Breton Calvary - Boezinge
Boezinge. © DR
The Breton Calvary at the Carrefour des Roses, in Boezinge.
Boezinge, the site of the first gas attack
On 22 April 1915, around 5 p.m., along a long front line running from Steenstraat to Schreyboom, between Langemark and Poelkapelle, the Germans opened over 5,000 bottles of chlorine gas. A green cloud of toxic gas was pushed by the wind towards the French troops at the front line: the Algerian 45th division and the 87th Territorial division (Brittany/Normandy) and a few groups of convicts, who received the full lot head on.
The first chemical act of warfare was a success for the enemy. Hundreds of men died in the front line, others fled, panicked. In a few hours, a breakthrough of 8 km by 4 km had been made in the allied lines. An international defence force, comprising Belgians, French, British, Irish, Canadians, Indians and North Africans, fought against the breakthrough in the front. In Boezinge, many Bretons fell, and the place became, after the war, the destination of an annual pilgrimage from St Brieuc. From 1923 many French who had fallen were repatriated to their village cemeteries, therefore it was thought fitting that a place of remembrance should be created. This was the original Breton Calvary of the Carrefour des Roses.
The Breton Calvary of Boezinge.
An authentic Calvary from the 16th century, from Louargat, and a dolmen from Hénonbihen, weighing 8 tons, were installed at the Carrefour des Roses surrounded by a Breton-style garden.