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1 1845


World War I French forces in Egypt-Palestine / military maritime mail: 19-11-1916 dated stampless picture postcard of the Golden Gate (Old City Jerusalem), published by the Cairo Postcard Trust, bearing short 'good wishes' message in French, from PORT SAID (Egypt) to LYON (France); mailed unfranked as military mail & tied by CORR D'ARMEES | PORT-SAID double-ring date-stamp + near full strike of naval MARINE FRANCAISE | SERVICE A LA MER anchor control handstamp in black; faint arrival mark on front RHONE(?). Top-left corner creased. Post-dating the Gallipoli campaign (ended 9 Jan 1916), in which French forces served, this is an intriguing French origin: the French Armenian Legion (as part of the French Foreign Legion) was the only French force that served in the Middle Eastern theater of operations. The unit was established 4 days before this postcard was sent, on 15 Nov. 1916, and was known as "La Légion d'Orient" (The Eastern Legion), later being named "La Légion Arménienne" (The Armenian Legion). The force was established to help the Armenians realize their ambition of national statehood by being the core of a future Armenian Army, and the legion was to fight only Turks and only in Cilicia. It initially numbered 800 soldiers (rising to 4000 and later 10,000) under French officers, volunteers from France, America & Egypt, and after its initial training in Cyprus it was deployed in Palestine under British General Edmund Allenby, to help the French and British forces fighting against the Ottoman and German armies. The unit subsequently fought in Syria and Cilicia (from late 1918 onward). Rare postal history.