14-18 Langres

at war

The American Cemeteries

As from 1917, the American army decided to set up their military academies and hospitals in Langres. With great foresight, the American military commandment wished to group together the bodies of its soldiers in specific cemeteries in order to help the families of the fallen in their remembrance when they came to France once war was over. If some towns and villages included a plot for the American military in their cemeteries, the American army preferred to obtain the land from the communes and sometimes from private individuals.

In Langres on 14th November 1917, the town council voted in favour of ceding to the French State some land belonging to Langre's Hospice Administrative Commission. The plot measuring six hundred square metres, « situated in the « Aux Carmes » zone », is neighbouring to the Collinière cemetery. The sale was made « for a price of eight thousand Francs per hectare, - land which should serve to establish a cemetery given over to the American army. » The plot which the American cemetery occupied is still visible today on the land register.

Less than a year later, on 7th October 1918, a new motion was voted for « the establishing of an American cemetery in the Franchises ». On the request of General Ragueneau, chief of the French mission to the American army, the under-prefect demanded of the town council « the creation of an American cemetery in the Franchises suburb, in Langres territory, close to the hospital under construction, the one already established near the communal cemetery being insufficient. »

The architect-surveyor of the town was thus asked to draw up a plan of the site, then a « Representative of the American Authorities being transported to the place, voted, as being the most suitable, the location situated to the left of the road n° 19 bis (...) » It is very likely that the representative of the American army mentioned was a member of the Burial Department. The municipal council accepted the location situated « at a far distance from any centre of inhabitations ».

Situated in a zone called « le champ Boya » (Didier DESNOUVEAUX, La Haute-Marne américaine, Club Mémoires 52 - 2014), the Franchises American cemetery partly occupied a plot which is today situated near the industrial zone.

Contrary to the initial decision, the American army decided to repatriate the bodies of the soldiers at the end of the conflict. Some of the remains were however transferred to Thiaucourt and Romagne-sous-Montfaucon necropolis. This massive repatriation « was possible as from 15th September 1920 when the President of the Council gave the American government his permission to exhume in all the army zone. » (Didier DESNOUVEAUX , idem.) In the two American cemeteries of Langres, 298 bodies were repatriated and 136 transferred to the necropolis of Thiaucourt in Meurthe-et-Moselle.

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