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Webmatters : The Battle of Verdun 1916 : Memorial to André Maginot

The Battlefield

Memorial to André Maginot

Coming from Verdun and the Cemetery at the Faubourg Pavé take the D112 road as it winds into the forest. This is probably the best way to enter the main part of the battlefield.

Alternatively if you are already on the battlefield take the D112 from the monument to the wounded lion near the Verdun Memorial.

Decimal49.186665.43171 Map

As a pre war politician André Maginot was the Député for Bar-le-Duc (Member of Parliament) and for six months had been the Under Secretary of War. When the war broke out in August 1914 he decided to join up, as an ordinary soldier, becoming a member of the 44e Régiment d’Infanterie territoriale.

The French Territorial regiments were made up of older conscripts who had already seen out their periods in the active regiment and the reserve. They should not be confused with the British Territorial soldiers who were made up of part-time volunteers.

Constantly showing his abilities and audacity he swiftly rose through the ranks and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in September. During an action on 9 November 1914 in the Woëvre his knee was shattered. Despite his injuries he remained with his unit and it was only that evening that he allowed himself to be assisted by two soldiers to return to an aid post.

Hailed as a war hero, and a recipient of the Medaille Militaire, Maginot returned to politics following his injury. In 1920 he became Minister of Pensions and it was Maginot who conducted the ceremony for the Choosing of the Unknown Soldier in the Citadel at Verdun and lit the flame of remembrance at the Arc de Triomphe.

Throughout the rest of his life he worked tirelessly on behalf of the veterans, introducing a card for former combatants and acting as patron for the Association of War Wounded.

Perhaps for people outside of France his name is associated more with the famous ring of fortresses on France’s eastern border (The Maginot Line) than with his exploits during the war.

He died of typhoid in January 1932 before the line was actually finished — it is named in his memory. He is buried in the town cemetery at Revigny-sur-Ornain on the Meuse.

Monument to André Maginot at Souville

This impressive monument was inaugurated on 18 August 1935 by President Lebrun at the spot where Maginot had received his Medaille Militaire. Created by Gaston Bouquet it shows Maginot being helped off the battlefield by one of his soldiers : François-Joseph Jolas.

The wall behind represents the forts of Verdun whilst the massive shield represents the new fortifications, which had recently been granted the necessary finances.

Dupuy Memorial

A little further along the road towards the Wounded Lion Monument you will see smaller memorials including one to Lieutenant Kléber Dupuy and his men — the saviours of Souville.

On the 12th July 1916 the Germans launched a furious assault on Fort Souville which is in the trees a few hundred metres behind the monument. Lt Dupuy (7e RI) and his men held the Germans at bay for twelve hours eventually forcing their retreat. This was as close to Verdun as the Germans ever managed.

It is possible to reach Souville from here but it is much easier from the far side at the parking for the Casemate Pamart. The fort remains in a dangerous condition so it is not possible to enter it. Nevertheless, if you have the time and the weather is suitable it makes an interesting walk in the forest.