The Twentieth Century Society

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Click to see full size Photo © John East
Photo © John East

War memorials

Italy: Pederobba, Ossuaire Militaire Francais

Architect: Camille Montagné
Location: Pederobba Italy

This ossuary holds the remains of over a thousand French soldiers who died in Italy; its front consists of a long stone wall relieved by a regular pattern of rusticated blocks in the centre of which are two seated figures symbolising France and Italy carrying a dead French soldier on their laps. The bodies were reinterred from a number of cemeteries all over this region. The ossuary was built in 1936-37 and was inaugurated by Marshall Pétain on the same day that the Italian military cemetery at Bligny near Verdun was dedicated. France had sent 103,000 troops to assist the Italians hold the Piave line after Caporetto (Britain sent 113,000).

The architect was Camille Montagné. The sculptor of the monumental figures was Louis Leygue (1905-1992) who studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and won the Prix de Rome in 1931; after this commission he moved to Ottawa to create the relief on the new French embassy there, then returned to France where he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp; he survived and was later commissioned to execute the Memorial to the Deportees of Ain.

Gavin Stamp

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