The National Necropolis in Retaud

The National Necropolis in Retaud. Photograph DMPA

The Necropolis in Retaud contains the bodies of 330 French servicemen killed in the operations carried out along the western front at Royan and la Pointe de Grave. 129 graves are surmounted by Muslim steles,
Covering a surface area of 3191 m², it contains the bodies of 330 French servicemen. 129 graves are surmounted by Muslim steles. On the 11th April 1945 at the town hall in Retaud, at the height of the battle, a special committee made up of military and local authorities chose some of the commune's land to receive the bodies of servicemen killed in the operations carried out along the western front at Royan and la Pointe de Grave.
Once the war was over, the "Association of Ex-servicemen of the South West French Forces", whose president, General Adeline, commanded the South force in 1945 during the attack of Royan, purchased the land for the cemetery and then asked the Department of Ex-Servicemen to classify it on the list of national necropoles. The cemetery was recognised as such by a government ruling on the 3rd March 1950. In April 1950, a monument to the memory of those servicemen who died in 1945 was inaugurated by the President of the Council of the Republic, Gaston Monnerville. Built from Vendee granite, it represents a wall (the Atlantic Wall) with a gap in the middle (the breach made by allied soldiers), in the middle of which there is a Croix de Guerre (War Cross). The same year, it was decided to bring together in Retaud, all those bodies buried in cemeteries throughout the Charente-Maritime and neighbouring départements, victims of the fighting in the Royan and La Rochelle pockets. The operation to exhume, transport and rebury the bodies took place in 1953.
On the initiative of the Departmental Committee for Charente-Maritime in memory of the victims of Nazi barbarity, an urn containing ashes retrieved from the camp at Buchenwald were incorporated into the base of the monument on the 24th April 1955. The necropolis was refurbished in 1974 by the Department of Ex-Servicemen which is now responsible for its maintenance and security.
Soldiers who died during the liberation of the other pockets were buried either in existing national necropoles in the battle zones concerned, in military areas within local cemeteries, or returned to their families.
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