14-18 Langres

at war

The Hôtel de ville:

Victory and Commemorations.

The signing of the armistice put an end to four years of a horror never experienced before. Many French soldiers returned traumatised from this experience when they were able to return home. In Langres, as well as throughout France, victory was celebrated joyfully: the town was decorated with the French, American and English flags, the bells rang out for the American and French soldiers fraternising in the streets. A torch-lit party was organised accompanied by American musicians. The streets were bursting with people and the Marseillaise and the American national anthem could be heard throughout.

For the officials, the town hall organised a reception which the allies and all the important people of the town attended (judges, priests, presidents of different societies, etc…). It was an opportunity to pay homage through speeches to the heroism and courage of the soldiers, to express gratitude for the unfailing support of the allies and to pay tribute to those who had not returned from the front.

This joy which gripped everyone was dulled by the grief felt by those who had lost a loved one in the conflict. A doctor of the American military hospital n°53 expressed these mixed feelings: « We came to Langres and we have witnessed the French celebrations, at the same time aware of the presence of grieving women in the crowd, with sad faces, all dressed in black. The enormity of their loss and sacrifice seemed magnified by the joy of those for whom the end of the war meant happy family reunions. The streets were lit up for the first time in four years and an American orchestra played French music while the Americans shouted and sang. Those of us who watched from the ambulances seemed cold and distant, as they weren’t running around kissing everyone they met on both cheeks as the French do. » (History of Base Hospital Number Fifty-three, Compiled under the direction of Colonel W. Lee Hart)

On 26th March 1919, the municipal council decided to create a marble plaque to be placed in the room of honour in the Hôtel de Ville on which the names of the Langres soldiers who had fallen in battle would be engraved. A board with copies of these inscriptions was to be placed in every school. The council also suggested asking for two family photos, one placed in a frame hung in the room of honour, the other to be kept in a « golden album » which would be kept in the mayor’s cabinet. On 31st May of the same year, 1000 francs was allocated for the purchase of the frames and the albums. Charles Royer « whose artistic competence was well-known » was tasked with the placement and layout of the albums. These books were from then on part of the collections of the Marcel-Arland library, but the frames were lost.

Other articles related to City Hall:

Hôtel de Ville

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