In this episode of The Exposition, we look at how the French used a relatively new invention, the car, in World War I.
On Aug. 3, 1914, the Germany declared war on France. Just over two weeks later, 27,000 French soldiers would die in a single day of fighting.
France was already in danger of losing the war. And when German soldiers marched within sight of the Eiffel Tower, all hope seemed lost.
But the French had a plan to use a relatively new invention,
[00:00:30] the car, to deliver troops to the battle. And what better car than the thousands of Renault AG1 Landaulet taxis that already choked Parisian streets.
For many soldiers, this ride in a taxi would be the first time they were ever in a car. The event became part of the legend of The Miracle on the Marne - the moment the French pushed back against Germany.
The legend of this incident quickly outgrew the reality.
People envisioned selfless taxi drivers protecting home and hearth by bravely heading into the fight, when in reality only 5,000 troops were delivered to the front in this fashion.
The taxi drivers also left the meters running and sent the government the bill.
So much for patriotism.
[00:01:00] But the legend of the taxis gave the French people something to cheer for when things looked their bleakest.
And it was this moment that cemented the importance of the car in modern warfare forever.