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Webmatters : La Targette and Neuville-Saint-Vaast
Rough Map of Area

La Targette

The benefactor of Neuville-St-Vaast

Neuville-Saint-Vaast is a village 6.5 kilometres north of Arras, a little east of the road from Béthune to Arras (D 937). On arriving at La Targette continue past the first crossroads where you will glimpse the huge French Military Cemetery off to your left. A few hundred metres further along turn right at the next crossroads. It is possible to park a vehicle on the right-hand side

Continuing straight on will take you into Neuville-Saint-Vaast and on to the Vimy Canadian Memorial.

Two things to note if asking for directions: St Vaast (The patron saint of Arras) is pronounced without the -st so it sounds like vaa. Targette is pronounced Tar-zhette because in French G before E is pronounced as a soft J.

The torch of peace at La Targette

The torch of peace rises out of the rubble of the village

Part of the Commune of Neuville-Saint-Vaast the hamlet of La Targette is named after the habits of the patrons of the local café (Now called the Saint Vaast) at the junction by the Military Cemetery. This was the main road into Arras for the farmers and other sellers of produce.

For most the journey would be made on foot and in the evening on returning to Neuville the first port of call would be the café. Here the weary traveller would linger a moment before heading home. In modern French : s’attarder but in Ch’ti : s’atarjeu. Getting home she who must be obeyed would complain about the hanging about—l’attargette. It didn’t take much effort to transform many an establishment or as here the locality into La Targette. The only target was the bar !

Immediately after the war there was an arch on the corner of road allowing entry into what is known as the Cité de Mutilés. The two memorial crosses have been brought in from the fields.

 

Ernest Petit

Memorial plaque to Ernest Petit

In memory of Ernest Petit, 1889-1964. Who initiated the reconstruction of a Neuville St Vaast totally devastated during the course of the 1914-18 war. Founded the Invalids’ Estate and raised the Torch of Peace. Creator of the village Coat of Arms—Resurgam 9 mai 1915.

The Cité de Mutilés is a group of sixteen houses along the tree lined Rue du 11 novembre just behind the memorial.

When the French war cemeteries were created, disabled veterans were nominated to look after them. However the villages that they were supposed to live in were carcasses and any reconstruction was obviously being carried out by the villagers for their own personal needs.

The guardians and their families had to look out for themselves and often ended up living in pitiable conditions.

At Neuville-St-Vaast Ernest Petit, a Notary Public and philanthropist, took it upon himself to create an estate (Cité in French) at the very heart of the battlefield.

Each house was built in a different style and according to the needs of the family. They were all but given away to the new owners for a fifth of their value.

Each house was given the name of a military commander connected to the village : Byng (The Canadians’ Commander at Vimy), Gouraud, De Maud’hui, Barbot (Who was killed at Souchez), Mangin, Foch, Joffre, Pétain, Balfourier, Berthelot, Fayolle, De Castelnau, Pouydraguin. One house is called La Madelon and another Oiseau De France which was the name of a clandestine French newspaper.

The fifty-two mountain-ash trees along the street are in honour of the 52 Neuvillois who died during the war (The original maples offered by Canada have been replaced).

Maison Pouydraguin at Neuville St Vaast

The Villa Pouydraguin

Général Louis d’Armau de Pouydraguin lost two of his sons in the fighting for Neuville St Vaast. Augustin was killed on the 9th May 1915, aged 19, and two days later his 25 year old brother, Jacques met the same fate, in the fighting for the cemetery.

They lay side by side in Maroeil French Military Cemetery (Next to which you will find a plot of Northamptonshire Regiment soldiers killed in 1940).

 

The museum at la Targette

La Targette Museum

Directly opposite the monument at the cross roads on the main road is a very good museum with two floors of displays which have been kept in excellent order. There is a parking area behind it off the side road (behind the extension on the left of the photo).

The only cautionary note being that there is not a great deal of explanation, however the museum is open every day from 0900 to 2000 hours. The entrance fee is about 4 Euro.

The same family also run the excellent museum at Notre Dame de Lorette.

 

Memorials in the area


Cemeteries