The scholastic battalion
Following the defeat of 1870 and the loss of the Alsace and Lorraine territories, school physical education became militarized. During 1882, in Ecouen, was created the first school battalion of the area. Pierre Edouard Frère did a painting of it, used to illustrate the civic education handbook of Paul Bert.
In 1885, during a festivity, the “Peintres d’Ecouen” colony suggested to replay the winning battle of Son Tay. Some schoolboys of the village were playing as Chinese defenders of the fort when the ones of Villiers-le-Bel and Gonesse were playing the French attackers.
The spirit of the attack was such that a scrum took place between the actors. The schoolmaster, Mr. Brunet, had to intervene to prevent any accident.
You’ll see, in the next Gonesse January exhibition, one wooden riffle used by the schoolchildren during their training.