Document 1

Biographical elements

Douglas Haig (1861-1928) was a British senior officer commanding the British troops on the French frontline. At the end of 1915 he was appointed commander-in-chief of the British troops in France; he was made a marshal at the end of 1916. He distinguished himself in the Somme in 1916 and at Cambrai in 1917.

Etaples Cemetery

"The Etaples British military cemetery is situated in the location of [a] British military reinforcement camp of the First World War. It is the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in France. More than 11,000 soldiers are buried here facing the estuary of the River Canche. […] The cemetery is dominated by a memorial designed by the architect, Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944), which sits on a semi-circular promontory. It consists of a large 70-metre terrace flanked by two arches that have been decorated with draped flags. The cemetery was inaugurated on May 14th, 1922 in the presence of King George V and Field Marshal Haig." GRAILLOT Jean-François, MAEYAERT Delphine, "La présence britannique durant la grande guerre à travers le Montreuillois", in La Violette ("Montreuil-sur-Mer au temps de la Grande Guerre"), H.S. no. 14, June 2009, pp.100-107.

On the subject of military cemeteries, read Anne BIRABEN, Les cimetières militaires en France: architecture et paysage, L’Harmattan, Paris, 2005, 215 p. Each country has a different idea of what a military cemetery should look like. When the war broke out in 1914 the principle of common graves was maintained before the notion of individual graves was introduced (see the teacher's sheet on "Displaced bodies: managing the dead"). After the war the military cemeteries no longer were merely conceived as places where families and friends could mourn their loved ones but also as memorials. Here an official event is commemorated, that of a war that albeit necessary is also considered cruel...

On the subject of remembrance read Pierre NORA, "Chemins de mémoire" (Remembrance trails), in Présent, nation, mémoire, Gallimard, Paris, 2011, 420 p. : "Collective memory is the memory, or the set of memories, whether conscious or not, of a personal and/or mythical experience of a living collectivity. The memory of events that people experienced first-hand (veterans, for example) or which was handed down in writing or verbally; an active memory, maintained by institutions, rites, historiography, official memories, voluntary memories...".

Document 2 et 3

Remembrance tourism

A new special trend in tourism emerged even before the end of the war: visiting battlefields. Suzanne Brandt referred to it in an article in 1994 (BRANDT Suzanne, "Le Voyage aux champs de bataille", in Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’histoire, no. 41, January-March 1994, pp.18-22).

The first Illustrated Michelin Guide to the battlefields was published in France in 1917. The Marne was highlighted in this oddly timed guide, given that the war was still being waged at this time. The authors of the guide, however, explained in the preamble that "the fields to which [this guide] directs the reader have been liberated for quite some time" 1. Suzanne Brandt felt that this implied that "the journeys to the liberated regions made with the guides to the battlefields in hand [served] as an omen of France’s victory and the full liberation of the country"2.

Moreover, this guide was more than just a "tourist guide; it was dedicated to the memory of all the Michelin employees who died for their country"3. What’s more, the authors stated in the preface: "We tried to make a guide that is both a practical guide and a historical overview for tourists interested in visiting our battlefields and our devastated villages"4.

At the time, however, a journey to the battlefields was quite similar to a pilgrimage. What’s more, the guide’s authors clearly stated that this was what they had in mind: "Such a visit is not merely a ramble through these devastated regions. Instead it is a real pilgrimage. You need to do more than just look, you need to understand; a ruin is all the more moving when you become aware of its origin. A landscape, which at first glance, may seem rather boring to the uninformed eye is changed by the memory of the battles that were fought here"5.

After the Armistice battlefield tourism developed in different ways in the nations that had formerly been at war. "The British [were] the first to visit the battlefields as soon as the travel restrictions for the red zones [were] relaxed. Conversely, tourists from Germany [were] quite rare during the first half of the 1920s"6.

However, the aim of these visitors who travelled here immediately after the war was mainly to "[pray] at the tombs of their family members and friends (…), they mainly visited the cemeteries in order to communicate with the dead"7.

1  See the preamble to Champs de la bataille de la Marne, L’Ourcq, Meaux, Senlis, Chantilly (Battlefields of the Marne, L’Ourcq, Meaux, Senlis, Chantilly), Editions Michelin, Clermont-Ferrand, 1917.

2 BRANDT Suzanne, "Le Voyage aux champs de bataille", in Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’histoire, no. 41, January-March 1994, p.20.

3 Ibid.

4 Preamble to the Guide Michelin, Op. Cit.

5 Preamble to the Guide Michelin, Op. Cit.

6 Brandt Suzanne, Op. Cit., p. 20.

7 Brandt Suzanne, Op. Cit., p. 20.