This soldier first class of the 45th R.I poses for a traditional portrait, a souvenir military service. During this era, this regiment was divided between the garrisons of Laon, Hirson, Fort Montbérault, Fort Laniscourt and Sissonne.
The use of the prie-dieu is a frequent cliché during this period. It allows on the subject of be held straight during the photo taking. It also confers equally to the photos a solemnity which is at once religious, and that is not harmful: As with the army, the Church was always regarded as the one of the pillars of the French society before 1914... more
His uniform remained pretty much the same until the first battles of the Great War, the French hitherto having been very slow to change the color of the uniform due to politcal, social, and traditional reasons- ("Le pantalon rouge, c'est la France". Red trousers are France!' Eugene Etienne, French War Minister, 1913) War changes societies ideas.
La première guerre mondiale (1902 - 1932)
Dieu Le Roy
This photo is not listed as to whom this picture belonged. I wonder what happened to him.
Piou-piou is a nickname for soldiers of this period, which predates Poilu. Some think it is a corruption of pawn, an expendable piece in chess, or as a wayward chicken might fall into the hands of a foraging soldier. Piou is the French word for the sound a chicken makes. (English speaking(?) chickens say cluck cluck).
The translation is mine.