War memorial at Les Petites Cigognes

Set at the crossroads, the Memorial at Les Petites Cigognes commemorating the atrocities of 21st June 1940.

Set at the crossroads, the Memorial at Les Petites Cigognes commemorating the atrocities of 21st June 1940.

On 21st June 1940, the German armies were advancing rapidly across France and had reached the D31 at Les Petites Cigognes, near Cussay. That same day three young Frenchmen on a motorcycle were seeking to get through to the south-west to continue the resistance. Just up the La Pouge road from here they came across German troops. One of their number,  Eugène Veyune, was shot and killed in the skirmish. The other two men, Henri Ols and Raymond Santellier, were captured and executed here, at the roadside. The following day the Armstice was signed and the main road, the D31, became the ceasefire line between German-occupied France and Vichy France.

This replacement memorial was dedicated in a ceremony in June 2013. There is a report of the proceedings here.

There are more photographs of the memorial and the location below the fold.

The Memorial at Les Petites Cigognes commemorating the atrocities of 21st June 1940.

The Memorial at Les Petites Cigognes commemorating the atrocities of 21st June 1940.

The inscription on the Memorial at Les Petites Cigognes commemorating the atrocities of 21st June 1940.

The inscription on the Memorial at Les Petites Cigognes commemorating the atrocities of 21st June 1940.

The ceasefire line between German-occupied France, to the left, and Vichy France, to the right.

The ceasefire line between German-occupied France, to the left, and Vichy France, to the right.

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3 thoughts on “War memorial at Les Petites Cigognes

    • Paul, thanks for commenting.
      I learned the story from the people who live there. There are still very strong feelings associated with the occupation of France, which inevitably forced hard choices on people who were only trying to get on with their lives. The rededication of the memorial last year was attended by one 92-year-old man who had been friends with the young men who died in the incident. That road is lined with similar memorials.
      Before I went out to France, I looked at the map of the area and noticed that a “war memorial” was marked locally, but this was not what I expected, a memorial to soldiers who had fought in battle, but to civilians who were seeking to escape the on-coming invaders to continue the resistance elsewhere. This was a summary execution, no doubt carried out in the presence of any locals who could be coerced to attend, and designed to inflict horror and fear as well as suppress further trouble for the invaders.
      The sense of this being an atrocity as opposed to an outcome of a fair fight came from the people and the place, not my own response. The word reflects the local sense of the event, so that’s why I used it.
      I agree that we are now watching around the world quantitatively worse summary executions of non-combatants, but I don’t want to have to apply a qualitative differentiation between one horror and another.

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      • Quite so, and a war memorial is indeed appropriate, but if they were “seeking to get through to the south-west to continue the resistance” they were de facto combatants. Though I don’t imagine the local people would see it quite that way.

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