An All-American Parade for French General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny
I apologize up front for the condition of this photo, but the content was too interesting not to share. The picture was taken in August of 1944 during a “welcome home” parade given to honor French General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. The parade is being led by members of the French 1st Armored Division astride both Harley-Davidson and Indian motorcycles. At the front of the parade are a pair of the ubiquitous Harley-Davdison WLAs, which were imported to Europe by the 1,000’s during WWII. There is also a second pair of WLAs flanking the General’s car, sporting windshields and leg shields. The astute observer will note two Indian Model 340s cruising just to the left of the bystanders. The Indians were made in dramatically fewer numbers than the Harleys, so it is a surprise to see them pictured here.
This photo is a great example of how much our European allies depended on American made motorcycles during WWII. The respect for these machines is apparent as they were chosen to lead a parade for one of France’s most decorated commanders. General de Tassigny served in both WWI and WWII, survived being wounded 6 times and after his death in 1952 was posthumously promoted to Marshall of France (one of France’s highest military honors). He also was the only French general to command U.S. troops during WWII. He was once described as “the Gallic version of General Douglas McArthur.”