The National Necropolises at Soupir

The Italian cemetery at Soupir. Source: SGA/DMPA - JP le Padellec

The local district of Soupir is home to the three national necropolises of Soupir
The village of Soupir occupies a central position in the département Aisne: about twenty kilometres from both Laon and Soissons. Its location, at this crossroads, acknowledges the violent confrontations that happened there from September 1914 onwards. The local district of Soupir is home to the two national necropolises of Soupir, situated either side of the main D925 road, established from 1920 onwards to bring together the bodies of soldiers who died for France in the autumn of 1914, April 1917 and October 1918 from the common graves at Athies-sous-Laon, Gellnes, Pargny-Filain and Vieil-Arcy, The capacity of the initial site of the cemetery of Soupir was exceeded to the extent that a second necropolis (Soupir no. 2) was built in September 1934. The "Soupir no. 1" site occupies a surface area of 27,773 m2 and has been developed on successive occasions in 1920, 1924, and from 1934 to 1936. It contains 7,808 bodies, of which 4,720 are in individual and common graves and 3,088 in the 3 ossuaries, as well as four common graves bringing together 266 bodies from the sites of Vieil-Arcy, Athies-sous-Laon, Glennes and Pargny-Filain. There are also the graves of a Belgian soldier and a Russian serviceman. The "Soupir no. 2" site, created in 1934 to supplement the first, holds the remains of 2,829 soldiers. There are 1,966 French "poilus" (foot soldiers) in individual or common graves, 250 others in an ossuary; two graves of British soldiers, five Belgian graves, twenty-seven Russian crosses and a German grave. In 1954, the bodies of 545 Frenchmen killed in the campaign of France (May-June 1940) were buried beside their elders. In 1988, they were joined by the remains of thirty-three Belgian civilian victims, killed during this conflict and initially buried in the local cemetery at Laon.
The German cemetery at Soupir The German necropolis at Soupir was built on the site of a campaign hospital, in order to bring together all the imperial soldiers who fell in the sector between Soissons and Reims (Chemin des Dames, Vesle and Marne) and had been buried in 143 sites within a radius of 30 kilometres around the commune of Soupir. The operation was finished in 1924. This place of contemplation contains the bodies of 11,089 German servicemen. 5,134 of them are buried in individual and common graves, amongst which are 19 anonymous bodies, and 5,955 others rest in an ossuary, of which only 794 have been identified. After the initial works carried out by the Volksbund in the 1930's, the cemetery was the subject of a development project by the German authorities when, from 1972 onwards the wooden crosses were replaced with crosses in stone. The Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V., an association created on the 19th December 1919 for the protection and conservation of war graves, as well as for passing on information to families from the major sites of the First World War, has taken over responsibility for the upkeep of this site.
The Italian Necropolis at Soupir This common remembrance site is located next to the main D925 road, 19 kilometres out of Soupir, towards Chavonne, The young Italian nation left 4,851 of its children on the battlefields of Eastern France. These heroes, most of whom fell in 1918, are buried in the cemeteries at Bligny in the Marne département (3,040 graves and an ossuary with 400 bodies), at Metz-Chambière in the Moselle (89 graves), and at Soupir in the Aisne (592 graves).
The site was the location of a fierce battle that began on the 6th November 1914, involving the 4th Foot Infantry Regiment (R.M.T.), who, under Lieutenant Colonel Girardon, captured several lines of enemy trenches there, taking more than 400 prisoners. The place was developed post-war in order to accommodate the dead of the fighting of 1918 of the 2nd Italian army Corps. The cemetery at Soupir contains 592 of the dead from the Chemin des Dames sector. Facing the entrance, deep within this place of contemplation, the Italians pay tribute to their servicemen through a sculpture by F.Cian, inaugurated in 1921. Two open books in bronze have pride of place in the middle of the cemetery. The one on the left is in French and the one on the right is in Italian, bearing the following inscription: "From April to November 1918, the 2nd Italian army Corps, comprising the 3rd and 8th divisions allocated respectively to the "Brescia" and "Alpi" infantry brigades, fought in the Reims sector, between Vrigny and Jaulgonne, in the Argonnes sector and in that of the Aisne to the east of Soissons. They were later incorporated into the 5th 10th and 3rd French armies. The major Italian unit, commanded by General Alberico Albricci, suffered more than 9,000 casualties during their hard and victorious fighting. 592 of them rest in the military cemetery created and managed by the general commission "Onoranze al caduti in guerra" (Ministero della difesa-Roma)".
(The Interdepartmental Manager) La direction interdépartementale (D.I.) Head (Chef du secteur) of the Nord-Pas de Calais sector Administration building (Cité administrative) Rue de Tournai 59045 Lille Cedex Tel.: +33 (0) 320 62 12 39 Fax: +33 (0) 320 62 12 30 Email: diracmetz@wanadoo.fr
  • Le cimetière Italien de Soupir. Source : SGA/DMPA - JP le Padellec

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