25 August 1944
Grossly generalizing, Americans look forward and the French look back. That said, the French do a better job of living in the present even if they complain while doing it.
In Paris, there are reminders of the past everywhere in the form of little marble plaques engraved with names, dates, and the barest of facts. The plaques commemorate both people (the dead and the famous) and events (mostly sad ones).
In honor of Remembrance Day, I copied down the names of five fallen soldiers memorialized by plaques along L’École des Mines. I chose these five because I pass this spot* regularly and while I knew the date written on all of the plaques, 25 August 1944, I’d never before stopped to read the names written above the date.
Lieutenant Jules Martinet, 46, of the 1st Battalion FFI** of Eure-et-Loir
Jean Montvallier-Boulogne, 20, 14th FFI
Jean Reverse, 28, member of General Leclerc’s protection squadron
Le spahi du 1er R.M.S.M*** Pierre Bounin
Jean Arnould, 24 (AKA Alain Portier) driver of the howitzer Couleuvrine
*The plaques are all along a stretch of the west side of boulevard Saint-Michel between rue Auguste Comte and rue Royer-Collard.
**Forces françaises de l’intérieur, what Americans would call The Resistance
***Moroccan Spahis 1st marching regiment
Below is a kitchen sink of sites about those who fought and died in the World Wars (and a book recommendation).
Here, a PDF (in French) of The 1921 Tableau d’Honneur: Morts Pour La France (Guerre 1914-1918)
Here, information about the Liberation of Paris (19-25 August 1944) in general, and specifically about the taking of the Senate, where the men listed above were killed (in French).
Pat Baker’s Regeneration Trilogy is an excellent fictional look at the first World War.
And lastly, Philippa Campsie, over at Parisian Fields, has written a thoughtful, well researched post about her great-uncles Raymond Hummel (1886–1916) and John Lonsdale Sieber (1893–1917).