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France remembers its war dead

Armistice Day ceremonies are held across France – and we explain the little blue flower on Connexion front page

FORMER president Nicolas Sarkozy will join President Hollande and senior ministers at the Arc de Triomphe for this morning’s Remembrance service, which takes place at 10.30.

Today is a public holiday in France to mark the end of the First World War in 1918 and commemoration events are being held in most communes. All are invited to attend.

With major services at sites such as the Thiepval Memorial in the Somme, we have an article here on other events in France.

Readers have asked about the blue flower that sits alongside the poppy on The Connexion newspaper masthead this month... it is the bleuet the cornflower that the French use as the Commonwealth nations use the poppy.

Alexandre Fons, of the Oeuvre National du Bleuet de France, told the paper the bleuet was not as widely worn as the poppy as “there was a lot of state funding for ex-forces personnel”.

As France remembers those who died in the First World War a memorial group, Le Souvenir Français, is campaigning for the restoration of the many graves of Poilus.

The First World War was the first where soldiers were given individual tombs rather than being left in mass graves – with each tomb being marked with the official “Mort pour la France” title.

Many were buried in the 265 military cemeteries, which contain 740,000 bodies, but others were returned to their home communes after the war.

Le Souvenir Français says many of these tombs are falling into disrepair – with some even being recovered by the commune for re-use – and it wants them to be protected. It has offered to step in to restore the tombs or recover the remains and re-inter them in a military section of the graveyard.

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