14-18 Langres

at war

The municipal committee for the security of prisoners of war from the Langres arrondissement


Another category of combat was soon realised: prisoners of war. On 18th September 1915, when the mayor proposed to the municipal council that there should be a loan for the security committee for the prisoners of war from the Haut-Marne area, based in Chaumont, certain councillors suggested that a committee for Langres itself should be created. « The assembly united in this suggestion and decided to create a local committee which would be called the “Comité de secours aux Prisonniers de guerre Langrois” (“The security committee for Langres prisoners of war”) and would be made up of the municipality and of M. M. Denizet, Maranget and Hugues, municipal councillors. » A loan of 500 francs was allocated.

The committee dissolved on 31st January 1919 after debate by the municipal council. It was an opportunity for the members to evaluate its years of function. The desired objective was to send parcels of food and clothes, underwear and shoes to prisoners in the German camps. The prisoners were classed in three categories according to their familial situation: Dependent, Semi-dependent and Independent. Each category received a different numbered parcel.

In order to welcome the families and make the parcels, a room in the town hall was made available to the committee. The office was open on Thursdays from 10:30am to 11:30am. The financing came from individual donations. Langres town offered a subsidy during the time it was run of about 1000 francs and the General Council of Haute-Marne gave 3450 francs, which may seem quite a small amount given the total budget of 2,553,724 francs.

As with the ‘Foyer au Soldat’ organisation, this committee relied on the help of volunteers. At the time of the dissolution, the secretary, Mr Hugues, did not forget to thank the ‘Dames Langroises’ (Langres women), who he did not name « for not harming their modesty » as well as the « vicars of the two parishes, Saint-Martin and Saint-Mammès, who, with their warm plea to church-goers, increased our resources » and all those who participated in the making of the parcels.

From 1st October 1915 to 1st November 1918, 57 prisoners from Langres had benefitted from these parcels. Of these, 33 were Dependent, 15 were Semi-dependent and 9 Independent. In all, 1607 parcels of food and 192 of clothes, shoes, underwear and linen were sent. Widening their cause in the arrondissement, the committee sent 53 parcels to prisoners originating from the Langres area on the condition that they were paid for by the families and not by the Langres committee. In order to assure the reception of the parcels, they were sent with acknowledgements of receipt completed and signed by prisoners.

After the Armistice, the committee continued to function in close proximity to prisoners who were returning from captivity. « The Dependent and Semi-dependent prisoners from Langres each received financial aid of 21 francs, a food parcel and for the neediest, a parcel of underwear and linen ».

When it was being dissolved, the committee gave away the remaining linen and food reserves as well as 127,314 francs to the Bureau de Bienfaisance de la Ville de Langres (The Benefaction Office of the Town of Langres). The charity « Départementale des Orphelins de la Guerre » (The Department of Orphans of War), based in Chaumont, received 1000 francs of the remaining amount.

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