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Webmatters : Gavrelle Communal Cemetery, Pierre Carpentier, French Resistance
Rough Map of Area

Gavrelle Communal Cemetery

Location

Gavrelle is a village and commune 11 kilometres north-east of Arras, on the N50 road to Douai.

The communal cemetery is south-east of the village on the road to Plouvain. This is the road opposite the café in the village centre near the church.

Gavrelle Communal Cemetery

 

Historical Information

Gavrelle was captured by the Royal Naval Division on 23 April 1917, lost on 28 March 1918, and reoccupied by the 51st (Highland) Division on the following 27 August.

There are seven British graves; they are in two plots which lie on each side of the main path from the entrance.

The village was rebuilt with the aid of the people of Toulouse in the south of France. This explains why the village memorial is also dedicated to Ste Germaine, patron saint of Toulouse.

Gavrelle Communal Cemetery

There are a number of local villagers killed during the First World War who lie here. This inscription is hard to read but honours the memory of Emile Carpentier who fell on the Verdun battlefield on the 29th February 1916 at the age of 39 years.

 

Abbé Pierre Carpentier Memorial Stone

Memorial headstone to Abbé Pierre Carpentier

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.

There is another commemorative stone to Abbé Carpentier outside his former church of St Gilles in Abbeville.

 

Gavrelle Communal Cemetery

The seven Second World War British tombs lie just at the entrance to the cemetery.

I have photos of all seven headstones

 

Other cemeteries in the area

There are two CWGC cemeteries just outside the village as well as memorials to French soldiers in 1914, and the British in 1917 and 1918.

The memorials in Gavrelle


Recent Additions

Canadian Cemetery No.2

Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery

Petit Vimy British Cemetery

CWGC Poppy Button