Spahi is a word which comes from the persian سپاه (sepah, which means Army) (the English sepoy has the same origin). In the Ottoman army, it was the name given to cavalry units. Logically, the very same name was given to light cavalry regiments of the French army recruited primarily from the indigenous populations of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.
Spahis were sent to France at the outbreak of war in August 1914. They saw service during the opening period of mobile warfare but inevitably their role diminished with the advent of trench warfare. By 1918 there were seven Spahi regiments then in existence, all having seen service on the Western Front, in addition a detached squadron had served in Palestine against the Ottoman Empire. As an illustration, I’ve chosen a wonderful color drawing of a wounded Moroccan Spahi in Charleroi in 1914.