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Sainte Geneviève

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On August 19, 1914, the 59th reserve division entrenches on Sainte-Geneviève hill which will represent an excellent observation and defense post on the north of Grand-Couronné.

The hill is bombarded from August 22. On the night of the 24, the German troops charge but they are repelled.

On the 5th and 6th of September, 1914, Sainte-Geneviève crest suffers violent attacks and bombardements. The attack is repelled, but on the 6 the crest is taken in the rear by artillery fire coming from the left bank (the bois de la cuite between Blénod and Dieulouard) occupied by German soldiers.

Commander Montlebert of 314th Inf.Div. refuses to abandon the position without a written order.

Wounded, he is forced by a peremptory order to leave Sainte-Geneviève and Loisy on the moring of the 7 of September.

However, the German troops do not seize the opportunity to take the position, which is occupied again by the French soldiers in the evening.

The village after the bombardment. Lieutenant Marot's tomb

Letter from a soldier of the battle of Sainte-Geneviève.

Mister the editor of the Courrier de l'ouest,

Through my brother Maurice NIORT, your correspondent in SANZAY, I have read your articles published in your newspaper on the 21st, 22nd and 28th of September 1954 about Sainte-Geneviève battle. Being a veteran of Captain DELMAS'19th company, I entirely agree to the narratives of Mr BEZIAS, Lt MARTIN Roger Pierre and soldiers of the 19th company and apologizes for Dr DAVID who could not, from the Blessed Virgin of LANDREMONT, 1500 meters away, realize what happened before Ste GENEVIEVE. I take the liberty to draw his attention to the fact that it was not MEURICE Company, 6th batallion that held LOISY graveyard, but Captain Martin's 18th which was disposed in depth from the banks of the Moselle with LOISY graveyard, to halfway up the hill on a front line 700 metres long, related, so as to speak, with the 19th whose trench 500 metres long, starting from the vineyards, led to the first houses of Sainte-Geneviève.There, resting against the wall, facing Facq forest, stood Major MONTLEBERT with his two machine-gunners (Lt Du ..X....) to his right was MERCIER's 17th company, the 20th which held in its ranks Lt MAROT killed on this day, was between MARTYRIOT cross and the village.

When on Sunday the 6th of September, after a continuous bombardement we saw coming down from MOUSSON to ATTON the long line of German columns our emotion was at its height; it was about 5 p.m.

Captain DELMAS had just been killed among us. An hour later, the first column came out of Facq forest, deployed in skirmishing order on a 800 metres frontline and began climbing the hill. At this moment, the 18th and 19th opened fire, almost immediately stopped by the major's order who stated that with our 200 cartridges we should wait until the German were within shooting range and only shoot when sure to hit, then took a second order: "the German will only climb to Ste GENEVIEVE by coming across our hills.

So we opened fire at the command of each half section commander only when the German, arrived close to the barbwire net, a cavalry net set 30 metres from our trenches, tried to find a way through.

I've been for the whole war in the 314th and 325th, I've never had the opportunity to have such a beautiful target as this night, but fortunately the major, seeing that the attack drifted towards us, had tightened our line, we were two in each gap, one shooting, the other unpacking the cartridges.

Needless to say that the honor to have defended Ste GENEVIEVE lies on Major MONTLEBERT only.

I saw him again in Ste GENEVIEVE some time before his death..It is pointless to tell you how moved I was when we shook hands.

In his will, he asked to be buried amid his Poitevins (people from French region Poitou-Charente) who had died in Ste GENEVIEVE, and that no monument be erected to his memory. The people of Ste GENEVIEVE were faithful to his last whishes, but will remember forever this great man and his soldiers.

Let me add that comrades coming for a pilgrimage on the hill should not forget to call to PONT DE MONS where they will get the warmest reception.

signed NIORT Ferdinand 1897-1958

X = Lieutenant Du Hanlay ?

Letter transcribed from a photocopy owned by Madame Jeanne GIGLEUX of LOISY

BIBLIOGRAPHIE

Auteur Collection  
La bataille de NANCY
The battle of Nancy
Charles BRUNEAU    
La bataille de Sainte Geneviève
The battle of Sainte-Geneviève
Monseigneur FIEL Le Pays Lorrain  
Nancy et le Gand-Couronné
Nancy and Grand-Couronné
Guides illustrés Michelin  

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