Saturday, 16 February 2013

Great War Centenary news from France 3: a web portal

A new French government portal, collecting together all the Centenary events in France, has just been put on the web, with the object of publicising national and local initiatives, and to share information and experiences for potential organisers of events.

One section allows departmental archives to display some of their Great War treasures. 'Send me some 'Flea-Killer' soap,' pleads one soldier from the Lot-et-Garonne, 'I'm being eaten alive.'

The Nord archives contributes the last letter of four men - Sylvère Verhulst, Georges Maertens, Ernest Deconninck and Eugène Jacquet - belonging to the Jacquet intelligence network before they were shot at Lille on 22 September 1915: 'we die proudly as good Frenchmen, as a brave Belgian - on our feet, no blindfold, hands unbound. ... Vive la République! Vive la France!'

Photo: the memorial in Lille to those shot by the Germans, on the Square Daubenton, from an old postcard. The statue was unveiled in 1929; it was demolished by the Germans in 1940, then rebuilt in 1960. The fifth figure, on the ground, represents Léon Trulin, who was eighteen years old when he was shot on 8 November 1915.

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