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Showing posts from November, 2014

Another new source on the French Army of the Great War

With the recent centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, new initiatives are coming thick and fast. On 6 November, a new database was added to the Mémoire des Hommes site, joining the existing databases of deaths, unit war diaries and of French aviation personnel. The new database contains the digitised files of those were executed during the war.
During the Great War, 1008 people, military and civilian, French and non-French, were executed for military offences, for espionage or under other existing criminal laws. Of these were 55 were summarily executed; 825 have their files included in the database; the files of 101 men are now missing, but their fate can be found in other sources, such as war diaries and the Morts pour la France cards; a further 27 were killed without trial for disobeying orders. Searching can be done by name, date and place of birth and of death, unit or place of recruitment.
So, what do you get? A number of individual files are missing, so the contents of ea…

The Grand Mémorial - a new database of the French Army

I take a pause in my Delvert-ing activities to post news of a new database on the French Army of the Great War, launched on 11 November.
The Grand Mémorial is a gateway to two sets of digitized documents. The first is the record cards of those who were killed in action - morts pour la France (MPLF). These are already approachable by name, but recently, an indexing project has been undertaken to include the other fields on each card - unit, place of birth and enlistment, place and cause of death (I originally wrote about it here).
The second set consists of the digitized registres matricules, held in each departmental archives across France. These registers list every man who was called up, by the year of his enlistment, with details of his family, occupation, educational level and military career. Many of these are already digitized, but are available only through the website of the archive. What the Grand Mémorial site does is to combine the index of each departmental archive, to wh…

Charles Delvert - his writing

Delvert's first book, Quelque héros (Paris: Berger-Levrault), was published in November 1917. It is simply a collection of factual accounts of gallantry at the front. Occasionally the author's experiences emerge, but all material that will appear in his later books. Perhaps it was Delvert simply dipping his toe in the water of publishing. Nonetheless, it went through at least six editions within a year.
Delvert had always kept a diary, and it is these notebooks that form the basis for his most important works. The first was Histoire d'une compagnie: Main de Massiges - Verdun: novembre 1915-juin 1916: journal de marche (Paris: Berger-Levrault), published in July 1918.
In December 1920, Delvert used his diaries from his time on the staff of 5th Army to write L'erreur du 16 avril 1917 (Paris: L. Fournier). It was this army that took one of the major parts in the disastrous Chemin des Dames offensive. On the opening day, Delvert was able to observe the progress of the att…

Charles who?

So who was this Charles Delvert?

Charles Laurent Delvert was born in the Third Arrondissement of Paris on 27 April 1879, the son of Antoine Delvert, a shoemaker, and his wife Anna Servant, a furniture finisher. A talented student, he attended the Lycée Charlemagne before going to the Ecole Normale Supérieure, from where he graduated in history.

In common with all young men of his age, he saw service in the Army. He actually volunteered in advance of his call-up, and on 10 November 1899, was posted to the 46th Infantry. He was promoted to corporal on 28 May 1900. After his period of service, he spent periods of reserve training with the 96th (Béziers) in 1910, and the 301st Infantry (Dreux) in 1912 (moving around the country in 1908-9, he was also briefly borne on the books of two other infantry regiments, the 100th (Narbonne) and the 17th (Lyon)). He was commissioned as a sous-lieutenant on 16 December 1908.

After graduation, he became a school teacher. Recalled to the colours, he wa…