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Webmatters : 224e Régiment d'Infanterie Memorial at Maricourt
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224e Régiment d'Infanterie

Location

Maricourt is a village situated on the D938, Albert-Peronne Road, 10.5 km from Albert. The monument is approximately one kilometre on the eastern side of the village in the direction of Peronne.

Travelling in that direction it is on your left as the road bends to the right. Surrounded by trees it is easily missed. There is a wood opposite and a small parking space in front of the memorial.

224e Régiment d'Infanterie Memorial at Maricourt

 

Background

Raised at Bernay in Normandy the 224e Régiment d’Infanterie (RI) were the reserve unit to the 24e RI. They were part of the 53e Division d’Infanterie. The soldiers of the regiment were for the most part from Normandy and Paris.

Having been mobilised and ordered to the front on the 10th August 1914 they found themselves retreating towards the Marne before having fired a shot in anger.

From 23rd September they were engaged in defending the area around Berry au Bac on the Chemin des Dames (where the French would use tanks for the first time in 1917). They remained there until relieved at the beginning of October and commenced the journey towards Maricourt which they reach on 19th October. They would remain in this general sector until relieved on 18th April 1915.

It is quite possible whilst they were there at Christmas 1914 that they took part in one of the many impromptu truces that sprang up along the Western Front.

However, on the 17th December 1914 the regiment took part in an assault on the village of Hardecourt. At 0600 hours those involved in leading the attack, including Lt Brodu and his 20e Compagnie on the right flank took up their places in readiness. Although engineers went forward to blow up the German wire, in many places it was found impossible to do so.

At 0705 hours the attack was launched and was met instantly with heavy fire. The 20e Compagnie managed to advance 50-60 metres before being forced to ground. They tried to crawl forwards but by then Lt Brodu; his second in command; the Sergeant Major and all the section commanders had been killed. The survivors were forced to dig themselves in.

Further companies were employed throughout the day in attempts to force the German line but none met with any greater success. Ultimately the soldiers would spend the day trying to create a new front line but at 0030 hours Brigade HQ decided that the position was untenable and they were told to fill in the new trenches and return to their billets at Suzanne.

The JMO states that the Regiment had three officers killed (Brodu included) and fifty-eight other ranks. In addition there were 263 wounded, many of whom would die as a result of their injuries.

 

The Memorial

The inscription on the monument reads :

À la mémoire du Lt Robert Brodu
de la Légion d’Honneur, Croix de Guerre
Commandant la 20e Compagnie du 224e Régiment d’Infanterie
et des officiers, sous-officier et soldats tombés avec lui
à l’attaque du 17e décembre 1914

To the memory of Lt Robert Brodu
Legion d’Honneur, Croix de Guerre
Commanding the 20th Company of the 224th Infantry Regiment
and the officers, NCOs and soldiers who fell with him
during the attack of 17th December 1917

Interestingly, the casualty notice states that Lt Brodu was born in Paris on 20th March 1881 and died on the 17th October 1914. He is buried in the French Nécropole Nationale at Albert (Grave 352) where the correct date of death is given.

 

The other memorials in Maricourt