November 11, 2011

French Soldiers of the Great War

I bought these compelling photos at an auction about ten years ago as part of the "contents of a drawer". I return to them again and again. I've found very little information about them as the names are so hard to read. The rotund fellow from the 54th Artillerie is the focus of the photos. I've tried to get in touch with descendents who may have an interest but to no avail.

 Still beautiful after 140 days on the campaign. December 12, 1914.

Just look at these guys! The stories they could tell. This one's titled After lunch at Bayonvillers, January 1915. Lignon Senior, far left is the father of Lignon Junior, far right. Joseph Marius Lignon died April 18th 1918, and was buried at the Locre Cemetery in Belgium.He is 23 at the time of this photo. The other man with the fine ears is called Moreau. Our fellow is called T.(or F.) Duroy or Duvoy. Bayonvillers is village east of Amiens, about 20km south of where the Battle of the Somme took place.

Taken Monday night the 18th of December, 1916 by the fellow on the far left in the picture below. Members of the 54th Artillerie and PAD 28 pay a visit to Madame and Mademoiselle de Labeniere and Mademoiselle de Finfe. Lignon Senior is seated at the left. Moreau is at the bureau behind him. Our soldier is at the vitrine behind Mlle. Finfe's head.

An interesting picture of a canal barge named Old Arras. Barthelmy, on the left,  took the photo above this one.

A very gloomy shot of soldiers transporting guns. My cavalier is sitting high in the saddle on the left. There are explosions visible on the horizon.

A mysterious photo captioned Breakfast in l'acayuna. I've tried to find that word but I can't. If that rings a bell with anyone please let me know. I'm pretty sure they are in officers quarters in a trench or near the Front. Dr. Sasportas is the doctor of the group. ( Nov. 17th I just solved this mystery. dans la cayuna, is really dans la cagna, which in this case means "dugout")

Here's the reverse of this photo with my scribbling. 

This one's captioned He sprawled a Bergere.  Bergere, I think in this connotation refers to the chaise lounges the soldiers are recuperating on. I don't know if this is my soldier or not. The patients are being treated to a musical interlude.

I'd be greatly interested if anyone out there could add anything to these scenarios. I've been unwilling to share them until now because they are precious to me.

All photos are property of Hazel Smith. Please seek my permission before using.


Hels said...

Those photos are treasures from arguably the worst war the world has ever gone through. But if we thought we knew everything there was to know, the photos suggest new tidbits.

British Empire soldiers by their millions were shipped to France, leaving their wives and homes impoverished... but not destroyed. At the centre of the war, however, everyone in France was damaged - men, women, school children, hospital patients, farmers, the elderly.

Another thing. The French must have needed more and more soldiers to replace the young ones killed in 1914 and 1915. The soldiers in your photos look older than the 18-20 age bracket that you would normally expect.

Blog Princess G said...

What a wonderful treasure you have there. Thank you for sharing them with us! Soooo many stories.

Kathy Bischoping said...

Amazing photos. Maybe Acayuna is the name of a trench named after a river/tributary in ?Brazil (because trenches got those kinds of names and would've been damp enough). p.176 of this Google Book has Acayuna in it.

The word also shows up in 2 Corinthians 12:14 ( in what's maybe Zapotecan. But that lead looks thinner.

The Clever Pup said...

Kathy, thanks for looking into this. I'm going to edit my post and put the reverse of this photo up.

The Clever Pup said...

Sorry it think its l'acayna.