14-18 Langres

at war

Establishing the military plot:

224 graves of French, allied or enemy soldiers, killed during the first world war can be counted in the cemetery of Langres in 1929 (187 French, 8 allies and 29 enemy). The Town received finances from the Pensions Ministry for the upkeep of these graves. These individual tombs were dispersed around the cemetery, though most of them were grouped in the New Cemetery established in 1915.

In 1931, the Ministry of Pensions, Service of Military Tombs, was in charge of establishing national cemeteries and military tombs. The Prefect informed the communes by letter that « In most cases, military graves are spread all over the communal cemetery and their upkeep and arrangements are made very difficult. It is important to first assemble all the military graves in one homogenous square plot (« carré militaire »), which we will establish rapidly ». The mayor of Langres replied favourably to this demand, the town bought a plot of land near the Hospices at the time when the cemetery was enlarged in 1935.

The long job of contacting the families of soldiers buried in Langres was undertaken. They were given the choice to authorise the transfer of the body to the military plot in Langres or repatriate the remains to the cemetery of their home town. Only one family made this decision.

After preparatory work on the land, the exhumations and burials in the military plot began on 28th November and continued until 9th December 1938. 118 bodies went to the « Carré Militaire ». Of all the families invited to the ceremony, about ten made the trip, many were prevented by the distance, illness or old age...

Plan carré militaire

On 26th December, a report on the operation was sent by the mayor to the Ministère des Pensions, Service de l’Etat Civil et des Sépultures Militaires (the Ministry of Pensions, Service of Military Tombs). He wrote that the preparations began 15 days before the beginning of the operation. The exhumations took place « at a rate of 12 per day. The families were summoned each day in advance order: 3 families at 8 o'clock, 3 families at 9 o'clock, 3 families at 10 o'clock, 3 families at 2 pm (...) The bones were reunited gradually in a shroud then placed in a new coffin which was closed immediately and transported to its place in the “Carré Militaire” plot. »

The cost of the operation came to 9,734.08 Francs which was covered by the Ministry of Pensions on reception of the invoices paid by the town. In fact, while the Ministry provided the coffins, emblems and name plates, the rest of the operation was charged to the locality. Including flowers on the graves, for which the Ministry recommended hardy plants and flowers. At Langres, each grave was covered with a rose-bush.

The establishing of a military plot in the cemetery was also a matter of transferring the bodies of foreign soldiers fallen during the First World War and buried in Langres cemetery. Firstly the bodies of 27 German prisoners which were transferred in October 1938 to the German cemetery in Berru, situated about ten kilometres from Reims.

Then, in 1939, the bodies of 12 Russian soldiers went to Saint-Hilaire-le-Grand. This cemetery became the National Necropolis for Russian soldiers killed on French soil during the Great War.

Since 1968, near the « carré militaire », a military ossuary contains the remains of soldiers whose graves are no longer maintained. Covered in 1969 with a marble monument, it contains the bodies of 4 soldiers fallen for France in 1914-1918.

Le carré militaire

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