Last modified: 2013-11-25 by ivan sache
Keywords: red cross | croix-rouge francaise | cross (red) | ambulance | first world war | second world war | emergency squad | paris |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors
Ambulance flag - Image by Ivan Sache, 20 August 2000
The Army Museum in Paris shows a red cross flag used by French
ambulances during the First World War (about 8,000,000 victims).
Apart from the historical context, the flag is interesting because the red cross does not have its usual proportions.
The real flag preserved in the Museum is made of 12 red equal squares stitched over a white background, as four rows of 2:4:4:2 squares, so the cross is thicker than an usual Swiss cross, made of three rows of 1:3:1 squares.
Ivan Sache, 20 August 2000
In 1943, the Allies air forces increased their raids over Paris and its surroundings, aiming at disrupting communication and transport. The raids took a heavy toll among civilians, especially during the attacks of metro and railway stations. On 6 August 1943, Marcel Morel- Brochet (1899-1992), the Director of the Red Cross dispensary located rue Albouy in the 10th Arrondissement of Paris, founded the Équipes d'Urgence du Xe Arrondissement (10th Arrondissement Emergency Squads). Composed of volunteers, the squads assisted the wounded after the raids over Pantin, Noisy-le-Sec, and the Chapelle Station at Saint- Ouen, 20-21 April 1944, during which 600 civilians were killed.
During the fightings for the liberation of Paris, 19-24 August 1944, some 50 members of the Emergency Squads assisted the wounded in the streets and on the roofs; three among the younger stretcher-bearers of the Squad, Pierre Chatenet, Jean Cazard and Lucien Gohier, were killed on 19 August.
On 23 August 1944, Morel-Brochet was commissioned to establish contact between the Allies and German commands, preparing the reddition and perserving lives.
Soon after the liberation of Paris, the Emergency Squads moved to Normandy where they set up and operated a dispensary near the destroyed village of Tilly-sur-Seulles. Some members of the Squad joined the Eastern Front and fought in Lorraine.
Officially disbanded on 20 September 1945, the Emergency Squads were maintained as the Association de l'Amicale des Anciens Équipiers d'Urgence et Secouristes, a friendly association presided by Marcel Morel-Brochet, that kept supporting the Tilly dispensary and funded other social actions.
On 11 December 2004, Marcel Morel (Jr.) offerred the flag of the
Emergency Teams to the Marcel Morel-Brochet Museum, inaugurated that
day in the Red Cross Local Delegation of the 3rd and 10th
Arrondissements of Paris.
The flag is square, white with a golden fringe, charged in the middle with a small red cross flanked by the golden writings, in an arched pattern, "CROIX ROUGE FRANÇAISE" (top) and "ÉQUIPES D'URGENCE DU Xe ARRT".
The flag bears the following decorations:
- Silver-gilt medal of the Red Cross;
- Cross of Honour of the Stretcher-Bearers of the Liberation;
- Medal of Honour of the Groups of Resistants, Fighters and Health Workers of the Liberation;
- Cross of Commander of Teaching and Social Education.
The photo gallery of the Emergency Squads shows a black and white photo of the Squad presenting the flag.
Ivan Sache, 4 October 2009