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Webmatters : Abbé Pierre Carpentier Monument at Abbeville

Abbé Pierre Carpentier

Location

Abbeville is a major town situated on the banks of the Somme River near to its estuary. It is easily accessible either by the A16 coastal autoroute or the major road network. The D 1001 Boulogne-Paris Road (Formerly the N 1) runs north to south through the town whilst the D 928 connects with Doullens.

The church is on the Rue St Gilles which leads from the main town square towards Beauvais. At the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) turn right, driving down its right hand side. The church will be on your left opposite the former barracks.

Coming from Junction 22 of the A16 autoroute (or from Doullens/St Riquier keep left at the roundabout to join up with the autoroute exit) follow the signs for Beauvais descending the hill. At the next roundabout take right and then immediately right again. The route de Paris becomes the Rue St Gilles. At a large intersection with traffic lights you will see the old barracks on your left and the church in front of you. It is necessary to follow the dual carriageway right and then come back on yourself to reach the church.

This street like many of those in the town is Priority from the Right. Be prepared to give way to traffic coming from your right, especially in the area of the Tribunal (Courthouse).

 

Background

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

Monument to Abbé Pierre Carpentier Abbeville

The memorial stone carries the simple inscription:

In memory of Abbé Carpentier 1912-1943. Deported member of the Resistance. Beheaded in Germany.

It was erected on 3rd September 2006 by Souvenir Français (A voluntary organisation dedicated to looking after the memorials).

The Abbeville Scouts carry his name and there is a square named after him in the town.

There is another commemorative stone to Abbé Carpentier in the communal Cemetery at Gavrelle.