- Historic Sites
Still Quiet On The Western Front
Half a century ago the glitter of the prewar world was extinguished forever in a 400-mile-long quagmire of barbed wire and mud, dead men and dying hopes. Recently AMERICAN HERITAGE sent a perceptive journalist-historian to revisit the scenes of that longest of all battles. Here is the peaceful present at such places as Verdun and Belleau Wood: the lawns are neat and green, but scaring memories remain.
October 1965 | Volume 16, Issue 6
In Joncherey there is but the little monument. Only a slight exercise of imagination is needed, however, to project one’s mind back to the summer of 1914, that beautiful time ever after remembered as the sweetest months of men’s lives, to where Corporal Peugeot is lying dead across the threshold of the house and Lieutenant Mayer is dead upon the road. After Mayer’s patrol scatters into the woods, the two dead soldiers are picked up and put on a bed of straw in the local grange. They lie side by side for several hours. Then they are buried. Peugeot in civilian life was a schoolteacher. His mother was a schoolteacher, too. He was twenty-one years old. Mayer, the official French report said, was twenty to twenty-two years old “at the most.” His horse was taken by the French military authorities and given a new name: “Joncherey.”
Today the curé of the town, Father Marcel Holder, does not speak of the Boche and the Frenchman, or even the German and the Frenchman. Only of two bovs who killed each other.