Chemin des Dames … Battle of the Ladies’ Road … and Dr Marcel Petiot …

  Today, April 16, 2017, France commemorates the Battle of the Ladies’ Road – Chemin des Dames. This battle begun on this day of April 16 one hundred years ago had left 40,000 French soldiers – the Bearded Ones (Poilus) – dead or wounded and the town of Craonne destroyed. One of the wounded was […]

 

Battle of Chemin des Dames trench.

Today, April 16, 2017, France commemorates the Battle of the Ladies’ Road – Chemin des Dames.

This battle begun on this day of April 16 one hundred years ago had left 40,000 French soldiers – the Bearded Ones (Poilus) – dead or wounded and the town of Craonne destroyed.

One of the wounded was French Serial Killer, Dr Marcel Petiot. Or so he claimed.

Dr Marcel Petiot in court on trial for murder

In my book about Dr Petiot – Die in Paris – I wrote about his role in this terrible battle.

My book was published in 2013 by the U.K.-based publishing company, Raven Crest Books.

My book Die in Paris – the paperback. (Copyright Marilyn Z.tomlins)

 

The book, available in both paperback and e-book, can be bought on all Amazon.com sites.

Here is what I wrote about Dr Petiot and the Chemin des Dames in my book:

For six months Marcel read and waited for his call-up papers. Finally, tired of waiting, he enlisted. On Tuesday, January 11, 1916, six days short of his nineteenth birthday, he reported for duty at the army training camp in the town of Sens, 58 kilometres north of Auxerre and 116 kilometres south-east of Paris. In those later years when he spoke about his childhood, he would also make sure that everyone knew that he had volunteered and that he had not waited to be mobilised like some coward. His enlistment number was ‘1097’, he said. Believing it would advance his chances of getting into medical faculty later, he had requested to be inducted to a medical corps. Ten months later, on Tuesday, November 16, fully trained, he heard that he was to be an ordinary soldier of the trenches. He joined the 89th Infantry Regiment, also based in Sens.

In April 1917, on Monday 16, fifteen months in the army, Private Petiot saw his first great battle. He marched with his regiment to liberate the Chemin des Dames— the

Ladies’ Road— that was being held by the Germans. The road, twenty km long and running along a rugged ridge between the rivers Aisne and Ailette, had been held by the Germans since the outbreak of war in 1914. He was one of a million Poilus— Bearded Ones— to go into battle under the command of General Charles Mangin. His regiment focussed on the Germans entrenched around the town of Craonne. On the first day of the offensive, the Nivelle Offensive, named after General Robert Nivelle, Commander of the French army, 40,000 Bearded Ones were killed or wounded. The final casualty figure stood at one hundred and eighty-seven thousand. Another 350 Allied soldiers were also listed as casualties. Craonne was destroyed.

Marcel was a casualty too.

The story that he would tell was that he had taken a direct hit in his left foot from a German shell. He said that wounded and in great pain he was carried by stretcher to a field hospital where his wound— it was ten cm in diameter— was dressed. He was given a strong sedative that plunged him into a deep sleep. When he awoke several hours later, he thought that he had died because all he could see were tombstones; the wounded had been evacuated to a nearby cemetery. At nightfall, still in great pain, he was moved to a church. He spent the night on its floor. The following morning he was transported to a hospital in the town of Orléans, 295 kilometres south.

He gave the date on which he was wounded: Sunday, May 20, 1917. The Nivelle Offensive had ended on Wednesday, May 9, 1917.

No one noticed the discrepancy.

 

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

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