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Mémoire de verre, mémoire de guerre

Patrick Bard and Marie-Berthe Ferrer

How does our memory function? Sometimes thanks to a thread that is so taught that one needs a series of circumstances to succeed in unwinding it. That is what happened to the authors, when their wanderings guided their steps to a small church in the Perche region and to its strange stained glass window. Saint Louis is in the middle surrounded by half erased images, like palimpsests: it is neither Thomas of Aquina, nor Ambrose nor Martin but rather some unknown characters, simple men, simple poilus, the soldiers from World War I! It is thus that the investigation begins at Préaux-du-Perche, with an element of the local heritage recently restored, and pours out a collection of simple and tragic stories. Who was Marcel Buté, dead at age 21 on 10 October 1916, from his wounds at the battle of Sailly-Saillisel? And Albert Leroux, 33 years old, who disappeared? And Alfred Guillin, 22 years old, who had an absurd death, due to "friendly fire". These forgotten men come back to life, as well as their period through old prints, contemporary photos of the sites and a sensitive text. One single conclusion can be quoted, and the avalanche of celebrations may make us forget it. That is Prévert’s remark: the war is such a stupidity!

Mémoire de verre, mémoire de guerre, by Patrick Bard and Marie-Berthe Ferrer, éditions de La Martinière, 2014, 224 p., €39.

Mémoire de verre, mémoire de guerre - Patrick Bard and Marie-Berthe Ferrer

Review published in the newsletter #339 - from 27 March 2014 to 2 April 2014

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