The Marne Taxi

Taxis, war heroes

Ordre de mobilisation générale (1914) by War minister and Navy ministerMusée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

Since war broke out in August 1914, the military situation went the way of the German armed forces.

After a series of victories in Belgium, the German troops advanced towards France and threatened Paris.

Joseph Joffre (1852–1931), General (March 1915) by Henry Jacquier (Painter)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

On September 6, when the Germans were just 25 miles (40 km) from the capital, General Joffre launched a counterattack, which would prove decisive for the rest of World War I. He decided to halt the retreat of the French and British armies and to take the battle to the east between Marne and Ourcq.

Épisode de la bataille de la Marne, 1914 (1915) by Eugène Chaperon (Painter)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

The Battle of the Marne took place along a front measuring more than 125 miles (200 km), and was divided into five battles: the Battle of the Ourcq, the Battle of the Two Morins, the Battle of the Marshes of Saint Gond, the Battle of Vitry, and the Battle of Revigny.

Joseph Simon Gallieni (1849-1916), général de division (Ca. 1915 - 1916) by Henri Manuel (Photographer)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

To get reinforcements to the frontline, the Military Governor of Paris, General Gallieni

Général Jean-Baptiste Clergerie (Ca. 1930) by Calderé (artist)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

and Chief of Staff General Clergerie had an idea: use Parisian taxis.   

Leaving from Les Invalides, around 630 taxis were requisitioned, which transported more than 3,000 soldiers to the frontline, over 60 miles from Paris.  

Taxi Renault G7 dit 'taxi de la Marne', 1914 Vue généraleMusée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

This Renault taxi, known as the G7 due to its registration number, could only hold four to five soldiers. 

Started with a crank, its average speed was 25 miles per hour (40 km/h). And for the car aficionados among you, 8HP.

Taxi Renault G7 dit 'taxi de la Marne', 1914 DétailMusée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

Inside, the taximeter, where the client can see the price of their journey: a reminder of the civil nature of the vehicle.

In addition, as a little anecdote, after the Battle of the Marne incident, the French army had to pay 70,012 francs for the journeys. To give you an idea, taking into account inflation and the value of the franc at the time, 70,012 would be over 23 million US dollars today! 
And, yes, even victory has a price!

Taxi Renault G7 dit 'taxi de la Marne', 1914 DétailMusée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

The latest remodelling of this taxi, in 2005, saw its original appearance and colors restored. These colors, red and green, confirm that it was produced between 1905 and 1914, since subsequent taxis were green.

Paris. Hôtel des Invalides. Musée de l'Armée. Un des taxis de la Marne. 2862. G7. (December 1922) by Boisson (Photographer) and Société des Amis du Musée de l'Armée (Editor)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

In reality, the number of soldiers transported by these taxis was modest considering the scale of the battle in progress and most of the troops reached the frontline by train. To this day, the Marne taxis symbolize the determination of the French to stop the German advance.    

Between September 6 and September 12, 1914, the two sides fought with extreme violence, ultimately resulting in a victory for the French and British troops.
This battle was decisive for the rest of World War I. It ended the German advance and saved Paris, but it was also the first victory after the failure of the Franco-British army. What a way to boost the morale of the troops!

Credits: Story

A story written and edited by the teams of the Army Museum.
© Musée de l’Armée

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps