World War I
Saint-Quentin National Necropolis - French Military Cemetery
Soldiers buried in Saint-Quentin National Necropolis
Saint-Quentin National Necropolis was created in 1923.
It contains the remains of soldiers who died during the fighting of 28-30 August 1914 and October 1918 and were initially buried in temporary cemeteries of the region.
It was developed between 1934 and 1935 and spreads over 1.76 ha.
The remains of 207 French soldiers, who died during WWII and were buried in temporary military cemeteries, were also re-buried there in 1954.
Saint-Quentin National Necropolis therefore contains the bodies of 4947 soldiers; 3954 lie in individual graves, including 60 soldiers of the 17th Corsican Infantry Regiment, two Romanians, 117 Russians as well as as Indochinese or Tonkinese workers hired to help at the rear of the front.
Finally, the bodies of 1319 soldiers, among which 853 unidentified French and 8 Russians, lie in two ossuaries located on both sides of the Memorial.
The French flag floats permanently above the monument that is inscribed with their names and ranks.
Battle of Guise - August 28-30, 1914
In August 1914, the Germans broke through the border and took Charleroi, encircling the French troops on two flanks.
The British retreated, but the French, under the command of General Lanzenac, were ordered to stop their retreat and attack the Germans at Saint-Quentin.
This initiative unfortunately failed, due to the lack of support, and the Germans continued their advance towards Amiens.
The French artillery, positioned south of the city, however, managed to slow them.
This allowed General Lanzenac's troops to regain sectors and force the Germans to retreat towards the town of Guise (east of St-Quentin).
However, the Germans retained their strong positions on the south bank of the river Oise and blocked the French troops who had no other option than launch an offensive on August 29th.
The French succeeded in slowing the German advance, but they were still encircled on both flanks.
Lanzenac judged the position untenable, and ordered the withdrawal of his troops to avoid further losses.
The French therefore abandoned the positions they so fiercely conquered and let the Germans recover the sector.
Saint-Quentin remained under German occupation until October 2, 1918.
Saint-Quentin under German occupation
The Germans occupied the city from August 28, 1914 to October 2, 1918.
They turn it into a stronghold, setting up barracks, hospitals, stocks of food and ammunition as well as the headquarters of the 2nd German Army, which Emperor William II inspected twice.
However, the situation changed in 1917 when the French forced them to retreat and therefore placed Saint-Quentin on the front line.
The Germans evacuated the inhabitants to Belgium (occupied zone) and brought in 2,000 Russian prisoners to strengthen the city’s defense system.
Although destroyed by French bombardments, Saint-Quentin remained a crucial strategic position for the Germans.
The French re-seized Saint-Quentin on October 2, 1918, but the fighting continued in this sector until November.
Both sides suffered heavy losses; the French soldiers who died during fights of August 1914 and October/November 1918 now lie in Saint-Quentin National Necropolis.
Saint-Quentin during WWII
The manufacturing city was once again a key strategic position during WWII.
From September 1939 to June 1940, the French colonial troops (2nd Moroccan Saphis Regiment) participated in offensives to repel the advance of the Germans on the sector.
They too suffered enormous losses and were buried at Saint-Quentin National Necropolis.
You'll find the cemetery along the road that connects Saint-Quentin to Amiens.
Directions: Picardie region - Department of Aisne – D1029
Coordinates: Lat 49.855243 – Long 3.262252