Those who died in battle or in any way fighting for France are grouped under the term "les morts pour la France". They are memorialized in many ways. Perhaps the most common and the saddest, is the monument in each and every village of the entire country showing the names of those who died in the First World War. The tiniest hamlet will have such a monument. It seems no village lost fewer than fifteen or twenty men. For those who died in the streets during the liberation, there are plaques memorializing them on the walls of buildings beside where they fell. In post offices, telegraph offices, libraries, anywhere where men worked, their names are listed. They are as powerful a memorial as the list of Civil War dead in the Memorial Hall at Harvard or the overwhelmingly sorrowful list of dead on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., and every corner of the land has one.
The names of all those who died have been gathered and are now available online as a part of the same Ministère de la Défense umbrella site. This part is called Mémoire des Hommes . In the panel to the left of that screen, under Périodes et Conflits, it is possible to click on each of the First World War, the Second World War, the War in Indochina, and the Wars in North Africa.
In the next screen, click Morts pour la France, and in the screen that comes up next, click formulaire de recherche. Type a name into the search box -- we chose Tetrel -- and click Lancer la recherche. The results will resemble this:
On just the results list, you have the full name, date of birth, and department where born. Click on one of the names and the original form for transporting the body appears, giving more useful information:
Going back to the initial screen for the First World War, there is another, smaller, collection entitled Personnels de l'aeronautique militaire, those involved with the first bombers. The resultant document has quite a bit more information than the previous one, including next of kin and pre-war employment:
This is a growing resource, with the database for the Second World War only barely begun to be put online. Those for the Wars in North Africa and Indochina are complete. Do take time to explore this website. There are films, photos, television presentations etc. about France at War.
©2009 Anne Morddel