WW1 Centenary

Great War Centenary 2014-2018 website by Paul Reed


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Forgotten Heroes: North Africans in the Great War

A new website has been launched to highlight the role of North Africans in the Great War. Men from every part of North Africa fought in the conflict either in units of the British or French Armies. Among them were Egyptians in the Egyptian Labour Corps in the British sector and combat troops recruited in Algerian, Morocco and Senegal among many others.

The site is also a portal to a foundation which aims to send a ehibition highlighting the role of these men around the world. The site explains:

“Visitors to the Menin Gate in Ypres are often surprised to find the names of Muslim soldiers who died on the Western Front. The contributions and sacrifices of soldiers and workers from North Africa to the Great War have not been given the recognition which they are due. Colonial subjects worked, fought, were captured and died in their thousands between 1914 and 1918.

This is the first international exhibition to pay tribute to the citizens of North Africa who served in the Western Front. The men of North Africa, Berbers and Arabs alike, had no stake in the European war that erupted in August 1914.

Each North African country had a history of resistance to foreign rule.
It is a cruel irony of the Great War that colonial subjects were asked to serve their colonial rulers in a war not of their making.

Whatever their misgivings about fighting for France, the North African soldiers fought with courage and distinction by all accounts and played a decisive role in the ultimate Entente victory over Germany. During the war, North African loyalties were tested as the German government sought to turn Muslim prisoners of war to propaganda advantage.

The Great War also introduced North Africans to the European labour market, a trend that would develop over ensuing decades as workers from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia crossed the Mediterranean in search of gainful employment.

Over the years, many North Africans became naturalized citizens of Europe, where they are now in their third and fourth generation as European citizens. This exhibition is also intended to celebrate Europe’s citizens of North African origins and the contributions they have made to Europe in the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries.”

The site can be found here:- Forgotten Heroes: North Africa and The Great War.

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News: French Plans To Commemorate WW1 Centenary

The year 2014 will mark the beginning of the centenary of the First World War. In view of this great international memorial event, a report written by Mr. Joseph ZIMET, Directorate of memory, heritage and archives at the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs, was presented on November 11 2011 to  the President of the Republic.

The report offers a foreshadowing division of laboor between the state and local authorities, with public policy that focuses on the beginning (2014) and the end (2018) of the commemoration. The Official Centennial commemorative program for the year 2014 will be organized around six major events taking place between June 28 2014, the European opening of the Centenary, and November 11 2014, when the writer and Great War veteran  Maurice Genevoix could enter the Pantheon [note: this is the direct translation: it relates to a desire for Genevoix’s ashes to be transferred to the Panthéon cemetery].

Organized as a true co-production between the state, foreign partners, territories and associations, the program proposed for the Centenary Memorial also suggests an effort to scan and put online the archives of eight million individual veterans of the First World War, the adding of World Heritage status to key landscapes and sites of memory of the Great War, and the creation of a commission to consider the issue of executed soldiers of the Great War.

An interministerial taskforce will be created at the beginning of the year 2012, to implement the program of commemorative centenary of the First World War.

Source: French Plans For 2014


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On 2 August 1914, France mobilized four million men. In Lorient, nearly 1,400 Poilus did not see the end of the war. Patrick Bollet undertook painstaking research to try to clarify this figure and thus honour the memory of all those men.

It sought to develop a biographical sketch for everyone but for 61 of them, he has no information, hence the call in our columns. In addition, the prospect of publishing and exhibition, he seeks any documents that illustrate the work.

Therefore, there will be a regular meeting at the Archives for Wednesday and Friday from February 27 to March 8, 2013 from 10 am at 12 h and 14 h to 17 h to collect information on the dead of the war in France 14-18: booklet, photographs, correspondence …

Contact: (+33) 02 97 02 22 42

A list of 61 Poilus (pdf – 45 KB)

archives@mairie-lorient.fr