La guerre vécue depuis le Ternois

2 résults

In the early months of the conflict, the system of common graves was adopted. On the French side, these mass graves could contain up to one hundred bodies, whereas on the British side, they generally only contained six. As for the German, the individual grave was immediately adopted. The practice of common graves was quickly contested by the French soldiers themselves who would bury their comrades in individual graves. The law of December 1915 introduced the individual and permanent grave as a rule. Its upkeep was entrusted to the State. At the end of the war, the allied countries took care of the gathering of the scattered graves, the search for bodies on the battle fields, the development of military cemeteries and in some cases, the return of the soldiers’ bodies to their families. According to the principles ratified after 1870, France took charge the Germans’ graves buried on its territory. Each country organized its cemeteries according to its own architectural and landscaped concepts and tn St Pol centre012established commemorative monuments suitable for remembrance ceremonies. Military plots were also set up in communal cemeteries. Opposite: the picture of the French military plot in the communal cemetery of Boubers-sur-Canche. St Pol military cemetery (on the left) is a French necropolis but the great majority of the cemeteries on this territory are British military cemeteries. The Department of defense and veterans is in charge of the upkeep of French military necropolis and also ensure, according to international conventions, the continued existence of the foreign military graves in France. As for the British, The Commonwealth War Graves Commission looks after war graves in 153 countries worldwide. These range from isolated graves to large military cemeteries. The bulk of their commitment is the cemeteries in France and Belgium (their offices and technical team is located in Beaurains). Many Commonwealth war cemeteries contain graves of other nationalities, these graves are included in their maintenance regime and the CWGC have arrangements in place with their sister war grave organisations in Germany, The Netherlands, France etc. This may involve them acting as their agent – on a repayment basis – or they have reciprocal arrangements in place for the care of the British graves. It is the case for the German graves in Ligny-st-Flochel and Wavans British Cemeteries. More information about the inhumation during the Great War : http://www.remembrancetrails-northernfrance.com/

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In the pre-war years, several local newspaper were published in the Ternois, among them were: L’Abeille de la Ternoise and Le Petit Saint-Polois. If their content was mostly about the daily life of the geographical zone they cover, their front page was a summary of the international press, keeping then their readers in touch with the national and international news. From 1912, we notice a tensed political atmosphere with several wars and conflicts in parallel: a tensed situation in Morocco, the Italian-Turk conflict and the Balkans war. We can find for this period several articles in Le Petit Saint-Polois that show the tension between Germany and France: suspicion of spying, observation of troops movements that are getting too close to the borders, complaints about German products that invade France, report of Poincaré’s speech, saying that he keeps « les yeux jalousement fixés sur notre Lorraine », (staring at our Lorraine), alliances between France and Russia and France and England that “inquiète l’Allemagne” (that worries Germany) are also commented. All the elements were already combined in 1913 for the conflict to break out and some of these articles clearly show it. On the 9th of October 1914, Le Petit Saint-Polois announces the break of war and the events around it in a very patriotic tone. « Que chaque français fasse son devoir et la victoire sourira encore une fois à nos drapeaux ! » (Let every single French man do its duty and the victory will smile once again upon our flags!) here is an extract from the first article “Pour la Patrie !” (In the name of homeland!) signed by the editorial staff that immediately shows the general tone of this newspaper. Convinced by the legitimacy of this war and their impending victory they write: « La mobilisation s’effectue à St Pol et les environs dans les meilleurs conditions. Les réservistes partant joyeux et contents, heureux de remplir leur devoir de citoyen et de soutenir une cause juste. Sept à huit mille hommes se sont embarqués en chantant la Marseillaise et le Chant du départ » (The mobilisation in St Pol and its surroundings is carried out in the best conditions. The reservists are leaving happy and cheerful, glad to fulfil their duty as a citizen and to support a fair cause. Seven to eight thousand men have boarded singing la Marseillaise and the Departure song). As for the German, they are depicted in a very negative way with titles such as “La cruauté des allemands” (German’s cruelty) or “politesse allemande” (German politeness) (in this case the title is ironical since this article is a criticism of the way the French ambassador in Germany was treated). The article that runs as a headline “pas de poudre pour les moineaux” (no powder for the sparrow) and explains that hunting season will not open “jusqu’à nouvel ordre” (until further notice) seems ironical here, it reminds quite brutally that for several years, daily life will be rather different.

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