Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Friday, January 30, 2015

Monument aux héros de l'Armée noire

Located at Parc de Champagne, Reims

The Monument aux héros de l'Armée noire (Monument to the Heroes of the Black Army) is a monumental sculpture erected in Reims in 1924 to honor the Senegalese Tirailleurs who defended the city during the First World War. The original statuary was designed by Paul Moreau-Vauthier (1871–1936) and the architect Auguste Bluysen (1888–1951). 


In September 1940 the monument was destroyed by the Germans. A second monument took its place after the occupation but eventually proved proved to be somewhat controversial and unpopular. It was replaced by the third version of the monument (shown here) in the fall of 2013 in time for the Centennial.


  1. France and England's colonial troops proved their value during the course of the war. Though England withdrew the majority of their Indian troops from France for service in other theaters, France's African soldiers caused nightmares for German commanders whose troops faced their ferocity and elan in the attack. Numerous American accounts of their activities gainsayed the reluctance of the Pershing to employ America's African-American troops to battle as members of the U.S. Army. France eagerly accepted the offer of their services valuing these Americans the same as their African colonial troops

  2. Pershing gave away to the French the black regiments of the 92nd Div. He did not want them. That act invalidates the statement frequently made that Pershing kept the AEF under exclusive US command and control.

  3. Pershing also gave the British two entire American Infantry Divisions who served under foreign control, with great distiction. As did the three regiments of the 92nd Div. Pershing made these agreements early on. Which bought him time to emass sufficient US troops in the training pipeline, to then tell Foch his remaining troops would only serve as American troops- under his command. With US Divisions and Marines holding the line above Paris-and having been under the Kaiserslacht in early 1918, plus the failure of the recent spring French push , and the grim memories of the Mutinys of the prior year, Foch saw the wisdom of that decision; and the remaining time of the war saw US troops carry the fight forward. The Allied HQ political infighting was intense. These US Divisions who ended up serving under foreign commanders, only 3 of the overall several score US Disvisons that followed on, were a useful way of proving early on that Pershing was trying to play along with the Coallition that ran the war. The British and the French just wanted replacements. If Pershing had not insisted on holding his ground when the moment arrived, the war in the west might have taken another course- it might even have stalled. The Bloodbath could have continued into 1919 as many had thought it might. So yes, the statement was true from a certain point forward - Pershing kept the AEF under exclusive US control. Indeed, at the Divisonal and Corps level lots of interallied command shifting went on throught the war. But Pershing got his two major US Offensives- St Michel and the Muese Argone and the Americans broke the stalemate- (along with the rest of the now invigorated allies) - Ended the war in November with a Military Victory. If anything it probably saved lives.

    1. Pershing also let the French borrow two (2nd and 36th) Divisions for the taking of Blanc Mont. Obviously both proved their worth.

      (Different Anonymous from the earlier one)