French Ship Camouflage in WWI

French cargo ship Amiral Latouche-Treville – starboard side
French cargo ship Amiral Latouche-Treville – port side
French cargo ship Amiral Nielly – starboard side side
French cargo ship Amiral Nielly – port side

French WWI ship Camouflage

As in the case of the Italians, I also found French designs while researching material for my book about US ship camouflage in WWI, The Easter Egg Fleet.  The French created a design bureau for French ships. The Belgians relied on the British. There were even some designs created for other countries; US designs were used on Brazilian vessels, Admiralty designs on at least one Norwegian ship, and a few Japanese ships also received dazzle designs.

The French located their design center at Rochefort and placed it under the direction of a well-known marine painter, Pierre Gatier. He had been awarded the official title of a maritime painter in 1907. He was made an officer in the French Navy and even visited London to learn about British ship camouflage. French merchant ship camouflage was under the direction of the AMBC (L’armament militaire de batiment du commerce). But Naval vessels belonged to the Ministry of Marine. The Rochefort office may have provided designs for both.

Gatier’s son, Felix, later wrote a book about his father, Le camouflage dans la marine à travers les souvenirs de Pierre Gatier (1878-1944) peintre de la marine.

Here is a picture of him with his team.

french camouflage section at Rochefort DPM

Here is a drawing of his own testing theater as he described it in his diary.

French testing theater from Gatier diary

Here are two examples of patterns created at Rochefort,.


This picture was painted by him,

Gaitier painting

This is the French merchantman SS Ardgay. The photos are followed by pattern drawings



Finally, here are a few more photographs of camouflaged French ships.

A small patrol boat


The passenger liner La Lorraine.

FR SS La Lorraine s 010_001