Taxi offensive

Here’s an example of thinking outside the box that yielded great results. It goes back many decades to the First World War when France found itself in an untenable military position as it faced the onslaught of the German forces.

The Germans quickly approached the last natural obstacle blocking the way to Paris.  This was the Marne River.  The overcrowded French rail system prevented any movement of reinforcements to the site by this means.

Confronted with a seeming insoluble problem of providing direly needed reinforcements, the French military governor of Paris decided to commandeer all the taxi cabs of Paris.  On September 7, 1914, over 600 Renault cabs, capable of holding 5 to 7 soldiers each, formed a motorcade that brought 7,000 troops to the front, some cabs making two trips, and thus dented the German offensive.

This move by General Gallieni was audacious and historically significant: it marked the beginning of motorized troop movements.

Ray Betts