La Chéchia is the trench journal published by the First Zouave Regiment of the French army during World War I. Trench journals were produced by and for soldiers and were known for their black humor, portrayal of life on the front lines, poems, drawings, and other features. The Zouaves were an elite military unit first formed in Algeria in 1830, and the journal took its name from the distinct cylindrical cap of Arab origin worn by its soldiers. A total of 73 issues of La Chéchia appeared between May 1915 and October 1918, during which time the First Zouaves saw fierce combat in many of the battles on the Western Front in Belgium and France. Each issue was illustrated, and ran to four pages. The journal was produced on a cyclostyle, an early device for duplicating handwriting. The print run varied from between 800 and 1,000 copies. The First Zouaves were also known for their theatrical performances at the front, the scripts for which were mostly published in La Chéchia. Presented here are 71 issues of the journal, beginning with issue 2 of June 1, 1915, which are preserved in the National Library of France. Included in the collection is a handwritten note from Lieutenant Colonel Rolland, commander of the regiment, dated April 12, 1916, conveying a package with issues of the journal to an unidentified correspondent. In his note, Rolland writes: “I am also sending you a copy of the revue Au clair de la lune [By the light of the moon], which my soldiers wrote and which was played whenever we came out of the trenches. Later, I will send you the more or less literary productions that we might still have.” Included in the collection is a menu dated October 18, 1915, for a dinner given for the authors and actors of the revue Au clair de la lune.
Editor: Cabanne, Henri | Fiori, Henri, 1881-1963 | Graffin, Marcel
Illustrator: Frippier, Raoul
Project Director: Clozier, René, born 1888
Place: Europe; Belgium; Europe; France
Institution: National Library of France
Physical description: 4 pages ; 28 centimeters