Finally a use for School Boy French

It is a frustrating fact that what is in my opinion the best guide to twentieth century militaria is in French. For those of you who have not come across it Armes Militaria is a monthly French magazine with articles and reconstructions of military equipment from around the world and across the twentieth century. Whilst there is French focus (naturally) every month there seems to be at least one article on the British Army (and Empire), the German Army and the USA. There are also regular articles on other minor players- the Brazilian Army in Italy in WW2, Vietnamese forces in the French Wars in Indochina and the Hungarian Cavalry on the Eastern Front.

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What makes the magazine special though are the detailed photos of actual artefacts, both laid out in kit displays and being worn by live models. This is the strength of this particular magazine, because even if your French is rudimentary (I stopped doing French after the 3rd form at school) you can admire the photographs. If something takes my eye and I want to find out more, I type the text into an online translator and get back at least the gist of what the article is on about.

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What is most frustrating though is that the magazine was actually published in English for a very short time back in the early nineties. These magazines now fetch a premium, with £10 an issue seeming to be the starting price for them. I can’t say why the magazine never took off over here, presumably translation costs put a stop to it, but even in French they are incredibly useful and well worth picking up for reference if you come across them. In the meantime, I am brushing up on my French…

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