September 16, 1923, when Chartres unveils a memorial to those who died in the First World War

That information is published in almost all press newspapers in France, which is a proof of his good character. In the afternoon of Sunday, September 16, 1923, the monument to those who died during the First World War in Chartres was opened with great pomp. The building erected on what was then called the promenade des Charbonniers is impressive in its size and symbols.

Eurélien Maurice Maunoury, Minister of the Interior of Raymond Poincare’s government, moved to the capital of Beauceron to preside over the swearing-in ceremony. The authorities are all there for this beautiful moment. Among them are Henry Casse-Barthe, prefect of Eure-et-Loire, Louis-Fernand Hubert, mayor of Chartres, Maurice Viollette, president of the general council, or Gabriel Maunoury, deputy, president of the Memorial erection committee. .

The moving letters of Beauceron de Theuville, who was killed at Verdun during the First World War

Because the construction of this building is a project implemented in the city of Chartres, starting from the end of the battles of the Great War of 1914-1918, facing Germany. By the end of this deadly conflict, 10,664 Evrelians had lost their lives on the battlefields, representing 4% of the population, including 57% of the combined 50,175 farmers.

The foundation stone was laid on May 8, 1921

As in all of France, Chartres mobilizes with great patriotism to commemorate its soldiers who died for France. In October 1919, a committee to erect a monument to the dead was formed under the chairmanship of Doctor Gabriel Maunuri. The subscription is started with the population. Large posters stored in the city’s archive services were placed in Chartres to call on citizens to mobilize.

Several sites were earmarked for the construction of the building, as evidenced by the report published by the committee: the Place des Halles, the Square du Theater or the Butte des Charbonniers. Despite much work to be done, it is this last area that is maintained. Two men are responsible for the execution of the project: architect Léon Boucher, father of aviator Hélène Boucher, and sculptor Henri Bouchard. After several fluctuations and despite difficulties, the laying of the first stone took place on May 8, 1921.

Chartres’ war memorials are being renovated

After more than two years of work, the monument was completed. 175,000 francs (189,328 euros today) will be needed for its realization. The mural is huge. The phrase “To those who died for the country” is written above. Decorations include the Croix de guerre, coat of arms, oak branches or laurel. A list of 706 names is engraved on its facade. As a special feature, the monument includes five large feathered figures representing the five combat arms of the Great War, excluding the navy: artillery, infantry, air force, engineers and cavalry.

“Equal in Fame”

It is therefore a monumental and eagerly awaited monument that Chartres inaugurated on September 16, 1923. Around the minister, elected officials and various authorities, a procession winds through the city from the city hall to the Butte des Charbonniers. “A company of the 26th Artillery Regiment, trumpets sounding ahead,” details Eure-et-Loir dispatch.

War 14-18: Heavy loss of Beauce villagers

There are many soldiers from different regiments. Gabriel Maunuri, president of the war memorial committee, delivers his speech.

“700 names have been registered […], but without title, without rank. We wanted them to be equal in glory as well as in death.”

Gabriel Maunoury (Chairman of the War Memorial Commission)

In his report Eure-et-Loir dispatch Among the Chartrains, it leads to the perception of the monument: “Opinions about the work seemed to us to be fairly divided, without rising to the level of enthusiasm among the Chartrains who were most satisfied. In particular, we criticized the placement more or less according to the essence of the topic. »

Evolution. This monument will be completed with changes at the end of the Second World War and the wars of decolonization (India, Algeria) and will bring the number of civilian and military victims to 855 as a result of the conflicts between 1914 and 1962. The site is visible today among the stages of the “Memorial Trail” established by the city of Chartres.

Simon Dechet

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