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Burial location of French WW1 soldier may end army tradition

The only soldier identified among 14 World War One ‘poilus’ uncovered in the Ardennes might break longstanding tradition of being reburied in the national military cemetery

A mass grave with the remains of 14 World War One “poilus” soldiers has been found that could end decades of reburial tradition.

The grave, found during a dig for a building project at Le Châtelet-sur-Retourne, in the Ardennes, held skeletons with their personal possessions – including several oval identity tags.

Five were identified but military historians were able to give only one a full story.

Aimé-Jean-Pierre Favreau was born at La Génétouze in Vendée in 1886 and lived in La Roche-sur-Yon before being called up.

Now local mayors have asked for his remains to be reburied in the departmental military cemetery at the prefecture.

The army ministry has been asked to return his body to the Vendée rather than the longstanding tradition of being reburied in the national military cemetery at Rethel, Ardennes. Mayors of La Génétouze and La Roche-sur-Yon backed the request by the history group GRM de Vendée.

Favreau died on September 1, 1914, when his forward trench was overrun. The Germans filled in the trench over the dead.

Buttons found were identified as those of the ninth colonial battalion from Morocco, the battalion Favreau was sent to join.

He was one of five children but has no family left, as three died in infancy and his older brother Ernest also died in battle.

The mayors want to bring his remains “home”. The army ministry is expected to give a decision later this spring.

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