Colonel Balagny, commandant of the 65th regiment of infantry (1914) and infantry of the 19th division (1917-18)
The clear eyes under the orb of a large forehead, the prominent nose and the twirl of the moustache: all catch the attention in this masterly portrait of a senior officer. He is from Béarn, of that old race from the hill slopes that have seen the birth of so many great military figures and poets. By chance, the war has put him in command of Bretons, and these northern guys have marched cheerfully under fire behind their colonel from the south. A leader of men, of course, but not in the way our enemies do it. No trace of haughtiness or stiffness, but a firm will, the hard gaze tempered by unexpected witty bonhomie. Whether charging at the head of his regiment in the sunny days of 1914, bugles sounding, flags flying, red trousers in the wheatfields---or whether in the bloody monotony of the war in the trenches, he was taking care of the security of the brigade, or presiding over the underground life of his troops; always, above all, one can be sure he has been followed, obeyed, loved, as a chief must be. This is how the great majority of French officers are so marvellously influential on their men, it is reciprocated confidence, understanding, suffering and pain, this communal life especially, is a confusion of officers and men, anonymised by the same uniform, they are rendered identical in the trench, from the colonel commanding the Infantry Division to the look-out attending to his crenel, and united in the same glory.