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Webmatters : Executed civilians at Loos-en-Gohelle
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Executed civilians at Loos-en-Gohelle

Location

This monument on the road between Loos centre and Hulluch can be found on the left hand side of the road on leaving the village.

 

Background

Monument to executed Loosois of 1914

On the evening of the 4th October 1914 German cavalry entered the village of Loos en Gohelle followed soon after by four regiments of the German Guards.

The following day French soldiers arrived and a three day battle ensued as the two sides fought for control of the village. Caught in the commotion of this sudden turn of events the villagers had no time to flee and took refuge in their houses.

On the Hulluch road the 76 year old M Placide Doby and one of his neighbours M Télésphore Petit, who was 69 were sitting in the house when suddenly the door burst open and they were confronted by a German officer.

It would appear that they recognised the intruder as a former member of the management of Fosse 15 who had worked there before the war. Shouting at the two old men that there was a French soldier hiding in the area the officer ordered his men to search the house.

No soldier was found but the two men were ordered to accompany the soldiers. As they were leaving, two other neighbours made the mistake of looking out to see what was happening and they too were rounded up (Alexis Meurdesoif, who was 80 and Lenfant, 50).

At this moment the searching soldiers came back with a French infantryman, Soldat Gustave Dejeux, who had been hiding in a barn owned by Etienne Crespel, another neighbour. The German marched the four civilians and Private Dejeux away towards Loos. What happened afterwards nobody really knows.

On the 12th October the Germans brought Crespel down to the pit head and tied him up. He was certain that his end had come, but the following day they untied him and brought him under guard to the bodies of two Frenchmen : Marquette et Delaby, who had gone into the pit despite warnings by the German authorities to keep out. Crespel was ordered to take the two bodies away and bury them.

Two days later he was summonsed again and this time taken out the Hulluch Road and shown five more bodies — the original party rounded up by the Germans. These he was also ordered to bury which he did in a shallow grave.

He was warned to keep his mouth shut about the deceased but despite this he informed the widow Meurdesoif as to what had happened. For a year they were forced to live in silence until the Scots of the 15th Division stormed into the village on the 25th September 1915.

Almost all the villagers had been evacuated by the Germans so it was not until after the war that the story was finally told. Most refused to believe M Crespel until searches were carried out and the bodies unearthed.

The Loosois were buried in their own cemetery whilst Gustave Dejeux was re-interred at Notre Dame de Lorette.

 

The monument

The memorial was unveiled on the 23rd May 1937 on ground where the five were shot and graciously donated by M Leclercq-Lecup.

It was designed by M Saint Georges who was the president of the village veterans’ association.

It carries an inscription in memory of the six Loosois and Private Dejeux shot by the Germans in 1914.

Ce monument a été érigé à la mémoire de
MEURDESOIF Alexis — 82 ans
PETIT Télésphore — 79 ans
DOBY Placide — 71 ans
MARQUETTE Jean-Baptiste — 68 ans
LENFANT Auguste — 52 ans
DELABY Paul — 49 ans
Habitants de Loos-en-Gohelle
et
DEJEUX Gustave — soldat blessé
du 109e Régt d’Inf
Fusillés par l’ennemi
En octobre 1914