The post-war structure of the French army and the organisation of
regiments within it evolved over time. The 1959 plan based on large
multi-brigade tactical units was not fully achieved until 1964 and
resulted in the 1st, 3rd, 7th and 8th divisions together with the
specialised 11th parachute and 27th alpine divisions.
8th Division (HQ at Compiègne)
brigade mécanisée - Saint Germain
||10e brigade mécanisée - Reims
||14e brigade mécanisée - Laon
||Eléments organiques divisionnaires
overall structure was revised again in 1967 to create two army corps,
one of which included a newly created 4th Division. The principal
of large multi-brigade divisions was still retained though, and would
remain in place until the next major review of 1977. The 10th Mechanised
Brigade was moved from the 8th to became part of the newly created 4th Division and was replaced
in the 8th Division by the 4th Mechanised Brigade (diagram below). Some
regiments within the 8th Division brigades also changed as a result of
the 1960s and 70s brigades and regiments frequently used their own symbols and
emblems on vehicles which were painted under
the windshield, and / or on the bumpers, and sometimes on the sides of jeeps.
Symbols on the side of the jeep often indicated the Company and Squadron. The
symbol for the brigades of the 8th Division was the 'lion des Flandres' in black on
a coloured background as follows:
8eme division mécanisée
- can you help?
4e RD: Olivet
1e RAMa: Melun
402e BCS: St Germain
7e RCh: Arras
51e RI: Amiens
3e RAMa : Vernon
6e RC: Laon
16e RD: Noyon
21e RIMa: Sissonne
41e RAMa: La Fére
71e RG: Rouen
58e RT: Compiégne
88e RS: Sissonne
3e RA: Caen
58e RA: Douai
These iconic symbols started to disappear from 8th Division vehicles
with the introduction of the NATO /
OTAN tactical marking which would become the universal army
standard. Exactly when the change began is unclear but the new system of
marking started appearing on 8th Division jeeps as they came up for
repainting during the latter part of the 1970s.
extract from a photo (right) shows a 16e RD (14e Brigade) jeep
at Noyon in 1972 - note the panel painted to the right of
the lion on which convoy details
would have been chalked. In the clip below the work is only half
finished, the sign writer has yet to add the lion and borders on
the convoy panel. In those days vinyl stickers were not
available, emblems were painted by hand!
The final extract (right) is of
a 67e RI jeep taken in 1978 shows that by this time the NATO /
OTAN tactical markings were being applied to jeeps as and when
they were repainted. To the left of the infantry cross the
numbers 4 above 67 signifying 4th company of the 67th infantry regiment.
dramatic restructuring of the French army announced in 1977 resulted in
the multi-brigade divisions of
the 60s and 70s being replaced by smaller divisions of about four to
five battalions or regiments each. By 1980 the 8th had lost its armoured
status to become an Infantry Division consisting of just seven regiments and two
Genie companies and the HQ relocated to Amiens. The 8th Division
from the 1960s had finally become completely redundant and disappeared
from any vehicles that they had remained on.
By now the major jeep
programme carried out by ERGM at La Maltournee had ended in 1978 and
the army started trials of the jeep's replacement, the Peugeot P4, in
the same year. An an order for the first P4s was placed in 1982 and with
the army shrinking in size increasing numbers of jeeps were sold off at
auctions organised by Domaines.
The late 70s and early 80s offered a final opportunity to acquire
jeeps with the traditional markings on them; where jeeps remained in
service the earlier markings would become covered by
subsequent layers of paint.
the period up to the 1977 reorganisation reconnaissance for the
brigades was provided by jeep based infantry units as CEB (Compagnies
d'éclairage de Brigade) including 106
SR and RASURA. The
following 8th Division / 14th Brigade markings were uncovered during the restoration of my
106 SR. Research
of the regiments suggests that it was the 21e RIMa who had 106 SR jeeps based at Laon as part
of the 2eme section d'éclairage de
lion (below the windshield) and marking on the side of the jeep above the wheel arch
are shown below.
the lion and the 'R' markings had been painted on the original factory
finish and again after a first repaint indicating that the jeep was
probably first issued to the brigade in 1971 and probably remained with
them until the late 1970s. The 'R' had been partially lost when the army
rubbed down the paintwork for later coats of paint and was particularly
difficult to uncover and decipher. The 'R' would I think have signified 'reconnaisance'. The jeep was rebuilt in 1971 so
the markings would certainly relate to the period between 1971 and 1980 when the
21e RIMa left the 8e Division to become part of the Rapid Deployment Forces
as part of 1977 reorganisation.
example of a 14th Mechanised Brigade marking on the side of a jeep can be
seen below. The jeep has the same 'lion des Flandres' on yellow background
on the panel below the windshield but a different marking on the side.
photo: Pat Ware
I strongly suspect that the zero on
its side represents mechanized but can anyone help with this type of 8th Division
And now a final (for now) lion des
Flandres puzzle. The Lion in the photo below was uncovered on the panel
below the windshield during the restoration of another jeep. Ignore the blue
paint that was used to cover it over with another insignia.
The lion appears to have been painted
onto the standard army green, i.e. there was no background colour. Does this
have a special significance or was it just a lazy way of painting the 4th
Brigade insignia which would normally have had a green background? Again can
anyone help with this?