Chemin des Dames

Memorials to Individuals

Between the Panorama at Royère and the hamlet of Malval on the way to Cerny en Laonnois there are three memorial plaques to individuals who fell during the fighting here.

They are all on the right hand side of the road coming from Royère and are within about 500 metres of each other.

Jean Roblin

To the memory of Jean Roblin who died for France at the age of 19 and his comrades of the 146ème Infantry who fell with him on 18 May 1917.

The 146th RI was an active regiment, meaning that on the outbreak of war it was made up of soldiers serving their period of conscription as well as professional soldiers.

Although his memorial is situated here he was in fact killed at Ostel slightly to the south east of Soupir down in the valley of the Aisne.

The regiment was part of the 39th Infantry Division in the XX Corps and had been fighting in the area of Soupir since the commencement of the battle.

2nd Class Soldier Roblin was born on 8 September 1897 and was therefore one of the Bleuets or class of 1917 who had been called up that year. They were called Blue because they had never worn the red trousers of the old army - only the Blue Horizon that replaced it.

The Bleuet flower has thus become synonymous with the massacre here and is now the French equivalent of the Commonwealth poppy.

Jean Dauly

To the memory of Jean Dauly of the 350ème Infantry, killed on 6 May 1917 in the small wood opposite at the age of 20.

Missed by his mother, all the family and his comrades.

Born on 22 April 1897 he was only just past his birthday and had also only been called to the colours that year.

The 350th RI was in theory a reserve regiment made up of soldiers who had already undergone conscription and had now been recalled to service. By this stage of the war though it was just another regiment made up of conscripts.

France lost a third of her total casualties in the opening three months of the war.

4 May 1917

On 4 May 1917 the 350th Infantry Regiment had launched an assault in this area. Within a few minutes the Poilus had taken the first line and were advancing on the Chemin des Dames which they took by 0930 hours. The only thing preventing them from advancing further was flanking machine gun fire.

They held off a counter attack and sent back over 300 prisoners.

On 6 May 1917 the Germans launched three separate counter attacks to try and dislodge the Regiment. All were contained and a further 150 prisoners were taken.

It would have been during these counter attacks that Jean Dauly and Marcel Duquenoy (below) were killed.

The following day the Regiment was relieved in the line.

Marcel Duquenoy

To the memory of our son Aspirant Marcel Duquenoy (2nd Lieutenant) of the 350ème Infantry, aged 20 and from Calais, who died on 6 May 1917 in the wood opposite.

This is obviously the same day on which Jean Dauly, above, died.

Born on 15 June 1897 in Calais he was another Bleuet and died a month short of his twentieth birthday.

In his order of the day on 2 June 1917 General Pétain praised the Regiment under their commander: Lt Colonel Lagarde, for having not only taken such a well defended position but for having beaten off seven ferocious counter attacks and bombardments. They had held their positions throughout, causing the Germans severe casualties.

You are now about 7 kilometres away from the National Memorial at Cerny en Laonnois. Continue straight ahead until you see the small chapel and French National Cemetery in front of you.

Cerny en Laonnois Cerny en Laonnois