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

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

A French Memorial on the Italian Front

France's and Italy's Tricolors Fly Over the Memorial

At Pederobba, a Veneto commune located about 60 kilometers northwest of Venice sits a massive memorial to the sacrifices of the French Army on the Italian Front during the Great War. 

Panoramic Photo of the Site

The structure is an ossuary holding the remains of over a thousand French soldiers who died in Italy; its front consists of a long stone wall relieved by a regular pattern of rusticated blocks in the center of which are two seated figures symbolizing France and Italy carrying a dead French soldier on their laps. The bodies were re-interred from a number of cemeteries all over northern Italy from the Asiago Plateau to the Piave River. The ossuary was built in 1936–37 and inaugurated by Marshal Pétain on the same day that the Italian military cemetery at Bligny on the Western Front was dedicated. France had sent 103,000 troops to assist the Italians hold the Piave line after Caporetto (Britain sent 113,000).

Mother France and Mother Italy Hold a Fallen Poilu

The architect was Camille Montagné. The sculptor of the monumental figures was Louis Leygue (1905–1992), who studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and won the Prix de Rome in 1931. After this commission he moved to Ottawa to create the relief on the new French embassy there, then returned to France where he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp. He survived and was later commissioned to execute the Memorial to the Deportees of Ain.

Dedication Plaque

Source: Article by Gavin Stamp of the Twentieth Century Society

No comments:

Post a Comment