The memorials to the Fallen :Marne!

So I am on a weekend so will think of those that made it possible to me tell you freely all this wonderful stories; our fallen heroes of France and abroad. I know the area very well sometimes I think too well. This is my family wife’s side area on the mother who still lives in the area as well as one brother and three sisters! Did I say know it well. I like to tell you a bit about this part of France, the Seine et Marne dept 77 and the area around the historic city of Meaux (have several posts about it) and the infamous battle of the Marne in WWI.

But first how to get to Meaux? Well very easy from Paris!

The city of Meaux is about  25 min from the Gare de Paris-Est  on the line P to train station in Meaux I took this line several times for a period , as was the line my dear late wife Martine took to come to work in Paris 10éme arrondissement.More here:

From the center of Paris you can take the train RER A and get off at the station gare de Marne-la-Vallée Chessy (the same for Disneyland Paris) Here take bus 19 that in about 30 minutes will have you at the train station of Meaux. The bus schedule is here:

From the train station of Meaux you can take further bus 6 or 10 to the museum of the Great War WWI museum/ .For the anecdote, the first time I came to see my family on wife’s side told me to take the bus from CDG airport so from the RER B at Roissypole I took bus 20 to the train station in Meaux where the picked me up! That was back in Sept. 1990. Here:

The city of Meaux  is at less than  50 km from Paris .By car, the easiest me think is to get from Paris the autoroute A4 direction Metz-Nancy.After about 50km get off the A4 at the Meaux exit on road autoroute A104 direction Nanteuil-Meaux , and later to Meaux Centre. It is done in less than one hour.

This is also near Disneyland Paris and a very inexpensive option when visiting the park. And the above bus 19 can do it , and you can stay in more affordable hotels in Meaux… just saying…Or by car is only 25 minutes !

However, the main thing here other than the Cathedral and Bossuet Museum (see my other post on this nostalgic city forever of mine) ,there are the cemeteries and monument to the fallen of WWI.

My first encounter was the the Monument Americain de Meaux , (this American Monument on American soil !  is next to the Great War museum so a bus takes you there, it is on the Route de Vareddes just outside of Meaux). “Here are still heard the silent voices of the heroic sons of France. They braved everything, given everything in the long days full of pitfalls, while waiting for death. They stopped the tide of an imminent disaster and their supreme devotion made the world tremble”. As told by Maréchal Joffre. This gigantic monument 26 meters high is erected at the exit of Meaux near the Museum of the Great War. In the United States, the victory of the Marne enthused the many supporters of France. However, it took 14 years before the project could succeed and it was not until September 1932 that the American Monument was inaugurated. The sculptor Frederick Mac Monnies symbolized the 1914 drama in a form reminiscent of the purest creations of antiquity. France, a central figure, seems at the same time a Spartan mother, ready for the sacrifice of her sons for the safety of her country, and a painful and upset mother. She stands heroically, bleeding heart. Her face is only a long cry of anguish, a heartbreaking cry, launched over the panic of armies, the cry of alarm of a nation that must gather all its energies. That’s why the monument was given the title of “Weeping Freedom” .I past by it many times too as well as stop by on my way to my family visits.

The tourist office of MeauxTourist office of Meaux on the American Monumen:t

The city of MeauxCity of Meaux on the American Monument

However, the area is full of memorable monuments all worth a visit and for me a history/architecture amateur lover are all  sublime. With the help of the Tourist office of Meaux.

The National Necropolis in the village of Chambry (where my mother in law lives and a bus from Meaux takes you here if not by car) created in 1920, it is place at the same spot where the individual tombs were carved along the Meaux countryside after the first Battle of the Marne in WWI. Nearly 990 soldiers killed in 1914 are grouped here. 940 of them are still unknown. They have been grouped into 4 ossuaries. The 341 individual graves are half those of the French soldiers killed between June and July 1918 during the second battle of the Marne in the north of the Seine et Marne (dept 77). The majority of the men buried in ossuaries are soldiers and officers of the infantry troops, Zouaves regiments as well as regiments of Moroccan and Algerian riflemen engaged in the first battle of the Marne. The metropolitan (hexagone) soldiers who took part in the Battle of the Marne, like the men of the regiment of Charles Peguy, the 276th Infantry Regiment, are, for many of them, from the region. More here: Tourist office of Meaux on the National Necropolis

The Monument Notre Dame de la Marne at Barcy (you will need a car for this one) After the 1st Battle of the Marne, Monseigneur Marbeau, Bishop of Meaux, made a wish that the town of Meaux be spared and decided to build a memorial at the very place where the German advance was stopped. This monument, religious and patriotic, was inaugurated in 1924 and the site was the subject of many pilgrimages to celebrate the “Miracle of the Marne”. The building is in granite and cast iron and represents the Virgin Mary with the inscription “You will not go further”. More here: TOurist office of Meaux on Memorial Notre Dame de la Marne

The Monument aux morts or monument to the Fallen (this one you can walk in Meaux at Place Doumer) This column wearing a winged victory initially pays homage to the children of the city of Meaux fallen during this conflict. At its base, a lion watches, eyes fixed on the east and the blue line of the Vosges. It recalls the work of the sculptor Bartholdi,(statue of liberty fame and others) as well as the resistance of Belfort under the command of Colonel Denfert-Rochereau vis-a-vis the Prussian armies. After the Great War (WWI) , the monument is enlarged. On the other faces of the pedestal are the dead of the wars of the 19C. In 1923-1924, Meaux built the wall surrounding his monument, with the Adrian helmet on the pillars of the grid. More here: Tourist office of Meaux on the Monument to the fallen

A bit away on the road D129 in the town of Villeroy (birthplace of my dear late wife Martine’s mother Yvette) Here you find the Mémorial de Charles Peguy. The story goes that around 16h30 in an oppressive heat, the 276th Infantry Regiment to which he belongs rushes towards the hill of Monthyon, to cover the retreat of Moroccan skirmishers struggling with the Germans. Discovered, in a field not offering the least shelter, the men felled one after the other under the fire of German machine guns. This stele pays tribute to this monument of French literature, fallen on the field of honor in the first moments of the battle. At the base of the cross, a few verses recall the work of this great author and his patriotic feelings. I cite them here in my best translation:
“Blessed are those who died for the carnal earth, but as long as it was in a fair war. Happy are those who died for four corners of earth. Happy are those who died of a solemn death. Happy are those who died in the great battles, lying on the ground in the face of God. Happy are those who died for their hearth and their fire, and the poor honors of the paternal houses. Happy are those who died because they returned in the first clay and the first earth. Happy are those who died in a just war. Happy are the ears of corn and the harvested wheats”. Charles Péguy – Eve (1913) – Extracts. More here: Tourist office of Meaux on the memorial Charles Peguy

The Communal Cemetery of Chambry. They dig loopholes in its thick walls to try to repel, in vain, the counter-attack of the French army. Early in the morning, the French officers send the Moroccans to attack Chambry. At 10h the Moroccans attack the cemetery, where the Germans retreat. The reports mention that the Moroccans seize the cemetery in the afternoon, but that, crushed under the fire of German guns, they must withdraw almost immediately … On September 7, it is the Zouaves who permanently remove the village from German hands around 16h, but they also pay a very heavy price in this attack. The German loopholes, witnesses of the very violent fighting of September 1914, are still very visible nowadays. More here:

The German military cemetery of Chambry .Inaugurated in 1924, this cemetery gathers nearly 1030 bodies in a perimeter however small. It is that 998 of these soldiers (985 of whom are still not identified) are buried in a mass grave. In addition, under each of the crosses that mark this cemetery, lie between two and four German soldiers. Indeed, military cemeteries are national territories. It was therefore, in the aftermath of the Great War ‘(WWI) , not to give too much space to the Germans. More here:

The Great Tomb of Chauconin-Neufmontiers. (the town where wife’s sister lives today but same bus as Chambry stops here) It is on the plain between Chauconin Neufmontiers and Villeroy that the lieutenant Charles Péguy rushes at the head of his men in order to rescue their Moroccan comrades struggling with the Germans not far away. The fighting is violent and many men are killed. Many of them are now buried in the “Great Tomb”, not far from where they fell. After the war, the bodies are not repatriated to military cemeteries. The Great Tomb is thus one of the last collective graves in France, in which soldiers and officers are buried. More here:

On the road D27 in the town of Iverny (you need car here) you will find the grave of Adolphe Withcomb, a lieutenant at the French General Staff of Mainbray’s brigade, was ordered to carry an urgent message. Galloping on horseback, at the exit of the village, he felled, killed by a shell. The order will arrive much later … More info :

And there you go a detail of the memorable places of the today peaceful Marne thanks to some great men of the First and Second Battle of the Marne (WWI) around the countryside of the city of Meaux. Hope you enjoy the story and do come and visit.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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2 Comments to “The memorials to the Fallen :Marne!”

  1. Is it the pain of defeat or joy of victory I wonder?

    Liked by 1 person

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