Doyen des poilus went off to First World War at 76

Charles Surugue in a trench he was digging on the front line at Toul, Lorraine
White-bearded in the image of the poilus, Charles Surugue in a trench he was digging on the front line at Toul, Lorraine

The statue in Auxerre town centre honours a simple soldat but an unusual man – Charles Surugue, the oldest French soldier in the First World War.

He signed up at the age of 76, making him the doyen des poilus - or oldest of the hairy men, as the troops were known.

As commemorations mark the centenary of the end of the war, few outside the Burgundy town will know of ...

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