Yellow Expedition

The Yellow Expedition (French: Croisière Jaune) was a French trans-Asian expedition in 1931/1932. It was organized by Citroën in order to promote their P17 Kégresse track vehicles. The expedition started in Beirut, the capital of French Lebanon. Georges-Marie Haardt and Louis Audouin-Dubreuil led the cruise. Haardt had already crossed the Sahara and the whole African continent in two ambitious expeditions.[1]

Originally planned routes of the expedition
Kégresse track vehicles of the expedition
Discussing the planned expedition in December 1930: John Oliver La Gorce (Vice-President of the National Geographic Society), Georges-Marie Haardt (organizer and participant in the expedition), Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor (President of the National Geographic Society) and Maynard Owen Williams (American journalist and part-time participant in the expedition).

One group of the expedition travelled eastwards through the French Lebanon, French Syria, Kingdom of Iraq under British administration, Persia, Afghanistan, British India until the border of Xinjiang, then a de facto independent region of China under control of the warlord Jin Shuren. Another group travelled westwards across China from Beijing to Urumchi, where they were held hostage by Jin Shuren's troops for several weeks.[2]

The French archeologist Joseph Hackin, the Russian-French painter Alexandre Jacovleff (as an "Artistic Adviser"), the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the American photographer Maynard Owen Williams participated in the expedition.[3][4][5][6]

Early 1932, the expedition reached the East China Sea.[7] In British Hong Kong, Haardt died of pneumonia and the expedition was aborted.[8]

In 1934, a feature-length documentary of the expedition was released.[9] Claude Delvincourt composed the music for this film.[10]

In the early 1970s, a French-West German co-produced drama depicting the expedition was filmed. During shoots in Turkey, famous British actor Roger Delgado died. Nevertheless, filming continued. The series aired in France in 1974 and in West Germany in 1975.[11]


  • Ariane Audouin-Dubreuil: La Croisière jaune: Sur la route de la soie, Grenoble 2013. ISBN 2-7234-3955-0.
  • M.-P. Bossard: Quer durch Asien über die alte Seidenstraße, Stuttgart/Zürich 1967. ISBN 2-901795-39-0.
  • André Citroën/Fabien Sabates/Camille Cravan/Eric Baschet (eds.): Die Gelbe Expedition Beirut-Peking 1931–1932: Eine historische Foto-Reportage, Kehl am Rhein 1979. ISBN 3-88230-201-1.
  • Georges Le Fèvre: La croisière jaune : expédition Citroën Centre-Asie Haardt, Paris 1991. ISBN 2-901795-39-0.
  • Georges Le Fèvre: An Eastern Odyssey: The Third Expedition of Haardt and Audouin-Dubreuil, London, Gollancz, 1935. Translated by Major-General Ernest Swinton with a preface by André Citroën.


  1. ^ Dirk Sasse: Franzosen, Briten und Deutsche im Rifkrieg 1921–1926: Spekulanten und Sympathisanten, Deserteure und Hasardeure im Dienste Abdelkrims, Berlin 2014, p. 195. Available here.
  2. ^ Christoph Baumer: The History of Central Asia: The Age of Decline and Revival, London/New York (NY) 2018, p. 195. Available here.
  3. ^ Dale A. Johnson: Lost Churches on the Silk Road, Raleigh (NC) 2014, p. 229. Available here.
  4. ^ Ursula King: Spirit of Fire: The Life and Vision of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Maryknoll (NY) 2015, p. 207. Available here.
  5. ^ Peter Modler: Das Phänomen des "Ekels vor dem Leben" bei Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Freiburg im Breisgau 1989, p. 44. Available here.
  6. ^ Georges Le Fèvre: La Croisière jaune: Expédition Citroën Centre-Asie, Paris 2020, p. 332. Available here.
  7. ^ Alexandre Iacovleff: The Trans-Asia Expedition, in: Nicholas Shoumatoff/Nina Shoumatoff (eds.): Around the Roof of the World, Ann Arbor (MA) 2000, p. 26. Available here.
  8. ^ Francine Du Plessix Gray: Them: A Memoir of Parents, London 2006, p. 82. Available here.
  9. ^ Cherchi Usai Paolo/Gutowski Alexa: La croisière jaune: Le film dans ses grandes lignes, in: 1895 – Revue d'Histoire du Cinéma, Vol. 12 (1996), pp. 134–143. Available here.
  10. ^ Colin Crisp: French Cinema—A Critical Filmography: Volume 1, 1929–1939, Bloomington (IN) 2016, p. 98. Available here.
  11. ^ Alan Hayes/Richard McGinlay/Alys Hayes: Two Against the Underworld – The Collected Unauthorised Guide to the Avengers Series 1, Morrisville (NC) 2017, p. 147. Available here.