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

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Four Corporals Affair

Memorial to the Four Corporals at Suippes, Champagne

In the Champagne sector in 1915, four corporals in the French Army were shot by firing squad as an example to the rest of their companies during the First World War. The executions, which occurred in the vicinity of Souain on 17 March 1915, are considered to be the most egregious and most publicized military injustice during World War I in France. The events inspired the 1957 American anti-war film Paths of Glory.

Wikipedia has an excellent in-depth article translated from a French piece here:

Louis Victor François Girard, aged 28, born 2 October 1886, in Blainville, clockmaker,
living in Paris, 17th Arrondissement, married, one child

Lucien Auguste Pierre Raphaël Lechat, aged 23, born 22 April 1891, in Ferré, Ille-et-Vilaine,
waiter in a cafe in Vitré, single

Louis Albert Lefoulon, aged 30, born 17 August 1884, in Condé-sur-Vire, Manche, railway worker, living with a partner, one child

Théophile Maupas, aged 40, born 3 Jun3 1874, in Montgardon, Manche,
worked in the town hall in Chefresne, married, two children


  1. I think it would be more accurate to say the events inspired Humphrey Cobb to write his novel, that was later made into the Kubrick film. (Which, incidentally, I highly recommend if you can get over the slightly discordant sight of Kirk Douglas playing the part of a French officer!)

  2. "On hearing that the troops were refusing to attack, General Réveilhac ordered his divisional artillery to bombard their positions to force them out of their trenches. "

    (Good point, Brian. How is the novel?)