Eurelian Chronicles # 17: The story of these Hairy people who mutinied in Chartres

Professor, historian, writer, Alain Denizet draws from the small local histories what weaves the great History. (© Laurent Rebours)

Find on Actu Chartres, every Sunday, a Eurelian chronicle of History and stories proposed by Alain Denizet. Professor, historian, writer of Eure-et-Loir, for years he has been gathering all of his chronicles on his site.

You can also find his news and books there. Alain Denizet also chairs the Beauce and Dunois manuscript prize.

The armistice signed six months ago and…. still no demobilization

Chartres “Poilus”. Macé Fund, Chartres Media Library. (©DR)

The armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.

Yet in avril 1919, more two million soldiers were still confined because the government had postponed demobilization until peace with Germany was recorded, an argument that became obsolete with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 29, 1919.

After years of war, suffering, sacrifice, the hairy people were growling: they wanted to put away their uniforms, find their family, their roots or at least be properly fed in the canteen …

Discontent rises

Officers had been warned by rumors that the smoldering discontent could escalate.

On July 1, they stationed themselves at Chartres station from 6 p.m. The square was particularly lively because it was the hour when the trains brought the newspapers from Paris, therefore the fresh news.

Perhaps the announcement of demobilization. Hopes were showered. Nothing, there was nothing: the train was an hour and a half late …

The tension mounted. The officers tried to disperse the groups, to reason with them by pointing out the serious sanctions to which they were exposed if they demonstrated and that, the supreme argument, demobilization “was made difficult by the bad will of the boche”. Without success.

Demonstration of the hairy in Chartres

Marceau barracks, Chartres.
Marceau barracks, Chartres. (©DR)

So, from 7 p.m. to midnight, nearly five hundred soldiers, infantry and artillery mingled, expressed their impatience by beating the cobblestones of the streets of the city, singing lanterns to the air ” To eat », « Demobilization “Or even by mocking the head of government” Hou, Hou, Clemenceau[1] ».

Private Aubin who was at the head of the slingers trumpeted that he would no longer “salute the colors” and had warned “that he was going to return to the post with the men and officers who were in it”.

From the station, the troops went to the kiosk of the Butte aux charbonniers, reached the Place des Epars, then the protest took the small streets of the city center, challenged the authorities at the Place de la Préfecture before reaching the rue Saint Pierre where was quartered on 150th regiment.

At the barracks!

AD 4 M art 21. Extract from the report of the Pitois police commissioner to the prefect of Eure-et-Loir, 2 July.
AD 4 M art 21. Extract from the report of the Pitois police commissioner to the prefect of Eure-et-Loir, 2 July. (©DR)

The protest went up a notch: in addition to slogans, the soldiers forced the gates and rushed towards the disciplinary premises, the doors were opened and the detainees released.

The same treatment was applied to 26th and 102nd regiments without, according to Commissioner Pitois, “the powerless military authority failed to calm them down.”

No malicious act had, however, been committed in town.

The fire was soon extinguished: the next day, while the quarters were recorded, soldiers again violated the ban to relaunch the movement. One of them, named Barbu, had treated those who marched as “cowards.”

The quarters were decommissioned on July 4 in honor of the usa national day.

The benevolence of the commander of the Place de Chartres was matched with paternal consideration – “I am counting on the good spirit of reasonable troops” – and barely veiled threats – “the cries and demonstrations of the soldiers will not advance an hour. demobilization, at most they risk delaying it for some. I received a mission. Whatever happens, it will be carried out to the end ”.

Council of War for the Mutineers

The list of leaders in Le Petit Parisien
The list of leaders in Le Petit Parisien (©DR)

Speed ​​of military justice: August 22, twenty-one soldiers, all of whom had lived through fire hell[2], were translated before the Le Mans war council. “Rascals”, the commander wrote.[3].

The leaders paid for their rebellion by five years firm, ten of them were granted a suspended sentence.

The Little Parisian made them mutineers while Humanity denounced a judgment which “struck in an odious manner the Poilus who, with good reason, protested against the abominable regime of militarism in the barracks”.

Discontent against the delayed demobilization also affected other cities such as Toulouse (where on June 1, 1919 the men of the 117th heavy artillery regiment smashed windows in the city center) and Versailles in March 1920.

The end of the state of war was decreed in October 1919 and the demobilization which concerned five million men was not completed until March 1921.

[1] Clémenceau was then Chairman of the Board, that is to say the equivalent of the Prime Minister.

[2] And for some holders of decorations.

[3] AD 4 M art 21. Report of the Pitois police commissioner to the prefect of Eure-et-Loir, 2 July.

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