This monument is situated on the D 941 between Cambrin and Auchy les Mines. It is best approached from Cambrin as this is a fast flowing road. The only available parking is on the grass verge near the monument, which is on the right approaching Auchy.
The 58e Division d’Infanterie were a Reserve Infantry Division and arrived in Cuinchy on the 16th October 1914. The Germans had occupied a position along the Vermelles — Violaines Road opposite them. On the northern side of the canal was the British II Corps (later the Indian Corps).
A constant run of battles was taking place trying to secure La Bassée and Givenchy with the British and French fighting side by side for much of the time.
In these early months of the war the line was still fluid without real trenches and on the 18th the VI/295e RI managed to advance the French line 700 metres. Over the next few days the Germans launched numerous counter-attacks but despite heavy losses the French held the line.
As a result of these constant assaults in both directions the first trenches were constructed in the area, though the word is used loosely because with a very high water table the trenches tended to be built up rather than dug down.
On the 12th November 1914 the Division received a citation :
…cette division a toujours été en première ligne, a gagné du terrain et n’en a jamais perdu, malgré de fortes pertes et des attaques violentes de l’ennemi.
This Division was always in the front line, it gained ground and never gave it up despite heavy losses and the violent enemy counter-attacks.
The 58e Division d’Infanterie remained responsible for this sector of the line throughout the winter of 1914/1915.
Alongside them were soldiers of the 141e régiment d’infanterie territorial (141st Territorial Regiment – made up of older soldiers who had already finished their term in the Reserve) of the 92e Division Territoriale.
At 0800 hours on 29th January 1915 the Germans launched a large scale attack on the lines of the 141e RIT who were holding the position around the area of the monument. The attack was repulsed but the Germans pressed the French for the next couple of days at high cost to both sides.
In the middle of winter with frozen mud all around and under constant harassing fire it was often impossible to recover the bodies of the dead.
At the inauguration Capitaine Roy (who had fought here with the 295e RI) said that the monument not only honoured the fallen but it also offered a point of focus for those who had lost a family member and had no known grave to visit (A sentiment that would be echoed by Lord Plumer at the unveiling of the Menin Gate in Ypres in 1927 : “He is not missing, He is here”).
Inaugurated on the 31st August 1924 the monument is a block of granite surmounted by an Adrian Helmet of the type worn by the French soldiers.
On its front face is the inscription :
A la mémoire des braves de la 58e division morts pour la France
To the memory of the brave soldiers of the 58th Infantry Division who died for France
On the sides are listed the units which made up the Division :
295e, 285e, 256e et 281e régiments d’infanterie et 141e régiment d’infanterie territorial