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Webmatters : Nécropole nationale de Rancourt

Rancourt

Location

Rancourt is a small village on the main N17 road between Bapaume and Peronne — about half way between each (12 km). The French Military Cemetery is on the outskirts of the south side of the village. It lies on the left hand side of the road.

GPS N E OSM
Decimal 49.99773 2.91090 Map

Rancourt French Military Cemetery

 

Historical Information

Unlike the majority of other Nécropoles this one was created through the private initiative of Madame Mathilde du Bos (née Johnston), a native of New Orleans. Her son Lieutenant John du Bos, 26 years-old, had been killed in this area during the Battle of the Somme on 25th September 1916 whilst serving with the 94e Régiment d’Infanterie.

Rancourt French Military Cemetery

During the assault the Regiment suffered casualties of 25 officers and about a thousand men. Du Bos’ batman was injured and could only go back out again the following day to find the body. The body was buried and the location meticulously noted.

A committee of widows, mothers and sisters of the 94e RI was formed and they decided to raise a monument to those of the regiment who had fallen during the attack on Rancourt.

In order to honour the memory of those who had been killed but had no known grave the committee put forward the proposition of financing the reconstruction of the village church. A subscription opened in the United States brought in $25 000 which would have been about Fr 125 000 at the time (€25 000) by no means a small sum.

Following the death of Mme du Bos in 1919 Maréchale Foch took over the lead of the committee and inaugurated the monument on 22nd October 1922.

The ossuaires and their plaque

The cemetery contains the burials of 8 566 casualties. 5,327 have individual tombs whilst the remaining 3,2233 are buried in four ossuaries (common graves)

Following the Second World War graves from other cemeteries were brought in from as far away as Flixecourt.

This is the largest French Military Cemetery on the Somme in terms of both the total number of burials and the number of individual burials

 

The Chapel

The chapel serves as a memorial to the French participations in the Battles of the Somme of 1916 and 1918.

On the exterior walls you will fins the names of those regiments and units that took part in the Somme Battles.

The archway carries the dedication :

Aux officiers, sous-officiers et soldats tombés dans les Batailles de Picardie de 1914 à 1918.
La Patrie reconnaissante — Le Souvenir français

The inscription to Mme Du Bos

Within, you will see a dedication to Mme du Bos which explains not only her connection to the chapel but also the fact that her family has a long history of service to the area and country.

The stained glass windows

The interior is lit by ornate windows created by the Mauméjean workshop representing : Thérèse de Lisieux, Remi de Reims, Saint Louis, Jeanne d’Arc.

Plaques commemorating British soldiers

In a smiliar fashion to those you can see at Notre Dame de Lorette near Arras, families placed commemorative plaques in memory of those they had lost.

Jean du Bos is buried under a gravestone at the entrance to the nave.

Since 1937 the chapel has been looked after by Souvenir français and a commemorative ceremony is held on the second Sunday of September every year.

The small museum at Rancourt

Alongside the chapel you will find a small museum showing various artefacts from the war.