The village of Gavrelle can be easily reached from Arras by taking the N50 towards Douai. The village is about 11 kilometres from Arras and coming from that direction you will pass the Scottish cairn on your right at Point du jour, before reaching the Gavrelle slip road a few minutes later.
Drive past the Anchor Monument to the 63rd (RN) Division into the village past the church with the village war memorial.
At the café turn right for the cemetery on the road to Plouvain. The monument is just inside the cemetery gates and in front of the small CWGC plot of graves.
The Abbé Pierre Carpentier was born on the 2nd July 1912 at Libercourt to the north of Gavrelle. Entering into the priesthood he was ordained on the 29th June 1938.
During this time he was required to undertake his military service, gaining a place at the St Cyr Military Academy. Following his studies he was granted the rank of Sous-Lieutenant (2nd Lieutenant).
Called up in September 1939 he was soon demobilised again following Hitler’s crushing victory over France in May 1940. Returning to his previous calling he became the vicar of Abbeville and a chaplain to the scouts.
Wasting little time he became involved in the Resistance (Cohors-Asturies and Pat O’Leary groupings) helping to get Allied airman out of France into Spain.
On the 8th December 1941 he was arrested by the Gestapo, tortured and imprisoned.
Transferred to Bochum in Germany during the summer of 1942 he became prisoner Nacht und Nebel 789/42.
Then on the 29th June 1943 he was condemned to death, transferred to Dortmund the following day and beheaded that evening at 1915 hours along with a number of other members of the Resistance.
Nacht und Nebel (Night and fog) was a decree by Hitler allowing the system to disappear political opponents such as the resistance leaders.
His ashes were brought back to Gavrelle on the 9th May 1948 and placed in the family crypt.
Amongst those he helped save was Wing Commander ‘Taffy’ Higginson of the RAF who was accompanied by Sergeant Harold Cole. Cole would later betray Carpentier to the Gestapo.
The memorial headstone is in black and grey marble and carries the Cross of Lorraine and a simple inscription. It was inaugurated on the 8th May 1995 on the 50th Anniversary of Victory in Europe (A public holiday in France).
Passer-by; remember Abbé Pierre Carpentier. Deported. Executed at Dortmund on 30th June 1943 at the age of 31 years. Together with his fellow members of the Resistance he gave HIS LIFE for the honour of France and YOUR LIBERTY.
There is another commemorative stone to Abbé Carpentier outside his former church of St Gilles in Abbeville.