Le Bois de la Rosiere

Every September since we’ve lived here we’ve read the invitation to the ceremony at Le Bois de la Rosiere  but we’ve never been able to go to it until today. entrance

We thought it would be a similar occasion to the ceremonies marking the end of the war but we were  wrong.

It started off in the same way. We met up with some neighbours half way down to hill to the church  and they said they were waiting for the procession to the cemetary to pass to save walking down and then up again. More people came and parked their cars along the road. We thought it was strange because they didn’t live that far away.

Eventually the band struck up and led a large number of people up the hill. There were eight flag bearers, about twenty children skipping and laughing and then a more serious group of adults including soldiers and police. We joined in and followed to the cemetary where a drummer and trumpeter from the band played during a short ceremony at the tomb.

The  we all followed the same music back down the hill. people started getting into cars.

“Do you need a lift?” Mary-Paule asked .

“Why, where are we going? I thought the memorial was in Rue du Bois de la Rosiere.”

“Oh no, it’s too far to walk.” insisted Mary-Paule.

We got into her car and drove out of the village and along the bypass. The gendarmes were on hand to stop the traffic while everyone turned left. Parking was haphazard and very tight as a large number of cars squashed into a farm. Then there was a long wait for the Prefet (or his deputy) who always arrived late.

During this pause Mary-Paule told us the history. It seems that eleven prisoners who were being held in Charleville prison for being members of the Resistance  were taken out near the end of the war and, instead of being released as they had expected, they were taken to the woods and shot.

One young man was still alive when the villagers came to remove the bodies but he died soon afterwards. Among the victims were the parents of a teenage girl, who had also been in jail. She is now a little old lady in a wheel chair and she comes every year to pay homage. Another silver-haired lady was pointed out to us. One of the young men who was murdered was her fiancé. She eventually married someone else but she always comes back to remember him.

vipsThe Prefet’s representative finally turned up in her chauffeur driven car and more time passed as she chatted to our Mayor while the band shuffled in position ready for the off.


Finally we all set off (with the band playing the same old tune) along a  winding path towards the memorial at the place where they were killed.memorial Here there was a laying of wreaths, the band played the Marseillaise and then the children sang it (unaccompanied). The Mayor gave a speech that no-one could hear because the microphone didn’t work, the band played a slow dirge which was badly out of tune, and then we made our way back towards the parked cars, following the same march at a lively pace.



walk back

The morning ended with a Vin d’Honneur at the Salle de Fete  accompanied by pizza and quiche.

To mark the sixty-fifth anniversary of this event, the two ladies who survived the tragedy were presented with medals and flowers.

!t is surprising that it has taken us seven years to discover this sad story and to take part in the simple but moving ceremony of remembrance.

5 Responses to “Le Bois de la Rosiere”

  1. Little old me Says:

    How lovely and sad at the same time, I would have been no good there, I would have cried through the whole thing

    Everyone was silent during the serious moments but, on the whole, there was an upbeat feel to the proceedings. I felt my eyes wet at times but, mostly it was a surprisingly warm occasion.

  2. tillylil Says:

    What a lovely tradition and no food on this occasion!

    CONGRATULATIONS Tracey -you have just written comment number 1000!!
    Actually there was food – pizza and quiche – and I choked reaching up to faire la bise with a tall chap with my mouth full!

  3. Pat Says:

    As you say a very sad story and even more poignant with the two ladies there. But it wouldn’t be France without a bit of a bite which always lifts the spirits.
    Yes indeed, Pat, we are impressed with the way the French commemorate events in their own way – simple but effective.

  4. canisfamiliaris Says:


    What is the translation of the title?

    It amazes me how the French seem to be very traditionalist in their outlook. By this I mean that they commemorate past events, however minor, with much feeling. Perhaps it is because they are a European country with a far more bloody past in the last 100 years – considering two world wars have been fought in their backyard, whilst we in the UK have escaped unscathed in the sense that the war was ‘over there’.

    What was the age profile of the attendees. There were oldies and youngsters but were there any in between? Or were they all at work?


    In answer to your questions Derek; Bois de la Rosiere means roughly “The Wood (as in small forest!) of the village handmaiden”, and there were all age groups at the ceremony because it was on a Sunday morning after Mass, which, for once, had quite a good congregation. (We don’t go but we saw the procession.)

  5. Sara Hopkins Says:

    A wonderful story, Sandy, thanks so much. How wonderful that everyone remembers…wish I had been there!
    yes, Sara, it is quite an event with people coming from far and wide to join the local villagers.

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