Merles sur Loison

Merles sur-Loison Soldatenfriedhof is situated on the northern side of the village. It is sign posted from the D16 road between Stenay and Mangiennes.

The German cemetery is just behind the local Communal Cemetery. There is plenty of parking space at the local cemetery and it is only a matter of a 100 metres walk along its right hand boundary to the gate.

Merles sur-Loison Soldatenfriedhof

The cemetery was created immediately after the battles in this area in August 1914 and the first combat on French soil during the First World War on the 10th August 1914 took place at Mangiennes a few kilometres away.

Mangiennes Mangiennes: 10 August 1914
 
In memory

In faithful memory of our comrades

By September a field hospital had been set up in Merles to deal with the rising casualties coming in from the Verdun battlefields. It should be remembered that whilst the great battle of Verdun did not take place until 1916 the Germans did make some tentatives towards it at the beginning of the war.

The cemetery was not greatly used until the 21st February 1916 when the battle for Verdun opened.

Almost all of those buried here are from the 21st and 25th Infantry Divisions.

The number of burials rose again during 1918 as the French and American forces pushed forward in September and October.

The two monuments within the cemetery were both created during the war by sculptors conscripted into the medical services and working at the hospital.

Following the war the French Military authorities concentrated some other burials into the cemetery.

The majority of those buried here were garrisoned in Hesse but there are others from Silesia, Brandenburg, Hanover, Westphalia, East and West Prussia, Baden and Bavaria

The mass grave

The central monument over the mass grave

There are 1499 German war dead within the cemetery. 1302 have individual graves and of these 19 are unknown (Unbekannt).

There is also a mass grave for 197 soldiers of whom only 13 are known by name.

Merles sur-Loison Soldatenfriedhof

The communal cemetery in the background

You will also notice amongst the crosses four stele to Jewish soldiers.

The mass grave

The thirteen known soldiers in the mass grave

Whilst some work was carried out the interuption of the Second World War meant that it would not be until 1978 that the old wooden grave markers were finally replaced with the current metal crosses.

 
Hauptmann Julius Schirren

Hauptmann Julius Schirren
Battalion Commander
214 Reserve Infantry Regiment
Born on 26th March 1857
Died on 20th August 1917 aged 60

Grave: Block 3 Grave 131

Along the sides of the cemetery you will see a number of stone headstones that had been used in the original cemetery. That of Hauptmann Schirren is in a small group to the right hand edge of the cemetery.

Julius Schirren

The original grave marker of Hauptmann Julius Schirren

 

Not far from here is another German Military cemetery at Mangiennes.

Mangiennes Soldatenfriedhof: Mangiennes