They came from across the globe

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During the years 1914-18, British, Chinese and many other nationalities passed through my maternal grandmother’s house. From here, they left for the battlefield and the nearby Front – and sadly not all of them returned to collect their belongings…

After the death of my grandmother in 1943, we found a collection of objects and items still waiting to be collected in one of her rooms! She would never have dreamed of touching any of these items. Our family shared these belongings amongst ourselves and I still have a small camp stove from this collection, although the “English biscuits” kept in large tins were all eaten during the Second World War – we couldn’t leave them for the Germans.

You’ll find a range of photos, anecdotes and portraits of these terrible years in this special edition. This is the story, not of the battles but of those who came from all corners of the globe to fight in the Pas-de-Calais region. Their human, moving accounts strengthen our desire for peace at all times. The country which was our enemy during that war and which is now creating a new Europe alongside France also experienced horrendous casualties, many of whom were extremely young, such as the soldier who was killed at the age of 14.

It is only right that our département, to which more nations sent their soldiers than any other, should dedicate the following pages to them.