in 1834 with two officers from the Chasseurs d’Afrique commanding. Made up of men not used to the organizational confines of European military life the Spahis always remained a rather “free spirited” yet at times highly effective cavalry force.
The uniform was entirely modelled on the clothing of the North African nomadic tribesmen. At first, French officers wore native costume but by the 1870s, officers wore more traditional French uniforms reserving the native dress for patrolling in the desert. The only change came in 1910 when the officers adopted a madder red tunic to replace the light blue one. For the native Spahis, their dress remained the same until the Great War. The only change for them was in the weaponry they carried.